“Wow. This is a real wake-up call for me. Okay, I’m gonna get a Bowflex. I’m gonna commit. I’m gonna get some dumbbells.”
“You know you can’t eat dumbbells, right?”
–Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon, The Avengers: Infinity War
When Hibiki Sakura’s best friend, Ayaka Uehara, comments on how she’s gained weight, Hibiki resolves to hit the gym, commit and lose some weight. She runs into classmate Akemi Soryuin, the beautiful and well-respected student council president at the gym. Despite Hibiki’s initial struggle to find the motivation to start, Akemi introduces her to Naruzo Machio, a coach at the gym who is exceptionally knowledgable about health and fitness. Drawn in by his charming personality, Hibiki consents to stick around and learns how to bench press and squat. Hibiki notices that her weight remains unchanged since joining a gym, but Naruzo assures her that working out increases muscle mass, which has a greater density than fat. As she’s sore from her workouts, Akemi takes Hibiki to the pool, where they do dynamic stretches together. Later, Hibiki and Ayaka share an afternoon of watching movies at Ayaka’s place, learning that Ayaka works at her family’s boxing studio. When the girls’ teacher, Satomi Tachibana, laments her weight gain, she signs up for a free trial at the very same gym that Hibiki and Akemi lift at. Naruzo introduces the girls to dumbell curls, and panics when Hibiki wonders about an unusual tan on Satomi. It turns out that she’s a well-known cosplayer but fears being found out from her students. This is where Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? (How Many Kilograms are the Dumbells you lift?, or, as I know it, “Do You Even Lift? The Anime”) is after three episodes, another hilarious addition to the summer lineup that deals with fitness in the form of weight lifting. As I’ve been casually lifting weights for almost a decade, the particulars that Hibiki experiences are fresh in my mind, and I definitely relate to the process she goes through in starting out.
Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? has insofar demonstrated a handful of techniques at the gym, and the series strength comes from a combination of being able to explain the function of each technique, what proper form looks like and presenting them in a hilarious context to engage the viewer. In spite of appearances, there is something to be learned from Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? by watching Naruzo demonstrate the techniques and their applicability. Nuances in lifting weights, such like engaging the core when doing a plank, ensuring one’s elbows are still when curling dumbbells and keeping one’s back tight when doing squats are all mentioned: besides ensuring one performs proper technique to maximise gains, form also is critical in avoiding injury. I’ve dealt with weight-lifting injuries before to my wrist from bad form, and the consequences are very noticeable, hence the utmost importance of form and why it is preferred that one lifts lighter weights to improve their technique. While not shying away from the details, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is ultimately a comedy: in this department, the anime also shines. Anyone who is familiar with fitness and weight lifting will find Hibiki’s journey relatable and amusing, feeling compelled to stick around and see how Hibiki comes to appreciate fitness as she becomes better trained and increasingly fit with her friends.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Before we delve any further into Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, I note that if you have aversions to me talking about lifting weights in any capacity, now is an excellent time to stop reading: I’ve had a former reader outright block me on social media for talking excessively about weight lifting, and note that it was a very immature action. With that in mind, if talk surrounding fitness is not offensive, then we may begin exploring what Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? has accomplished after three episodes.
- Akemi is enamoured with the prospect of lifting weights. She resembles Love Lab‘s Maki in appearance and manner, and initially is the one to ensnare a reluctant Hibiki into lifting weights; Hibiki only decides to hit the gym when her best friend, Ayaka, comments on her physique. Despite her seemingly depraved thoughts towards fitness and muscle mass, as indicated in this moment here, Akemi is a well-rounded individual with a genuine interest in hitting the gym.
- Both Akemi and Hibiki develop crushes on trainer Naruzo on first sight. While one criticism of folk who go to the gym is that they’re merely there to check out members of the opposite sex, the reality is that when most people lift, they tend to focus on their own technique and then look at others to either gain a better idea of what good form looks like, or occasionally, gawk at how poor someone’s form is.
