Is this the end for our microscopic heroes? The season closes out with a blood transfusion that takes the primary characters into a new, poorly-managed body just as the original host was finally getting his shit together. It doesn’t explicitly say there will be a season two but all the pieces are in play that would allow for it if the demand is there.
I’m getting ahead of myself though, as these were two very heavy episodes of Cells at Work! Code Black. RBC has finally gotten back on his feet after working through the trauma of losing his friend to stomach acid and is now paired with the newbie from a few episodes ago. The plaque and cholesterol build-up has reached its peak and that means the worst is finally happening: a heart attack.
As death seems inevitable, the finale delivers some of the most poignant scenes of the series and offers a conclusion to the overarching question of “what does it mean to live?” Cells at Work! Code Black has been frank about its opinion on Japanese work culture. After all, the series is structured like a critique of “Black” companies – workplaces that drive their employees to death. The anime industry is notorious for this and we’ve published articles covering drastic overwork at places like Madhouse and Studio 4c, refusal to pay overtime wages, and failures to negotiate with union reps. RBC has often been at odds between what he feels is his obligation and purpose and the horrid conditions of the body. At times he’s found different motivators, like matching WBC’s efforts or the importance of creating something for future generations. But Ganbare! can only get you so far as everything crumbles around you.
It’s in the finale that RBC finds a reason that satisfies him; he enjoys his job despite the hurdles and exertion and he’s not just going to roll over and die over a little thing like “cardiac arrest.” In contrast, another RBC gives a pretty moving speech about his own fatalism. If you don’t love what you’re doing, the grueling conditions will absolutely obliterate morale and I have sympathy for the cell that just wanted to let it all go. I also want to reiterate that just because you love your work doesn’t mean awful work conditions are acceptable.
However, like most of the previous health concerns in the series, the host body is resuscitated due to medical intervention. I imagine that the heart attack happened in a public place because CPR is administered, followed by a defibrillator until more substantial medical health arrives and surgery is performed to insert a stent (which looked pretty cool). The heart attack must have been the wake up call needed (you’d think the pulmonary embolism would have done it) because the body’s environment drastically improves. I mean, thinking logically about all the medical issues this body has ran into, you would think that the medical team would have started issuing warnings awhile ago. It’s possible he ignored them until the near-death experience.
As a whole, I feel like Cells at Work! Code Black does an excellent job at standing on its own and even excels beyond the original in some areas. The content still has its edutainment roots but the trials of the individual characters and how they cope with their work environments gives the show relevancy. I hope that we get a second season someday!
Cells at Work! Code Black is currently streaming on