Why We Adore the Body Improvement Club (Mob Psycho 100)

ONE’s greatest strength as an author is his consistent ability to subvert tropes and expectations in a clever, funny way. Oftentimes, it’s this very skill that is at the heart of his stories. The entirety of One Punch Man is built off of his ability to subvert tropes and characters seen in shounen anime and western comics.

Mob Psycho 100 especially excels at this. Just about every single character in this series subverts your expectations in one way or another. From its side characters to its villains to even the main duo of Mob and Reigen themselves, no in is as they initially appear.

Today, we’ll be looking at my favorite example of them all: the Body Improvement Club.

When they were first introduced, ONE played up all the usual tropes one might expect for your stereotypical jock characters. They were big, intimidating lumps of muscle that didn’t say a word. Hell, in the original manga, they had the same menacing aura that characters get in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

The goal of their introduction was to trick you. It played into the cliches the story was mocking. You expect Mob to join the Telepathy Club, the group of underdogs being kicked out by the bigger, meaner Body Improvement Club. Upon first viewing, you expect Mob to join with the scrawny nerds, who would go on to become his friends and join him in psychic adventures and improve his powers. That’s just how stories like this work.

But that’s not how Mob Psycho 100 works. Mob doesn’t need to improve his psychic abilities; he’s already the strongest Esper around. He wants to improve other aspects of himself. Aspects such as his physical capabilities. So, instead, he joins the Body Improvement Club.

Also, the Telepathy Club is lowkey terrible and totally deserved to get disbanded.

Past this point, we got to see the facade vanish and meet the real Body Improvement Club. Did you expect them to be uptight athletic bullies? Far from it; they’re the most wholesome group of friends Mob could have asked for! These massive middle-schoolers support our protagonist at every turn.

Seeing how supportive they can get, it’s impossible not to love them. Even when Mob makes only the tiniest bit of progress, they’re there to hype him up and cheer for him. When he’s in a jam, they’re there to help him out. Just so long as they get to maintain their pacifist ideals; after all, their muscles aren’t meant for violence.

Unless you’re trying to mug the tiny boy. Then they’ll just squish you. Really tightly. Like a group hug!

What I truly love about them is that their wholesome supportiveness isn’t just a one-way thing. Mob inspires them just as much as they inspire him. When they see our tiny protagonist trying his best, getting up every time he falls down, always fighting on, it gives them the courage to keep going themselves.

None of them are especially complex characters. It’s not like we ever dive deeply into their backstories or their motivations. The Body Improvement Club is just a collection of dope bros who support their bros. But that’s all they needed to be.

Improving yourself is hard. Physically and emotionally, it’s a challenge to grow. It’s a slow, arduous process. Results take time; sometimes they take so long that it’s easy to get discouraged. Having someone to support you in that endeavor goes a long way in making that challenge easier. Sometimes, you need someone to remind you to fight on.

How did they get that swole, though? They’re, like, fourteen! These guys put JoJo characters to shame!

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