The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? Whole-series Review and Reflection

“He is not a dude. You’re a dude. This…this is a man. A handsome, muscular man.” –Drax The Destroyer, Avengers: Infinity War

Hibiki becomes accustomed to lifting weights at Silverman Gym and learns about exercises that can be done with machines during peak hours. When the summer arrives, the girls train on the beach after learning that swimming in the area is prohibited thanks to the presence of sharks. Later, Akemi is excited to compete against Hibiki in the school’s sports festival, but Hibiki is disqualified on a technicality. When Hibiki sets her sights on a home theatre system, she competes in an arm-wrestling tournament, handily defeating Russian competitor Gina Boyd. Excited at the prospect of a new rival, Gina transfers in to the same school as Hibiki and even does a home-stay with her. Gina registers herself, along with Hibiki, Akemi, Ayaka and even instructor Satomi for an idol competition. During a school trip, the girls discuss ways of hiking more efficiently, but Hibiki and Satomi get separated from the others. During the middle of a training session with Nazuzo, movie star Barnold Shortsinator arrives and greets Nazuzo, revealing that Nazuzo was one of his students. Barnold invites Nazuzo to a body-building competition and is impressed with Nazuzo’s victory. Christmas sees Hibiki and the others celebrate at the Silverman Gym, and the girls then visit a shrine that Nazuzo’s family runs for the New Year’s. The girls enter a talent show on Gina’s request and are later invited to a tropical island during spring to participate in another competition. While Hibiki loses in the competition to Akemi, she reveals that she’s had a great time working out with everyone and hopes to continue doing so in the future. With this, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? comes to an end, taking with it a consistently hilarious and occasionally informative presentation on weight lifting.

Like Sounan Desu Ka?, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? possesses a technical component that supplements a story of friendship and discovery. Both series are remarkably similar despite their different origins, providing useful information while at once, showing off the characters’ journey as they become more acquainted with their situation. In Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, the journey is weight lifting: once Hibiki finds the encouragement and motivation to exercise regularly, she discovers just how deep and fulfilling the world of fitness is. In the process, she begins to appreciate that fitness can take many forms, and that equipment is not always needed to get a good workout going. Ultimately, thanks to Akemi and Ayaka, Hibiki is motivated enough to regularly go to the gym, and is rewarded for her efforts with a weight that she can be happy with. In reality, lifting weights and fitness is not as glamorous or dramatic as Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? describes, but it is every bit as fulfilling: regularly making use of a gym and improving one’s fitness is to improve one’s cognitive functions and mental well-being, as well as providing a boost in confidence and durability. As Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? presents, the toughest part is starting: once Hibiki gets into things, she discovers an entire world within fitness to explore and learn about. Hibiki’s journey into weight lifting parallel my own, and while I’ve been lifting since I started university, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? does provide some interesting suggestions that I’ve since tried and added to my own routine. For example, the so-called skull crushers are indeed more effective with the EZ bar, and I’ve been focusing on improving my form (no moving of the elbows and a controlled motion) since switching from the straight bar.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Endless blue skies and fluffy white clouds signify the beginning of summer. In any other anime, such weather would see the wistful longing to find love, or excitement at the possibility of new adventure, but in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, it simply means warmer weather to visit the gym under. This is something I’m familiar with, and indeed, I’ve actually never had a gym be unavailable to me during the summer before. Hibiki and her friends have no such luck, as the Silverman Gym is closed for a brief time in the summer.

  • Akemi suggests that everyone hit the beaches to swim, and encounter Satomi while on the bus en route to the beach. Satomi’s very quickly become my favourite character in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? for reasons that elude words, and despite her initial reluctance to lift with her students, she finds herself encountering Hibiki and her friends with increasing frequency, to the point where she begins fulfilling a similar role as a club advisor in other slice-of-life series.

  • The last time I saw exercises involving movement in sand in an anime, it was last year’s Harukana Receive. Here, Akemi suggests doing burpees in the sand: the uneven, shifting nature of the surface forces one to engage more muscles than if they were done on a solid surface. Standard burpees are already fairly challenging to do, being an exercise that engages the legs, glutes, core, chest, arms and back all at once. They drive the heart rate up, and I usually can only do a maximum of thirty straight before fatigue stops me from continuing.

  • Folks looking to get started with lifting weights should know that a gym membership is not a trivial expense and can have strange conditions attached to them, so a gym membership is an investment one must make use of frequently to optimise for gains and financial reasons. For my readers who work in an office building or live in a complex with an on-site gym, or those who are university students (whose fees usually include full access to facilities on campus), there’s really no excuse not to use them.

