Mai Shiranui

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Mai Shiranui
Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters character
First game Fatal Fury 2 (1992)[1][2]
Designed by Art: Shinkiro, Falcoon and others in the various games
Animation: C.A.C Yamasaki (KOF '94- KOF 2003)[3]
Voiced by (English) Sarah Sawatsky (Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle)[4]
Lisa Ann Beley (Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture)[4]
Sheryl Stanley (KOF: Maximum Impact, Maximum Impact 2, KOF: Another Day)[4]
Voiced by (Japanese) Akoya Sogi (Fatal Fury Special - FF: Wild Ambition, The King of Fighters '94 - KOF XI, KOF: Another Day)[4]
Kotono Mitsuishi (Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle, Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture)[4]
Megumi Hayashibara (drama CDs)
Chiba Reiko (Non Stop! One Way Love)
Ami Koshimizu (Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting, Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos, KOF XIII)[4][5][6]
Portrayed by Tomomi Miyauchi (Fatal Fury 2 TV commercial)
Miki Hareyama (Fatal Fury Special TV commercial)
Maggie Q (film)
Fictional profile
Birthplace Japan
Fighting style Ninjutsu of the Shiranui style (不知火流忍術 Shiranui-ryū Ninjutsu?)
Weapon "Fire Butterfly Fan" (花蝶扇 Kachōsen?)

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 by SNK. She has also appeared in other media of these franchises and in a number of other games since her debut in 1992's Fatal Fury 2 as the first female character in SNK fighting games.

In the games' lore, Mai is a modern-world young female ninja and the granddaughter of the ninjutsu master Hanzo Shiranui, with the ability to create and control fire. She is a founding member of the King of Fighters Tournament's Women Fighters Team and is madly in love with the American Andy Bogard who is ambiguous about their relationship. The character also appears in the games' various manga and anime adaptations, and plays a leading role in the live-action film.

Largely due to her sex appeal, Mai has become one of the most popular, recognizable and celebrated female characters of the fighting game genre and video gaming in general, often being compared to Capcom's characters Chun-Li and Maki Genryusai. She has also become SNK's primary sex symbol and mascot character featured in a many merchandise items and representing the company in several crossover and spin-off titles, as well as a trendy subject of cosplay and modeling.

Design and portrayal[edit]

The character debuted in 1992 as SNK's first female playable fighting game character.[7] Before Mai Shiranui's creation as one of the main characters[8] for Fatal Fury 2, the series was intended to feature a male ninja master with the same fighting style. The SNK staff also considered adding an idol character to the series, finally replacing them both with Mai, who was described in the original Japanese manual as "The Gorgeous Ninja" (in English) and as "Knock-out Ninja" in the official Neo Geo newsletter.[9][10] As described by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), "the character wears a revealing outfit that accentuates her buttocks and displays large amounts of cleavage."[11][12][13] In her profile, Mai's measurements are 87 cm (34 in) – 55 cm (22 in) – 91 cm (36 in); she is 1.64 m (5.4 ft) tall and weighs 50 kg (110 lb).[14]

Animation of large-breasted cartoon figure, bending over
An example of Mai's famous breast-bounce effect as seen in 2010's The King of Fighters XIII, in which her design and stance are based on her appearances in the Fatal Fury series[15]

Inspiration for Mai's appearance and attributes came from a number of sources. According to the Neo Geo publication Neo Geo Freak, her bust was modeled on Fumie Hosokawa and her buttocks on Ai Iijima—both well-known Japanese gravure idols when the Fatal Fury series began.[16][17] The animated "jiggle" of Mai's breasts was inspired by the tales of kunoichi ninja women using their bodies for seduction and distraction.[18] Mai's given name comes from the Japanese word for "dance". Her surname, "Shiranui" is the name of a Japanese optical phenomenon similar to will-o'-the-wisp which refers to the character's pyrokinetic abilities: she can create and control fire, even as she is not immune to her own flames.[19]

Due to her powers, Mai is able to cloak herself with flames, channel fire through her clothes, weapons and anything she touches, and cause explosions. She can to change her clothes in an instant, as well as to temporarily stay airborne, float, glide and control her movements and change directions in mid-air. She is also a master of climbing and stealth. Mai's weapons are steel "Fire Butterfly Fans" that come in an unlimited supply and can be used in close quarters and as projectiles.[19][20] She can also perform highly acrobatic hand-to-hand combat special moves, such as a leap followed by a diving fall attack, called "Flying Squirrel Dance" (ムササビの舞), and a rushing cartwheel kick followed by an elbow strike, called "Deadly Ninja Bees" (必殺忍蜂).[20][21][22]

Mai's appearance changes only slightly through most of the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters games. She has long hair (usually brown or red, but sometimes black) tied in a ponytail hanging down her back and long bangs framing her face. Mai usually wears a sleeveless red outfit or tunic with a decorative waistband—sometimes with long, decorative tails, and a loincloth with a thong (shorts in the U.S. version) around her crotch. In Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special (1993) and The King of Fighters she wears a pair of soft-soled tabi. From Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory to Real Bout Fatal Fury (both in 1995) she wears instep guards, exposing her heels and toes. In Fatal Fury 3, she wears a red vest and eye shadow.

