ARC Review: Cells at Work! Baby, Vol. 1 by Yasuhiro Fukuda & Akane Shimizu

Cells at Work! Baby, Vol. 1Cells at Work! Baby, Vol. 1 by Yasuhiro Fukuda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Join these cute baby cells as they work hard within their tiny body! A mini-Red Blood Cell picks up oxygen from the helpful ladies at the Placenta, and meets a White Blood Cell for the first time, in this adorable spinoff of Cells at Work! But when tremors begin to shake their world, they’ll need to consult the Gene Library to find out what’s going on! Could this be…a contraction? And might their body soon have to…fend for itself?!

Warnings: physiological challenges and medical crisis in fetus/newborn

After watching Cells at Work anime, I was very excited for this but was also curious how the ‘story setting’ can reflect any changes in storyline. For example, while the original Cells at Work is in a ‘regular’ body, Cells at Work: Code Black is in a body with deteriorating health, but a baby body would be similar to the original right, or so I thought. But Cells at Work! Baby truly brings a new perspective onto the same basic premise, and it starts with a baby that is just about to be born and the body adjusting to the change in environment from a womb to an independent life.

For those new to the series, Cells at Work universe anthropomorphizes the cells of your body, such that they are workers/employees in the big factory-like world of the body. (If you’re familiar with Osmosis Jones, you already get it) So, the red blood cells become delivery workers and their job is delivering oxygen (which appear like gas canisters in the series) to the ‘normal’ cells living in apartment complexes, and the arteries and veins are the roads of the ‘city’; the white blood cells are varied, so the neutrophils are wandering assassins, while helper T-cells and regulatory T-cells man the command center (which is Somewhere in the body?); and so on.

Anyway, back to the Baby – as usual, the red blood cells are the primary characters, with one extra-cute-adorable red blood cell as the main character, who like the other tiny red cells of the fetus aren’t really that organized; she is regularly scolded by the older brother-like character, F-cell, who is worried about this little klutz. The first major event is the labor, which is a new experience for all the cells, who don’t know what exactly the ‘earthquakes’ happening are, until the brain center looks up in the gene corner of the library to find out that it is an expected occurrence. Red blood cell and F-cell, who are both in the placenta at this time, have to escape via the umbilical cord back to the main body. Then, the challenges of this new independent body start – the cells have to go to the newly functional lungs but oh wait, it is not functioning yet due to amniotic fluids in lungs. The blood flow changes of the heart due to valve closures and diversions has the red blood cell confused. Then comes the surprise of the newly functioning stomach, and the baby’s first heat rash and invasion of skin bacteria (we get a cute cowardly child neutrophil in this series!). For the cells living in the body, it is all about the firsts and the new challenges they have to keep this body alive, and it particularly highlights their desire to work hard for the sake of the body.

The book is very informative, putting in details about the cells and their functions and all in neat boxes beside the artwork. The fetal stage scenes do have some extra information, like the dietary suggestions for pregnant people. I love the series universe on the whole for its accuracy (well, aside from the life expectancy of these cells, but we are not going to discuss that lol) and this one is no exception; I was delighted to find in the afterword that they actually worked with medical professionals to create this. Only thing missing was the cute platelets that I’ve come to expect; they have not made an appearance in this book and considering most of the cells in this are sort of children-like in size, I wonder how they will be added. As for the artwork, I was impressed with the transformation of an organic body into a factory-like world, but the character design didn’t impress me much. It was sort of chibi, but not: it would have been better to make them more cute in a truly chibi style, as the proportions and facial features are a bit off to be truly cute.

Nevertheless, I like this edutainment manga series and am looking forward to more!

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Kodansha Comics, via Netgalley.

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Buy links

Wordery | Bookshop

Releases on January 22, 2021

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