How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift? – 03 – Cheat Day, Cosplay

Dumbbell keeps up the good work with a well-organized, well-paced, funny, charming, and informative episode. Sadly we don’t learn any more about Hibiki’s progress with boxing training (if any), but then that was to be expected; this is not a boxing anime! Still, that was a hell of a punch. I wonder if we’ll see another down the line…

Instead we’re introduced to Tachibana Satomi (Horie Yui!), a history teacher who wants to lose a bit of weight. When she checks out Silverman Gym she’s a little disconcerted to find two of her students there (and even more cheesed off when one of Hibiki indirectly refers to her as “old”—she’s 29) but when she meets Machio (and is instantly smitten) she sticks with it.

Machio introduces her to dumbbell curls, which help build one’s biceps as part of balanced training with push-ups (which help build triceps). When Satomi gets hot and rolls up her shirt, Hibiki and Akemi notice a strange tan spot on her stomach, and she manages to conceal the true cause: her secret cosplay hobby.

The middle segment involves Akemi joining Ayaka and Hibiki for lunch, and Hibiki learns that far from being ideal for getting a nice bikini body, her diet is actually far better suited for a sumo thong. Akemi explains that suddenly gorging on an empty stomach boosts blood sugar and insulin production, resulting in weight gain, not loss.

But not all is lost: she suggests Hibiki shift to the diet of bodybuilder, most of whom seek a limit of 3% body fat before a contest, essentially making them dieting pros. It’s all about eating smaller meals high in protein but low in fat, which means boiling or steaming foods that normally sauteed or fried. Snacks like protein bars and shakes prevent hunger without adding fat.

When Hibiki laments that such a radical shift in her diet is miserably untenable, Akemi gives her some relief: the occasional “cheat day”, typically once a week, prevents a dieter’s body from going into energy conservation mode in addition to the psychological boost that comes from eating tasty stuff. Unfortunately, Hibiki still doesn’t grasp that she’ll have to start actually dieting for a while before having her cheat day!

We finish with another Satomi-POV segment, as she’s sufficiently slimmed down to wear a revealing sailor suit (KanColle?) to an event at Tokyo Big Sight, where she’s an instant sensation. That’s when she notices Hibiki and Akemi are there, but not for her; for Machio, who agreed to cosplay as the “Muscle King” in an anime apparently everyone in the world except Satomi has heard of.

The horde of cameramen circling her quickly shift to Machio, who is all too happy to destroy his costume with an iconic front press, then proceeds to explain the front press’ proper form. At day’s end, Satomi is just happy her students didn’t discover her cosplay hobby, but they do spot her as she’s slinking away with her suitcase, and lets Hibiki think she’s a doujinshi fan. Better than the alternative!

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Aho Girl – 04

Beneath the twin tails and great skin of Hanabatake Yoshiko lurks an eldritch abomination of idiocy, and woe betide the poor doomed souls all who enter her orbit, for they are irrevocably corrupted (except for A-kun, who merely has to endure her).

Among the condemned is Nozomi, whom the boys try in vain to keep from Yoshiko’s dumb clutches at a department store hero show. While horrendously idiotic, Yoshiko can appear or sound cool in isolated moments, so Nozomi’s descent continues.

Yoshiko’s corrosive idiocy also rubs off on a teacher at school who is simply trying to get her to understand the fundamentals of reading comprehension. But because, like all female educators in anime, their teacher is 28 and single, Yoshiko instinctively pulls on that thread of shame and loneliness, until by the end the teacher doubts everything she’s ever known…and begs A-kun of all people to “teach her about love.”

On the eve of A-kun’s birthday, Yoshiko plans to sneak into his room in the night to “find out what he wants.” She drags an unwilling Sayaka along, and the Fuuki Iinchou accompanies them because she wants a picture of A-kun sleeping.

The resulting antics between Yoshiko and Iinchou result in an ornery Ruri getting knocked out by an errant blow by Iinchou meant for Yoshiko, and everyone gets in trouble…not with A-kun, but with Sayaka, who wonder what the heck everyone is thinking.

There’s also a brief thread in which Kurosaki (Bleach reference?) repeatedly describes himself as one of “Sis’s soldiers”, before eventually becoming A-kun’s “tool”/”dog”…when all he wanted to be was his friend. The connecting thread with all of these stories? No good can come of associating with the likes of Yoshiko.

Aho Girl – 03

It’s a jam-packed Aho Girl with another not one or two or three but four separate stories, starting with a different opening in which the Disciplinary Committee President (DCP) slowly pans into the shot from the right leering at A-kun, until Yoshiko slowly pans in from the left.

From there, Yoshiko’s mom meets Sayaka, and is immediately suspicious she’ll steal A-kun from her daughter (and by extension, her). Thus she uses two pairs of handcuffs (she normally uses on her husband) and tries to get Sayaka to show them her panties, which will determine what kind of girl she is.

When A-kun threatens violence on Yoshiko and her mom, Sayaka surrenders, and when she finally reveals her panties to the women, they’re so white and pure Mom tells A-kun he’s free to be friends with her: she’s no threat.

Part Deux is another “kids in the playground” segment, with Yoshiko wanting to play and the kids preferring if she just studies, since she needs to get a job at some point. I will never tire of their mature, pragmatic banter.

Then a big white dog shows up—a huge white dog—and Yoshiko protects the little ‘uns…by attempting to ride him. There’s a poetry to her being dragged across the dirt telling the jaded kids to “hold fast to their dreams” as she holds fast to the dog, eventually ending up holding him in the air with her legs.

It’s a stray dog, so naturally Yoshiko intends to keep him, so she can keep riding him, and to the kids’ surprise, she seems to have trained him. The girl even calls Yoshiko “kinda amazing”, which immediately concerns her friends.

