Sometimes it's interesting to break out from the everyday methodical 'Blogging of series in an attempt to capture the zeitgeist and do something a little different... And that's my well rehearsed answer to anyone who wishes to ask me why I'm watching Training with Hinako (or Isshoni Training to give its proper Japanese title).
In fairness, this DVD release (which has sold over 10,000 copies in Japan at the time of writing) is an interesting topic for discussion, due in no small part to the fact that it was planned, written and funded by a single anime fan determined to do something so ridiculous that nobody nobody would question it, or indeed beat him to punch.
The result is Training with Hinako, which is in essence (or at least claims to be) the first ever "keep fit anime". The plot behind the DVD (because apparantly even keep fit anime needs a plot) is that Hinako is an anime-loving teenager who is one day sucked into the world of anime and turned into a character herself. She now has a job working on anime shows, but she needs to keep fit, and guess what? She wants us to help her with her training! Sorry love, I've got the 'flu right now, but don't mind me....
This background largely serves as an ample reason (place your bets on where I'm going to use the word "ample" next in this entry) for Hinako to constantly break the forth wall, trying to play rock-paper-scissors with her (I did, but she didn't seem to notice), imploring us to train with her some more, telling us how she enjoys our company and even blowing us a kiss. Is this what it takes to get Japanese otaku exercising more? You know, it most probably is....
Of course, exercise makes for a perfect subject matter when you have a low animation budget - Aside from a few of those forth wall-breaking set pieces, all that is required is to animate a single repetition of each exercise (sit-ups, push-ups and squats in case you're wondering) and you're done, with a little CG magic used to change Hinako into a variety of revealing outfits to keep your interest of course.
This is the point where Training with Hinako becomes less keep fit video and more fan service device - It's fair to say that Hinako's bosom is ample (there it is!), and her lack of any kind of support (I guess they don't have sports bras in the world of anime) makes for a... well, mesmerising work-out. I do fear for the poor girl though, as she appears to break into a profuse sweat after only a couple of push-ups - Surely she isn't that unfit? Said "fan service over exercise" argument becomes even more apparant as we check out some of the exercise segments which simply involve Hinako sprawling out on a bed counting or simply jiggling that aforementioned cleavage, while the exercises on offer are hardly the stuff to make you into Slimmer of the Year.
Am I insane for trying to review this DVD? Why yes I am, thanks for asking. Still, the fan made and funded nature of this effort does make me wonder if we could see more similarly fan made ventures in the future, which surely can't be a bad thing? As an exercise video it probably holds little water, as a fan service outing it's masterful in its simplicity, and in keeping with creator Muneshige Nakagawa's aims the entire thing really is quite ridiculous. Kudos to the man for realising a dream though - How many of us can say we've done that, particularly when that dream has involved a big-breasted teenager?