Going into Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?, my expectations for it were low. I did not think it was possible for a full-length anime about exercising to be entertaining, but I was proven wrong by Dumbbell.
The anime follows Hibiki, a girl who decides to start going to Silverman Gym after she weighs herself and finds out that she is overweight. Joining her is Akemi, her school’s student council president and main workout partner; Ayaka, whose family runs a Boxing Gym; and Zina, a transfer student from Russia who self-appoints herself as Hibiki’s ‘rival’. Dumbbell also has a big list of supporting characters, the most important being Tachibana, a teacher at the school the four girls go to, and Machio, their eccentric (and shredded) trainer.
Falling (generally) under the “cute girls do cute things” type of anime, Dumbbell is one of the most informative and useful ones to be aired. Lifting weights, cardio, aerobics, isometrics, etc. are a useful thing to know about, especially if you are out of shape and want to start working out. While watching an anime about working out is not the most conventional way of getting into working out, it beats listening to random people on imageboards or reddit, watching videos on YouTube that have conflicting information, or going into a gym cold turkey and not knowing what to do. Dumbbell not only has “cute girls do cute things” checked off, but it also gives you information that is actually useful in the real world.
A huge part of the anime is its informative sections about exercise, Machio’s Muscle Lessons being the most prominent of them. These sections cut out from the actual anime for a minute or two at the time, but do not detract from it. They work as a combination of an infomercial for that particular exercise and also an explainer for what the characters on the screen are doing. Another example of this is at the end of each episode, Machio and the four main girls and Tachibana review an exercise that was done in the episode and do a set of said exercise, encouraging the audience to go along with them. Going along with them is optional but is encouraged to get the full satisfaction of watching the anime.
As for the actual plot of Dumbbell, there really is not much there to speak of. Sure, there are episodic plots and some overarching themes, but nothing deep and moving. For this type of anime, this is perfect—it knows what it is, and does not try to be anything else other than a funny and sometimes educational slice of life anime. There are no unnecessary conflicts or drama in Dumbbell that often detract from other anime of a similar nature. It is not that none of the characters go through any hardships or dilemmas, but the anime deals with it in a light-hearted way that does not drag on or make it a chore to finish an episode. Most characters have a problem or two they have to try to figure out (or hide), but it does not detract from the show itself.
Although you do not have to work out or want to work out to watch Dumbbell, it might inspire you or at least make you more knowledgeable about it. While most of the information the anime gives out is factual, there are some things it states that can be disputed, like the concept of ‘Golden Time’ for example. Several more experienced lifters have dissected some of the episodes like this guy. If you do not care about the actual details and just like slice-of-life anime, you should give Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? a shot.