WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Cells at Work! CODE BLACK, Episode 2, "The Liver, Alcohol, and Pride," now streaming on Funimation.
In last week's premiere of Cells at Work! CODE BLACK, rookie Red Blood Cell AA2153 was given the shock of his life when he found himself working in a host that wasn't taking good care of their body. In his very first days of working, he saw cells looking exhausted as they worked constantly around the clock to keep the body functioning. In the process, he lost two senpais -- one of whom took him under his wing when the norm would have been for AA2153 to fend for himself.
Things don't get easier in CODE BLACK''s second episode. Not only is the host body addicted to smoking again after going 10 years without, AA2153 gets his first taste of alcohol and goes to his first "night club." This leads AA2153 to say some pretty hurtful things in his inebriated state but he does gain a new empathy for the other cells in the aftermath.
Code Black's Cells Go Clubbing to 'De-Stress'
After another tough day at work, AA2153 meets two new senpais -- the veteran remarks that he feels like it's going to "rain." It turns out "rain" is alcohol that comes from the sprinklers, used as a way to alleviate some of the stress that the host body is feeling. Soon enough, the rookies get drunk with AA2153's friend cursing and complaining, while AA2153 turns into a nervous wreck. The two senpais then take the young Red Blood Cells to the body's equivalent of the night-time entertainment district: the liver.
Filled with lights and lively sounds, the liver looks like an entirely different world. One of the most important organs, the liver breaks down toxins and produces bile, so it makes sense as to why the Red Blood Cells come here to detox. The older senpai leads them into a hostess club where most of the customers are accompanied by gorgeous Hepatocytes.
The Cells Also Drink to Sober Up
Responsible for metabolizing and detoxifying substances, three Hepatocytes sit with AA2153, his friend, and the veteran senpai. The pink-haired Hepatocyte offers them ADH, an enzyme that breaks down alcohol and converts it into acetaldehyde. The veteran urges them to forget about work and drink their sorrows away but all that does is make AA2153 remember the senpai from the last episode, who sacrificed himself. With a little encouragement, he chugs the ADH drink down.
A few seconds later, his fellow Red Blood Cells start complaining and a black haze, acetaldehyde, enshrouds them. Given that acetaldehyde is a toxin, the cells have to consume what looks like another alcoholic drink known as ALDH, which is the final step in detoxifying acetaldehyde. The crowd raises their glasses in a rousing cheer.
AA2153 Learns That No One Has It Easy
This infuriates AA2153. The stark contrast between what his senpais had to tragically go through to what he's witnessing now, where it looks like everyone in the club doesn't have a care in the world, is too much for him to accept. AA2153 explodes, pointing out that the Hepatocytes, with their carefree jobs making them the 'elite,' won't ever know what the cells in the lower-class, like the Red Blood Cells, have to endure -- working day in and out and constantly risking their lives. Before he can continue yelling, though, the veteran senpai throws his drink at him.
AA2153 quickly realizes that the Red Blood Cells aren't the only ones who have been suffering. With the sheer amount of alcohol that is being consumed, the Hepatocytes have clearly been severely affected by the toxins and are only barely hanging on -- otherwise known as liver failure. But for the sake of creating an illusion of paradise and temporary escape for the Red Blood Cells, they can only grin and bear it.
Red Blood Cell's survivor's guilt came out in the worst way possible in Episode 2 of Cell at Work! CODE BLACK. He takes it out on someone innocent; someone who understands, on some level, the pain he's going through. However, the one good thing that comes out of it is that he learns to have more empathy, realizing that the cells are all part of the same system. A body as unhealthy as this one means that when one part of it is suffering, it affects everyone, and it's something that AA2153 has to come to terms with.