It seems like Cells at Work! 5 was a surprise as in it was surprising that this was the apparently last entries in the original series; I had seen the pre-order for a vol. 6 that apparently got canceled for vague reasons. There does appear to be a spin off though, so the series isn’t exactly over. I don’t know what happened there, but vol. 5 does kind of seem like someone may have gotten a little tired or distracted by another project because it suddenly switches perspectives and it picks up a story-line that had already concluded, but apparently not really.
The premise of the series is pretty solid if you haven’t heard of it; it’s the biologically accurate inner-workings of the human body personified as the various cells go about their daily work. For most of the series, you follow Red Blood Cell, who is kind of a ditz, gets lost all the time, but generally means well and takes her job and her friends seriously. One of these friends is White Blood Cell, who is almost always covered in gore from having just slaughtered whatever germ he was just destroying. Vol. 5 actually focuses mostly on White Blood Cell, with Red Blood Cell making a token appearance towards the end of the volume.
As a character, White Blood Cell actually has a little depth to him, since his job is to protect the body by killing invaders, but he seems to have empathy sometimes, since one of the 2 main adventures he has involves re-encountering a cancer invasion from a previous volume. The cancer cell actually says at one point if he has to die, he’d rather it be done by someone he liked, like White Blood Cell. White Blood Cell actually listens to the backstories etc sometimes, and he also tries to play peacemaker between the Killer T Cell and NK (Natural Killer) Cell who are hunting the cancer along with him.
The actual character names are the cell types, and there are plenty of side-bar notes explaining the biology of the cell or process currently being mentioned or presented. I saw a Youtube video of an actual physician watching an episode, and he said it was actually pretty accurate in terms of the science and explanations.
The other story arc that kind of intertwines with the cancer hunt is that of a newish character, an ordinary cell of unspecified kind, who finds some cute bacteria and tries to protect them since he’s worried the likes of White Blood Cell will want to kill them. White Blood Cell does find him and his hidden bacteria pals, but it turns out they are good bacteria who just wandered away from their groups. The adventure then is to see each one back to its own kind, which naturally must involved getting into trouble that said bacteria can help with.
The anthropomorphicizing actually works, and you kind of learn some biology, even if you do have to roll your eyes a little at the clichéd nature of some of the characterizations and interactions. It’s part of the fun. The author of this series totally needs to design a textbook using the stories and characters; I’d be so into that. I’m almost, almost sorry I’m not a biology teacher, because this series would be absolutely perfect for class use, either as the book or the anime which I think just got a second season; hopefully that actually happens.