「遭難したらどうする?」 (Sounan Shitara Dou Suru?)
“Have You Seen God Before?”
Continuing from the foreshadow that we received at the end of the last episode, Ep. 09 of Dumbbell gives us more intricate details behind Macchio’s old mentor, action movie star Barnold Shortsinator. But As our favorite muscle-bro takes on the difficult tasks that Barnold has in store for him, the show is given the chance to play around with its more comedic aspects by playing with the tongue-in-cheek tone of its sense of humor.
Namely, this particular episode has a ton of fun amping up the meta-humor by calling attention to some of its narrative elements. It comes at us right away when Satomi calls attention to Macchio hastening the pace of the episode by jumping right into the first exercise he teaches. The distracting graphics behind Macchio’s flexing also continue playing a role throughout the episode as Satomi is distracted from a crucial conversation to focus on it and it becomes weaponized to the point of having an entire auditorium of body-builders worship Macchio’s form. Gina is also disturbed by her newfound role as the Straight Man reacting to Ayaka and Hibiki fangirling over Barnold only to be baffled and unable to riff properly when the main three girls take a ride on Barnold’s shoulders. There are plenty of other jokes that land as well such as Akemi’s muscle fetish compelling her to say that she’s finally home at the body-building competition despite the competition taking place near her home and the hypocritical humor of Gina ribbing at Barnold’s lack of basic understanding of Japanese. Their expy for Jason Statham gives us our last joke in the episode as he pridefully welcomes himself into group of background characters who regularly cheer on Macchio at Silverman Gym much to Hibiki’s chagrin.
The main star of this episode, however, is Barnold Shortsinator and all of the Arnie jokes that came with his appearance. Terminator took up a bulk of the references attached to Barnold with his leather jacket, the red beaming eye he has, and his quips including “Hasta la Vista, Baby.” Satomi did end up causing some confusion as to whether it’s the real Arnold Schwarzeneggar as she recognized the Terminator’s “I’ll Be Back” one-liner and outlined the plot of Terminator 2 before being immediately silenced by Ayaka and Hibiki. There are other fun allusions to knockoff/mashup versions of Commando, Predator, The Last Action Hero, Kindergarten Cop, and even Twins. But above all else, Pumping Iron gets love through Barnold’s personal investment in teaching the fundamentals behind posing and pumping for body-building competitions. While he never engages in psychological warfare with Macchio like in the documentary, it gives us one of the three instructionals that we get in the episode. The only major exercises we learn in the episode are toning out our lower backs with a Seated Row Machine or Back Extensions and using a Hand Grip. But with the inclusion of Barnold, it’s hard to complain when the episode delivers on creating a fun and humorous experience.