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Anime Mid-Season Review: How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?

We're halfway through the summer season, and How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is officially halfway through, with six episodes in. How many of you have started to watch it after my first episode impression here? If you haven't, what are you waiting for? (Or maybe, you could be waiting for the series to end so you can binge it all in one sitting--that's understandable.) 

Poster credit: 

This review will follow up from my pilot episode review in a separate article, hence this will summarise the events from episode 2-6.There might be slight spoiler warnings. 

With that, let's get liftin once again!

While the first episode has introduced us to Hibiki and Akemi in the gym, the second half of the second episode delves a bit into Hibiki's friend Ayaka, whom we have seen in the first episode. 

We get a peek into their friendship by their shared interests: action movies. And the character on the DVD titles look a bit familiar huh? Let's have a closer look.

It's an animated version of mister Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Commando"...

That aside, we also get a peek into Ayaka's hobby outside. 

Ayaka's family runs a boxing gym, as her father was a professional boxer. Taking in her father's footsteps, she also practises boxing--even though she claims not to like it as much. The way that she randomly goes into her boxing stance at her own will seems to negate that statement though. As such, Ayaka is pretty built herself. 

Perhaps we could get a muscle training tip from her?

And that we did. 

She taught Hibiki the Dragon Flag, which was apparently an exercise that originated from Bruce Lee. It's a pretty convenient abs-building exercise to perform at home too, so I wouldn't be surprised if anyone stopped the episode to follow along. I can't emphasise how much I love this show particularly because it allows the viewers to interact with the different exercises they explain in thorough details each time. 

Next comes the most exciting part of this episode: One Punch Hibiki. 

Ayaka's older sister tried to persuade Hibiki to give boxing a shot, so what can we all expect from an inexperienced Hibiki? 

What does the look on her face after attempting it mean? Was it a sweet punch, or a sucker punch?

Well, what that stance, we all know that the punch was a complete K.O. Hibiki might still be learning the ropes of exercising in the gym, but she certainly excels in her strength in the boxing department. 

Trust me, this was my exact reaction too. But I was really proud of Hibiki for delivering that sweet punch. 

Episode two was a great follow up to the enjoyable first episode that I watched, and I can never be more certain that this anime knows how to create lovable characters as well as steer the direction properly with their comedy and added educational portions.

The next episode wasted no time in introducing yet another character too, and I was caught off guard by that because it isn't someone that is inside the anime poster. 

Turns out, it's Hibiki's sensei, Tachibana-sensei. With the way that she is introduced in the beginning, could she play a part in the gym as well? 

It didn't take long before we see Tachibana-sensei in the gym as well, and the sheer coincidence sure is something she least expected, though the two students couldn't be any more excited about it. Despite sensei's reservations to being in the gym with her students, she changes her mind instantly when she sees Machio. However, from the past two episodes, we know that Machio is more than just he looks--especially when he tears off his clothing to reveal his overly-built figure and flexing everywhere. 

The exercise that is being covered this time with Tachibana-sensei is the dumbbell curls, and even though it might seem like the simplest form of lifting weights, the anime proceeded to explain the correct procedure in doing it, so that the exercise will actually reap results.

However, at the same time, everyone else noticed something about Tachibana-sensei while she was doing the exercise. 

It seems like a very precise location for that tan line, and Machio even gets a kick out of it, causing a slight misunderstanding in our sensei. 

Machio-san... I'm sure that's not it because...

Besides being a teacher, Tachibana also cosplays in her own free time, and the certain blue skin-tight costume with the exact diamond-shaped cut across her belly could have been the reason for the odd tan-line. 

The next part of the episode moves on to new found trio-friendship among Hibiki, Ayaka and Akemi. 

I loved how easygoing Ayaka was to become friends with Akemi right off the bat. It is interactions like these that makes me appreciate the characters. Hopefully, we'll see Ayaka joining them in the gym soon too. 

At the same time, we were also given an important lesson on healthy eating habits by Akemi.

Translation: Preparation method in cooking in order from lowest to highest calories.
Steam < Boil < Saute < Fry  

The idea of cheat day was also mentioned, which is a good way to encourage people who have been sticking to a strict diet daily. However, it seems that Hibiki might be getting encouraged a little too soon as she finds herself in a family restaurant with her two friends, with rather large portions of food in front of her. 

Well, whatever that makes Hibiki happy! 

The last part of the third episode resumes with our favourite Tachibana-sensei, as she is finally in her next cosplay outfit at an event that she has been trying to lose a little weight for. 

Unfortunately for sensei, it seems that she always has some sort of fate with her students and... Machio? 

We finally see Machio in an outfit other than his tracksuit (which manages to compress all that muscles), so could he be cosplaying too? 