- Naruzo starts Hibiki off on the bench press, an exercise designed to increase upper body strength by engaging everything from the shoulders and triceps, to forearms, pecs, and lats. Most people do start off with just the bar so they can get a feel for good form, and then advance on to a working weight they’re comfortable with. While the form in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is mostly correct, I take exception to Naruzo not getting a full range of motion from Hibiki: the bar is supposed to touch one’s lower pec lightly and come back up, and her elbows are flaring. Moreover, her feet don’t look engaged.
- While Hibiki struggles with the bar, Akemi completes three sets of five with 25 pounds per side, for a total of 90 pounds. For someone of her weight class, this is equivalent to that of an intermediate lifter, which is nothing to sneeze at: I’m considered an intermediate lifter, as well, and I’m aim to step up my bench press. With this being said, I won’t disclose what my stats are: I will only note that I’m similar in height to Akemi and let the reader’s imagination do the rest.
- I still remember the day after my first session at the gym: every square inch of my upper body was sore and immovable. These days, I recover quickly enough so that I can work out on two consecutive days without feeling too much pain from the previous day. One aspect of Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? that I’m fond of is how the caloric content of everything that Hibiki eats is displayed. She’s shown to have a voracious appetite and is constantly eating the equivalent of the food from the Stampede Midway.
- By comparison, I eat like a ninja: I typically have a light continental breakfast and a glass of milk in the mornings, a sandwich and a banana in the afternoon, and then rice, vegetables and protein with water by evening. These are my usual eating habits, in conjunction with north of eight glasses of water per day. I loosen up on weekends, my so-called cheat days, but otherwise, maintain a fairly structured diet.
- Thus, when things like the Calgary Stampede are in town, I can be a little more wild with my eating. Hibiki’s initial problem is that her goal was to lose weight by means of dieting, but I argue that losing weight actually isn’t an effective fitness plan, since the body tends to have a weight it’s comfortable at being around. By comparison, routine exercise with the goal of maintaining fitness is helpful: while one’s weight might not change, increasing muscle mass and respiratory efficiency will make one feel better.
- Half-squats are the next item shown in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, with Akemi demonstrating the correct form. There’s an ongoing debate about half-squats and full-squats as to which one is more effective: I do full squats, bringing my glutes low to the ground. With this in mind, the half-squat is good for folks who are starting out and aiming to get a feel for the technique; full squats can be more dangerous because they put more pressure on the knees.
- The lateral pulldown engages the trapezius and biceps, as well as the infraspinatus muscles. It’s a good exercise for the shoulders and back, which is important for folks like myself, who spend insane amounts of time at a desk. I also do the dumbbell chest fly to exercise my deltoids for similar reasons: my shoulder invariably hunch forwards while at a desk, even though I aim to maintain good posture and stand up every hour, so to keep things from affecting my posture, these exercises can help.
- Hibiki is meant to represent those of us who are starting out on the journey of fitness, and rather than laughing at her, I completely relate to how she felt when starting out. With this being said, some sites, such as Anime News Network, have immediately decried Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? for being a “body shaming” series. Such outlandish claims can only come through those who feel threatened by the notion of fitness, or the fact that fitness is a process that requires effort, being motivated by likely the same reasons that led one of my former readers and peer bloggers to block me.
- While Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is, like Sounan Desu Ka?, rife with opportunities to showcase some T & A, readers will have noticed that I’ve actually got very little of those moments here. I’ve also opted to skip the rather exaggerated portrayals of incredibly buff men, including Naruzo, primarily because a mere screenshot is not suited for the hilarity such scenes create: rather than present them here, I’ll leave it to readers to find out for themselves how incredibly amusing it is whenever Naruzo flexes.
- It turns out that Ayaka is an instructor for her family’s boxing studio, and despite her disliking every second of boxing, she’s highly proficient at it. She introduces Hibiki to a few exercises that can be done without any special equipment, such as the dragon flag and planks. Even without access to a gym or specialised gear, it is possible to exercise the body in effective ways. One of the most treacherous exercises I know is called the Superman Flexion, where one lies on their abs with their arms outstretched, and then, keeping their arms straight, moves them back in a until they are touching one’s back. This is typically done holding weights, and after ten reps, I’m worn out.
