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Cells at Work Season 1 Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read
A delightfully accurate romp through the body, anime style.
Cells at Work US Box Set Cover

A delightfully accurate romp through the body, anime style.

What They Say:
This is a story about you. A tale about the inside of your body…

Enter the fascinating world inside your body where roughly 37.2 trillion cells work hard for you 24 hours a day and 365 days a year! The cell-sational action comedy Cells at Work! that has garnered praises from a wide array of audiences, from casual viewers to professionals in the medical field is the latest hit edutainment now on Blu-ray. The show is available with English audio, while also showcasing the English version of the opening theme song in each episode. Carry, fix, fight! Don’t miss out on your chance to own the only series starring your cells at work!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series is in its original Japanese language in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded in the uncompressed PCM format. The show is one that does a whole lot of dialogue-driven material but it has a lot of fun wacky moments that take advantage of the forward soundstage with some fun directionality. By and large, however, it’s a fairly straightforward mix that does the job right in creating a good slice of life feel. The music from the opening and closing sequences is often the biggest standout pieces, but some of the incidental music in the show works very well as does some of the bigger, more dramatic moments. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this thirteen-episode TV series and OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The release spreads the TV series over three discs with five on each while the third disc has the OVA. The show has a really great look to it with animation by David Production and the encoding captures beautifully and with so much color vibrancy. There’s a pretty regular dose of movement and activity in this, especially in the background with other characters moving about, but it balances that with somewhat simpler backgrounds so that it’s not killing the animators. The fast motion sequences look great throughout, the heavy use of red for the color design holds up well without issues, and the encoding across the board is clean and problem-free with no macroblocking, noise, or cross coloration. It’s definitely appealing.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than normal clear Blu-ray case that fits inside a plastic slipcase along with the booklet. The slipcase looks great as it uses familiar character artwork on the front with a nice contrast with the red and white even against the white background. The back of the slipcase has the technical information but is otherwise white with clear circles that let the back of the booklet show through. That’s where we get six chibi form characters from the show that are just adorable. The booklet is great as the front features the platelets running around while inside we get a ton of character material, some location information and shots, and the lyrics to the English version of the theme song for it that was produced. The case artwork uses two pieces from the Japanese side to give more of the main cast some time to shine while the reverse side features a look at part of the interior of the city done in red and white negative style imaging.

Menu:
The menu design here is pretty standard but it works very well. With a lot of scenes from the show playing out in clips to music from the show, it’s busy and draws you into the wackiness pretty quickly. The top has the red line work similar to the logo moving across it while the left has the logo itself which looks great. The navigation along the bottom sets up some nice chained style pieces in red while the animation plays out below it and everything is smooth with quick loads and a nice upper-layer submenu that comes up quickly. The menu functions well as both the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback with ease changing of the audio during playback as well.

Extras:
The extras for this release include the familiar pieces that we like where we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as a selection of commercials. One of my favorite additions I wish we saw more of is in the form of dub bloopers where they definitely have some silliness going on. We also get five of the bonus shorts that were produced for it, the little chibi pieces that add a little more side silliness and color to it on the cheap for fans.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Akane Shimizu, Cells at Work is a thirteen-episode series and OVA that ran in 2018. The show has lined up a second season already which is definitely a great sign as to how well-received this was. The original manga began back in 2015 and has just give volumes to its name from running in Monthly Shonen Sirius but it has several spinoffs with other creators, such as Bacteria at Work, Cells that Don’t Work, and Cells at Work! Code Black among others. The anime came from David Production and landed in the summer season and ended up definitely garnering a lot of attention. With an RN as my significant other, even she had heard about the show through the medical community and there are some great videos with medical professionals that talk about just how accurate it all is while adjusting for it being a storytelling series and putting so much of it in human form.

The premise really is very simple. It’s a story told within a single body where we follow a range of cells that keep things functioning. It’s mostly made up of standalone episodes that focuses on various events, mostly things that aren’t too serious at times, but it goes very serious for the final two main episodes with a specific event happening that could lead to death. The buildup throughout the show gives this event a lot of impact because everyone is all hands on deck to keep functioning but can do only so much when you get down to it. The show also has an OVA that comes at the end that while it does involve some of the main cast it focuses primarily on one cell that’s going through the division process and dealing with preparing for a new roommate. The humor is ideal as we see him understanding how boring it is to just keep dividing while also making sure that he keeps all his own stuff separate so that his new clone doesn’t take any of it. There’s some good, sharp humor in here working with the situations.

Our primary focus, however, is on a Red Blood Cell that has graduated to doing her job, delivering all kinds of nutrients, oxygen, and carbon dioxide all over the body. She has the right kind of enthusiasm and spirit for it but she constantly gets lost and screws up in this way. She’s a delight to watch as we see her world through her eyes while also seeing a White Blood Cell that watches over her and has since she was little. There’s a great sequence seen later in the series where we see how he saved her when she was little and he’s intent on doing that regularly now that she’s in her job. You can imagine a romantic relationship from this but it really feels more like a platonic love most of the time more than anything else. He’s got the cool older brother vibe about him as he sits with her and comforts her at times while also protecting her fiercely when various events happen.

We get introduced to a lot of fun characters along the way (which aren’t exactly unique as there are multiples of each running around in the body, but we do tend to get a “lead” one in this sense for viewers to latch onto) such as the platelets that are fixing things and are shown as kids since they’re such small cells. We get the Killer T Cell that deals with things, the MAcrophage that is hilariously done up as maids with big smiles but is definitely dangerous. The show introduces a lot of things over the course of its run so that we see the flow of everything moving through the city and landscape of the body and it’s just delightful. It’s firing on all cylinders more often than not and seeing hundreds of red cells moving through carrying boxes in different ways, or watching the cells go through division, it all delivers a really fun experience. At the same time, we also see darker elements coming into it that call out the attack cells when there are bacteria, cancerous type cells, and the two-part hemorrhagic shock storyline that really puts the body that we’re in through a shock.

In Summary:
This series is made up of a lot of small moments that involved Red Blood Cell as she does her best to do her job with the support of everyone around her. It’s absolutely cute and enchanting because there’s no real malice here in the show, even when you get the nasty cells showing up because they’re just following their programming. It’s a full realized world in some great ways here and seeing the interpretation of the body in this form really is delightful. There’s something to be said for capturing so much authenticity and presenting it in such a fun way that you really do hope it’s part of an educational curriculum ins ome ways just to make things more accessible to people – hell, it could inspire a lot of kids into the medical field just because of how accessible it makes it all. Aniplex’s release is a blast. It looks great, sounds great with a strong dub, delivers on the extras, and has a good package to wrap it all up in even if I wish it was a heavy chipboard box. Fans of the show will definitely be pleased by the end result.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening & Ending, Teaser, Trailers and Commercials, 5 Animated Shorts, and Opening Song in English

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
MSRP: $169.98
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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