It seems that he is cosplaying a character from the proclaimed "Ultimate Muscles" comic. At first, I thought it was just a fictional title for the anime but when I googled it, there was actually really an Ultimate Muscles comic. 

Well, Machio's outfit is a little different, but the reference surely is interesting. 

And of course, no clothes can stay on on Machio for a long time as he poses for the crowd that seems to be rather attracted to him. If that isn't enough, he even begins to lift a weight that came out of nowhere. 

Well, at least all that distraction from Machio allowed Tachibana-sensei to stay hidden underneath her cosplay. Everything seemed to be going fine, until Hibiki noticed her walking away from the convention after it has ended and with her suitcase that contained her cosplay outfit, Hibiki automatically assumed she used it to store merchandise. It seems that the misunderstandings between Tachibana and the people around her will never end. 

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the addition of Tachibana-sensei. I love how Hibiki is always ready to tease her sensei, and Tachibana automatically becomes flustered, which shows her rather adorable side. With the addition of Ayaka and Tachibana-sensei throughout these 3 episodes, is it safe to say that How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? has passed the 3-episode rule? If it has, go and start watching it right now! As mentioned in the previous review, you can watch this anime on dimsum here! (New user can enjoy a 30 days free trial.)

If you would still like to learn what happens beyond the first three episodes, feel free to read on. 

Just when we were wondering when Ayaka would join the gym, she quickly does in episode four! 

And of course, the moment Ayaka notices Machio, she too, is mesmerised by him.

But of course, Hibiki and Akemi know better, after seeing all his predictable antics. 
However, before the three of them can get started on their gym exercises for the day, we learn about something that disappoints them: Super Peak Hours. 

Apparently, peak hours don't just belong on the road and on the trains. 

As such, the girls find themselves at the chest machines, which is also a new thing that is being introduced in this anime series. 

An alternative to training the pectoral and deltoids muscles, as well as the triceps. 

The next day, the girls learn that the gym is closed and with that, Akemi comes up with a suggestion: 

When an ojou-sama invites you to her house, you know that it isn't really a house, right? 

... Because it's a mansion. As it should be. 

Honestly, I would have expected there to be a gym in Akemi's mansion but apparently there is none. Hence, the girls will have to improvise their exercise with more simple means. Before that though, they consult a training DVD.

With the name shown like that, of course I had to google him. 

He exists, and he exists in another anime titled Kengan Ashura, which involves combat battles. I certainly appreciate small references like these. 

When they were viewing the DVD, I was surprised to see that Hibiki was coolly mentioning that she wanted to see more than just push-ups, sit-ups and squats. Looks like she's definitely getting the hang of exercising and wanting to push herself further, which is a very heartwarming character development. 

Something interesting happens in the DVD too. Among the sea of similar-looking bald man, we notice a familiar person. 

Seems like Machio-san himself has been influenced by Uzo Toshio. And random thought but... Does exercising that often make them bald? If so, Machio has to watch out for himself in future. 

Finally, the girls find an exercise that is interesting enough for them to get started on: The Dip. 

The dip can be easily achieved with just having one chair, and all you have to do is to rest your palms along the chair, while stretching out your legs. Once the form is there, you can begin the reverse push up, which comes to be the dip. While all the exercises that were shown the anime have been rather detailed and clear so far, I do have my concerns with this certain exercise. I will leave that for now, though. 

In order to challenge yourself, the trainer suggests to add weights on your back while doing the dip. Now, that just totally raises my concerns by ten-folds, but things seem to be going fine so far, so I'll still leave it at that. 

It was nice seeing Hibiki all pumped up and excited to begin this exercise. 

And this is where I'm really glad my concerns were being addressed. The fact that the dip actually seems dangerous with just a chair alone! Couldn't there be a stopped around the chair to stop the friction when this exercise is being carried out? Hence, when the chair broke once Hibiki started to do the dip, I was glad (not because she fell) because this show managed to address small details like this that some viewers might question. 

An ojou-sama might have a huge house, but you have to take note of the quality of her chairs too! 

The later part of the episode brings us to an obligatory beach episode, because it's the summer season after all. I'm sure that even on the beach, these girls will find a way to exercise though. To add it on, they are joined by their own teacher too. 

Despite the pleasing sunny weather and the pristine looking beach, it is empty. They soon  learn that swimming in the sea isn't allowed because of the appearance of hammerhead sharks.  

Seems like this episode is a series of let-downs for the girls, staring from the peak hours, the closing of the gym on one day and now, not being allowed to swim in the sea. However, their despair is quickly replaced by the idea of exercising on the beach: just as planned. 

They work on the burpees, which is an exercise I'm sure we're all used to at a point of them when we were having PE lessons in schools. 

And it seems that Tachibana-sensei and Hibiki might feel differently about how "burpee is awesome." Press on! 

