How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? – Anime Review
Synopsis: Hibiki Sakura’s love for food is starting to affect her size. In effort to slim down, she scopes out her local gym only to discover two problems—it’s a haven for intimidating body builders, and her classmate Akemi has a weirdly aggressive muscle obsession. After meeting her handsome personal trainer, Machio, Hibiki bites the bullet and starts her quest for a hot bod! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Dumbbells is part of an ever-expanding line up of informative-based anime. This type of genre bundles its wealth of knowledge wrapped up in comedic shenanigans or crazy, high-octane action. In Dumbbells case it’s the former, dolling out useful exercise tips and techniques in between a myriad of gags to keep proceedings fun, light and entertaining the whole way through. Because of how well the show is put together Dumbbells comes out as one of only two new Summer anime that stands out as stellar from this summer’s entire line up.
Linny: Dumbbells really does a remarkable balancing act of imparting exercise related information and entertaining its viewers. It weaves in just enough humour and story to keep things fun and avoid feeling like a bland or one track instructional video series. What makes it all the more appealing is how beginner friendly it keeps its information, often offering ways to exercise even without any equipment and being very welcoming to anyone wanting to start or learn the basics about getting fit.
Tom: A number of previous entries in informative anime’s growing library begin to grow stale over time, even before they finish their first season runs. The trouble often stems from an over-reliance on that informative nature, failing to shake things up and adhering to the same, now well-worn formula that worked so well early on. But Dumbbells knows it can’t just be gags and bursts of exercise info forever. The series gradually expands, offering more character centric developments as we expand the cast from three characters to eight, and events that shake the series up, like the girls entering a idol contest, or when the girls go hiking and end up getting lost. These get us away from endless segments at the gym, and help to make our whole cast feel more fleshed out and interesting, even if each still adheres to the general trope-specific personalities they were introduced with in the first place.
Linny: The girls of Dumbbells do have somewhat limited personalities with almost every one of them given a single, big shtick, like Hibiki’s love of food, or their teacher’s desire to land herself a lover. But because of how the show introduces them at a steady pace and places them in varying situations, the girls manage to grow on the audience and avoid feeling stagnant, rushed or one note, even if none of them are particularly multifaceted.
Tom: If you’re not at least a bit interested in the exercise information, Dumbbells is going to be a frustrating experience. A good third to half of each episode is indeed dedicated to its informative segments, and without an appreciation for learning physical activities in earnest you’ll be left antsy and waiting for the show to shift back into more comedic shenanigans. But if exercise is your thing then the show does such a good job that it’s practically begging for a workout compilation feature on its future Western BluRay release. (I’m looking at you, Funimation.)
Linny: For those not completely enamoured by the series though, they may notice that the show repeats similar/familiar beats often. The most prominent example being how three episodes of the 12 involve the girls entering into competitions that end up involving them showing off their physical prowess, even going so far as to end the series with a competition based story. Yes, the competitions are of different natures such as an idol contest versus a talent show but because they happen so close to each other, that makes the similarities stick out. It’s one way in which Dumbbells drops the ball, but only just.
Tom: Dumbbells comes out of its first season hardly worn out, offering enough variety and continued blasts of exercise info dumps that I can easily see a second season maintaining that same quality, assuming they can find new avenues for comedy and character. that aren’t simply rehashes of what we’ve already gotten. Ultimately Dumbbells is a stand out for the Summer season and while I wouldn’t say it’s in the running for Anime of the Year, it is a must-see title, assuming you have any interest in keeping fit.
Linny: So should you binge How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? Yes, you should if you think you might benefit from or be interested in beginner level knowledge about working out, getting fit and more importantly if fan service is a bonus or non-issue. I bring up the latter point because being an Ecchi means the show often has its female characters completely undressed to show off muscles or body parts that, in all honesty, needed zero stripping. It isn’t super aggressive or egregious otherwise as in there aren’t many/any face plants into bosoms or similar tricks that anime uses for fan service purposes but be prepared to regularly have a naked anime girl lounging on your screen with her private parts ‘tastefully’ hidden. If that’s alright with you, then by all means, dive into a show that is brimming with plenty of chuckles and fitness education. It may not be the best anime ever but it’s likely to leave an impression on you thanks to its uncommon premise and execution.
How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is available for streaming via Funimation.com