There’s seems to have been some drama behind the scenes before Cells at Work! Vol. 6 came out; a few years ago (pre-pandemic I think) it was listed for pre-order then disappeared. Now, it’s out as the final volume of the original series that’s now got a few spin-offs and an animation.
Overall, the basic premise of real biology science presented through manga/anime tropes is still here and fun, although maybe worn a touch thin in places. This volume feels a bit more episodic than the rest, even though previous volumes are divided into chapters that each cover a specific problem, like an allergy attack, but still sort of manage some continuity in a story, like Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell getting to know each other or presenting some backstory.
Volume 6 covers 5 scenarios including coronavirus (yes, THAT one), a bump on the head, psoriasis, left shift, and ips cells. There are two things that stand out; first, the ips cells chapter appears to have been corporately sponsored as in there’s an ad placement, which really takes away from the informational factual background once you notice it; I looked it up, the “sponsored by” element is a real company. While the information is interesting (basically there’s a technology that allows for cultured cells to be injected into a body that’s say losing sight, and the new cells take over the work from the ones that are dying out (rod cells in the case of this story), but the corporate reference is a little icky. Possibly, this treatment is trademarked and in order to use the method in the story, the author had to get permission, but still, it feels a little tainted. Too bad since the trope of snooty higher level person (a brain cell) who might actually be decent and the down on their luck downtrodden blue collar worker (the rod cell) reconnecting and supporting each other is a potentially entertaining and bittersweet way to deal with the medical scenario.
The second thing is that the coronavirus chapter seems rushed; given how relevant and shifting the information and science is there, the storyline of “we’re getting overrun and there’s hardly anything we can do/ we don’t really know what’s going on here but the power of believing in each other will work out” feels a little simplistic and maybe even a little dismissive of how much that illness really can impact people. It’s also one of the more irritating adventure/action tropes, even though I appreciate the cooperation theme, it just does not do justice to the subject.
The best chapter overall has got to be the left shift one; left shift is when immature immunes cells have to work as fully developed because their older counterparts have been used up thanks to an infection, which is an interesting process I’d never heard of. The story involves White Blood Cell and a fellow immune worker Eosinophil may have been defeated and share some memories of their past and who this older cell who inspired them to their current selves may have actually been (hint: a minor presence the entire series; I love the possibility that this was the plan the whole time, or even if it’s just a clever way to give a random character more story purpose).
Overall, I’m sorry the main series is over since I just haven’t found the adult problems one (getting drunk, losing your hair, maybe some std exposure, etc) or the baby one nearly as interesting story-wise, and this final volume mostly does justice to the series, even if it’s not all that conclusive. 3.5 if half stars were allowed.