Anime is the fountain of all knowledge. In recent times it has taught me how to survive on a desert island and how to perform magic tricks. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift teaches viewers how to work out. The show’s combination of fitness advice and eye candy motivated me to do exercise, back in the summer when the show was airing. It didn’t last though. After a while I developed tennis elbow. The strain was just the excuse I needed to revert back to a slothful existence of sitting on the couch playing video games.
Based on a manga, set in the Kengan Ashura universe, this twelve episode anime follows a high school girl named Hibiki Sakura. Due to constant snacking, Hibiki has recently put on some weight. This won’t do, so she decides to join the local Silverman Gym; hoping that exercising on the machines will help her slim down. Soon she makes a training buddy in the form of student council president Akemi Soryuin. At first glance Akemi looks like a model student, but don’t let initial impressions fool you. Her main reason for frequenting the gym is to gawk at bodybuilders.
The pair are coached by fitness trainer Naruzo Machio, who reminds me a little of the Incredible Hulk. His default form is that of a slim man. Whenever Machio flexes though, his muscles grow to the point that his tracksuit shreds apart. Although his body bulks up his head doesn’t and looks comically small in comparison. Never mind the warning of not skipping leg day when bodybuilding. This is what happens when one skips head day.
As the series progresses more gym goers are introduced. My favourite is Hibiki’s teacher Satomi Tachibana, who unbeknownst to her students is a cosplayer that likes to pose in revealing attire. Other characters include Hibiki’s best friend Ayaka Uehara, whose family own a boxing gym. Working out at said establishment has blessed Ayaka with incredible abs. Last but not least is Gina Boyd, who hails from Russia. She travelled to Japan in order to compete in an arm wrestling tournament. After the final she decides to remain in the country. Wow, immigration to Japan is more lax than I thought. Gina has no trouble transferring to a foreign school or finding a place to stay. Even language is of no concern to her. Gina is apparently fluent in Japanese because she grew up watching Jackie Chan movies??!???
My rating for How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift is four stars. It’s a series that is both funny and informative. The characters make you laugh, show you how to perform sets properly and highlight how easy it is to exceed a recommended daily calorie count. Overall, I preferred the earlier episodes, which focused more on training, over the latter ones. Towards the end of its run the series cut down on fitness content in favour of silly storylines. Speaking of fitness, I didn’t always agree with the advice that was given. One episode in particular seemed to suggest that intermittent fasting will turn you into a fatty sumo wrestler. In my experience the opposite is true.
I won’t hold that against the show though, as everyone is different. What works for one person may not for someone else. That could well explain how people get the same results with different methods. Just look at vegans for example. They stay slim on a diet that is high in carbs. On the other end of the scale are the keto crowd, who proclaim that carbohydrates will make you fat and that it is healthier to consume foods rich in fat.
How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift is an anime I can recommend to most people. Those with eating disorders may want to stay away though. A show that considers someone with the slim physique of Hibiki to be overweight is likely to push some people over the edge. All that said, I think it’s good to have entertainment that promotes fitness. Obesity rates are on the rise and not helped by plus size models who brainwash followers into believing that it’s possible to be both healthy and fat. People shouldn’t be ridiculed for their looks, but protecting someone’s feelings with falsehoods will cause even more harm in the long run.
For those of you who don’t care an iota about fitness I can still recommend this series. The comedy is worth the price of admission, as is the eye candy. I don’t think the fan service is a deal breaker for audiences, as it stays playful and never crosses the line that makes other ecchi shows creepy. The ladies are gorgeous and I am sure female viewers will also appreciate a barely clothed Machio showing off his saido chesto. Just be sure not to get carried away with pleasuring yourself off to animated beauties. Doing so may result in a sprained wrist… or tennis elbow.