Nerd-Factual Accuracy in Fiction

Last season there was this anime called Cells at Work. It was a fun(?) story about how different cells in a human’s body can be personified into the usual anime characters and interact somewhat based on their perceived biological functions. Swallowing foreign substances and breaking them down become the equivalent of hacking at a monster with a knife, for example.

Cutting to the chase, I dropped the show because of its depiction of the digestive system as a volcanic pit of acids. There are no good bacterias the show, ever (at least at where I dropped the show half way through). And frankly that’s just not how it actually works. The way bacteria is depicted in Cells at Work suggests a particular view about the body that is a little too germaphobic for me. Plus, isn’t it just a really “derpy” way to detail, say, House? We are seeing some common human illnesses depicted in epic proportions. Maybe it’s kind of nice to see a message about cellular mutation happening dozens of times a day inside the body of an adult but, I don’t know if I dig this worldview. It puts too much emphasis on “us” versus “them”; when at the microscopic level, we’re all just a bunch of biochemical mechanisms. Mutations always will happen, and humans evolve because of it–it’s such a cartoony black & white take in Cells.

It’s a lot more offensive to my senses than, say, how in Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai’s (Senshun Butayarou (the series) henceforth) description of the thought experiment of Schrodinger’s Cat. Like, okay, you are 90% there but you miss the big fat quantum quality to it. It is the crux of countless FTL theory talk or why giant robots could be made as spoken by countless middle schoolers. I don’t really mind it that much, other than I wish mass media would at least get the science right. If the idea was observation affects the experiment, then that point was made, which is why I’d give Senshun Butayarou at least a passing grade.

For a high school romantic comedy revolving around supernatural mysteries, though, framing the inquiry with a thought experiment is a classy take. I always liked those X-Files episodes. The wiggle space of a different, unexplained phenomenon makes using a thought experiment to explain how the protagonists figure things out makes a lot of sense as long as they don’t rely on it too much. One could say Senshun Butayarou crossed that line, but maybe not far enough.

PS. Slowly unpacking new anime of Q42018, but I’m getting there. I left a lot of Q3 shows in the dust because of my trip to Taiwan and Hokkaido in late September. I’m not sure I’ve recovered from that yet (thus a 30+day gap on blogging). I only learned about “Thunder Thigh Takarada” the other day but I did not know canon fetishism baked into the design could spur this kind of outpouring. Gridman is coincidentally good, so maybe that contributes.


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