“Cedar Pollen Allergy”

「スギ花粉アレルギー」 (Sugi Kafun Allergy)

Doomsday, the apocalypse, whatever you call it. All is not well in the world of Hataraku Saibou, but isn’t that simply the usual? This time it begins with the harmless invasion of ginormous half-sentient beings, namely the cedar pollens. You could say that every cell absolutely panics once the immune system reports DEFCOM 1. But if the pollen looks that gigantic, while unapologetically floating around the body, I can begin to see why the immune system freaks out so much. That’s akin to having titans running amok in your city, and while these titans won’t go around eating people, there’s no telling what they might do. Would you needlessly poke a creature ten times your size to see how it would respond? No sane individual would want to test that out!

And outside of the regular grunt work that the White Blood Cells are responsible for, the difficult task of wholesale purging the pollen gets left to B Cell and Fat Cell. Both unintentionally bring the disaster up by a couple of notches through excessively carrying out their respective duties. Increased IgE levels leading to increased histamine levels and bam, we have a full crisis on our hands. Hooman decides to take a steroid pill to ease the symptoms, and enter a Terminator that resolves the situation by razing everything to the ground. When the smoke clears and the damage becomes apparent, who is to blame? While it might be easy to admonish some cells for overreacting, White Blood Cell makes a wise remark that reminded me of something I was forgetting. Human notions of common sense do not apply to these organisms, even if the cells receive anthropomorphic representation – everyone simply does their job as tasked by biology. If anything, I’d blame the human for taking overly strong medication. As someone who suffers from hayfever myself, I’d criticise the human in question for taking steroids, as opposed to anti-histamines, though I’m not in a position of medical know-how to query specific applications of medicinal items.

Even though I knew we were getting the hayfever episode and expected to see overreactions against the pollen, Hataraku Saibou continued to find new ways of pleasantly surprising me. The imagined occurrence of hayfever wildly exceeded my expectations, and the educational outlook further strengthened my understanding of how these kinds of allergic reactions take place. David Productions is clearly having a blast making this show, and it’s always nice to watch something that you can immediately tell is made from genuine heart and soul. Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to say. See you soon for what could very well be White Blood Cell: The Origination Story!



  1. There’s a spinoff called Cells at Work Black, if you’re interested.

    This spinoff has a different author/artist combo team doing it; instead of original creator Shimizu Akane.

    Black’s premise is the same as its parent, but grittier and bleaker.
    The human body for Black is unhealthy (hypertension, smoking, drinking, etc) so the cells work in a more stressful, dangerous environment than the main series.

    Cell genders are reversed also – red blood cells are male, while white blood cells are busty, katana-wielding warrior women.

    1. Considering that they’re also working in a male body, are the gender changes to be expected? Not that we know what gender the original source is working in, but it’s clearly defined in Black.

    1. Japanese name of mast cells can be literally translated as “fat cells” (fat like obese, not type of chemical substances). It’s a holdover from nineteen century when it was believed that they are responsible for providing nourishment to other cells, and named Mastzellen. With Mast meaning fattening in German. Both manga and anime spend some time explaining that they are named fat cells, but don’t have anything to do with fat. Which make sense in Japanese, but in English it doesn’t.

  2. In Canada at the very least, steroids are used nasally to treat symptoms of seasonal allergies located in the nose most of the time, because if used systemically, they’ll have a stronger effect, but also nastier side effects. We always go for antihistamines first when treating allergies systemically. No wonder this episode’s steroid drug gave the folks in this human body system hell LOL.

  3. In Canada as far as I know, steroids are used nasally initially to treat symptoms of seasonal allergies, while antihistamines are first line to treat the allergies systemically. Because steroids carry a nastier side effect profile when used systemically. No wonder that steroid death bot gave the inhabitants of the human body system hell LOL.

  4. Um, that is twice now I’ve been trying to get a comment down here about how nasty steroids are when used systemically, and for some reason, both times have been tied down by moderation. Am I saying something inappropriate I’m not aware of?

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