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AKA: はたらく細胞
Genre: Comedy/Fantasy
Length: Television series, 8 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Aniplex of America, also available on Crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG (Violence, mature elements.)
Related Series: First Season; also an anime film in 2020
Also Recommended: Cells At Work! (First Season), Cells At Work! Code Black
Notes: Based on manga by Akane Shimizu

Cells At Work! (Season 2)


Things go on much as they previously have for these "cells" that are represented as human beings. This is exactly the problem.


Eight episodes? That's ALL??? But there was that end of the next-episode previews. And there was the dropping of this off Crunchy's simulcast season. And most of all, there was that seemingly hastily-added ending in Episode 8.

Maybe Covid could have something to do with it- though this show's spinoff, Code Black, is apparently going for a generous (for these days) thirteen episodes. But if this season couldn't get any more original than THIS, maybe it was better that it stopped early. For Season Two is basically a rerun of Season One, with just a few minor differences.

One change is that the show's focus shifts from Red Cell (who finally got to shine in the two-part ending of Season One), to White Cell. White Cell was scolded (well, to be honest, he was beaten up) by Killer T Cell in Season One for being too "soft" for an Immune Cell, but THIS time I think Killer T really has a point- THIS season, White Cell's sentimentality is occasionally so overdone that even I found it embarrassing.

We also finally do find out exactly what Dendritic Cell (the cheerful young man in the green uniform) DOES. It's surprisingly sleazy business for someone who SEEMS so innocent.

Another minor change was... wait a minute, WERE there any other changes? Once again, this season is just one reprise of the first season's Greatest Hits after another. This one follows the school of thought that holds that sequels should just double down on what worked the first time, so, for example, Memory Cell's memory is even worse than last time; now even his sense of TIME is confused (they REALLY need to find someone else for this job), though in fairness the episode featuring him is once again the most hilarious one.

Featuring that emphasis on sentimentality, there's some frankly schmaltzy stuff involving an Ordinary Cell and some "friendly" bacteria, but even this moves into some terrain familiar from Season One, INCLUDING the resurrection of- and TRIGGER WARNING here- Cancer Cell.

I know that some feel uncomfortable with even the MENTION of "The Emperor Of All Maladies" (as the title of a best seller on the subject called it), much less its presentation in a vehicle as seemingly frivolous as an anime comedy. (Author Norman Spinrad had some interesting remarks on the cultural taboos surrounding discussion of this topic in the Dangerous Visions Sci-Fi anthology.) I can understand these feelings in the abstract, even though I don't feel them that acutely myself- and I'm no stranger to loss from the disease, my own mother died from lymphoma- and at least Cells At Work! does regard this as the most powerful menace to the body (and no laughing matter.) And to be fair, things usually DO work out just like in Cells At Work!; most cancer cells ARE destroyed by the immune system. It's what usually happens. It just doesn't always happen...

No, to my mind the Greatest Sin of this season ISN'T that it has cancer in it; it's that it has cancer (and a lot of other things) in it AGAIN. Even the closing song, another by ClariS, sounds almost exactly the same as their closing song in First Season.

As I'm writing this, I'm still waiting for the spinoff show, Code Black, to finish. And I've got to admit that Code Black is the one to watch THIS time, with originality, creativity, and especially drama that Season 2 of the original (all 8 episodes of it) lacks- even if Code Black IS more explicitly aimed at a young male audience than the main show has been. (Code Black's also a terrific cautionary tale, but more on that when I finally do the review!) Still, if you watch CAW! S2 without having seen First Season, you'll probably enjoy it well enough.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: Again, cancer references here might make some audiences uncomfortable. Mild violence. I'll go PG again.

Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (8/8)
Cells At Work! (Season 2) © 2021 David Production
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