  • Naruzo’s ever-helpful muscle lessons will provide instructions on how to perform exercises with reasonable form, and having lifted for the past decade plus, I’ve developed enough experience to at least know when good form is being practised. It is always preferable to do an exercise with lighter weights and become acclimatised to good form than to pick a heavier weight. In most cases, poor form with a heavier weight will defeat the purpose of an exercise, and in the worst case, injury will almost certainly result.

  • Akemi has aversions to using machines, feeling to be impure, but as it turns out, machines provide stability that allows the body to really focus on certain muscle groups. At my gym, I typically use the lateral pull-downs and leg curl machines to supplement my usual exercises. Here, Satomi demonstrates the prone leg curl, where the proper technique is to draw one’s feet until they are nearly in contact with their glutes. While campus had a prone leg curl machine, my current gym only has a seated leg curl machine, which is supposed to be equivalent in terms of the muscle group they act on.

  • Between instructions on lifting, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? also takes the time to show the scale and complexity of Silverman Gym: they are large enough to have their own swag and host events from time to time, such as prize draws. These elements are quite separate from weight lifting techniques and prevent Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? from being purely a series of instructional exercise videos, giving the characters’ world more depth and life to prevent it from feeling too empty.

  • I derive a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment from being exhausted after lifting weights. As it turns out, there’s a reason for this: when one is exercising, the stress on the body causes the release of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and endorphins to suppress the stressors. These compounds result in a feeling of contentment and even euphoria, which explains the feeling of pleasure after working out.

  • The fanservice piece of Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is about par the course for what one might expect from a series of its nature: closeup of the muscles being engaged by a certain activity are frequent, but these are only usually done in the Machio Muscle Lessons. Everywhere else, the show is very disciplined and does not go out of its way to show T n’ A, with the girls dressing appropriately for the gym environment with t-shirts or tank tops and shorts, plus a good pair of close-toed shoes.

  • Besides having the punching power to rival Captain America, Hibiki also possesses a hitherto hidden talent for arm wrestling: in practise, only Naruzo can best her, and she destroys Gina in a competition. The competitive and outgoing Gina subsequently decides to transfer to the same school as Hibiki to compete with her in the future, and in the process, they become friends. Gina is presented as being a Russian stereotype who lapses into her native tongue when excited, but her family name, Boyd, is actually Scottish in origin. She is voiced by Nao Toyama (Karen in Kiniro Mosaic, Kongou in Kantai Collection and many others).

  • The day after a workout, muscle soreness is very much a reality, and there is truth in the idea that light exercise can help remove this soreness: caused by tears in the muscle fibre, and a short bit of low-intensity cardio or stretching can help by increasing circulation, which speeds up the rate that amino acids (the building blocks of muscle fibres) can be pushed to the muscles and promote repair. I typically do extended walks up the nearby hill to achieve this gentle increase to circulation after leg days.

  • After Gina joins the main cast, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? becomes a little wilder: the girls go on more random adventures that are only tangentially related to lifting weights, always finding some way to inject weight lifting into whatever activity they’re doing. It was unexpected and hilarious that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? manages to work in an idol competition into the story, capitalising on the moment to showcase how ludicrous weight lifting can be under some cases.

  • Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is no Yama no Susume, but it does take advantage of Hibiki and the others’ school trip to provide instruction on how to step during hiking to reduce energy loss. The information provided in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is largely correct, and the show can be used as a bit of a starting point for lifting weights, but there is no substitute like a personal trainer or a friend with experience. Rumour has reached my ears that some folks in Japan were inspired to take up weight lifting after watching Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, rather like how Yuru Camp△ encouraged people to camp, but unlike camping, weight lifting is a bit more serious to get into. Personally, if one were to be motivated by Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?, I would recommend speaking to at least someone who knows what they’re doing, since the risk of injury is non-trivial.

  • When Barnold shows up, he’s initially presented as being highly intimidating, but actually sports a boisterous and friendly personality. Ayaka and Hibiki are major fans of his films and are overjoyed to meet him in person. After signing Naruzo up for a body-building competition, Barnold provides an explanation of how these competitions work and what sorts of things are judged. Body-building emphasises hypertrophy, or muscle growth, over strength and endurance: while being physically strong in their own right, body builders have different training regimens than those of an athlete.

  • One aspect that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? touches lightly on is the possibility of injury if one is not careful: the skull-crusher is used as an example of what happens when one is over-enthusiastic about lifting weights, with Hibiki knocking herself in the cranium with the bar. The next day, she’s shown as being bandaged and is slightly out of it for her troubles. Audiences might get a bit of a cruel laugh at Hibiki’s expense, but in reality, much more serious injuries can result from improper technique: I’ve teared tendons my wrist before from lifting, and the worst injuries are those to the neck and back.