Following the dog rodeo, Yoshiko suddenly sounds a lot more bright and sophisticated when talking about her one true love of bananas. Her interest piqued by a bold upstart domestic banana farmer, Satou-san, and the taste is so good she bowls’ over backwards, revealing her panties once more.

The sophistocation quickly fades away when she proposes to run to Satou’s farm to meet him, and Sayaka must tag along…to the tune of 100km. Stopping to buy a drink, Sayaka very unwisely sends Yoshiko into a store that sells far more than just drinks, and the phrase “a fool and her money are soon parted” is elegantly yet devastatingly illustrated. The ugly, dull, expensive, yet not not adorable town mascots of “Middle of Nowhere” were a nice touch.

They finally reach the farm, and Yoshiko draws Satou into a perhaps not appropriate hug for an old man who is a complete stranger. Still, Yoshiko seems convinced she knows the man’s soul intimately after tasting his exquisite banana (that sounds wrong but it’s factually accurate). Then it’s up to Sayaka to get on all fours and beg for train fare home. I can’t blame her for not wanting to sprint another 100km home.

In Numero Quatro things get a little frisky and a little dark, as Yoshiko, seeing A-kun is down from not scoring a full 100 on any of his tests (say what you will about her, she’s good at nice round zeros), and decides to cheer him up…the same way her mom cheers her dad up some nights. Oh dear…

Yoshiko is truly an idiot, but she pays attention when she wants to, and was clearly taking very precise visual notes, judging from the attention to detail in which she handcuffs A-kun, talks to him like he’s a baby with an insufferably cutesy tone while stripping. A-kun is not, for a single moment, turned on by the display, and indeed, looks like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. I’m sure Yoshiko’s mom would be sad to see him that way!

His sister, on the other hand, manages to walk in just after he’d gotten on his feet and delivered a tremendous knock-out drop kick to Yoshiko, and in the very moment he’s lifting her skirt with his teeth to fetch the key from her panties. Poor Ruri! On the one hand, she shouldn’t have to see that. On the other, well…Yoshiko really shouldn’t have to ever see her parents’ foreplay.

Aho Girl – 02

This week Aho Girl continued to deliver strong comedy bang for the buck, relying on a single, central premise (Yoshiko is an idiot) but applying that idiocy in a diverse array of unexpected ways.

First Yoshiko wanders off and plays with children, who think she’s cool until A-kun arrives to burst their bubble. It’s an act where Yoshiko exhibits her rare glimmers of brilliance (both in building a boss sand castle and lamenting that the kids’ hopes were already “lost and broken by modern society”, her failed swing attack makes deft use of both slapstick and observational comedy.

In another little dig at modern society, Yoshiko gradually convinces a rough-looking delinquent to stop pawing Sayaka and play with her, a “fellow idiot” instead, believing she sees him for what he really is: a sensitive, misunderstood young man just trying to make it in the world.

Turns out A-kun’s sister Ruri is also capable of scoring zeros on tests, but not for lack of studying, for which his high-scoring brother can’t hide his shame, and leads Ruri to tell him she hates him and latch onto Sayaka instead, who worries about the girl’s future.

Finally, A-kun has an admirer, and it’s the disciplinary committee president, who despite her button-down, strict manner, is concealing all manner of lewd and lascivious thoughts, especially when A-kun invites her (quite innocently) to search him (for contraband), which she takes to mean violate her regulations. She ends up banging her head on a locker trying to jump him, but promises “it isn’t over”.

Aho Girl – 01 (First Impressions)

Aho Girl or “Clueless Girl” is about all of the ways Hanabatake Yoshiko is an idiot, as seen from the perspective of her neighbor and long-suffering caretaker Akutsu Akuru. In under thirteen minutes of airtime, A-kun and others call her an idiot thirteen times and he assaults her a half-dozen more as punishment for being so idiotic.

If that sounds really one-note, it’s because it is. However this double act in which A-kun is the straight and Yoshiko is the foil sort of succeeds for two reasons: despite her idiocy Yoshiko has a great deal of performative range (thanks to her seiyu, a game Yuuki Aoi) and the bits and jokes are numerous and frequent, leaving scant time to stop and ask yourself why you’re watching.

Girl Friend BETA – 06

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This week, a cafeteria out of sweet potatoes, a half-overheard conversation on the stairwell, and a curious passage in a 30-year-old yearbook lead to a cascading confluence of green-skirted first-years. Now that’s random!

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First-year go-getter and light music club member Asahina Momoko is afraid the second-years Kurokawa and Kazemachi think she’s a rude pain for being so casual with them, as it’s poor etiquette in Japanese schools for the underclassmen to be too familiar with their senpais. Momo’s friend Hazuki Yuzuko is swept up in her efforts to mend fences, which leads to the fourth wall-breaking shot above.

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Momoko’s goals cross with occult club member Amari Akari and curiously star-eyed Miyauchi Nozomi, who are trying to figure out the cryptic yearbook message, which seems to relate to re-forging connections and something red-clothed in a golden field. Two more freshmen hear of the investigation and they set to work.

In the end, Momoka’s first mishap of the day, waiting in line for sweet potatoes only for them to be sold out when she got to the counter, turns out to be the answer that both solves the yearbook mystery and help her apologize to her senpais, and that’s with a big basket of sweet potatoes under a tree.

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At least, it’s the answer they go with; the true meaning of the passage remains unclear. But Momoka had no cause to worry to begin with, as she left before hearing the rest of the second-years’ talk, which allowed for casual interactions between firsts and seconds in the light music club, where cohesion is so important.

While not quite as good as the study group or cafeteria episodes, this GF BETA continued the show’s ability to draw from its vast collection of disparate personalities to tell unique, detailed, and ultimately charming stories.

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