After the day at the beach, we see a difference in soreness between the high school students and Tachibana-sensei. 

This scene actually made me laugh. It's realistic, and the small laughs on their faces while Tachibana describes them as "scary" is amusing. Episode 4 was mainly about learning how to find alternatives for exercises, as well as having some friendly bonding time with their teacher. Hopefully we'll get to see more of these moments in the next few episodes. 

What could episode 5 be about then? 

Episode 5 starts off with another teacher, who is Tachibana's colleague, announcing something sports related: sports day. 

With all the gym sessions Hibiki and her friends have been getting involved in, surely this would pay off for them on sports day? 

Back at the gym, Machio learns of the sports day that is happening soon at school, and hopefully he might help to train the girls just in time before the event. 

...Not without being a human chair for all three of them to settle on first. Surprisingly, this "chair" holds up better than the chairs Hibiki tried to do the dip on in the previous episode. 

Machio introduces the leg curl machine, which helps to train the tendon and hamstring in order to run better in the relay event during sports day. Of course, our dear Hibiki is fired up and ready to take on the leg curl machine. 

Some people might assume she's just readying herself up only to fail in the end, but we've all seen her mighty punch in episode two, and Hibiki's determination isn't something to be reckoned with. I believe the leg curl machine is no biggie for her. 

And she actually does it really well, earning a praise from Machio. As she continues her reps, the looks on her witnesses faces' convey the shock at how well Hibiki is performing.

And that's when we all thought wrongly: they were stunned for another reason. 

It's because Hibiki's pants tore from the overexertion on the machine... 

Even Machio was taking his shirt off slowly this time, rather than tearing it out as usual, because Hibiki has already beat him to it... 

Sports day soon arrives, and let's see if Hibiki's time in the gym has paid off. While Hibiki's class hasn't been doing the best so far, something wonderful happens: an astounding 5 trillion points will be awarded for the class if they win the relay race that Hibiki will be running in. The point system seems a little too far-fetched, but this alone is enough to instill a huge sense of determination in Hibiki. There is one thing to worry about though: 

Hibiki will be competing against Akemi, who is the representative anchor runner for her own class. Akemi's athletic prowess is a force to be reckoned with, but this doesn't dampen Hibiki's spirits. In fact, it only makes her more confident. 

On the bright side, the runners between Hibiki and Akemi's class are neck to neck, so this gives both of them the same amount of time to start their own run. Hibiki doesn't get a very steady start though, as the baton wasn't received properly. For people experienced in relay running, you might know what it means to pick up a baton that hasn't been passed on from runner to runner. 

Hibiki on the other hand, doesn't seem to know the rule and carries on running anyway. 

Despite the mistake that was unintentionally made on Hibiki's part, she still ends up second to Akemi, and that is actually quite impressive. Her time in the gym definitely paid off, but she now needs to also pay attention to general rules in competitive sports. Good work though, Hibiki! 

As a result, Hibiki's class doesn't earn the bonus 5 trillion points. Well, she wins 5 trillion points in my book for being so hardworking though. 

In the second half of the episode, we see Hibiki, Akemi, Ayaka and Tachibana-sensei in a sauna--and it's actually done for an educational purpose, as we get to learn the benefits as well as be aware of the misconceptions when entering the sauna. 

Another important tip for the adults: 

While in the sauna, Hibiki starts to get an idea on how to make their time entertaining. Just to recall, the girls were given lucky draw coupons from Machio to commemorate the gym's half-year opening. With that in mind, Hibiki comes up with a rather bold and honestly, regretful suggestion: whoever that stays in the sauna the longest can have all four of their lucky draw tickets. 

You would think the others would opt out of this wild idea, but...

They actually went with it! Even Tachibana-sensei... I guess you can't really pass up on four lucky draw tickets, especially when the grand prize is a trip to America.

The girls start out rather confidently but overtime, it's obvious that the heat will get to them quickly. 

The 3 high school girls look like they may tap out anytime soon, but Tachibana-sensei seems to hold up well, with a cool (ha) expression on her face. 

The first one down: 

Not long after... (Akemi looks happy giving up though) 

And now it's down to Hibiki and Tachibana-sensei. 

Something is a bit suspicious though. Not to be ironic, but Tachibana-sensei actually looks frozen in the heat. Is she really good in the sauna, or has her soul already melted? 

And then comes the moment of truth: 

Tachibana-sensei: DEFEAT.

And so, Hibiki finally isn't second best anymore as she wins all the four lucky draw tickets. Unfortunately, four tickets doesn't mean it's good luck for Hibiki, as she merely wins four of the gym's merchandise instead. 

The whole episode 5 should just be summarised as, "better luck next time, Hibiki." 

