|Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters character|
Mai Shiranui in The King of Fighters 2000, as drawn by Shinkiro
|First game||Fatal Fury 2 (1993)|
|Designed by||Art: Shinkiro, Falcoon and others in the various games
Animation: C.A.C Yamasaki (KOF '94- KOF 2003)
|Voiced by (English)||Sarah Sawatsky (Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle)
Lisa Ann Beley (Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture)
Sheryl Stanley (KOF: Maximum Impact, Maximum Impact 2, KOF: Another Day)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Akoya Sogi (Fatal Fury Special - FF: Wild Ambition, The King of Fighters '94 - KOF XI)
Kotono Mitsuishi (Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle, Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture)
Megumi Hayashibara (drama CDs)
Ami Koshimizu (Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting, Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos, KOF XIII)
|Portrayed by||Tomomi Miyauchi (Fatal Fury 2 TV commercial)
Maggie Q (film)
|Fighting style||Ninjutsu of the Shiranui style (不知火流忍術 Shiranui-ryū Ninjutsu )|
|Weapon||Kachōsen ("Fire Butterfly Fan")|
Mai Shiranui (Japanese: 不知火 舞 Hepburn: Shiranui Mai ) is a player character in the Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters series of fighting games developed by SNK. She has also appeared in other media of these franchises, as well as in numerous other games since her debut in 1993's Fatal Fury 2.
In the games, Mai is a modern female ninja and the granddaughter of the ninjutsu master Hanzo Shiranui, with an ability to create and control fire. In her mind, Andy Bogard is her fiancé, but the relationship between the two is often ambiguous on the part of Andy. She is also a founding member of the King of Fighters tournament's Women Fighters Team.
The character became the main sex symbol of SNK, often being chosen to represent the company in the various crossover and spin-off titles. Mai is also widely regarded as one of the most popular and recognisable female characters of the fighting genre and video gaming in general, largely due to her sex appeal.
Character design 
Prior to the creation of Mai for Fatal Fury 2, the series was intended to feature a male ninja master using the fighting style that she would use. Later, the SNK staff changed their focus to including an idol character into the series, and they decided to replace him with Mai. As described by Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), "the character wears a revealing outfit that accentuates her buttocks and displays large amounts of cleavage." In her official profile, Mai's measurements are 87 cm / 55 cm / 91 cm; she is 165 cm tall and weights 48 kg. Inspiration for Mai's physical appearance and attributes were culled from a variety of sources. The official Neo Geo publication Neo Geo Freak wrote her breasts were modeled after Fumie Hosokawa and her buttocks were modeled after Ai Iijima (both women were famous Japanese gravure idols during the creation of the Fatal Fury series). The characteristic "jiggle" animation effect of Mai's breasts was inspired by the tales of the kunoichi (female ninja) using their bodies for seduction and distraction. Mai's surname, "Shiranui" (a Japanese optical phenomenon similar to will-o'-the-wisp) is a reference to her pyrokinetic abilities (Mai can create and control fire, even though she is not immune to her own flames). Her weapons are steel "Butterfly Fans" that can be used in close-quarters and as ranged projectiles.
Mai's basic look changes only slightly through most of the Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters games. She has long hair (usually brown or red, sometimes also black) with long bangs framing the sides of her face, tied up in a thick, long ponytail which flows behind her back. Her costume is usually a sleeveless, skimpy red outfit or tunic. The costume is held at her waist by a decorative waistband, often with long, trailing decorative tails, leading down to a loincloth with a thong underneath (or mini-shorts in the U.S. version). Her footwear for Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special (1993) and The King of Fighters games is a pair of soft-soled tabi. From Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory onwards into Real Bout Fatal Fury (both in 1995), she wears instep guards that leave her heels and the front parts of her feet exposed. In Fatal Fury 3, she is also wearing a red vest and eye shadow. Mai has been subject to much regional censoring, including having her famous breast bouncing animation removed in the North American versions of Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters 2002. In most games she was voiced by Akoya Sogi.
