I’m a sucker for anime series that are intended to be somewhat educational. So, when How Heavy Are the Dumbells That You Lift came up on the seasonal anime charts, it ended up on my to-watch list. While there is some debate about how healthy this show is, I’m glad it exists.
The show follows a group of students (and some of the faculty) at a generic metropolitan Japanese high school. For a variety of reasons that vary based on each character, they start exercising at “Silverman’s Gym”. Those reasons vary from wanting to train for a particular sport to burning fat from a particular part of the body. Each episode focuses on a particular exercise or set of exercises meant to work a particular area of the body and after the closing credits of each episode, our protagonists and their trainer guide the viewer through a set of reps for an exercise that was shown this episode.
The show is generally well animated, though the animators have a habit of getting into fanservice whenever they want to showcase the particular muscles that are being worked on. Additionally, most of the male characters tend to get depicted with a level of muscular detail clearly meant to evoke Baki the Grappler, with every muscle clearly defined to an exaggerated degree.
As for how the advice goes, well, I have seen flame wars from personal trainers, sports nutritionists, and others over episodes, enough so that I can’t speak to whether or not what’s proposed is the “best” way to get fit. I wills ay that most of the exercises in the show feel clearly selected to be something that is not only apartment-friendly but also small apartment friendly.
Indeed, the show is generally non-judgemental in its tone, with two distinct, marked exceptions. Jokes are made at the expense of the overly ripped bodybuilders, and while our lead has a generally average body, she frets over her figure a lot. Otherwise, the writer is not cool with body shaming in – with the trainer character (Machio) letting his pupils know that they should not make any comments about their teachers form. The show does get slightly political in a way that I did not expect – in a sequence in an episode about doing isometrics in parks, we get a bit of a filibuster on the sorry state of Japanese parks, both in terms of equipment and steps being taken to discourage their use by the public.
In all, I had fun with the show, but I think the most utility that would come out of any sort of physical media release of the show would be if there was a bonus feature that let you go through the workout segments so you could use the show to help you with your home workout.
As of this writing, How Heavy Are the Dumbells That You Lift? is currently available for streaming on Funimation’s web site.