Hataraku Saibou: Could be darker

Hataraku Saibou is a David Production anime based off of a manga by Shimizu Akane. Yes, this is the same studio that worked on JoJo and Neptunia. I haven’t seen anything bad from them yet, but it’s a sample size of two franchises. We’ll have to see how this one turns out.

Cells at work

Story:

Our tale takes place inside the human body where trillions of personified cells go about their respective jobs. Each episode basically covers a different ailment and its impact on the body from the perspective of the body being like a sprawling metropolis and the cells being like people. There’s Allergies, a Knee Scrape, Cancer, Heat Stroke and more.

Now, I like the idea of it. And, as far as I can recall from my Anatomy/ Biology classes, the information they present seems to be fairly accurate. That being said, the humour isn’t all that strong. It’s the type you get that’s mildly entertaining and a bit funny but not the kind that’s really memorable or uproariously funny.

Part of the issue is that the series spends so much time explaining itself. Telling us how platelets work. Explaining the different types of immune cells. Listing the symptoms that they’re showing at play. It’s like it’s trying to be one of those classroom videos that’s not all that entertaining but it’s better than listening to Mr. Weber’s monotone explanations so you appreciate getting your lessons from it instead of him.

Another issue, for me at least, is that I keep wanting it to go in a more macabre direction. The anime wants to keep following the same body so the danger is never insurmountable and always manages to be overcome. I’d like the morbid version where we follow different bodies through minor ailments and then see them beaten by something major. I want to see the cancer take over. I want to see the child of anti-vaxxers who dies of a completely preventable illness. But I’m also a morbid weirdo who likes to see media that finds the humour in things like death. It’s why I appreciate Life of Brian.

Characters:

The series has some major reoccurring cells you see throughout. The same handful of Red Cells, Immune cells and Platelets show up throughout. They aren’t really complex characters, but they have their charms and their interactions work pretty well but they’re also kind of bog-standard for a comedic work.

Art:

The artwork is well done. I can appreciate that they give every type of cell their own uniform that makes them readily identifiable in any group shot. The germ designs are very interesting. It’s obvious that Shimizu drew inspiration from what they actually look like but made them humanoid and far more complex. I’d like to see more done with the cityscape to make it more reminiscent of the inside of a human body. I think it looks a bit boring the way they did it.

Cells at Work1

Sound:

They got some strong performances from Hanazawa Kana, Maeno Tomoaki, Inoue Kikuko, Ono Daisuke and more. The music is fine. It’s not anything I would listen to by itself but it works well enough for the series.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. There’s not really romance in general beyond Red Cell blushing at White Cell.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Rely Less on Narration. Yes, I get that the series is putting in an effort to make the results of every incident accurate. However, we really don’t need a narrator to explain every single step and how it ties into reality. The series would honestly be better off giving its explanations as a post-credits thing or during the ending theme tune so that they’re less intrusive.
  2. Some dark humour would work a treat. With the gags based around cells in a human body, there’s so much potential to get a bit dark with the comedy and make it work really well. It just feels wasted.
  3. Make the cityscape a little less urban metropolis and a little more organic human body. Because the art is at its best with the germs where it combines the idea of the urban sprawl inside a human body with the reality of what these things actually look like.

Final Thoughts:

Hataraku Saibou is a decent anime. It has some charm, an interesting premise. For me it was just held back by comedy that never really soared, overly long narration explaining everything and character interactions that were a bit trite. So, I’ll give this one a 6/10. It’s okay if you want a quick little comedy that’ll keep you entertained. Nothing spectacular.

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