REVIEW: They’re Still Working, And Still Adorable in ‘Cells at Work’ Season 2

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Cells at Work Season 2

Cells at Work Season 2 is an educational adventure comedy anime produced by David Productions. The cells are working! While tireless effort is required for the trillions of cells in the human body to keep everything running, their enthusiasm and charm are never tarnished by the endless tasks. With returning fan-favorite cells like red blood cell AE3803 and white blood cell U-1146, comes a plethora of new charming cells to help keep the body running smoothly. But where there are cells, there are germs, injuries, and even more nefarious things seeking to harm. Luckily, the cells are ready to do their part.

When I discovered Cells at Work! last year, I was floored. Here was a show that was equal parts entertaining, endearing, and educational. From the accident-prone red blood cell to all those adorable platelets, the show instantly captured my heart, as well as my mind. It is the single best piece of educational media intended to be fun since I first boarded the Magic School Bus as a child. With season two you get all the charm and education of the first, with the only caveat being a bit of a disjointed format. Let’s get into it.

The first thing that returning fans will notice about Cells at Work Season 2’s eight episodes is the shift in focus. While AE3803 makes plenty of appearances, the focus is most frequently on U-1146. This shift works well since so many of the show’s episodes have always revolved around damage and or disease threatening the body.

While the previous change is by no means a negative to the new season, the inability to settle on a format for the episodes certainly is. While the season opens with the standard one-shot story that its predecessor almost exclusively used, it follows it up with a run of three episodes that are split between two different adventures each and ends its run with a four-part story that ditches the episodic nature of the show altogether. While none of these approaches are executed poorly in and of themselves, not knowing what to expect from the formatting of the show became annoying, and kept the show from ever crafting a stable identity for itself.

Part of the reason for this shifting format was due to a struggle for content. With the original manga of Cells at Work! not providing enough content for the already shortened season, the back half of Cells at Work Season 2 borrows content from the spin-off manga Bacteria at Work! This is where the final four-episode extended arc comes into play.

While the first handful of episodes deliver stories about the cells dealing with problems like a bump to the body’s head, and an attack from the mumps virus, this last story arc introduces a more adventure-driven story and the character Ordinary Cell.

One day outside his home, Ordinary Cell discover four, extremely cute, bacteria struggling in a small stream. Taking pity on the bacteria Ordinary Cell fishes them out. Smitten with his kindness, the bacteria follow him home. When the bacteria are eventually discovered by AE3803 and U-1146, they are nearly destroyed. But at the last moment, U-1146 realizes that they are good bacteria that have somehow gotten lost. Determined to help them Ordinary Cell decides to set out and find their homes. With U-1146 tagging along, the party heads for the intestine where the bacteria call home. As one would expect, the adventure won’t be easy. Especially since an overzealous immune cell might destroy the bacteria if they don’t realize it is good. So stealth is of the utmost importance.

In the final two episodes of Cells at Work Season 2, the show looks to close out its run with a bang. As the duo near the end of their quest, a particularly nasty threat to the body surfaces. While the choice of final enemies is perfect, I feel like the show loses its way on the characterization of the disease. As the cells battle this impressive foe, their enemy begins to spout what comes across as some form of cellular take on Anarchist theory—about how cells are all slaves to the body, and that all should be freed from that enslavement. Even if the body’s death means death. After all, they’d at least die free. This weird quasi-political motive just feels bizarre. As no hostile organism has ever had any form of agenda other than destroy, the inserting of one here feels simply out of place.

The art style of the original season remains perfectly intact for Cells at Work Season 2. All the charm of the cells and weird alien germ designs are expanded upon here. The cheerful design is accompanied by generally upbeat music, including a new intro theme that packs all the energy and pep of its predecessor.

When all is said and done, Cells at Work Season 2 carries the most important elements of the original season into eight new episodes. While its formatting isn’t always stable, and its conclusion gets a little weird, these shortcomings do little to damper the fun, educational feel-good energy of this brilliant piece of anime.

Cells at Work Season 2 is currently coming to Crunchyroll, while the full season is available on Funimation.

Cells at Work Season 2 
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Cells at Work Season 2 carries the most important elements of the original season into eight new episodes. While its formatting isn’t always stable, and its conclusion gets a little weird, these shortcomings do little to damper the fun, educational feel-good energy of this brilliant piece of anime.