In The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact (2004), her alternate costumes portray her with much shorter hair and ninja outfits that resemble that of Kasumi from the Dead or Alive series. In KOF: Maximum Impact 2 (2006), one of Mai's second outfit color schemes is exactly Andy Bogard's standard palette, even giving Mai blonde hair. Another of her outfits bears a resemblance to the character Lum Invader from the manga and anime series Urusei Yatsura (long green hair, clothes sporting tiger prints, and her hairpin even makes it look like she had small horns). This costume is also considered to be a cosplay of Cham Cham from SNK's Samurai Showdown series. The Maximum Impact series' producer, Falcoon, stated that designing Mai's alternate design was one of the ones he felt "unforgivable", as he felt unsure of fans' reaction to the change. Shinkiro, an illustrator from The King of Fighters, commented that Mai was the most difficult to draw since he "thought she was going to burst out of her costume." The King of Fighters logo designer and illustrator Nao Q, asked which character from which game he was happiest with, said, "You know full well it's Mai from Fatal Fury! As a fan of full-figured females, I can't do without her!"
In video games 
Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters 
According to the games' early canon, Mai was born on January 1, 1974 (later just January 1). She has a charismatic, enthusiastic and flamboyant personality. She is a practitioner of hand-to-hand martial art koppo-ken, Shiranui-ryū style, and has also studied at her grandfather's friend, the close-combat judo master Jubei Yamada. The American Andy Bogard, with whom she is in love, studied Shiranui ninjutsu with her grandfather Hanzo since their early teens. She is also a friend to Terry Bogard (Andy's older brother) and Joe Higashi. In addition to her fighting and pryokinetic abilities (including to cloak herself with her flames and to channel flames through her clothes, weapon and anything she touches), Mai can also change clothes within a second and temporarily stay airborne, controlling her movements in the air (this allows her to float, glide, and change directions in mid-air), and is a master of climbing and stealth.
Mai stars in Fatal Fury 2 to assist Andy into facing the new host of The King of Fighters tournament, Wolfgang Krauser. She also plays a supporting role in Fatal Fury 3 and Real Bout Fatal Fury into fighting Geese Howard, the criminal who killed Andy and Terry's father, Jeff Bogard. According to Sega Saturn Magazine, Mai in Real Bout Fatal Fury "is one of the easiest characters to master and also has a huge range of pyrotechnically astounding special moves." The following games from the series, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (1997) and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers (1998), do not contain a storyline. She was also added to the rosted of Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition (1999), a 3D remake of Fatal Fury: King of Fighters which originally did not feature Mai.
The King of Fighters series tournament also feature Mai as a regular character participating in the annual tournaments in the Women Fighters Team. Initially, the team is composed of Mai, King and Yuri Sakazaki from the Art of Fighting series, but it changes constantly. In The King of Fighters '99, the teams were expanded to four members, and so Mai goes to the Fatal Fury Team (composed of Terry, Andy and Joe Higashi). She returns to the Women Fighters Team in The King of Fighters 2000 for the following games, until she leaves competition in The King of Fighters XI (2005) in order to search for Andy who was absent in the 2003 game (where only Mai appears in the PlayStation 2 version as a hidden character). In The King of Fighters XIII (2010), she returns to the series along with the other two members of The King of Fighters '94's Women's Team.
Other games 
Mai is present as a playable character in every game in the SNK vs. Capcom crossover fighting game series since 1999, featured in a role of a rival to Street Fighter's Chun-Li, and appears as a playable character in Namco Bandai's tactical role-playing game Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos released for the PSP in 2011. She is also a playable character in the fighting games SNK Gals' Fighters (2000) and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum (2005), in the shooting games The King of Fighters Sky Stage and Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting (2010), in the quiz game Quiz King of Fighters (1995), in the unreleased PC game The King of Fighters Online, and in the handheld games SNK Beach Volley～GAL'S ATTACK～ and Neo Geo Tennis Coliseum.
