Today we have many audiovisual tools to learn in different disciplines, and this also applies to science. The appearance of these new media with which you can learn has marked a before and after in basic level environments such as schools or institutes, but also in universities and companies. Technology has made its way into teaching and learning in recent times, but it has also been enhanced during the pandemic , as much content has been shared and consumed digitally. Despite the fact that learning using technological supports has now been normalized, the existence of television series for informative purposes dates back several decades.
Learn through television series?
The mythical series Once upon a time… had the objective of entertaining as well as teaching and was broadcast for years in all its variants. The version Once upon a time… the human body (also known as Once upon a time… life ) inspired many boys and girls to dedicate themselves to science , since in its chapters they taught us how the cells of our organism worked and what happened when you got sick That series premiered in Spain on October 3, 1987 on TVE and for 26 episodes, on Saturday afternoons you could learn about DNA, neurons, the immune system, memory and aging. Today, the series contains several theories that have already been completely ruled out thanks to subsequent research and studies, but the format is still excellent for explaining complex processes with simple and visual explanations. Today we want to introduce you to the updated and improved version of this mythical series: the anime Cells at Work! (translated from the Japanese Hataraku Saibō and that in Spanish has kept the title in English).
An anime to learn about the immune system
This anime was released in 2018 and is based on a manga (commonly used to refer to comics of Japanese origin) that was published for the first time in 2015. Almost three decades after Once upon a time… , this new anime appears to explain how our body works, focusing on the immune system . The anime is updated according to the knowledge that we have today about the functioning of our body and the different immune responses against a wide variety of external stimuli. Its content focuses, above all, on how the immune system works against infections, allergies, a blood transfusion and even cancer. We learn about all these processes from the hand of a red blood cell as the main protagonist, and a neutrophil (a white blood cell that is part of the immune system) as the second protagonist .
The anime, in addition to bringing us a large number of scientific terms and physiological processes, shares many characteristic aspects of this genre of animation. We find a plot full of action and sprinkled with romance and reflections on good and evil, friendship or companionship. Considering that this is an anime rated for a 13+ audience, a basic understanding of human physiology and certain biological processes can be taken for granted. However, this anime can be enjoyed regardless of age and scientific background .
How rigorous is the scientific content?
This anime focuses on a disease or physiological process in each chapter so that at the end you have an overview of different mechanisms of the immune system using examples and specific situations. In this way, in each chapter we are presented with a new cell involved in the body’s defense against external molecules that may be dangerous (viruses or bacteria) or not (pollen) . Throughout the first season you learn about red blood cells, various types of white blood cells, platelets or cancer cells.
In general terms, the anime is very well documented and is able to expose common situations and illnesses while explaining the physiological processes involved in a fun and educational way. The plot is entertaining and it is not necessary to have any previous scientific knowledge to enjoy the explanations and learn.
Even those people who are dedicated to research in some of the fields that are mentioned in the anime , can enjoy this anime since the chapters are full of Easter eggs or small Easter eggs distributed among the characters with such good sense that you they bring out a smile. Some of these Easter eggs require very deep knowledge, so they tend to go unnoticed by most of the public. To give some examples without going into details, scientific references can be found in the identification tags of the characters, the reversible jacket of the protagonist, or antennas that imitate cellular receivers, among many others. Perhaps, just like the famous Once upon a time… the new anime Cells at Work! manages to inspire new generations of scientists and scientists.