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Manga / Mai, the Psychic Girl

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Mai, The Psychic Girl is a 1985 manga written by Kazuya Kudo and Ryoichi Ikegami. It details the life of Mai Kuju, a seemingly normal 14 year old girl living in Japan, though with a special ability: she was born with telekinetic powers. Though throughout her life, her telekinesis was her way of keeping herself entertained in her mundane little life, she has attracted the attention of The Wisdom Alliance after acing an intelligence test designed to pinpoint those with psychic abilities.

Forced to go on the lam, Mai now has to both hone her powers as well as keep them in check, in order to evade her captors and protect those she meets on the way.

The series is historically significant as one of the first manga to be translated part-and-parcel into English, courtesy of the just-formed Viz Media. Before Dragon Ball and Ranma ½ - before even AKIRA - it was in comic-book racks across the States, teaching a whole generation of geeks just what pop culture was a-brewing across the Pacific.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Due to Mai's clothes ripping up from her fight with Baion and David, one breast is exposed during the fight with Grall Hong. She's too intent on the battle to fix it, even though it seems like an obvious target and strange for a 14-year-old girl to not even try to cover it.
  • Actual Pacifist: Grall Hong, the only psychic who doesn't use his powers to hurt or kill people.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: At least three named characters have mastered some sort of martial art. This doesn't so much move the plot as it does ensure that Mai has some kind of competent protector.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Mai's genuine kindness leads to Grall Hong's Heel–Face Turn after him being bullied by Baion Yuwon constantly.
  • Berserk Button: Turm Garten hates being photographed to the point that she'll kill anyone who tries with her powers. It's unclear why this is the case, as she doesn't appear to have been ordered to keep her face a secret.
  • Big Bad: Sogen Ryu, leader of the Wisdom Alliance.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Grall Hong of all people manages to save Mai from falling to her death with his psychic powers.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Turm Garten who acts sweet to her parents and to the public eye but is really a heartless monster with no regard for human life.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mai is able to go back to a normal life with her father, Ron, and Mrs. Mineo but Kaieda and Tsukiro are dead, three of the five high-testing psychics are dead, the Wisdom Alliance is still standing, Grall Hong has to go back to Vietnam due to still being part of them, and humanity's future is still in doubt.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Grall Hong has the same abilities and powers as the other psychics but would rather live a normal life going to school and reading comics than use them to hurt people.
  • Butt-Monkey: Grall Hong is often mocked by his classmates when he starts going to Mai's school for being unskilled at everything and being much shorter than the rest of his classmates. Baion Yuwon and David Perry also treat him very poorly as well which contributes to his eventual Heel–Face Turn after Mai shows him genuine kindness.
  • Contrived Coincidence: While Mai is running from Turm, she hides in the same house where her father is recovering.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Mineo
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Kaieda dies while being held by his son, Tsukiro, after apologizing for all the experiments done to him in order to save his life. Tsukiro dies within the same moment.
  • The Dragon: Baion Yuwon to Sogen Ryu.
  • The '80s: As is made apparent by the fashion and occasional Product Placement. It's also one of the very first manga to be localized, reaching western audiences in 1987.
  • Enfant Terrible: Turm Garten, Baion Yuwon, and David Perry have no qualms about killing people deemed weaker than they are. Turm in particular is very vicious to any personal slight to the point where she killed three hundred passengers on a plane just to get at one person and set two girls' hair on fire for knocking her purse down at an airport.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The only reason Turm doesn't blow up a building nearby after a failed assassination attempt is because her mother happened to be in that building.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Mai's puppy Ron reacts with fury at the presence of the other Psychic Children.Even Gall Hong is a target of his distrust, much for Mai's annoyance.
  • Fat Bastard: Baion Yuwon who is quite portly for his height and often picks on Grall Hong and David Perry due to being Sogen Ryu's Dragon.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kaieda goes from pursuing Mai for the Wisdom Alliance to becoming one of her most powerful allies all after having a meeting with Mai in her house where they drank tea and he apologized for what he had done to frighten her.
    • Out of the Psychic Children that pursue Mai to try killing her, only perpetual Butt-Monkey Grall Hong survives the final battle due to Mai's kindness toward him.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Mai never wanted psychic powers but she has them anyway and is possibly the most powerful psychic in the world.
  • Identical Stranger: Miyuki Ise, the woman taking care of Shuichi after his fall off of Ant's Tower and subsequent memory loss, is virtually identical to Mai's late mother Maki. It's not quite a coincidence since she's the daughter of the head of one of the seven shrines assigned to protect the Togakushi shrine, a fact that's discovered after her death protecting Shuichi from Turm Garten's attack.
  • Implacable Man: Madarao the monk who seems nigh indestructible to whatever damage is thrown at him and Senzo Kaieda, both of whom are some of Mai's greatest allies.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Tsukiro is Kaieda's son who was experimented on after an accident to give him his incredible physical abilities.
  • Missing Mom: Maki, Mai's mother, died when Mai was two years old likely due to her psychic powers.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: David Perry feels this connection to Tsukiro, seeing him not only as a Worthy Opponent but a kindred spirit. When Baion Yuwon attacks and kills Tsukiro, he takes it very personally.
  • One-Hit KO: Mai only attacks Turm once during their fight. It's all she needs to make the house explode with her inside of it.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Takeru Haguro a.k.a. Intetsu, nicknamed such for being an Indian Philosophy major (known as Indotetsugaku in Japanese with Intetsu being a contraction of the two words). The rest of his roommates at the apartment complex are all mainly known by their nicknames as well.
  • The Pig-Pen: Baion Yuwon has a perpetually runny nose and often tends to clean it up with his tongue.
  • Psychic Children: The five children who tested the highest in the Wisdom Alliance's PK tests are between thirteen and sixteen years old, all of whom have a great potential to cause massive destruction. Mai becomes the primary target due to her father's knowledge of the Alliance as well as Kaieda's Heel–Face Turn causing him to protect Mai rather than turning her into the Alliance. As for the other four, they all become recruited by the Wisdom Alliance in order to take her down.
  • Redemption Equals Death: David's final moments were wishing that they all could have been friends, feeling too guilty over killing Kaieda to think himself worthy of being redeemed.
  • Ship Tease: Mai with both Intetsu toward the first half and Grall Hong toward the second half. The former is more or less her first crush while the latter seems to have a crush on her.
  • Token Good Teammate: Grall Hong has a nicer disposition than the other four Psychic Children the Wisdom Alliance finds and is more interested in school life and reading comics than in using his psychic powers to cause mass destruction. He's the only one of the four that survives to the end, although he's physically the weakest.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: When Mai meets Intetsu and takes refuge in his college dorm, she causes two major accidents in order to protect her new puppy Ron, whom she had just made friends with. In one, she unwittingly blows up a car about to run Ron over by engaging its brakes. One chapter later, she's unable to reach Ron, who's being mauled by another much more massive dog, and accidentally implodes it out of rage. When Mai and Intetsu talk it over, he invokes the quote almost word for word, citing his knowledge of martial arts, and that the same kind of discipline is required for her powers.
    • After they go on the run, they stay at a girlfriend of Intetsu's. Mai overhears the woman suggest making Mai angry or cry to trick her into showing off her powers. Mai runs away in the night and calls Intetsu later to admit she couldn't be sure she could avoid hurting the woman.
  • Your Head Asplode: Turm's preferred way to take out her victims is to essentially shoot beams of psychic force through their heads.