Cells at Work!! Season 2
Episode 5

by Lynzee Loveridge,

How would you rate episode 5 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!

This week we continue our exploration of the amazing benefits of lactic acid bacteria. The Ordinary Cell lost one of the remaining two bacteria in his possession and goes on a mad mission to recover it with the help of White Blood Cell, all the while attempting to hide his intentions from Natural Killer (NK) Cell. He's quite concerned about the bacteria's whereabouts and is desperately searching the small intestine. Fortunately the little bean was quickly found by Dendritic Cell and is happily feasting on cookies.

During the ongoing search, an influenza virus breakout begins multiplying in the intestine, leading to a stomach ache. Unlike previous appearances, this flu is resistant to White Blood Cell and NK Cell's efforts. B Cell attempts to provide back-up with the high-strung Memory Cell in tow but its no use. This is a new strain of the flu and as such, none of the body's cells as the necessary antigens to quickly defeat it.

This is an example of antigenic shift, something we've begun to see happen to the COVID-19 virus, and is the reason why an annual flu shot recommended. The yearly flu shot is made to combat the most common strains seen each year to help prevent what we see happen in this episode. When it comes to this body though, the cells will have to go about it the hard way and by that I mean blackmail?

This was the first time where the animated depiction of a cell process felt too weird. The basic idea is the lactic acid bacteria in Dendritic Cell's possession provides him with polysaccharides (basically complex carbs) that 'activate him' so he looks like a drunk version of Elton John. While in his activated state, he distributes embarrassing photos of the cells which somehow cause them to power up out of shame. The whole photo bit is supposed to represent Dendritic Cell releasing cytokines that cause other cells to have, at least in this case, positive immune response. Now, the photos themselves are pretty funny. There's one of WBC looking dejected as a platelet runs into the arms of a macrophage and yet another of B Cell getting shook down by platelets after causing them to drop their ice cream. As much as I appreciate the gag, when put all together with Dendritic Cell it becomes too nonsensical.

Anyway, the latest lactic acid bacteria goes to join its brethren in the small intestine, leaving Ordinary Cell with just one bacteria left and ominous foreshadowing that Cancer Cells will be the focal point next week.

On a small TL note, it seemed a little tone deaf to directly translate "Black History Universe!" in a gag about someone's embarrassing past being uncovered...during literal Black History month? Especially when the point of the gag would call for "Dark Past" as a more apt translation.

Observations from Matt (RN): It seems like for these probiotic episodes they're really reaching for some recent research that isn't exactly considered "confirmed." It's more accurate to say, "this is a new and emerging field that has lots of valuable potential, let's research more." There's a lot of new research going on about intestinal flora and the role it plays in the immune system, and it's exciting to see where it's going, but I would again caution people from viewing probiotics as some sort of panacea. Evidence certainly exists that probiotics help modulate immune response, but there's a lot of learning left to be done.


Cells at Work!! is currently streaming on Funimation.

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