uring a regular after-school grub crawl, gluttonous high schooler Hibiki Sakura is confronted about her ever-expanding waistline by her best friend, Ayaka Uehara. With her attempts at solitary exercise failing miserably, Hibiki decides to join the newly opened Silverman Gym. At her orientation, Hibiki runs into student council president and school idol Akemi Souryuuin. However, it soon turns out that Hibiki is in for a lot more than she bargained for. Not only is Silverman Gym full of world-renowned bodybuilders and athletes, but to make matters worse, Akemi turns out to be a total muscle fetishist! Grossed out by the scene unfolding before her eyes, Hibiki begins to leave, only to be stopped by trainer Naruzou Machio. Completely enthralled with her newfound Prince Charming, Hibiki signs up as a gym member. Now, as a result of her spur-of-the-moment decision, Hibiki must adapt to her new lifestyle. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
After struggling through both Magical Sempai and Are You Lost? yesterday, both of which regularly gestured towards the concept of humor without offering any genuinely compelling jokes, it is incredibly refreshing to watch a comedy that actually understands how to set up and pay off a gag. Heroine Hibiki Sakura actually has a funny, relatable internal voice, and her reactions are conveyed through creative, amusing expressions! Expectations are raised, only to be subverted through goofy visual comedy! Fluid animation is used to energetically sell dramatic punchlines!
Even if I weren’t coming off a sequence of genuinely bad horny comedies, Dumbbells would still stand as a strong example of the genre done right. Perhaps the show’s most core and crucial strength is the fact that Hibiki Sakura herself is a likable and inherently funny heroine. Her halfhearted dedication to physical fitness felt very true to life, and her reactions to the musclebound madness of her first gym trip were elevated through terrific expression work and her down-to-earth internal voice. I felt the second half of this episode leaned a little too far into the common issue of characters overexplaining why something is funny, but in general, Hibiki’s character serves as a terrific foundation for a gag comedy.
It also helps that Dumbbells actually looks really good. Many of this episode’s jokes relied on the dramatic tonal discord between Hibiki’s modern slice of life art design and the heavy-lined, hulking muscle men of her new gym. That visual contradiction is exemplified through this episode’s best visual gag: the absurd contrast between her trainer Machio’s generic pretty boy head and his towering, impossibly muscular physique. Dumbbells is even pretty smart about integrating its fanservice naturally into its drama, with the show’s regular demonstrations of fitness technique offering both education and fanservice in equal measure. Combine all that with this episode’s propulsive pacing, and you end up with an engaging, lighthearted premiere that earns my first solid recommendation of the season. You can also free Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru anime watch online and free download.