  • The events of Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? span over the course of a year, reaching into Christmas and New Year’s towards the end. When Ayaka, Hibiki, Satomi, Akemi and Gina fail to find a partner for Christmas, they decide to attend the Silverman Gym’s Christmas party, hoping to meet someone there. All of the guys who attend look normal, but turn out to be ridiculously muscular, discouraging the group. After the party, Satomi wonders what to do with the tickets to an amusement park, and ends up giving them to Akemi, who wanted to visit said amusement park with Naruzo so they could cosplay.

  • After visiting the shrine that Naruzi’s family runs, and praying for a happy new year, the girls enjoy grilled squid. Ikayaki, as it is known, is a delicious street food item that is prepared by grilling squid with soy sauce. It’s supposed to be rather healthy, and squid is also high in protein content, in addition to having a good amount of vitamin and minerals. The page quote for this talk on Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? is, like last time, also sourced from Infinity War.

  • At Gina’s insistence, the group participates in a talent show. The same sleazy-looking but well-meaning TV producer runs this, as well: he’d long expressed a desire to see something a bit more outrageous and found his wishes fulfilled twice over with Hibiki and her friends. Their antics during the talent show actually helps the TV studio’s ratings, contrary to his expectations, and the higher ups decide that they must have Hibiki and her friends return at some point in the future.

  • Gina is unaccustomed to the tropical heat and resorts to stripping down to cool off, to Hibiki and Ayaka’s displeasure. The last story presented in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? involves the girls travelling to a southern island to participate in a fitness-related getaway, where Akemi and Hibiki hope to check out the men’s fitness talent show. This was, however, cancelled from a lack of participants, and instead, Hibiki and the others are roped into the female talent show instead. Ayaka and Gina are eliminated from the competition, but Akemi and Hibiki perform admirably, tying for first and where Akemi eventually wins because Hibiki had powered down from a lack of food.

  • Overall, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? earns a grade of B+ (3.0 of 4, or 8 out of 10): while the series did deviate from the gym towards the end and became increasingly outlandish, it also stayed true to its core premise and tied everything together neatly with Hibiki explaining that being able to befriend Akemi and Gina through working out. For a series that could have purely counted on fanservice, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? ended up taking a different route via visual and situational comedy to make itself stand out. With this post in the books, I

Instructive and funny, Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? act as a solid instalment that is part workout video, part comedy act. Between succinct explanations about how different exercises help the body, and over-the-top moments that defy reality, this series also pokes fun at its own execution at flow. Nazuzo’s Muscle Lessons punctuate the show at unexpected intervals, and the characters find themselves wondering why they’re doing things a certain way. Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? might be no narrative masterpiece, and there are numerous moments that one simply won’t be able to find in reality, but the series does provide a solid starting point for those wondering about what the first few steps to training might look like. I’ve heard that Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? has been behind the spate of Japanese fans (primarily male) from signing up for gym memberships to try out the things they’d seen in Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru?. This is quite admirable, but ultimately, unless one has consistent motivation to actually go to the gym, lapsing back into old habits is very much a reality. Folks looking to make a life-style change and regularly visit the gym will find it easier with two tricks: the first is to get a gym buddy who preferably has some experience, and the second is to lift with the goal of learning good form first. This is how I started, and like Hibiki, I started out lifting small weights and walking away sore the next day. I’ve come a rather long way from those early days. While I’m still a casual lifter by all definitions, a decade of training means that I am able to bench press more than my own body weight, and I am only sore for about a quarter-day after working out now. More importantly, I have the discipline to haul myself out of bed at five-thirty on the days that I do want to hit the gym. There are plenty of reasons to go to a gym, and as Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? shows, there are plenty of benefits as well of maintaining good fitness: the anime simply presents these gains in an approachable and amusing manner.

3 responses to “Dumbbell Nan-Kilo Moteru? Whole-series Review and Reflection

  1. Claddily September 22, 2019 at 23:42

    I started going to the gym last year and watching this could probably motivate me more. Thanks for the review!

    Like

    • infinitezenith September 23, 2019 at 19:41

      A year is a respectable amount of time to be regularly visiting the gym, it means you’ve gotten past those first days where it takes a bit of motivation to do it! I hope you’ll enjoy the process, it is a very rewarding one. Having lifted weights for the past decade plus, my favourite suggestion is to bring friends. It makes lifting even more fun, and you’ll also have a spotter to help you out!

      Like

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