「新しいライバルほしい?」 (Atarashii Rival Hoshii?)
“Want a New Rival>”
In this gratuitously Russian episode of Dumbbell, we are introduced to Gina Void, a competitive sambo expert who finds herself gunning for an international arm-wrestling tournament held at Silverman Gym. But when she meets her match in the form of Hibiki, she can’t handle the feeling of defeat and vows to get her revenge, whether it be through taking some extra lengths to get there.
Because this episode focuses on the arm-wrestling competition, there isn’t as much of a focus on learning how to work your muscles harder. Instead, we get the ins-and-outs on proper formation and techniques one must uphold to do their best at arm-wrestling. In return, we actually get more in-depth knowledge of work-out strategies that help with your nerves. This mainly comes in handy when Gina discusses her preferred work-out of choice, kipping. At the end of the episode, we do get something more gym-ready with jumping push-ups, but for the most part, the most fascinating educational tidbit was learning about how pull-ups can help improve nerves to the point of working well as a warm-up for martial arts and arm-wrestling.
Although it was fun to see the girls branch out beyond gym exercises, the highlight of the episode was easily Gina. She’s such a wonderful addition to the series with how humorous it was to see her trying to get back at Hibiki for beating her in the fighting tournament. Hibiki’s arm-wrestling prowess was extremely hilarious, especially with how even Macchio was having a hard time. But the funniest moments of the episode involved how much Gina breaks character from the otherwise stereotypical “tough Russian” personality she tries to evoke. Times like her insistence that her victory is necessary to pay for her ticket to Japan, her constant reminders to Hibiki that she’ll expect a rematch soon, the occasional Russian words she’d pepper into her Japanese, and invoking a certain political figure in Russia twice as he’s shown shirtless and hugging a bear ended up being very funny. In fact, this episode really showed off how well the anime does comedic timing with how they pulled off scenes like Gina doing an elaborate call-out to challenge Hibiki during her class introduction only to be told she’s in the wrong class or Gina awaiting the moment she sees where Hibiki gets her strength from only to see Hibiki struggling to get her wrist above the bar to lift herself up with. Gina herself is a remarkable rival character in that she’s going far enough to become a foreign exchange student and having Hibiki’s family register as her host parents just so that she can eventually get a rematch. Unfortunately for her, Hibiki’s inherent strength will be far more difficult for either of the two to understand. In her favor though, she seems to have hit it off well with the other characters as her background in martial arts quickly gave her a mutual bond with Ayaka. For now, it was fun to see how much enjoyment the anime had with the humorous chemistry between Hibiki and Gina as newly formed rivals.