• Titles: Hataraku Saibou BLACK, Les brigades immunitaires BLACK
  • Genre: Educational, action, drama
  • Episodes: 13
  • Studio: LIDENFILMS

The human body is a miracle. The myriad of processes that keep us working is hard to even imagine. And it’s all thanks to trillions of cells that work together without rest, every single second. There are the white blood cells, macrophages and T cells that risk their lives to eliminate harmful intruders, the liver and kidney cells that give it their all to cleanse the body of impurities, there are all the cells in the stomach that make it possible for us to eat and digest food. Who doesn’t like to eat? And of course, there are the little red blood cells. Simple cells whose only job is to carry oxygen throughout the body. And yet, none of it would be possible without them!

I should preface this by saying that I watched and generally enjoyed Cells at Work. It was a bit childish but then again, I’m pretty sure it was for a younger age group and despite that, I had a good time with the series. I’m pretty sure that people who hadn’t studied immunology would have learned a thing or two from the show. And I was looking for more of the same from Code Black.

2 minutes into a new job… yup looks about right


Visually, Code Black is on par with the original Cells at Work. Which is to say, it’s o.k. I wouldn’t call this a stunning anime and I doubt anyone will immediately point to Cells at Work when describing how beautifully animated shows can be, but it’s never turned me off either. Everything about the production was competent.

As far as design choices go, that’s more likely a matter of taste. I’m not crazy about the colours in the series but then again, it’s not like they had free range. The cells are coloured according to their functions and the insides of animals are rarely full of rainbows.

those are bridges, not rainbows!

Story & Characters

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, to me Cells at Work came off as geared towards younger children. Maybe it’s just because my brain has made an association between the greater concept of edutainment and Sesame Street or maybe there really was something in the production itself that had a PG vibe. In any case, I personally never thought that was a bad thing.

Whether I’m right or not, Code Black gave me the impression that it was forcibly trying to age itself up. The entire show has a metaphor of toxic work culture running through it that is not likely to properly register unless you’ve had at least one sh*tty part-time job at some point. There’s also a more overt sexualization of most “female” characters in the show. I don’t know if female is the right word, they’re all non-sexual cells. Let’s say female-looking. The white blood cells have a fanservice design, with a lot of emphasis on large chests with completely exposed cleavage, both the liver and kidney cells are illustrated as beautiful women in the pleasure industry, the liver cells being hostesses and the kidney cells being soapland ladies. There’s even an episode dedicated to erections. I liked that episode.

Maybe they should change their uniform provider? that can’t be too comfortable

If for some reason, those elements weren’t enough to clearly signal that Cells at Work! Code Black isn’t for little kids anymore, the show is also a huge bummer. This time around, we’re following the body of an extremely unhealthy guy who has no intention of taking care of himself. In the span of the series, he goes through so many pretty bad health issues that I started wondering at episode 3 how he was still standing. And they don’t really pull punches in representing how bad lifestyle choices affect your body. In this case, drastically.

In fact, they are a bit too heavy-handed for my taste. Now, I enjoyed the show but not entirely on its own merits. If I’m to be objective, Cells at Work! Code Black was often melodramatic, the lessons it was teaching came off as preachy and the main character (gender-flipped red blood cell) is a complete Gary Stu. There’s little character evolution, with dramatic set pieces taking the place of real growth and even an after-credits end stinger that undoes all the build-up of the series.

on the other hand, the spermatozoa were hilarious looking

But I did like it… I will say that I think the actual explanations of how the body works were better in Code Black than in the original Cells at Work. Actually, it was a very good course in human biology all around. Also, the toxic workplace analogy brought something interesting to the mix. It’s rather broken as far as analogies go since most people can leave toxic workplace environments. It may be very difficult and maybe the financial aspects make it not a viable option, but it is in the realm of the possible. Once differentiated, cells can really only do one thing. And the show does insist on that point. As such, the dynamics towards their job sort of change. It’s not just their job, it’s literally their existence. This breaks the metaphor a bit but I still thought there was potential there.

And although I hated the preaching. I rolled my eyes a few times through the series. I can’t deny that a lot of it was true and hit home. As much as I hate to admit it, I did think to myself, I should make an effort to be a bit healthier. Considering my lifestyle and diet, that sadly means drinking less but hey, why not? It will make drinking nights more special! I’m a sap, so it probably won’t have the same effect on most people, but you know, even if it only has that effect on one other person, I think that’s pretty cool.


You might like this anime if:

You really need someone to shame you into taking better care of yourself. You like white boobies?

My favourite character:

Macrophage. (I always did like Macrophage)

Suggested drink:

Smooth Matcha Tea

  • Every time anyone gets killed – take a sip (yeah…that’s the first prompt)
  • Every time we find out a new bad habit of the body’s – tsk
  • Every time red blood cells are overworked – take a sip
  • Every time anyting is on fire – everything’s fine
  • Every time we see Macrophage – yay!
  • Every time there are some mean red blood cells – take a sip
  • Every time the body takes a drug – take a sip
  • Every time they delivery to the lady n the complex – take a sip
  • Every time anyone complains about how out of shape the body is – do some jumping jacks
  • Every time anyone needs a detox – take a sip
  • Every time you learn something about the human body – write it down
  • Every time white blood cell’s danger sense kicks in – take a sip
  • Every time blonde red blood cell gets jealous – take a sip
  • Every time we see the platelets – take a sip

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

2 thoughts

  1. I dropped this show. It’s not that I disliked it or anything. As far as I remember, it was a rather unusual situation. Regular Cells at Work had its second season airing simultaneously to this. I felt diminishing returns for season 2, and I was a tad uncomfortable with the broken black-company analogy you mention. I thought watching both shows was overkill, but couldn’t decide which one to drop, so I just drop both for peace of mind.

    I did see the spermatozoa episode, which was ridiculous. (Even in a healthy body, few of those hopeful little fellas would have accomplished anything.)

    1. I see it. I wouldn’t have been able to watch both cells at work at once. And I probably wouldn’t have picked the depressing one.

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