Blu-Ray Review: Cells at Work! – The Complete Collection

Red and White Blood Cells are brought to life in the comical, but informative story, of Cells at Work; but what does this Blu-Ray release of the series have in store for us? Let’s take a look and find out.

Synopsis:

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.

Our View:

This is the most fun I have ever had learning about how cells work in the body; move over micro-biology and hello Cells at Work! Adapted from Akane Shimizu’s manga of the same, and animated by David Productions, Cells at Work, otherwise known in Japan as Hataraku Saibō, tells the story of how cells protect the body from infections through the eyes of one particular Red Blood Cell. Everyone’s working for you and giving you all of their support in a story that is both informative and laugh-out-loud fun from start to finish; which seems to be a rarity these days with series focusing on melancholy drama, fan-service or shonen violence.

Cells at Work is a refreshing break from the norm and it follows a Red Blood Cell as she learns more about the human body and its cell infrastructure through individual episodes that focus on a different types of invasion. For Red Blood Cell she just wishes to complete her job of delivering oxygen to her destination safely, but with her terrible sense of direction, and lack of understanding for the human body, she finds it difficult to complete and this task is made even more difficult with the invasion of bacteria and the body suffering from different illnesses. Fortunately White Blood Cell, also known as Neutrophil, comes to her aid to attack these different types of invasions, of which look like monsters, and helps inform Red Blood Cell on how cells operate within the body.

This informative nature of the series overshadows all other elements of the story and as such each episode, of which has its own individual story that relates to a certain type of Cell (or character), ends up being a rinse and repeat process with only minor character development. As an example the first episode introduces the varying cells with the focus on Red and White Bloods and how they operate. The second episode meanwhile focuses on the platelets and how they help seal open wounds.

This theme continues onward until all of the notable cells, such as Killer T Cells, Neutrophils and Macrophages are introduced. What’s amusing is not how each cell is represented, and quite effectively and scientifically accurate we might add, but also the varying types of invasions and how they are represented.

The attention to detail, the artistic vision and the informative presentation of Cells at Work makes the series something of an oddity and a unique series to watch. At its core it is offer a simplistic entertaining perspective on how cells work in the body told for a specific cell; but outside of this informative nature its a rather mediocre rinse and repeat that ends just as quickly as it begins.

That’s not to say Cells at Work should be avoided, far from it, but if you are hoping for a series with a progressive story then you won’t find one here other than Red Blood Cells own growth of learning the body and how cells operate. It’s different, fun and artistically crafted but more so than that the production quality, in both audio and visual perspectives, makes Cells at Work stand out from other shows and well worth checking out.

Extras:

For this Blu-Ray release of Cells at Work it seems MVM Entertainment are using the disc masters authored by Madman Entertainment in Australia rather than the Aniplex US disc masters. The difference here is that the content is across two Blu-Ray discs as opposed to three but the selection of supplementary content still remains the same; all of which can be found on the second Blu-Ray disc.

In this instance viewers of Cells at Work will find Japanese promotional materials, of which consist of online trailers and TV adverts, that were used to promote the series in Japan along with Animated Shorts that see the Cells interact with each other through various different activities. These, although strictly presented in Japanese with English subtitles, do provide some additional comical moments with the shorts being in Chibi form. The final selection of bonus content is trailers for other Madman Entertainment releases, with some being available in the UK via other distribution networks.

In addition to regular bonus content we also have a ‘Special’ episode which sees the Cells work together to defeat a common cold – an infection which, as we all know, can be difficult to get rid of. Generally it is a well rounded-selection of supplementary content and goes well with the selection of episodes being offered across the two Blu-Ray discs.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 2:45:52 (Disc 1), 2:45:22 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Cells at Work is the refreshing change of pace in anime content that the medium needed to further expand its reach amongst the world; not simply because of its informative nature – which seems to be factually correct at its core – but due to the comical and charming nature of each episode. This being said the series is quite violent (with lots of blood spewing out from infections) so caution is advised – especially as it has only been rated PG in the UK. The story of Cells at Work follows the activities of Red Blood Cell as she attempts to deliver oxygen through the blood system to the relevant destinations. At first Red Blood Cell struggles with direction but with a little help from White Blood Cell, a cell which is usually used to defend the body from infections, she soon begins to learn about the body, her role and what it means to be a team player.

In addition to this journey of self-discovery and understanding we see White Blood Cell, and later other cells, work together to protect the body from infections – with cells represented as humans, infections depicted as monsters and the blood stream and organs illustrated as buildings and pathways.

It’s ingenuous how well and easily presented the world is and the added narration further explains the events that are occurring on screen. If the story of Red Blood Cell coming into her own was not one of enjoyment then the informative aspect, and some of the comical interactions between characters, will surely keep your attention. Mediocre perhaps, in regards to a story, but its attention to details makes it shine brightly and appeal to the masses. It certainly caught my attention at least.

When it comes to this Blu-Ray release via MVM Entertainment, with discs masters authored via Madman Entertainment, then it is simply business as usual for an Aniplex related release. This means standard stereo audio on both English and Japanese audio tracks with subtitles presented in that inconsistent manner of potentially changing position depending on the context in that moment. I for one mostly watched the English Dub due to how well it was presented.

The amount of bonus features on the Blu-Ray disc also warrant attention due to the inclusion of Animated Shorts that further explore characters in Chibi form and add a bit more comedy to a series that focuses on disasters and monsters appearing at any moment. Praise also has to be mentioned for the English dub, as the producers of this done have done an exceptional job in how it is presented with cast characters easily suiting their roles; and that’s even before we mentioned the opening song dubbed in English by the English voice actors – a trait that was also used in the Japanese version.

In short Cells at Work is a sit-back and enjoy the ride type of series that offers a mediocre story line that’s overshadowed by its quirkiness of informative nature. This isn’t a progressive story about saving the body, or embarking on a quest; it is simple a story on how blood cells work within the body through the eyes of one particular cell. Are you working? Of course I am!

Score: review-stars-5

Cells at Work! – The Complete Collection is now available on Blu-Ray in the UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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