Mai has been regionally censored in some games' export versions.[15] In particular, her breast-bounce animation was removed in several releases, including the international home version of The King of Fighters '94,[23] in the European version of The King of Fighters '95 for the Sega Saturn,[24] and in the U.S. versions of Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters 2002.[7][note 1] Her usually very large breasts are smaller in some games, such as SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos,[28] and in some other media, in particular the live-action film.

In The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact (2004), Mai Shiranui has shorter hair and ninja clothing resembling that of Kasumi in the Dead or Alive series.[29] Shinkiro, an illustrator who worked on The King of Fighters, said that Mai was the most difficult character to draw as he "thought she was going to burst out of her costume."[30][note 2] In KOF: Maximum Impact 2 (2006), one of Mai's color schemes matches Andy Bogard's and she has blonde hair. Another outfit of Mai's with long green hair, tiger-print clothing and a hairpin with horns resembles that of Lum Invader from the manga and anime series Urusei Yatsura and is based on Cham Cham from SNK's Samurai Shodown series. The Maximum Impact series' producer, Falcoon, said that designing Mai's alternate look was "unforgivable" as he was uncertain of fan reaction to the changes.[32]

In most of the games, Mai's Japanese voice actress has been Akoya Sogi (dubbed by Sheryl Stanley in the English versions of the Maximum Impact series), until she was gradually replaced by Ami Koshimizu during the 2010s. Kotono Mitsuishi voiced Mai in the Fatal Fury anime films, with English dubbings provided by Sarah Sawatsky and Lisa Ann Beley, and popular Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara portrayed Mai in a 1990s drama CD.


In video games[edit]

Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters[edit]

According to SNK universe' early canon, Mai Shiranui was born on January 1, 1974 (later the year was omitted[14]). Usually relaxed and cheerful, Mai has a charismatic, enthusiastic, flamboyant and flirtatious personality, as well as exhibitionistic[33] tendencies. She is a practitioner of her family's Shiranui-ryū ninjutsu, the empty-handed art of koppo-ken, and has also been taught additional close-combat techniques by her grandfather's friend judo master Jubei Yamada.[19] She is madly in love with Andy Bogard, an American who studied the arts Shiranui ninjutsu with her grandfather Hanzo since their early teens. She is also a friend to Joe Higashi and to Andy's older brother Terry Bogard.[19]

Mai Shiranui has first starred in Fatal Fury 2 to help Andy face the new host of The King of Fighters tournament, Wolfgang Krauser. She also plays a supporting role in Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory and Real Bout Fatal Fury, fighting Geese Howard—the criminal who killed Andy and Terry's father, Jeff Bogard. The following games in the series, Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (1997) and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers (1998), do not contain a storyline. Mai was also added to the roster 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 features Mai as a regular character participating in the annual tournaments in the Women Fighters Team (also known as the Woman Fighters Team,[34] the Fighting Gals Team,[35] and the Gorgeous Team[36]), which she founds in The King of Fighters '94 after Andy refuses to let her enter and form a team with her. Initially, the team is composed of Mai, King and Yuri Sakazaki from the Art of Fighting series, with Mai aiming to help encourage King and her fellow team members and to prove to Andy the error of his ways. 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, being finally able to join the tournament in the same team as Andy. In the following tournament in The King of Fighters 2000, however, Mai is asked to step out to allow Blue Mary investigate a case. Denied again, she is angered by the request and joins the Women Fighters Team again and has remained a reoccurring member ever since. In the various team endings, she is often celebrating the team's victory at King's bar or fantasizing about Andy.

Mai eventually leaves the KOF tournament competitions in The King of Fighters XI (2005) to search for Andy who was absent in The King of Fighters 2003 (she appears in KOF XI only as an unlockable character in the PlayStation 2 version).[37] In The King of Fighters XII (2009), Mai is completely absent from the game itself (except a mention in Andy's profile) and appears only in the tie-in manga series, even as she has been was "teased" in a trailer and official website, and has been rumored to be added through DLC for the home version.[38][39] In The King of Fighters XIII (2010), Mai returns to the series when she feels that the KOF tournament is not complete without her and so decides to enter it along with the other two original members of KOF '94‍ '​s Women's Team.[40][41] She is not upset at Andy while making her choice, content to enter a tournament with both her and him in it once more.

