I’d like to think that I’ve watched just about everything under the sun, but when I first saw Cells at Work!, I knew I found something that felt brand-new in everything from episode content to execution.
Sure, this anime had all the great characters and interesting plots that I always love, but the premise was just a little more unusual…in the best way!
Each character in the Cells at Work! series is a different cell in the body of a person. And each have a specific job to do, whether it’s the Red Blood Cell protagonist, the White Blood Cells who protect the body, or the adorable Platelets who are constantly fixing and building things.
Together, they tell a comedic, slice of life tale that doubles as an educational anime about biology and the body.
After watching Season 1, I knew I wanted more. And that’s exactly what we got! Not only is there a second season of the series in Cells at Work!!, but there’s the darker, more serious Cells at Work! CODE BLACK as well.
You might be thinking, what’s the difference? Well, the good news is that with something for everyone, the Cells at Work! series will take you from light comedy to gritty action whenever you need. Let’s check out some of the unique things about each series!
So what’s the deal with Cells at Work! CODE BLACK?
However, we’re once again following a Red Blood Cell and his White Blood Cell companion as they traverse the body.
Where the main series is filled with bright colors, happy characters and stories involving things like allergies and acne, CODE BLACK is, well, totally the opposite. This is an adult body suffering the damage a lifetime of bad habits and questionable decisions, making it the perfect complement to Cells at Work! and its second season.
And honestly? Nothing’s made me want to change my bad habits quite like watching Cells at Work! CODE BLACK.
The world of…you!
Cells at Work! may be a little different than other anime, but it’s also pretty different from its own spin-off. See, Cells at Work! is largely a slice of life with comedy, education and a new monster-like creature to beat each week.
But the general concept of the worlds these characters inhabit are quite similar. For starters, they both live inside a human body, though these bodies’ interiors resemble the real world more than they do a biology textbook.
There are huge cities with tall apartment buildings, corridors and tunnels connecting organs, and high-tech hubs where orders are dished out to cells in other parts of the body.
And that’s more or less where the similarities end.
A lifetime of choices
Cells at Work! is generally a bright series, and its characters are fairly happy doing their work. The streets of their cities are clean, and the building they live in seem new.
On the other hand, things aren’t going as well for our Red Blood Cell friend in CODE BLACK. Colors in this series are darker and muted; tall building are worn down, and resident are fed up with the city’s infrastructure.
Muck and dirt line the streets and clog the tunnel-like arteries our characters have to travel through. Things are dire here, and this body has clearly been through some things. Its cells are nothing short of battle-hardened.
But it’s this dichotomy between young and aged that makes these two series work together so well. Almost like an anthology.
Who are the bad guys?
As you can probably imagine, the bad guys in both shows are things like germs, viruses and bacteria that’ve somehow entered their respective bodies. These are shown as evil creatures, beings that look and sound as scary as any monster.
However, they’re treated pretty differently depending on which series you’re watching.
Cells at Work! falls into a much more “monster of the week” pattern, as mentioned before. There are bad guys, but they always get what’s coming to them in the end. And while there may be casualties, everyone’s usually pretty OK at the end of most episodes.
Unfortunately for our favorite White Blood Cells in CODE BLACK, this isn’t always the case. Here, the high-stakes battles are more dangerous, which is when the body calls in a “Code Black.” (Get it?)
The monsters here are genuinely frightening and take no prisoners if something gets in their way. The body count is significant, and the death of cells (with helpful biological explanations!) take the forefront. Even the White Blood Cells illustrate this, with various characters scarred or missing parts of their body at the end of an episode.
Who can we root for?
Well, even if you’re familiar with the roles of different cells from Cells at Work!, they act a bit different depending on which series you’re watching.
In the main series, White Blood Cells are like superheroes, and Platelets are adorable children you want to protect with all your might! These guys generally make it out of battle unscathed.
In CODE BLACK? Well, Platelets are more like little delinquents. Don’t get us wrong, everyone here has lived a hard life in this body, but it’s hard to see these cells as the healthy heroes we see in the video Red Blood Cell watches in Episode 1.
The world isn’t as bright and beautiful anymore, but we can still root for these grizzled heroes as they fight against a body in torment!
So, which one should I watch?
Well, both! Hear us out. While both of these series revolve around similar concepts (like each episode focusing on something happening to the body), there’s a two-pronged story element you just can’t miss by not watching the whole thing.
By the end of each series’ first episode, you’ll be invested in what happens to both bodies. You’ll want to see how things change when you add elements like age, habits and time. One series is more educational, one is a bit more dystopian. But they work together.
It also means there’s a version of this incredible anime for everyone! So take your pick. Looking for a bit of comedy and education about the body? Well then, Cells at Work! and Cells at Work!! are your jam.
Want to follow the rugged soldiers of a war-torn world? Cells at Work! CODE BLACK is there too. And at the end of the day, I’m just happy there’s more to watch, and you can catch the Cells at Work! series subbed and dubbed right here on Funimation.