How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift Anime (2019) Review

How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? (ダンベル何キロ持てる? Danberu Nan-Kiro Moteru?, lit. “How Many Kilograms of Dumbbell Can You Lift?”) is a Japanese manga series written by Yabako Sandrovich and illustrated by MAAM. It has been serialized via Shogakukan’s Ura Sunday website and MangaONE app since 2016 and has been collected in eight tankōbon volumes. The manga is licensed in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment. An anime adaptation by Doga Kobo aired from July 3, 2019 to September 18, 2019.

Synopsis

Hibiki Sakura is a second year high school girl who has a voracious appetite; this habit leads to her gaining weight. Once this is brought to her attention, she relunctantly thinks about joining the Silverman Gym. At the gym, Hibiki finds out that Akemi Soryuin, a schoolmate of hers, is also thinking about joining. Upon meeting Naruzo Machio, one of the trainers, she falls heads over heels in love with him and joins the gym. Motivated, Hibiki vows to lose weight.

My Personal Thoughts

Cute girls doing cute things has been the winning formula in anime throughout the last decade, consistently producing popular series that aim to show just how cute their cute thing can be. This template has become so popular it’s been applied to everything from music, to camping, to bread (for some reason), and has reportedly been successful in drawing increased public attention to the topics the anime series have covered. In light of this success, semi-newcomer director Mitsue Yamazaki (Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai) and cute-girls anime pioneer studio Doga Kobo have graced us with Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?

The plot involves high school gyaru Hibiki Sakura who joins the famous Silver Man gym after failing to stay committed to working out at home. She and the audience are treated to a dozen episodes of exercise edutainment and gratuitous fit-girl fanservice courtesy of easygoing personal trainer Naruzou Machio, student council president and muscle adoring Akemi Souryuuin, boxer best friend Ayaka Uehara, love-starved teacher Satomi Tachibana, and fiery arm wrestler Gina Boyd. Their shared quest for body improvement promises to treat the voyeur viewer to endearing escapades and fitness fetishization.

Smartbell

The most important way Dumbbell distinguishes itself from the pack is through its focus on viewer education. While its genre contemporaries mostly commodify their subject matter into moe gimmicks, this show is the rare exception that is not only well researched, but takes time out of each episode to directly educate the viewer on proper workout routines, how to develop good eating habits and dispel common exercise myths (did you know you’re not supposed to stretch before a workout? We didn’t).

Helpful facts like these are sprinkled throughout each episode and the show spaces them out evenly while giving them all a lighthearted tone which keeps the pacing tight and never makes the lessons come off as condescending. If you want to learn how to reach your fitness goals, a gym membership is probably your best avenue, but if you must do so through anime, this one will definitely help.

Motivation

Some people listen to music during their workouts, cool people watch anime. And since the entire point of Dumbbell is to sell viewers on how awesome exercising is, its visuals paint a picture of the practice that’s sure to keep you in the spirit to sweat. Male characters are animated like powerful shonen heroes and female ones are all drawn with lean alluring physiques.

The aesthetic admittedly leans much more towards male appeal, but never to the point of exclusivity and people of all walks of life will be able to get behind Dumbbell’s attractive portrayal of exercise.

How Many Unrealistic Body Standards Can You Lift?

Since the series begins with Hibiki deciding she needs to lose weight, you would expect her to be at least a bit heavier than average, but aside from maybe 2 shots she’s drawn with a completely average build before she ever starts losing weight and the implication that other people with completely normal body types should immediately lose weight is an uncomfortable one.

Some could attribute this inconsistency to cultural differences, but the fact that Japanese people tend to be on the skinnier side means little when we don’t even see any improvement on this journey of body improvement. Later episodes repeatedly discuss how well Hibiki’s figure is improving… only to show her looking exactly like how she started, which heavily undercuts Dumbbell’s narrative flow.

Easy on the Ecchi

Arguably the biggest error in bringing Yabako Sandrovich’s manga to television was losing the images’ lewdness. The animated scenes still maintain a sexual direction through choice of angles and the occasional moan from a girl lifting weights, but it’s nothing compared to the manga which was overflowing with detailed body outlines borderline o-faces and so many ecchi poses that it even makes the act of grabbing a water bottle seem like a sex act.

The girls in the anime are still drawn attractively, but it loses a large portion of the manga’s appeal by toning down its sexual angle. To be fair, some may enjoy the series more without these fetishistic aspects, but those whose enjoyment of ecchi shows is inversely proportionate to how ecchi they are are probably just better off not watching ecchi shows regardless.

This workout fanservice show may lean much more on the workout than the fanservice, but what it does with that stance works out (heh) well enough to be educational and entertaining. Be sure to leave a comment telling us what you thought of the show and how heavy the dumbbells you lift are and be sure to stick around for more on anime and fitness… or at least one of those.

I will rate this Anime 6/10.

GenreComedy, sports (weightlifting)
Manga
Written byYabako Sandrovich
Illustrated byMAAM
Published byShogakukan
English publisherNA Seven Seas Entertainment
DemographicShōnen
ImprintUra Sunday Comics
MagazineUra Sunday
MangaONE
Original run2016 – present
Volumes8
Anime television series
Directed byMitsue Yamazaki
Written byFumihiko Shimo
Music byYukari Hashimoto
StudioDoga Kobo
Licensed byNA Funimation
Original networkAT-X, Tokyo MX, KBS, SUN, TVA, BS11
Original run July 3, 2019 – September 18, 2019
Episodes12 (List of episodes)

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