It’s a bit laughable that I ended up watching this series. It has both comedy and ecchi elements, which are usually a pretty big turn off in my world. I’m a bit indifferent to slice-of-life and was mostly in it for the sports. Ah yes, the very weird grey zone of the premise being girls working out, but not actually related to any particular sports aside from the side characters.
When it comes down to it, “Dumbbell Nana Kilo Moteru?”, manages to bring a lot of elements together I doubt would work in any setting. We have a group of eventually, four high school girls, who are working out on the premise of getting boyfriends. Or at least, that’s the shallow motivation we’re given of Sakura Hibiki. Throw in Souryuuin Akemi who is the perfect girl type (aside from her extreme muscle fetish), Hibiki’s BFF and boxing trainer Uehara Ayaka, finally the shoe horned foreigner Boyd Gina who loses to Hibiki in a challenge and we have our cast.
The story is mostly told slice-of-life style, with episodes being stand-alone in plot with a few re-occuring themes or ideas that come up throughout. It’s more or less focused on Hibiki attempting a weight loss journey, complete with calorie analysis of Hibiki’s snack consumption, explanations of workout techniques and strategies, and inevitably why Hibiki ‘fails’ at the end of the episode. We get enough insight on the situation to understand, but nothing more. Aside from Hibiki and Akemi’s blooming friendship, we don’t see much development from the majority of the cast.
Being honest, this series doesn’t really do anything. There’s not really a clear goal for what we the viewer should expect. We have Hibiki’s weight loss as the backbone of the story, but aside from being discussed as a jab at the beginning of the episode and another jab at the end, it is rarely covered. There’s no explanation of why a teenager should care about their weight, or even if Hibiki is considered overweight. (Fun fact, she isn’t.) of course, being set in high school they end up in a few different scenarios (complete with panty shots, thighs, etc)… but nothing that can’t be solved within the same episode. What was nice is the episodes has a formula for how they wanted to go, but that same point is what made individual episodes so forgettable.
What I am attempting to say about this series, is pretty much I watched a ‘cute girls doing cute things but make it sexy’ on the premise that it would actually… go somewhere with that. I can’t say I had the best judgement in that department, but I’m not particularly mad about it. “Dumbbell” succeeds in being a change of pace, from the usual formula of other sports series. It also has a majority female cast in sports, which seems to be on the rise.
The lack of depth in talking about general fitness, verses being fit for a ‘sport’ was rather regrettable. There’s a big difference why someone like Ayaka whose been training all her life, and Hibiki and it’s not really explained well. Repeatably, all the girls have no ambition to do weightlifting or bodybuilding, being largely turned off by Machio, their trainer and bodybuilder. While it’s explained that working out will not make you a Machio overnight, it wasn’t really delivered. Seeing no female athletes at the gym contributed to this, since the girls never saw how female bodybuilders/powerlifters/etc looked in comparison. It kinda left a sour taste in my mouth as a friend of many female powerlifters.
Sitting back on the ‘slice-of-life’ and ‘ecchi’ tags, I’m left pondering how other viewers can watch more then one of these series at a time. To be honest, I’m looking back on this series wondering how I watched the whole thing. My explanation is that it was a junk-food anime, easy to watch, simple premise, average animation the perfect combination. The idea that I learned some techniques, made me feel less about watching it as well when I could have been doing a lot of other stuff. The goal of the series being ‘cute girls doing an almost sport but make it just a little sexy’ worked.
It’s one of those series which set the bar low, and managed to go a bit above it. It was nice seeing exercises broke down accurately, but aside from that it had nothing to really go off of. A little over a month later, and I can’t really recall most of the series aside from the rather annoying opening theme. All in all, a rather average anime, something I haven’t said in awhile.