Reika Saiki is here to evolve traditional kawaii cuteness into a new form: mukikawa.

When she first joined idol mascot group Cheer♡1, Reika Saiki looked pretty much like what you’d expect for someone
entering that sector of the Japanese entertainment industry. She had a slender build, and showed up for her audition interview in 2014 wearing a girlish ensemble with a pleated skirt.

However, Saiki recently took a moment to look back on her physique of a few years ago, and now when she sees the above photo of herself, she says “I was a weak-looking girl.” Whether or not you agree with that assessment, there’s no denying she radiates an aura of far more physical strength today.

Now billing herself as Japan’s “muscle idol,” the 26-year-old Saiki isn’t entirely averse to doing a bit of maid cosplay, but with her rippling biceps she appears just as capable of cleaning your clock as cleaning your house.

Likewise, while Saiki sat demurely with her hands in her lap for her audition interview, her latest video features quite a bit more strenuous physical activity, including deadlifts, barbell curls, shoulder presses, and some crazy push-ups combined with lower-body cable work.

Those muscles aren’t just for show, either. Saiki has taken the rarely traveled career path from idol to professional wrestler, donning a blue-and-gold combat outfit for when she steps into the ring to slam, dropkick, and pin her opponents.

The fact that the 150-centimeter (59-inch) Saiki has a professional need to toss around opponents much larger than herself explains the specialized weightlifting equipment she uses in many of her workouts.

▼ Saiki employs her powerful musculature to clothesline and submission-hold defeat opponent Yumi at a match held last month.

Saiki has even coined a new term for her specific appeal to fans: mukikawa, a combination of the Japanese words mukimuki (“buff”) and kawaii (“cute”).

Of course, sometimes people who get bitten by the fitness bug burn out on all the exercise just a few months later. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Saiki, though, who’s looking even more muscular than when we first found out about her in 2016, or when she pulled off arguably history’s greatest Chun-Li cosplay in 2018.

And as further proof that she’s as passionate about bodybuilding as ever, one of her most recent tweets is roughly 20 percent flexing bicep emojis, so it looks like she’s committed to being the muscle idol for the long haul.

Source: Twitter/@saikireika via Kinisoku
Featured image: Twitter/@monsttuyo
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he periodically has dreams about benchpressing.