Cells At Work: The First Cancer “Arc”


Cells at Work has become one of my favorite animes of this year. Not only is it extremely entertaining, but also rather biologically accurate in both its depictions of germs and bacteria, and how our cells react to them. So when I heard that the show was going to have episodes that dealt with cancer cells, I was both curious and hesitant. Cancer is always a touchy subject to discuss no matter who is involved. After I watched the episodes, I had mixed feelings over the episodes, but I think that was the writers intentions. Cells at Work personifies cells and germs and give them personalities that are based around their function in our body, White Blood Cells get rid of germs by brutally murdering them, because of all the different veins that run through our body it can get confusing and someone, like Red Blood Cell, to get lost.

With this in mind, it is only natural for the Cancer Cell to come across as sympathetic, as real life cancer cells are created by an error in cell division which causes it to grow rapidly. This kind of start can make the Cancer Cell appear sympathetic when he is personified in Cells at Work, which is where my mixed feelings come in. To simply explain, it is just weird to see a personification of cancer and feel somewhat sorry for it. Most other depictions of cancer are monstrous, disgusting, and vile, so to see a personification of cancer and feel bad for it feels off.

However while the writer does put the Cancer Cell in a sympathetic light, Akane Shimizu also makes it obvious that the Cancer Cell does not care what happens to the body, like any other bacteria, and should be taken down just the same. Also, from what I have heard from those that have read ahead in the manga, Cancer Cell’s next appearance will be much more hostile and antagonistic.

Overall, this first “arc” of Cancer Cell was extremely interesting to watch as while he was sympathetic, he was still shown to be in the wrong with his goals and views, and he still needed to be dealt with, something that is not done often with most modern villains.

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