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Danberu nan Kiro Moteru?

During the past year or so, I was much more immersed in anime than manga. Ballroom e Youkoso was the only new manga I picked up recently. Also, there were too many titles that I had to keep up with every week, never mind the boatload of anime had I had to watch each season. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself taking the time to read an educational manga about bodybuilding, of all things. But lo and behold, I found myself hooked onto Danberu nan Kiro Moteru? (How Many Kilos Are The Dumbbells You Lift?) after seeing it on 4chan's front page time after time.

Danberu nan Kiro Moteru revolves around high school student Hibiki Sakura's accidental foray into the world of bodybuilding while attempting to lose weight. Along the way, her group of gym buddies grow and she clears up her laundry list of misconceptions about dieting and weightlifting. From the first chapter, I like how close Sakura is to the average reader who might know next to nothing about proper nutrition and fitness regimes. Tidbits of information such as the caloric value of whatever the characters eat are listed, or how performing an exercise incorrectly can affect your body are littered throughout the manga. It successfully strikes a balance between being informative and being entertaining. The seductive character designs definitely kept me scrolling for hours too.

There's fanservice for female readers too, in the form of resident trainer Naruzou Machio and his award-winning physique. He introduces various exercises to the Sakura and gang and dispenses more than a few nuggets of wisdom regarding fitness and nutrition. As a running gag, the girls slowly get used to his over-the-top bodybuilding poses and spontaneously exploding clothes. They even outright ignore him in one of the later chapters. Even though there are only 20-odd chapters released right now, I applaud the different exercises that were introduced to the readers. They are a mix of weightlifting and calisthenic exercises. These include squats, planks, bench presses, lat pulldowns, bicep curls and leg curls. Even dynamic warm-ups are included, so forgot that whole series of stretches you do on the spot before working out.

The mangaka has clearly done his research, highlighting the specific muscles are trained by the different workouts. I, for one, appreciate this image much more than the typical charts you see in gyms everywhere. Expect much more of this when you're flipping through the pages, especially when the characters are demonstrating how the exercises are performed. This is one of the few times where fanservice is appropriate and even used creatively in fact.

Through the course of the manga, Sakura's self-esteem improve thanks to her work at the gym, along with her overall fitness levels. Even though she started exercising because of a superficial reason, she stuck with it thanks to her growing group of gym buddies and perhaps this is the mangaka's way of encouraging the readers to step into the gym. I, too, might need some exercise after being stuck in gyms of the Pokemon variety for a little too long.

Written by ET

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