On to episode six, which is the current updated episode as of now. It's been a while since we have been introduced to someone, and episode 6 is the episode to do just that. 

With the short silver hair, we can automatically tell that it's the same girl that hasn't been introduced yet on the poster, and I'm looking forward to see what kind of person she is.

We cut back to Hibiki, who can be seen eyeing a home theatre set. 

But of course, a high-school student like her wouldn't be able to just go in and purchase it immediately--unless she is Akemi. There must be a reason to show her need for this, so let's leave it at here first, and see if this goal will ever be met by the end of the episode. 

Turns out, there's a silver lining after all for Hibiki's home theatre set dreams.

There's an arm sumo competition, and the cash money seems very enticing. 

Now here's the catch though. Arm sumo might seem like a fun way to say arm wrestling, but they're actually a little bit different in terms of the techniques used. Excited, Hibiki gets fired up again and tries to take on her fellow gym mates. 

With that menacing look on Hibiki's face, it's obvious that she's definitely going to win. Just remember, if she can be one-punch Hibiki, she can also be one-arm-sumo-slam Hibiki. 

Everyone's reaction when they realise Hibiki's unrelenting strength. 

This time, even Machio finds it upon himself to take Hibiki on. His smiley face even changes to a rather fierce one, just like that of a shounen anime protagonist. 

While Machio comes up victorious this time, obviously, I can tell that it wasn't easy for him as he had to exert all his strength such that his clothes tore and there was a frame showing his hands shaking a little. Hibiki truly is dangerous. 

After all the explanations and try-outs, we come around to the actual arm-sumo competition, and we find ourselves with the girl that appeared at the start of the episode again. This time, her face is revealed, and we now know that she is Gina from Russia. Plus, the extra description "looking for boyfriend" is truly gold.

As it turns out, since there were only two applicants for the arm-sumo competition, Hibiki has to immediately face her in an inevitable final round. 

Honestly, even though the new girl might seem tough and intimidating, I still stand by my girl Hibiki. I know she can win this easily. 

Besides, Machio is the referee, and that makes the support for Hibiki even stronger. 

The match begins, and we are greeted with this sight of Hibiki.

Come on, it's obvious she's slaying this. 

And of course, Hibiki wins the match, without putting up much fight. Her reaction to winning is adorable, though it looks like she torn another area of her outfit...

However, that isn't the end of Gina. The next week, we see her in a school outfit similar to the three girls.

And it looks like Hibiki has gained an admirer, or a rival. Maybe it's both, but what I can tell is that Gina is actually a really likable foreign character. She might appear cold and intimidating, but she is actually such a cheery character, who genuinely expresses how she feels. Looks like Hibiki's circle of friends is growing, and I don't mind it at all. 

Though sometimes, Gina can also be quite aloof, but in the most charming ways. 

Translation: From left: 2-- Emotionless, cold-blooded. 1-- Icy smile, intelligent (the most common stereotype of Russian anime characters) 3-- Patriotic Russian 

Well, it's hard to deny these stereotypes she mentioned... I'm side-tracking a bit here but one character that probably fits number two is: 

Balalaika from Black Lagoon: 

And for number one, a girl that comes up on the top of my head is none other than 

Ayase Eli from Love Live! School Idol Project 

I can't think of any Russian character in anime I have watched yet that fits the description of number 3, but if you do know of one, do let me know. It'll be fun to see it!

Going back to Dumbbells, there's one more thing that happens besides the surprising transfer into Hibiki's school. 

This smile. This smile says it all. I'm pretty sure Gina knows that her host family will be Hibiki's household, and Hibiki isn't aware of it yet. 

Once Hibiki arrives home, she knows what's up. 

Not only did Hibiki earn a rival, she also found a temporary 'family member' in Gina. The episode ends here, and I'm saddened that it did, but this only makes me anticipated the next few episodes more. This is one thing to appreciate about the show: they introduce characters and make all of them likeable. Besides that, their personalities are interesting and full of life, and I'm excited to see them work out together in the gym for six more episodes. 

Oh, and bonus takeaway from that episode:
We've had Arnold Schwarzenegger, now have Vladimir Putin. Or should I say, Pejin...

If you have read up till here, I really hope you'll hop on board the How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? train (or should I say, treadmill. Ha, ha) too because it's definitely an anime worth watching this season. With the likes of our precious protagonist like Hibiki, her very likable friends (and teacher) as well as an entertaining Machio-san to provide comedic relief, this show is in good hands with their characters. The beneficial workout tips make it an interactive experience too, and you can kill two birds with one stone by enjoying anime, and finding a love in exercise too. 

Do watch How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? on dimsum here!
There is a free 30 day trial for new users, so grab this chance to enjoy the show while it's still airing! 

Written by kimizomi

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