Cells at Work!! Season 2
Episode 3

by Lynzee Loveridge,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Cells at Work!! (TV 2) ?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions in these reviews are observations made by the reviewer(s) and should in no way be construed as medical advice! If you have a question, please contact your general practitioner for information!

I had tons more fun with this episode's foray into autoimmune responses and blemishes than I expected! I even learned a bit about those dreaded pimples despite dealing with them for the better part of my life. That's right, this week Cells at Work is looking at allergies, dengue fever, and the difficult lives of hair matrix cells (who get doubly beat-up this week in CODE BLACK).

The beginning of the episode discusses allergic reactions in a way that closely mirrors conversations I've had with Matt in the past. Usually that conversation centers on "how the heck did humans evolve without getting rid of allergies?" I say this as a person with zero known allergies, unless you count a slight sensitivity to citrus that leaves my tongue and palette numb if I eat fresh pineapple or kiwi. Otherwise, no allergy-like symptoms here be it food, seasonal, or medicinal. However, I know plenty of people that do suffer from allergies with a range of acuteness. Unprocessed almonds, for instance, will send my mom to the hospital. The version we see in this episode isn't that extreme; it's more along the lines of the itchy eyes and sneezing that can accompany mold, mildew, pollen, or freshly cut grass.

What happens is the Mast Cell overreacts to well, things that are harmless, and floods the bloodstream with histamines causing the allergic reaction. She does it at the drop of a hat but her intentions are honest: she's doing her best to protect the body from what she thinks are dangerous invaders. Of course, the other cells are downright sick of it and confront Mast Cell for her overreaction, even calling her "hysterical." I couldn't help but laugh though because the episode was giving an animated version of the aforementioned conversation. How the heck did humans make it this far with a defense mechanism that will close down your throat when you eat a harmless nut that it thinks is dangerous to the point that you suffocate. HOW IS THAT A HELPFUL DEFENSE MECHANISM? "I want to prevent you from ingesting anymore of this (harmless) thing, you don't need oxygen, right?"

This leads Mast Cell to adopting what I like to call the "Lynzee approach", i.e. pouting and not helping out of spite. No, it's not one of my finer qualities but I relate to her feelings on a primordial level. Unfortunately for the rest of the body, this is when Dengue Fever decides to make an appearance courtesy of nature's worst germ offender, a mosquito. Dengue fever itself can be naturally fought off by the body and that's how things work out when Mast Cell (eventually) decides to hit the histamine button again.

The zit portion of the episode might leave some folks squeamish. It shows how a pore and the corresponding hair matrix cells are forced to overproduce sebum by what are usually ordinary bacteria. The bacteria enjoy eating the sebum, essentially naturally-produced oils. The oil builds up, the germs multiply, white blood cells die fighting the germs leading to the creation of pus and there you have it – one inflamed poor zit ready to pop. Even thinking about this episode desperately makes me want to wash my face and I'll admit, the hair matrix cells give me the heebie-jeebies. I know they're just folks in funny hats, but they just kept reminding me of ingrown hairs and icckkk.

Animation-wise this episode looks a lot like episode two, so we might as well be prepared for some off-model shots and cel-shading. I'm still overall entertained by this otherwise completely inoffensive show and how it cleverly introduces information about bodily processes; that said, it would be neat if it started to reach out beyond its formula to show more organs like the heart, kidneys, etc.

Observations from Matt (RN): Mast cells release histamines in reaction to substances it thinks are hazardous to the body. Often mast cells erroneously release histamines to items it thinks are dangerous, but aren't, such as pollen, latex, shellfish, peanuts, and more. As represented in the episode, the mast cell doesn't really decide what is and isn't dangerous, it's told by lymphocytes. Because allergies are based on an immune response, people often don't have a true allergic reaction until the second time they are exposed to something. The mast cells see what they view as an intruder and release histamines to increase blood flow to the area to trigger an immune response.


Cells at Work!! is currently streaming on Funimation.

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