It’s not every day that you play a video game that cheerfully makes fun of you for being fat. I feel like I ought to be offended. Instead, I’m finding its unapologetic insults and unexpectedly solid mechanics incredibly fun.
Perhaps you’ve never heard of the mobile game Burn Your Fat With Me, which is available for both Android and iOS. I certainly had not.
It’s a Japanese visual novel dating sim in which you advance your romantic relationships with cute anime girls by accomplishing basic fitness goals, like doing fifty sit-ups in ninety seconds. Completing these goals earns “moevation” points (which is, by the way, a hilarious pun). This unlocks further episodes of the story and advances your romantic…advances. It’s a cute idea. I’m a big fan of gamified fitness, and this seems to do an admirable job of doing just that. Alas, as adorable as these anime girls appear to be, I’m more into guys, so I didn’t think this game would be for me. But then I discovered that there’s a version for girls.
Well! A fitness app with sexy anime men to drool over? YES PLEASE. Of course I installed it immediately. When I booted it up, this is how it greeted me:
So the premise of the game is that you’re a pudgy manga artist whose mother forced you to audition for a prestigious theatre academy. A sexy man named Kei decides that he is going to help you get your fat ass into shape by forcing you to do sit-ups with him every day. In order to advance the plot, you have to do actual, real-world sit-ups.
The manner in which the game accomplishes this is actually fairly clever. You assume the sit-up position and balance your phone on your knees. The sexy anime man counts your reps, and you do sit-ups, tapping the screen once for each rep. It works surprisingly well, even if my phone in its unbalanced wallet case has a tendency to slip of off my knees.
The game is episodic in nature. To unlock further episodes, you have to earn the aforementioned “moevation” points. To accomplish this, you must use the Training Mode, doing a set number of sit-ups in a set period of time.
The concept is a clever one, and the execution is surprisingly excellent. The first two episodes include some really good voice acting (though in order to unlock voice overs for the rest of the episodes, you have to fork over a chunk of cash). I hope you like the song that plays in the background, because that is the only song you are going to hear, but the writing is pretty enjoyable, the art is nice, and the plot is interesting enough that it’s kept me playing.
As supportive as I am of the idea of body acceptance, and as potentially problematic as I find the constant reminders of the importance of being thin (Kei constantly repeats, “You’d be a beauty if you lost some weight!” while you’re doing sit-ups), the game is oddly compelling.
Part of the attraction for me, I think, is the strong identification I feel with the protagonist. My greatest passion (besides video games) is theatre. From the time I was a teenager to my mid-twenties, I was a pretty big girl, due to a perfect storm of medication side-effects, poor diet, and lack of exercise. At the time, I was also trying to be an actor, and I learned the hard way (i.e., the depressing way) that it’s pretty difficult for a woman who isn’t conventionally attractive (read: “thin”) to be cast in anything approaching a good role. I’m still super into theatre as a hobby, and once I lost a ton of weight, I found that I was consistently cast in much better roles.
I’m no longer obese, but I could certainly stand to lose a few pounds (like most Americans, I suspect). I’m vegan and a lot more active (DDR, anyone?), but I have an ongoing affair with cookies (and cake…and pie…), so I’m enjoying having a sexy anime man-carrot dangled in front of me to encourage some strength training in addition to my usual cardio.
While I’m still not sure how I feel about a game constantly reminding its players how fat they are, I just did 100 sit-ups in three minutes, so I guess the game is accomplishing what it set out to do. I’m also genuinely curious about how the story will turn out, and I’m really hoping I learn more about the play in which my fictional self is appearing.
If you’re into the idea of sexy anime man badgering you into doing sit-ups, check out BYFWM (FG). Because you’d be a beauty if you lost some weight!