If I was surprised by a farming-based dramatic anime, and by my enjoyment of such, then I am much more surprised by an exercise-based slice of life anime, and especially by my enjoyment of such.
How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Life, which shall hereafter just be referred to as Dumbbells, follows the fitness-based adventures of Sakura Hibiki and her female friends. Sakura is a girl with a bottomless pit for a stomach, which has resulted in her gaining a bit of weight. Preferring to have a fit, slim body instead of a fat one, all the better to get a boyfriend with, Sakura decides to alter her diet a bit and exercise. That doesn’t go so well on her own, so she joins a gym. A circle of friends based around their gym activities slowly forms, and their lives are mutually enriched by both their friendship and their fitness. Oh, and there’s muscles. Lots and lots and lots of over-the-top muscles.
To get the big, neon-pink, argyle elephant in the room out of the way, I am not one for exercising, and this anime does not motivate me to do any (I already get all the physical activity I ever want in my life anyway). But I can see how it would motivate someone else. It’s very well-presented, in an appealing, informative, persuasive manner, and… well, not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s a reason all those exercise tapes I remember my mother using featured fit, highly-attractive instructors, and they do the same thing here. (whistling innocently!) Most of all, I like how it presented exercise as something that one can do without becoming defined by it, aka, a fitness nut. It had obvious fitness nuts, and even made fun of itself for such, all in good taste, but it showed that people can love good food, movies, anime, competition, cosplay, and any number of other things as well. It centered around one’s workout in a gym, but it showed how one can incorporate fitness into one’s everyday life as well.
There’s not much plot to speak of, yet it never became dull. Quite the contrary, it kept changing things up, taking us new places and teaching new things… and it was hilarious! My favorite part had to be the bit with action movie star, Barnold Shortsinator, but it continually delivered on the laughs with good, tasteful fun. It even made fun of its own melodrama, the sort that’s used in most anime!
Though, minor note, the part where some of the exercise explanations ended with rather risqué pictures of the female characters threw me for a bit of a loop. I mean… why? Why even bother with that? All that does it make it so I have to be careful who I share this with, which runs a bit counter-intuitively for something meant to encourage people to exercise. There’s plenty of eye candy already, we didn’t need it to be more explicit.
Beyond that, I suppose I don’t really have that much else to say about it. It’s a nice, surprisingly-charming show, with plenty of laughs, some useful information, and just one little detail that makes in inappropriate for kids. I don’t love it, but I liked fairly well.
Rating: 7 stars out of 10.