Cells at Work! Volume 1
I may have enjoyed Cells at Work! so much because, when I first read it, I was getting over a winter cold. That made the exploration of the body’s defense system by Akane Shimizu even funnier to me, particularly when the giant missile labeled “Sneeze One” appears in a glorious two-page spread.
The cute young lady on the front cover is a red blood cell, responsible for moving packages of oxygen around the body. She’s new, so she keeps getting lost. The grumpy guy behind her is a white blood cell, a defender that she meets when she’s caught up in an attack by a nicely creepy looking bacterium.
Everything is high drama, punctuated by little caption boxes that explain the correct terminology and functions. It’s so crazy, so stereotypically manga in phrasing around the violence, while still being educational about how our bodies work. It’s also adorable, particularly the platelets. Since they are “relatively smaller than other cells”, they’re drawn as children. With a mission to make clots.
The four chapters cover pneumococcus (pneumonia germ), allergies, influenza, and and a scrape wound, which has a risk of infection. The second chapter is particularly hilarious to me as an allergy sufferer, since there’s a cell wandering around prophesying doom based on allergy symptoms. The allergens create a histamine reaction that keeps ramping up into tears and stuffy nose, until finally medication arrives. In the next chapter, cells that have caught the flu virus are drawn as zombies.
Although the chapters are similar in structure, the various challenges are different — and differently portrayed — enough that it kept my interest. I found Cells at Work! fantastic fun.