In The King of Fighters: Kyo, a role-playing video game settled right in between KOF'96 and KOF'97, Mai is an NPC who provides Kyo Kusanagi with info and help during his trials. She also maked cameo appearances on a stage in Garou: Mark of the Wolves and in character endings in Samurai Shodown, Art of Fighting 2 and Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden (in the Neo Geo CD version only). In the North American release of Art of Fighting it is implied that Eiji Kisaragi has feelings for her, but the original Japanese version contains nothing of the sort canon-wise. Mai is also featured in the 1999-2006 card battle video game series SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash.
Mai Shiranui is also a character in many minor mobile games by SNK Playmore, such as The King of Fighters Mahjong, The King of Fighters Volleyball, The King of Millionaire, KOF Gals Mahjong, SNK Beach Volley Gal's Attack, SNK Gal's Open ~Cutey Shot~ and SNK Gals Island Dokidoki Puzzle Shock!. In the dating simulation series Days of Memories, Mai Shiranui retains her name and overall design but is otherwise a new character (different in each game): in 〜Boku to Kanojo no Atsui Natsu, she is a rich maiden and protagonist's neighbor; in ~Koi wa Good Job!~, she is an office lady by day and a ninja vigilante by night; in ~Kaze Maou Miyako de Tsukamaete! ~, she is a popular Japanese beauty and protagonist's classmate who has a huge crush on their teacher; in ~Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Fuyu~, she is a school beauty with strange motives.
In other media 
Mai makes her first anime appearance in Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle (1993), where she follows Andy on his travels to find Krauser in Germany, where she is approached and later attacked by Laurence Blood; Andy defeats Blood and rescues Mai. In Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture (1994), Mai is present with Terry, Andy and Joe when the quest to find the Armor of Mars and stop Laocorn Gaudeamus is given to them by Sulia, Laocorn's sister; as usual, Mai tags along mostly as an excuse to spend time with Andy, and is taken hostage by Hauer and participates in the final battle against Laocorn Gaudeamus. According to The Complete Anime Guide, "the animation of modern-day ninja girl Mai Shiranui gave an all-new meaning to *bouncy* anime girls." She also has a minor role in the 2005 original net animation The King of Fighters: Another Day.
In the 2009 live-action film The King of Fighters, loosely based on the game series, Mai was a major protagonist character and was played by Maggie Q, bearing little resemblance to the video game character. As in the case of the rest of KOF characters in the film, her appearance, biography, and personality were re-designed from scratch. SpoonyOne called this film's Mai "basically a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the King of Fighters movie" as "they got every single aspect of this character, except of the fact that she is a woman I guess, completely and utterly wrong." In a rare dissenting opinion, and based on Maggie Q promotional photoshoot with an entirely look than actually appearing in the film, Complex ranked her as second among the "hottest women in video game movies," stating, "Aside from a couple of very...prominent differences, we're sold."
Mai also appears in the Dengeki G's Magazine CD drama Fatal Fury, in the wide variety of licensed manga and yonkoma released for Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special, The King of Fighters '94 and The King of Fighters '95, among other titles, as well as in several other manga series, including Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000, King of Fighters Maximum Impact: Maniax, SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, The King of Fighters '97, The King of Fighters '99: Millennium Battle, The King of Fighters 2000, and The King of Fighters Zillion. Chiba Reiko's single Non Stop! One Way Love includes the vocal track Kachou Fuugetsu Otome Mai which is also featured Garou Densetsu SPECIAL Image Album Part 1 and NEO-GEO Gals Vocal Collection by Pony Canyon.
In merchandise and promotion 
Mai is the main character in one of the Queen's Gate erotic gamebooks, published by Hobby Japan in 2008 as part of its Queen's Blade system. She also appears as a roulette character in several pachinko game machines,[note 1] as well as in the board game The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise.
