How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? – 07 – Meat on the Brain

With the gym closed, the girls decide to take Gina out for a welcome party. Hibiki recommends her brother’s yakiniku (BBQ) restaurant where she works part time. As they chow down, Machio and Satomi hover between them and us, explaining that while beef is a good source of protein for bodybuilders, the cut of meat and even its source determines how much you should eat.

When there’s a slowdown in work, Hibiki takes a load off and tucks into a multi-thousand-calorie meal. Gina believes this is Hibiki’s secret to, among other things, beating her at arm-wrestling: the same ability to consume huge amounts of muscle-building protein as a pro wrestler, only she enjoys doing so! Of course, it’s just Hibiki’s “cheat day,” but she won’t be able to slack off on the other days.

When the others ask why Hibiki has to work five days a week in addition to school and the gym, she says it’s to pay her monthly membership fees and for all the food she eats. Akemi informs her that thanks to her older sister, chairman of the board of their school, gym fees and other training-related expenses are covered by the school! That said, Hibiki still needs to pay for her own food.

While sitting in class and half-paying attention, Gina notices that Satomi has a beauty mark beneath her eye that she’s sure she’s seen before. Sure enough, a quick check of her phone confirms that Satomi is “Yulia Riko”, cosplay sensation. When she tells Satomi that she knows, Satomi assumes Gina wants something in exchange for her silence, as, in Gina’s words, she’s “suspicious of altruism.”

So Gina comes up with a worthy payment: she gets to spend the day with Satomi/Yulia, including a one-on-one photoshoot and sightseeing tour. When Satomi complains of soreness after a nice workout, Gina introduces her to the concept of active rest, which actually helps you recover from fatigue faster than the passive kind (i.e. sitting on your bum and swilling beer). It’s all about aiding circulation of blood (and thus oxygen) throughout the body.

Their active rest for the day takes the form of a brisk but comfortable jog that isn’t overdoing it and enables them to carry on a conversation, all the way to Akihabara. When Satomi hilariously asks the tourist if she’s going there to buy electronics, Gina responds that due to her love of all things Japanese (and a few things that aren’t like Hong Kong and yoga), she’s determined to become an idol…and she’s taking Satomi and her new friends along for the ride.

The public idol audition they end up competing in is judged by a director voiced by Yoshino Hiroyuki (nice cameo!) who is tired of normal-looking girls with a normal level of talent performing normally. That is, until the bikini-clad “Muscle Girls” arrive on stage, riding on the shoulders their burlier fellow gym members. All of a sudden, things are a bit too abnormal for the director…with emphasis on the ab!

Rather than sing, Gina and Ayaka deliver an impressive sparring demonstration, while Hibiki does bench presses with Akemi spotting. Their final act is Satomi, hiding her face behind a kendo mask, performing a perfect deadlift, the toughest and riskiest of the three major barbell exercises.

Despite enthusiastic applause by the crowd, they fail to make the cut…partially because they didn’t sing anything, but also because they were just way too weird. Normal, the director concludes, is fine after all. Too bad; I would have loved to see these guys on tour!

Natsuiro Kiseki – 12 (Fin)

The day of the audition repeats; Yuka messes up at the audition again; they tour Tokyo, and all wake up back in Sumida again. They realize they wished on the big rock’s cousin for summer to never end. The day repeats numerous times; some days they go to the audition, other times they do other things. The only change to anyone else is Rin’s mother, who sees her off by saying something different each day. When her mom asks her when she comes home, Rin figures it out. The four have to thank the rock and say goodbye to summer vacation and the miracles it gave them. The wish is released and tomorrow comes.

If last week’s episode had ended with the first moment of this one – Natsumi waking up in her bed at home in Sumida, then opening her curtain to see Saki standing there – if it had ended just like that, we would have been satisfied. A sudden end, sure, but one that left open the fascinating possibility of a literally eternal summer. One in which Saki never moves; they have infinite chances to nail their idol audition, and they can essentially do whatever they want. But since this is not a noitaminA series, it has twelve episodes, and it decides to not only show us that timeloop, but how the girls ultimately get out of it, and grow in the process.

One reason we love timeloop episodes so much is that deep down, they’re, well…they’re creepy. For humans, time moves forwards and that’s it. When it starts behaving strangely, it opens up a whole can of worms about the nature of our very existence, which can be be unpleasant. Not only that, it’s fun to watch the characters react to this anomaly. A never-ending summer sounds fantastic, but it gets old fast, because it will always get old fast as long as you wake up in the same place at the same time you did yesterday. Everytime the day resets, you feel you exerted all that energy yesterday for nothing; it wears on you.

As a timeloop, it employed lots of montages, which did a good job of quickly portraying the fact that many days were passing and they were getting a lot done, but Rin’s mom, who introduced them to the big rock, subtly prods her daughter to end it soon, or “come home”, as she calls it. The rock’s miracles are…miraculous, but they aren’t everything. Life for the girls can’t truly continue until they release their wish and return to normal time. Life goes on, and Saki moves, but the girls wish one more time – on the now dormant rock – that they’ll stay friends forever. Bawwww.


Rating: 9 (Superior)