WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Cells at Work! Season 2, Episode 4, "H. Pylori/Antigenic Shift," now streaming on Funimation.
The Immune Cells are often lauded as the heroes of the body, with White Blood Cells the front-line of defense, but an unlikely hero rises to the occasion in this week's episode of Cells at Work! An Ordinary Cell, aptly named because he really doesn't stand out, gets a little disgruntled that Ordinary Cells are often the ones who have to be rescued. An opportunity for him to rise up as a hero comes in the form of four unexpected (but ridiculously cute) germs.
An Inadvertent Hero
Ordinary Cells frankly don't do much: they sit at home and wait for Red Blood Cells to deliver their nutrients and oxygen and they're usually the first ones to get infected by viruses and bacteria. Most Ordinary Cells are OK with their lot in life... but one's tired of being on the sidelines. Grumbling that he wants to be thanked for being a hero, Ordinary Cell happens across four of the most adorable-looking germs drowning in a river.
Initially conflicted, Ordinary Cell isn't able to turn away and rescues them. Unwilling to part with their new savior, the germs cling onto him and he has no choice but to take them back home. As luck would have it, U-1146 and AE3803 arrive at his place with the former having detected some antigens. Despite Ordinary Cell trying to pretend there was nobody at home, U-1146 still barged in, under the belief that he must have been held hostage.
Although U-1146 can see for himself that the germs don't seem to pose any danger, he knows that they're far from harmless. No matter how innocent these germs look, they're still germs and U-1146's job is to protect the body. U-1146 takes them away to kill them without Ordinary Cell watching.
A Selfless Act
Suddenly called to the stomach, U-1146 rushes away but not without Ordinary Cell tailing him. He knows that U-1146 is only looking out for everyone, but now Ordinary Cell has someone (or four someones) he has to protect. Meanwhile, U-1146 finds himself facing off a formidable foe: H. pylori, a bacteria who normally would have been killed by the stomach's gastric acid, but is resistant to it. If left unchecked, H. pylori could cause stomach cancer.
Despite knowing that if he comes into contact with the gastric acid he'll die, U-1146 still charges forward, willing to stake his life for the sake of the host body. H. pylori starts thrashing about, destroying the stomach lining. Debris flies everywhere, with one particularly large piece of cement heading straight towards the basket of germs. Without even thinking, Ordinary Cell jumps, using his body to shield the germs.
Not All Germs are Bad
In the midst of the gastric acid attack, U-1146 loses one of the germs in the deadly acid. But he's not dead. In fact, the little one, infuriated by what happened, grows horns and defeats H. pylori with U-1146. It turns out that these germs are actually good bacteria. Known as lactic acid bacteria, they can be found in the digestive system and have the ability to suppress the activation of H. pylori. The celebration is short-lived when Ordinary Cell now has to let all the little ones join their friends around the digestive system.
This might be the first time anyone has ever felt fond of bacteria but how can you not be when you see those germs? Ordinary Cell was a hero in more ways than one in this episode: sure, he was the one who saved the lactic acid bacteria twice but he did an even greater feat: he managed to make U-1146 realize that these weren't bad germs. Now there's another danger, however, very few Immune Cells will be willing to take the time to determine which germ is good and which is bad. With one of Ordinary Cell's newfound friends missing, it may put the little germ in grave danger.