According to Kotaku, "there are literally a gazillion Mai Shiranui figures." Scores of different figures, statuettes and dolls were made in her image, including by Aizu Project, Alphamax, Daiki, Max Factory, Volks, among many other manufacturers. One exclusive Volks figure was sold in an auction for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, while two action figures were made in the Cy Girls series. Other merchandise include several official t-shirts, a Neo Geo joystick controller for PlayStation consoles decorated with Mai-related imagery, and a number of cards in the Universal Fighting System collectible card game, including a starter deck "Cutting Edge: Mai Shiranui".
One of the SNK events at E3 2005 was the signing of limited edition posters of Mai Shiranui by Falcoon. Mai was used extensively for promotion by SNK and then SNK Playmore, such as with five promotional models dressed as Mai lined up at the Tokyo Game Show in 2008 (fifth most popular "booth babes" of the event among the visitors, according to a survey by Famitsu). In 2009, Capcom also teased UDON's new SF20 art book with Akiman's image of Chun-Li and Mai Shiranui "almost kissing and almost punching each other." An exclusive Mai Shiranui t-shirt was given to all registered participants in KOF XIII championship at EVO 2012.
Reception and cultural impact 
Mai's sex appeal has quickly made her a famous and popular character, turning her into a female icon of SNK and later SNK Playmore. In 2010, Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku wrote: "Mai is one of the most popular and recognisable fighting game characters. Her image has been recreated in countless figurines and endless fan art." Mai has been often compared to the genre's other game female icon, Chun-Li from Capcom's Street Fighter franchise. UGO called Mai the "Chun-Li of the SNK universe", stating their preference for her. Joystiq's Richard Mitchell wrote in 2006 that "there's one thing Street Fighter will never have, and that's Mai." In 2011, Complex pitted them against each other in the "battle of the beauties" feature, stating: "Breasts or legs? Personally, we'll take 'em both." In ScrewAttack's "Death Battle!" series that same year, Mai, dubbed "the queen of fighters", defeated Chun-Li due to her superior ranged attack abilities.
Japanese magazine Gamest named Mai her as one of the best characters in video gaming for five consecutive years in their annual awards, placing her at second place in 1994, tenth in 1995, 21st in 1996, 28st in 1997, and 25th in 1998. In 2009, Seraphina Brennan of Joystiq wrote that "throughout all of the countless MMOs that we've played, we've always asked ourselves one important question: 'Where is Mai Shiranui and why can't I be her?'" The character became very popular in the cosplay community, including the pornographic cosplay session by Ran Asakawa, a homage video Queen of Fighters 2005 released by the pornographic actress Misa Nishida, and the cosplays by the Chinese and Taiwanese models Yoyo Mung, Wu Xi Er, Li Mengtian (Shan Shan Maity), Yang Qi Han (Isabella Yang) and Lan Fenghuang, as well as being subject of the work by Yuuri Morishita. According to Ashcraft, "In Asia—especially China and Taiwan—models keep popping in non-gaming related events" dressed as Mai as "the outfit is skimpy and revealing and has become a uniform of sorts. So if you want to show up in cosplay, its an easy go-to choice—instead of simply representing the fighting game character." American role-playing video game designer Brian Mitsoda imagined "Continue?, a little joint on the Sunset Strip where the game development crowd goes to get away from the public" with "ninja bartenders passing along a mix of vodka and spree to the waitress in the Mai Shiranui outfit."
