I’ll Review Anything: Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? (How Heavy are the Dumbbell You Lift?)

People used to give me a hard time about how much time I spend watching movies and television. They also say that it’s a waste of time to play all those video games and watch all that anime. Well, I say that they’re the ones who’ve been wasting their time as there have been more than a few times that I would tell them something useful because I have been enjoying those “time wasters.”

From anime alone, I have learned a few things that they have no idea about. I learned that an allergy is the body’s immune system trying to attack something that’s actually harmless from watching Cells at Work. I actually got motivated to learn how to cook good food by watching Food Wars/Shokugeki no Soma. I am now learning a little bit more on how to be more healthy by learning exercises from an anime.

That anime is Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? Also known as How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? in English.

Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?/ How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? (I’ll just be calling Dumbbells from now on) follows the misadventures of Hibiki Sakura, a high school girl who, after trying to lose weight by herself, decides to enroll in a gym. Despite discovering that Silverman Gym is more focused on bodybuilding than what she expected, she still decides to join because her personal trailer, Machio Naruzo, is attractive. Thus begins Hibiki and her friends’ journey into the world of resistance training and healthy living.

How I discovered Dumbbells was by accident. I have been trying to be a little more conscious about by health for the past couple of years. The problem is I’m too much of a cheapskate and too lazy to actually go to they gym. So I have been working out at home with a pair of dumbbells and going on YouTube for a lot of advice on how to exercise, use proper form and whatnot. During one of those searches, I came across a fitness instructor named JaxBlade who was reacting to Dumbbells. He was impressed at how good the advice was and how accurate the workout demonstrations were. But the thing that made we want to watch it was that he was having a good time watching Dumbbells.

I will say that I will agree with JaxBlade that most of the workout tips that Dumbbells doles out are pretty much in line with a lot of the exercise tips I have found. These are things that you may not really catch if you just watch someone working out. For example, in Dumbbells first episode, they detail how to properly execute a bench press. A very classic exercise where you lie on a bench and try to push a barbell/dumbbell/weight from your chest and upwards. Before I started learning how to actually properly execute the bench press, I didn’t know that you are also supposed to arch your back instead of just laying flat on the bench. Dumbbells did focus on the fact that arching your back puts more emphasis on putting the load on your chest so props to the anime for giving accurate and proper instruction! You may also want to stay after the credits as Machio and the girls will have you perform one of the exercises covered. Nice touch!

Not all the exercise tips that Dumbbells doles out is accurate. Or, to be more specific, some of them are outdated. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition and dieting. Things like saying that there is a small window of time to take protein after a workout or how skipping breakfast is a terrible idea if you want to lose fat. More recent studies (don’t know which ones but you can certainly look it up) have debunked the “golden window” theory and there are success stories wherein intermittent fasting was the key to trimming their waistline. Not saying that Dumbbells is out to give bad advice intentionally but I do suggest that, if you do plan to follow what the anime tells you, try to get a second or even third opinion. This is an anime, after all.

I’ve droned on about how accurate Dumbbells is enough already. Even if what they do teach will lead to a healthier life, it won’t matter if the actual anime isn’t good. Thankfully, Dumbbells is super entertaining… under the right mindset. First of all, I have to comment on Dumbbells’ opening song, Onegai Muscle. It’s one of the best anime opening theme songs I have ever heard! It’s super catchy, perky, energetic and sets the tone for what to expect perfectly. I am not ashamed to say that I have caught myself humming Onegai Muscle once in a while. It’s just a super fun song by itself.

The animation is also pretty top notch. While not as super impeccable as some shows, Dumbbells puts the details where it matters. The animation is smooth most of the times but I do wish they put more attention to the actual workouts since it looks like they don’t really go through the full range of motion. The designs of all the characters are nice to look at. The transitions to some of the “shocked” faces have elicited some laugh out loud moments from me. I still get a kick of seeing Machio do his “saido chesto” pose from the first episode because Hibiki’s expression just adds to the insanity of this mild mannered guy busting through his track suit by flexing!

But I think what keeps me coming back for future episodes are the characters. Everyone has, so far, been very likable. Hibiki is great as the newbie in the lifting world and she’s the viewer’s eyes into this realm. Akemi gets a good laugh from me thanks to her muscle fetish. Ayaka, Hibiki’s best friend, is great as the gal who’s already into fitness but doesn’t really think all that much about it; she can do a dragon flag and thought it was weird that Hibiki can’t do even one! Satomi is a teacher in Hibiki’s school and joins the gym, making her the hapless butt of jokes for her “age.” However, the best character is definitely Machio, the trainer at Silverman Gym. Like I said, it’s totally hilarious to see him utterly destroy his clothes when he needs to flex!

One thing that may hurt your ability to enjoy Dumbbells is, well, it can trigger some people thanks to its focus on body image and “fat shaming” in a sense. The way we’re introduced to Hibiki is that she likes to eat a lot, with the anime even detailing how many calories she’s snacking on. This may already trigger some people into saying that you shouldn’t track your calories or whatnot. But we haven’t got to the main “trigger” point yet.

Akemi then mentions that Hibiki is starting to get a bit too chubby. How chubby? Well, we see her weigh herself (without any clothing, by the way) and she comes in at 55.4 kilos. With a height of 160cm, she comes off as… normal. Heck, she actually will come off as rather skinny. To put it in English terms, Hibiki is 5’3″ and weighs 122 pounds. That’s actually not too bad! It’s her fat percentage of 35% that is not so great, though.

But that’s a generally healthy weight for her height. So saying that she’s “fat” isn’t really fair. Yet it’s a huge deal for her as she immediately wants to shed off the pounds. Now, this was played off for laughs and a way to push the story forward but there will be some people who will not be able to get over this sticking point and say that Dumbbells can be harmful to someone’s body image. I can understand that point but I don’t generally agree with it. If Hibiki thinks she’s putting on the pounds and goes to the gym to have more confidence in herself, then good on her. But maybe I’m thinking too much into it.

There are also a lot of ecchi moments as Dumbbells will focus on the girls sweating a lot while working out and showing them in, shall we say, more compromising positions while illustrating what muscles are at work for each exercise. They’re even aware of it that they mention it point blank while doing it! It doesn’t go into full nudity or anything like that but let’s just say the more prudish people will have issues with this. I’m fine with these kinds of lecherous viewpoints since I’ve gotten used to it from watching anime like Ranma and Tenchi Muyo before. Your mileage will vary.

Also, if you’re going to watch Dumbbells for the intricate and interconnected story, you’re out of luck. I’ve browsed through the manga it’s based on and there isn’t that much of an overarching story or anything of the like. There are very self-contained plot threads but they aren’t long and don’t really impact the characters in the future. This is the norm for a comedy anime but those who were weaned on stuff like One Piece or Naruto may not get it.

Overall, I have been having a blast with each episode of Dumbbells Nan Kilo Moteru? and I am eagerly awaiting for the next one. If this does motivate you into working out, that’s a good thing but just take note that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your own research on how to actually lose weight or gain muscle. If you watch it for purely entertainment purposes, that’s fine, too. Just give it a chance because it’s good.

Have you seen Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?/ How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!

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