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How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000221811
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 30/3/2023 18:09
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    Review for How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?

    5 / 10


    I succumbed to temptation again. When it comes to anime, I really do want to just watch the good stuff now, given just how much I have seen before, how much is in my collection, and just how many anime purchases I have made in the last couple of years, but still have yet to watch. There is so much mediocrity out there, and admittedly on my own shelves, that it is easy to get jaded, and worse, let that feeling of disillusionment seep into my appreciation of the good stuff. That’s why I’m actually watching less anime now than I used to. But then there comes a title that provokes an impulse purchase, regardless of the content, and regardless of what the show is even about. It’s just a crazy arrangement of unlikely words that provoke a Pavlovian response. Those words burrow under the skin, and fester in the forebrain until I simply have to spend some money. So when someone makes an anime called “How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?” I don’t even have to know what the show is about before I’ve opened up my wallet.

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    Hibiki Sakura loves her food, and eats like a typical teenager with a bottomless stomach. But stomachs aren’t really bottomless, and her friend Ayaka tactlessly points out the extra pounds around her waist. Hibiki decides then and there to get beach ready by summer, but when it comes to dieting, she has no impulse control. Two more weeks of weight gain later, she decides to try the local gym, but she isn’t expecting to find the student council president Akemi Soryuin there as a member. And while she was expecting some light, elegant aerobic activity, she wasn’t expecting to enter the world of hardcore weight training, thanks to Akemi’s muscle fetish...

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    The twelve episodes of How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? are presented on two Manga Entertainment Blu-rays as follows.

    Disc 1
    1. Why Don’t You Try Strength Training?
    2. Why Don’t You Have Some Protein?
    3. Sensei’s On A Diet, Too?
    4. Did You Have A Nice Summer?
    5. What’s You Sports Day Event?
    6. Want a New Rival?
    7. Want to Be an Idol?

    Disc 2
    8. What If We Get Lost?
    9. Have You Seen God Before?
    10. Do You Like Christmas?
    11. How Are You Spending New Year’s?
    12. How Heavy are the Barbells You Lift?

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    The show gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, and as you would expect and hope from a recent anime show on Blu-ray, the image is hard to fault. It’s clear and sharp, with excellent detail, and strong and consistent colours. There are no niggles like compression or aliasing, and given that this is a comedy show, the screen never really gets dark enough to invite digital banding. The trainer in the show, Machio wears a TARDIS tracksuit that reduces his Mr Universe physique to unassuming wimp, unless he flexes and his muscles tear through the fabric. That gives some idea of the visual humour in the show, where characters are apt to transform according to mood, or the story style currently being adopted. It’s hardly a new approach for comedy anime, but Dumbbells is rather effective at it.

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    You get the choice between Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, and 2.0 Stereo Japanese with subtitles and signs locked during playback. The audio is as you would expect, clear and crisp, presenting the action well enough while keeping the dialogue clear, the subtitles accurately timed and free of typos. The novelty theme songs do quickly get tiresome though.

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    You get two discs in a BD Amaray style case with one held on a centrally hinged panel. There is some nice inner sleeve art, and this was from back when releases from the Manga/Funi alliance used to get o-card slipcovers and digital copies. The discs boot to static menus.

    Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for the now defunct Funimation NOW.

    Disc 2 has the following extras...

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    Silverman Gym Intense Training Course Part 1 (18:22)
    Silverman Gym Intense Training Course Part 2 (17:38)

    These two featurettes edit together the ‘edu’ bits, leaving the ‘tainment’ out, so you can get your intense workout on without being threatened by laughter.

    Promo Videos (3:50)
    Web Previews (5:52)
    Textless Credits

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    I didn’t think I’d see another one after Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai, but How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? could be classified as edutainment. It teaches you while trying to make you laugh, although it leans more towards the comedy entertainment side of things than the educational. It’s also in the mode of the after-school club anime shows, exemplified by K-On, but nowhere near as good. The girls in this school go to the gym after school, where they are put through their paces by a musclebound mentor.

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    The main character Hibiki is the gregarious, outgoing central character that carries most shows of this nature. She’s got a problem with impulse control when it comes to food, and she piles on the calories (handily enumerated in text captions). She’s not good at dieting, so she heads instead to the gym. There she meets Akemi, the elegant, high class princess type who is the student council president. She’s also got a muscle fetish, which explains her love of weight training, as she has all the muscular flesh to feast her eyes upon in the gym, not least the trainer/mentor Machio.

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    Hibiki’s childhood friend Ayaka is the one who bluntly pointed out her food problem and inadvertently got her into fitness. Her family run a boxing gym, and when that becomes oversubscribed she joins the Silverman Gym as well. Miss Tachibana is a schoolteacher of theirs who cosplays for a hobby, and would much rather keep her life outside of school secret from her students, but that becomes impossible when she runs into her students at the gym. And then there is Gina Boyd, a transfer student who’s into arm-wrestling. She’s from Russia and has some strange second hand knowledge informing her expectations of Japan. Ironically it seems the creators had strange second hand knowledge of Russia when writing her character. Incidentally, this show dates from 2019, when parodies of Putin in anime were probably still cute and funny. The joke doesn’t work today.

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    Also tiresome is the Arnie reference. The appearance of a Terminator type character in a show about bodybuilding is probably inevitable, but it doesn’t stop the cliché from feeling tired and overused in anime now. The problem for me is that the show feels so piecemeal and contrived. Certainly you have the various characters, their quirks and foibles all de rigueur for a comedy set-up, and each episode has a gag laden storyline to it, whether it’s school sports days, beach adventures, school trips, Christmas parties or the like, all revolving around fitness and the characters at the gym. And once in each episode, the narrative will stop, and the characters will describe how to do an exercise, or a particular aspect of fitness, with detailed animation, followed by a tasteful nude of one of the characters indicating just what muscle group will benefit from that exercise. And at the end of each episode, where the next episode preview should be, will instead be a recap of that lesson, with the characters putting in a few reps.

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    It’s fan service, education and comedy all jammed together willy-nilly, and it feels contrived and commercialised (the show is even sponsored by a gym in the end credits). However what makes the cheapness of the show so obvious is the lack of thought given to the story. These girls join a gym and the show follows them over the course of around a year as they work to improve their fitness. And the character designs do not change from beginning to end; a year of weight training, and their physiques, their muscles stay the same. I’d be asking for a refund at that point; and if I hadn’t paid a bargain bucket price for this show in a winter sale, and if Manga Entertainment still existed, I’d probably be asking for a refund on this show as well.

    How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? is available from Anime On Line, UP1, and the usual mainstream retailers.

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