Like many storybook heroines, Mai Kuju is just your average happy-go-lucky 14 year old. Her wishes are simple: she’d like to grow up faster; she’d like a boyfriend; she’d like her dad to be home more. Of course, Mai’s not exactly average. For one thing, she can move stuff with her mind. And there are these mysterious men following her…
Mai The Psychic Girl is a true manga classic. Ikegami’s art is richer and less cartoony than your typical manga (not that there’s anything wrong with cartoony, but Ikegami’s detailed realism is pretty unique in comics), and his visuals unfold like movie shots. It’s an action-packed story, complete with nefarious secret organizations, ancient martial arts secrets, a hunky, wisecracking guy, and the dramatic unfolding of Mai’s psychic powers. After watching her father perish (or so she thinks!) saving her from the clutches of the Wisdom Alliance, Mai is alone and on the run. She finds an unlikely ally in Intetsu, a daredevil college student on a motorcycle, and his motley crew of dorm buddies. They too will risk their lives to protect this unusual girl from those who would control her powers. Not all the danger comes from outside, however; Mai soon discovers that her powers can kill and destroy as well as heal. Will she be able to control her emotions and protect her friends? What will happen when Mai meets her deadliest enemy yet, a young girl with powers just like hers?
Mai the Psychic Girl should grab the imagination of teen readers (despite the hilarious seventies hair some of the characters are sporting…). Volumes 1 and 2 contain brief nudity; in a wonderfully believable (and not at all prurient) scene, we see Mai in the tub wishing her breasts would grow faster. At one point, Intetsu’s girlfriend answers the door in a see-through robe. Librarians shouldn’t let these few panels stop them from adding Mai to young adult collections, though. This series deserves a place among the best graphic novels for teens. The fact that it’s complete in three volumes is just icing on the cake for cash-strapped buyers!
Mai The Psychic Girl
by Kazuya Kudo
Art by Ryoichi Ikegami
Viz Communications 1995