Mai was featured in numerous lists of the most sexy female characters in all video games, including being ranked as the fourth top "babe in games" by Bryan Johnson of GameSpy in 2003, who commented that she "probably went a little over the top", and as the fourth "hottest video game girl of all time" by Johnny Firecloud of CraveOnline in 2010. The staff of Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked Mai as only tenth on the list of the best women of fighting games in 1993, but awarded her the title of "Hottest Game Babe of 1994". In 2008, UGO Team placed Mai seventh on their list of top "girls of gaming", while GameDaily ranked her as the sixth "hottest game babe". In 2009, MSN declared her the fifth "hottest babe" in gaming, while the staff of Complex included her among top ten "hottest video game girls". In 2011, UGO listed her among the 25 finest female characters from fighting games, also ranking her as the sixth "hottest videogame hottie". That same year, Mai was ranked as the 18th "hottest" video game character by Larry Hester of Complex, and placed seventh on a similar list by Kristie Bertucci of Gadget Review. She was also included in the 2012 list of the ten "sexiest girls of games" by Onet.pl, and on the list of the 20 "hottest women in video game history" by MSN Malaysia that same year.
GameDaily featured Mai in several babe-of-the-week galleries, including "Outrageous Boobs", "Asian Beauties", and the special "Mai Shiranui"; they also discussed her in their 2007 article "Boobs Through the Years", stating that "when it comes to 2-D breasts, no character tops Mai Shiranui." In 2010, Mai topped machinima.com's list of the gaming's top cleavagey characters, while ScrewAttack ranked her classic costume as second on their list of the sexiest outfits in games; Heavy.com called her "notable for having one of the sluttiest costumes in video game history." In 2011, her bust was ranked as the fifth best in gaming history by Ross Lincoln of GameFront, as well as as the very best by Rich Shivener of Joystick Division. In 2012, Mai's breasts were also places second-best on a similar list by Drea Avellan of Complex, with the magazine also ranking her as the 23rd "most dominant" fighting game character overall, for her "still mov[ing] faster than the wind and put[ting] up a good fight" despite "having the most ridiculous pair of baby feeders in gaming history." That same year, Zachary Miller of Nintendo World Report ranked Mai as the third top chesty heroine on Nintendo systems solely for King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga, calling her "the queen of gaming cleavage," while ZoominGames ranked Mai's classic costume as the third most sexy outfit in games.
On the other hand, some commentary regarded sexualization of the character. In 2011, Winda Benedetti of NBC News included Mai's classic costume as one of the five "most preposterous" outfits in games, commenting "Oh Mai! When you arrived on the scene in the early '90s, you set womankind back decades." American comic book artist Adam Warren drew a picture of his character Emp cosplaying as Mai Shiranui and commenting on how "potentially mortifying" this costume is and declaring her "sincerest sympathies" for Mai. In 2012, a self-declared feminist Anita Sarkeesian included Mai among the 12 characters featured in an illustration for the Kickstarter bid for her controversial video blog project Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.
Mai was also featured on several lists of top ninja characters in video games, including being ranked as seventh by CrunchGear in 2008 and as ninth by Wild Gunmen in 2010. Ranking Mai as sixth top video game ninja in 2010, GamePro compared her to Taki from the Soul series as "a gravity-defying marvel of science and physicality," adding that she "is also notable for being the favoured costume choice for cosplay attention-floozies." In 2011, UGO listed her among the "hot ninja girls" in all entertainment. In 2012, Gelo Gonzales of FHM included Mai among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games", comparing her to Daiana Menezes, while Complex placed her at number one spot on the list of "hot female assassins" in video games (despite Mai really not being an assassin at all).
- Including the pachinko slot machines "Garou Densetsu The Legend of Wild Wolf", "Garou Densetsu Special", "The King of Fighters", "The King of Fighters 2" and "Maximum Impact".
- An example of this could be the review of Fatal Fury 2 by VG&CE ("if Street Fighter's Chun Li turns you on, you're bound to be tittulated by the sight of Mai Shiranui, who jiggles through the battle wearing next-to-nothing from the waist down").
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mai Shiranui|
- Mai at The King of Fighters 15th Anniversary official website
- (Japanese) Mai at the Fatal Fury 15th Anniversary official website
- Mai Shiranui at SNK Wiki
- Mai Shiranui at the Internet Movie Database