- Hibiki might appear unfit, but training has helped her out: she shows a hitherto unknown skill in delivering punching power comparable to that of Captain America’s as seen in The Avengers. While it would be fun to see more unexpected feats of strength from Hibiki, the punching bag seems to be the only one insofar.
- Whereas Akemi and Hibiki run into their homeroom instructor at the gym, I’ve never run into any of my instructor at my university’s gym before. After a colleague remarks on her physique, she decides to hit the gym and use a free trial to lose some weight. Gym memberships are typically pricey, which was why I made full use of the university’s gym during my time as a student there. These days, I capitalise on the facilities available to me, and while perhaps not as extensive as the university’s gym, still provide more than enough equipment for me to utilise.
- Like Hibiki and Akemi, instructor Satomi is drawn in by Naruzo’s charm. During their exercises, Naruzo instructs everyone on how to perform dumbbell curls, correctly noting that the elbows should not be moving when attempting the exercise and that heavier weights at the expense of form is not meaningful. Besides the standard curl, there’s also a diabolical rotating curl that places additional pressure on the biceps to develop them. Even with lighter weights, the move is a challenge.
- It turns out that Satomi is a cosplayer in her spare time and worries about her figure for the reason that she longs to cosplay her favourite characters as faithfully as possible. My personal take on cosplay is that irrespective of one’s appearance, it’s the effort that goes into the costume that really counts. With this in mind, a lack of experience and willingness to commit the effort towards making a cool costume is why I’ve not gotten into cosplay to any extent: I would either cosplay as Street Fighter‘s Ryu or an SHD Agent from The Division if able.
- The page quote is sourced from Avengers: Infinity War from a scene early in the film, after the Guardians of the Galaxy pick up Thor from the wreckage of the ship that carried the Asgardians away from Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok. When Gamora and Drax begin complimenting on Thor’s muscular arms, Peter Quill remarks he’s in good shape, only for the others to retort that he’s actually out of shape. Rocket’s remark that dumbbells can’t be eaten sounds like something that Ayaka might say to Hibiki, who is always seems to be one sandwich away from fat, but ever since she started working out, her fitness has definitely improved.
- One aspect of Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? that I’ve not commented on is the artwork and style: while of a serviceable quality for the most part and featuring strong landscapes and interiors, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? actually excels with its exaggerated funny faces. Like Naruzo’s impossible physique, such moments are best seen in person to have maximum effect. As such, I will continue to use screenshots of more ordinary moments in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? once I return for the whole-series reflection.
- Hibiki and Akemi remain quite unaware of Satomi’s hobby, instead being drawn by Naruzo’s bombastic and faithful representation of an anime character in-universe. With this post on Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? in the books, this brings my anime blogging for July to an end. I will be returning in September to write about both Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? and Sounan Desu Ka? after their respective finales air, and in the meantime, the only post left for this month is a special topics post. I might also pick up Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Nikai Kougeki no Okaasan wa Suki Desu Ka (“Do you Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?”, Okaa-san Online for brevity) to see what kind of depravity is presented and do a halfway-point talk for it in August.
Maintaining fitness in some way is something of utmost importance, giving rise to increased energy and resilience against injury and illness. However, the main reason why I began lifting weights when I began university was primarily because the facilities were there, and access was covered by my student fees. One of my friends was kind enough to introduce me to the basics, and over the years, I came to see weight lifting as a mode of stress relief. The physical and mental gains made the journey worth it – I’ve not particularly suited for being an athlete, but working out at the gym, running and doing martial arts means that even though I’m unlikely to have the physique of an athlete, I can still maintain decent enough fitness. As such, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? ends up being very entertaining for me, and against criticisms that the series is meant to shame those without the same inclination towards fitness, I posit that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is first and foremost, a comedy about fitness and in particular, the exaggerations surrounding those who do weight training. I appreciate that fitness can be a sensitive topic for some, but the anime, if anything, should provide at least some inspiration for one to improve their fitness even if they do not wish to purchase a gym membership. Being instructive and refreshingly comical about the stereotypes and jokes surrounding weight training, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is certainly not offensive.