Winter 2021 First Impressions: Drama and a Double Dose of Cells at Work

So this is the order I’m taking this time – although a bunch of anime have come out at this point (see explanation at end of post), I’m gonna take each one roughly as it came out originally, meaning the list looks something like this:

  • Vladlove
  • Skate-Leading Stars
  • Suppose a Kid...(etc.)
  • Hortensia Saga
  • Kumo Desu Ga, Nanika?
  • 2.43
  • Cells at Work!!
  • Cells at Work: Code Black
  • Back Arrow
  • Tomozaki
  • Praeter
  • Sk8
  • Horimiya
  • Mushoku Tensei
  • Kemono Jihen
  • Wonder Egg Priority
  • IChu
  • YuruCamp s2
  • Heaven’s Design Team
  • Ramune (I was too weirded out by the manga, so the anime will be just as bad, I think)
  • Ex-Arm
  • Dr Stone: Stone Wars
  • Wave! Surfing Yappe!
  • Bungo Stray Dogs Wan!

Kumo Desu Ga, Nanika?

I have no familiarity with the source material, so I didn’t know what to expect going in. Turns out it’s Millepensee and Shin Itagaki again, but this time, the work looks…kinda serviceable?…for a CGI-reliant work like it.

The anime’s kinda talk-heavy – I can live with it, but I don’t know if it can carry the entire thing through the season…that said, it does hint at bigger fight scenes happening further down the line, so I guess you need to stay positive on this front. Mostly how this anime’s going to stand out to people is its genre-savviness, as well as those points I’ve covered.

Notes:

  • …you know I don’t like 1st person cam, yeah?
  • …this is just Kumoko (as I’ve heard her being called) yelling so far…
  • I like how the ED has an English overlay and the style they’ve used for it. The music, though…? Nah.
  • “…a spider that just happens to have my memories.” – A butterfly dream, huh?
  • …well, at least this anime is well aware of the genre space it inhabits. Maybe you could say…it’s an isekai light novel, so what? *groans from the audience*
  • …well, you didn’t really “bring” your “brother’s” (?) corpse in case of an emergency, now, did you?
  • …welp, to have guts, you must eat guts. I guess that’s how it goes.
  • What’s a “skanda”?
  • …humans? Haven’t seen them almost all episode. What are they up to?
  • These designs sort of look like SAO’s. They’re not a dealbreaker yet, but they could be down the line…
  • This ED seems to take cues from Cop Craft’s OP (same studio). It also has some…“Aggretsuko rage”, I guess you could call it.

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2.43

I have no clue why this is called 2.43 and I don’t think I should ask. (Update: Apparently the net in volleyball is 2.43 metres high.)

That said, this is kind of like Haikyuu but kind of not. I watched Haikyuu for the first time last year during one of the anime club’s marathons. I could see plot points coming from ages away, simply because the fandom was nutty about so-and-so pairings of characters. From this, I predicted from the outset one Tobio Kageyama would join the Karasuno team eventually…and he did.

…This is precisely why I have personal vendettas against certain series – their very vocal fandoms ruining plot points for me, possibly due to my ability to join the dots in ways most people don’t.

Haikyuu aside, 2.43 is dramatic but also slightly BL-tinged, kind of like Hoshiai no Sora in how drama is the full focus but the BL vibes sort of hang in the background. Yuni clearly blushes a lot, even for someone who is being embarrassed about his childhood friend or worked up due to strenuous activities, and it may just be me consuming a lot of BL-adjacent stuff because that’s my genre space, but I’d like to see what could end up as “Given, but with volleyball”. (Still, regardless of the BL vibes…I worry Chika will be the “I do harsh things to you because I care about you” guy. That sort of guy is never good news.)

Notes:

  • *sees the colour of the volleyball* – Basically anything volleyball has to collaborate with volleyball maker Mikasa, doesn’t it?
  • This anime seems to like putting characters’ thoughts on the screen for dramatic impact. The CGI is sort of visible, but not a dealbreaker.
  • I’d thought I’d heard of this OP artist before, but it turns out I haven’t.
  • This series has a nice sense of force. You see those moments where the ball squishes, or when Yuni presses against the wall without thinking? Those.
  • These transitions are a bit hard to detect. I think I like Akudama Drive’s more overt ones more.
  • The serves are nothing special. Haikyuu does the same thing from the episode I saw of it.
  • For some reason, I can detect Chika’s jealousy when he discusses blocks and natural talent.
  • The ED scene where the face is replaced with flowers is pretty creepy. Like Jigokuraku or something.

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Cells at Work!!

…nothing new if you’ve seen s1, aside from maybe the bigger focus on Backward Cap and the CGI (minimal).

Notes:

  • What are these blob creatures you see in the OP, anyway…?
  • I think I remember reading something that the numbers assigned to the cells aren’t arbitrary – they’re colors, e.g. RBCs get shades of red as their numbers.
  • D’aww, Platelets warm the heart. They really do.
  • Platelets have a master…? I thought they were all just lil’ kids.
  • “What the cell’s going on?!” – Oh, I remember seeing a tweet about this. I love that pun! Kudos to whoever was responsible for that.
  • Wait, Backward Cap is a she?!
  • Backward Cap = Ushiromae-chan.
  • Is that…a construction worker holding a giant pudding?!

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Cells at Work! Code Black

Already, this anime is saying a bunch more things than the original is. That’s great, because the OG won’t really move above a certain standard in regards to narrative themes, even if it tackles something huge like it did with cancer.

Notes:

  • This anime is called “black” due to black companies. It’s Code Black to avoid being racist, I guess. I’m looking forward to it because it’s undoubtedly going to show a dark side to the main series…
  • …and there it is, the RBC complaining.
  • I assume OJT = on the job training.
  • I knew “pespin” (sic) was a typo. It’s pepsin.
  • Now that I’ve been working at customer service for two years (give or take COVID), I can see where the senpai RBC is smoothing over the relations.
  • …that also means I know where to suppress my emotions. I’m not a person who opens up to people easily without getting used to them, so people never see me as suitable for customer service anyway, but it’s the only experience I have so *shrugs*.
  • …oh gosh. I haven’t seen these words since…the time I was still learning biology.
  • …*sigh* Rookie RBC is worried about boobs.
  • The fact Senpai lost his iconic hat…is kinda sad, actually.
  • Hmm…does the male WBC from the main series wear black fingerless gloves?
  • I thought I’d heard of this artist before…but turns out I just can’t distinguish really autotuned artists from each other…(lel)

Ratings

I think this time, because a lot of them are middling, I’m looking for originality as well as the ability to grab me. That’s probably why I’m giving Skate-Leading Stars more credit that it should possibly have – because it’s offering a team-based spin on a solitary sport.

Keepers:

  • Cells at Work Code Black (1 ep)
  • Skate-Leading Stars (2 eps)
  • 2.43 (1 ep)
  • Kumo Desu Ga (1 ep)
  • Cells at Work!! (1 ep)
  • Hortensia Saga (1 ep)

Dropped:

  • Suppose a Kid (etc.) (1 ep)
  • Vladlove (1 ep)

So how do you like these anime? Are there any other anime I should be checking out this season? (Note I haven’t gotten around to most of them at the time of writing this post due to things like clearing up fall backlog, plus #AniTwitWatches and that translation sucking up more time than I’d like to admit, so it might take a bit until the corresponding post comes out, but you can see my pre-season list here.)

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