Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Mao

Go To

Ordinary High-School Student Nanoka Kiba, who had been in an accident when she was a child, is suddenly pulled into a world of conflict, travelling between the past and present, and assisting an exorcist named Mao.

A manga by Rumiko Takahashi which started in May 8, 2019. Not to be confused with the actress Mao Ichimichi who often is credited as M•A•O, the series Mao-chan, the former chinese president Mao Zedong, the game Mao etc.


  • Big Bad: The Seven Tailed Cat Demon. It cursed Mao and Nanoka in the hopes of possessing their bodies. Later chapters reveal it's a pawn who was created by the real big bad.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Nanoka arriving in time to save Mao from having all of his blood sucked out by a flea demon.
  • Character Title: The title is the same as the male co-protagonist's name.
  • Covert Pervert: One chapter has Mao nonchalanty revealing Nanoka that he touched her breasts after she had passed out. She wasn't amused.
  • Creepy Good: Nanoka's maid looks off and forces her to drink a smoothie that makes her sick but it's revealed she's Mao's shikigami sent by him to protect her from the seven tailed cat demon when it crossed the tori gate to Nanoka's time.
  • Curse: Both Nanoka and Mao are cursed by a seven tailed cat demon.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Nanoka and Mao's curse gives them unnatural strength, resilience and agility, but also has turned their blood corrosive.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Onmyodo runs on this principle, wood beats earth, earth beats water, water beats fire, fire beats metal and metal beats wood. The Seven-tailed Cat Demon who is a shikigami created outside the five elements of onmyodo is not vulnerable to any of them
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Seven-Tailed Cat Demon is referred to as "Byoki". It turns out that this is actually its creature type, as the name literally means "Cat Ogre". It's also the Japanese translation of the Chinese Maogui, which were cat demons used as familiars by Chinese practitioners of Jugon.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Unlike the senior apprentices called to the Five Color Shrine, Shiranui was an unskilled student who was despised by the master. Despite this, he manages to become a skilled onmyoji in his own right and survives for centuries to become a major antagonist.
  • Hellish Pupils: Mao's eyes have bright red irises and vertical slits for pupils, due to him being cursed by the seven-tailed cat demon.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Mao originally had black hair, but being cursed by the seven-tailed cat demon caused part of his hair to become white and he gained a mark that runs from the bottom of his left eye. His seniors that he's met have a similar mark, but on their right side.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In classic Rumiko Takahashi, there's a surprisingly complex knot of relationships in the series, although it takes until around volume 16 for most of the details to be established:
    • In the Heian era, both Mao and his fellow onmyoji student Hyakka were in love with the daughter of their teacher, Sana. Sana's father even declared Mao his chosen heir and set up an Arranged Marriage with Sana. But secretly, Sana was in love with third student at the school, Daigo, and the two of them planned to fake their deaths so they could run away together... a plan foiled by their actual deaths when Byoki attacked the school. And completely unbeknownst to Mao, he was loved from afar by a girl he met named Yurako... who was secretly Sana's twin sister.
    • In the Taisho era, Nanoka falls in love with Mao, but he's still pining for the dead Sana, and seemingly oblivious to her feelings. Then Yurako re-enters the scene and she's still in love with Mao.
    • And just for one last complication, in the modern era, Nanoka's classmate Shiraha is infatuated with her, but she hasn't realized it.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: It's established eventually that onmyoji actually came to practice two kinds of magic by the Heian era; onmyo, elemental magic based on the Wuxing, and jugon, magic that centered on the casting and dispelling of curses that had officially been forbidden as Black Magic, but which was secretly practiced due to how much money it could earn from wealthy patrons.
  • Muggle and Magical Love Triangle: Nanoka's classmate Shiraha has a crush on her, but she's more interested in Mao, the mysterious immortal man from the past who was cursed by a cat demon.
  • Narnia Time: Nanoka notices that the time flow between the modern day (Reiwa era) and the Taisho era varies with each trip she takes. Sometimes less than a day in the Taisho era results in months passing in the modern day, other times a few days in the Taisho era has only an hour pass in the modern day. It's later revealed that past Nanoka had traveled to the Taisho era before at a time current Nanoka is currently in.
  • Only Six Faces: Nanoka looks exactly like Sakura Mamiya without her braids. Mao himself looks a lot like Inuyasha, specially when he goes into his byōki form
    • A few chapters later and we meet Sana, Mao's first love who bears a striking resemblance to Inuyasha's first love, Kikyo. It later is revealed that Sana has a twin sister named Yurako.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Nanoka has been raised by her grandfather ever since her parents died.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: The Great Kantō Earthquake that destroyed a big part of Tokyo and caused a great fire in September 1, 1923 is shown here to have been caused by the Seven Tailed Cat Demon fighting Mao in an attempt to take his body.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Mao has lived for nine hundred years, originally as an onmyoji from the Heian era. He has used his onmyodo to keep himself alive for so long for the sake of revenge. He later on meets his seniors who somehow also have lived nine hundred years, but are confused why.
  • Recycled Premise: The series is basically a retread of the author's earlier work, Inuyasha. We have a girl lead who's an Ordinary High-School Student, until she discovers she can travel back in time to a more fantastical version of Japan, and ultimately she learns she's not so ordinary after all. In the past, she meets an overtly magical boy and the two become drawn together to battle against evil spirits. The boy is far older than the girl, due to his magical nature, wields a magical sword, and has a personality that can be described as gruff at best, but is secretly tender-hearted and wounded by memories of a lost past lover. The boy's magical nature can be seen in his white hair and a semi-subtle animalistic trait, as well as the fact he can transform into a more powerful, but mindlessly berserk, alter-ego. The finer details may differ but there is a lot about Mao that was clearly recycled from Inuyasha's core premise and two leads.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Mao's eyes are red and he's cursed by a seven-tailed cat demon. Nanoka's eyes turn red when she taps into her powers.
  • Smurfette Principle: Masago, a skilled miko, was a student at the Five Color Shrine and Mao suspects she was the apprentice of water called by the master to assassinate him and not Shiranui.
  • Stable Time Loop: It's eventually revealed that the reason why Nanoka is cursed by the Seven-Tailed Cat Demon like Mao is due to a time loop. When she was a child, on the day of the accident that killed her parents, Nanoka wandered into the portal that transferred her to the Taisho era, the same of the Great Kantō Earthquake. There, she was attacked by the Seven Tailed Cat Demon and got covered in its blood, becoming the same type of being as Mao.
  • Time Travel: A tori gate in a modern (Reiwa era) shopping district lets Nanoka travel to the Taisho era.
  • Time-Travel Romance: Nanoka is from modern-day Japan and she can travel to the Taisho era (1923) where she meets Mao and they slowly develop feelings for each other.
  • Training from Hell: Mao's onmyoji training was incredibly harsh, and he openly admits that many prospective students either dropped out or died as a result of the training. For example, in Shiranui's first flashback, we learn that he barely survived one "lesson", which was to wander deep into a maze-like cave system with no light, food or water, then find his way out — he was lost in there for days and only survived by lucking into being able to follow a more successful entrant. And for this, his teacher despised Shiranui, constantly beating him and berating him as a failure who should quit his training. Not to mention that Mao's final training involved he and the four other best students being ordered to fatally curse each other until only one of them survived.
  • Whole Costume Reference: In flashbacks to the Heian era where Mao is being trained in the Five Color Shrine, he is wearing an outfit identical to Inuyasha.
  • Yōkai: The series revolves around them, although here they're referred to as "ayakashi"