Other games[edit]

An alternative version of Mai Shiranui from Days of Memories dating sim series

Mai is a playable character in many SNK titles such as the fighting games SNK Gals' Fighters (2000) and NeoGeo Battle Coliseum (2005),[42] the 2010 shooter games KOF Sky Stage[43][44] and Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting,[45][46] the quiz game Quiz King of Fighters (1995), and the 2006 handheld games SNK Beach Volley GAL'S ATTACK and Neo Geo Tennis Coliseum.[47][48] In the dating sim series Days of Memories, Mai Shiranui retains her name and general design but is an otherwise unrelated character with a different role in each game: a rich maiden and protagonist's neighbor in Boku to Kanojo no Atsui Natsu,[49] an office lady by day and a masked vigilante by night in Koi wa Good Job!,[50][51] a popular school beauty and the protagonist's classmate in Kaze Maou Miyako de Tsukamaete!,[52] and a school beauty with strange motives in Sekai de Ichiban Atsui Fuyu.

Mai is further featured as a playable character in every game in the SNK vs. Capcom series crossover fighting games since 1999 (including as one of the four playable characters in the demo version of 2003's SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos[53]), as well as in the 1999-2006 crossover card battle video game series SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash.[54] In 2011 crossover tactical role-playing game Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos by Namco Bandai, the "red ninja"[55][56] Mai Shiranui is a rival to (also playable) Capcom's Chun-Li.[57]

She also features, usually as a playable character, in many mobile games either developed or licensed by SNK. These include Fatal Fury Mobile,[58] The King of Fighters,[59] The King of Fighters Mahjong, The King of Fighters Volleyball, The King of Millionaire, KOF Gals Mahjong,[60] SNK Beach Volley Gal's Attack, SNK Dream Battle, SNK Gal's Open: Cutey Shot, SNK Gals Island Dokidoki Puzzle Shock! (and its sequel), The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise, Garou Densetsu vs Fighter's History Dynamite, and The King of Fighters-i,[61] and KOFM for Kakao,[62] as well as Samurai Shodown Slash, a beat 'em up crossover of Samurai Shodown and The King of Fighters,[63][64] and Metal Gear Defense, a tower defense crossover of KOF and Metal Slug.[65]

In the role-playing video game The King of Fighters: Kyo, set between The King of Fighters '96 and The King of Fighters '97, Mai is an non-player character who provides the protagonist Kyo Kusanagi with information and help during his trials. Mai also makes cameo appearances on Hokutomaru's stage in the SNK fighting game Garou: Mark of the Wolves (with Andy) as well as in character endings in the fighting games Samurai Shodown[66][67][68] and Art of Fighting 2,[7] and in the Neo Geo CD version of the role-playing video game Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits Bushidō Retsuden. In the North American release of the original Art of Fighting it is implied that the ninja Eiji Kisaragi has feelings for her,[69] but this does not occur in the original Japanese version.

Mai is one of the playable characters in Thailand-only[70] multiplayer online battle arena game The King of Fighters Online.[71][72] In the 2013 free-to-play 3D fighting game Lost Saga by Korean company I.O. Entertainment, Mai Shiranui is a premium character that was added for the Japanese edition in both female and male variations, and for the Spanish-language version in 2015.[73] In 2013, Mai also joined the character roster of another Korean video game, KaKaKa Together.[74]


Gameplay-wise, Mai has been the fastest but also the weakest fighter in her first game, Fatal Fury2.[75] Sega Saturn Magazine described as Mai "is one of the easiest characters to master" in Real Bout Fatal Fury, "and also has a huge range of pyrotechnically astounding special moves."[76] According to a GamePro guide to Fatal Fury 3, "Mai's excellent speed and air superiority give her an advantage over some fighters, but her moves inflict little damage," and thus Mai players need to constantly keep on attacking their opponents in order to prevail.[77] Mai has been improved for the home version of The King of Fighters XIII in comparison to the game's original arcade edition, yet verdicted it was still not enough for her to get on equal footing against some others such as Shen Woo.[78]

In other media[edit]

Mai Shiranui has made her first anime appearance in Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle (1993), where she follows Andy on his search for Krauser in Germany. She is approached and later attacked by Laurence Blood; whom Andy defeats and rescues Mai.[79] In Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture (1994), Mai is present with Terry, Andy and Joe when Sulia gives them the quest to find the Armor of Mars and stop Sulia's brother Laocorn Gaudeamus. Mai tags along mostly to spend time with Andy. After Hauer fails to seduce Mai, he takes her hostage after a fight, but she is saved by Andy and herself defeats the henchwoman Panni. Mai then articipates in the final battle against Laocorn, which ends with Laocorn dying to save her from the god of war, Mars.[80] Mai also has a minor role in the 2005 original net animation The King of Fighters: Another Day, voiced by Akoya Sogi and Sheryl Stanley.[81]

Mai also appears in the Dengeki G's Magazine CD drama Fatal Fury, and in the licensed manga and yonkoma released for Fatal Fury 2,[82] Fatal Fury Special,[83] The King of Fighters '94[84] and The King of Fighters '95.[85] She has also appeared in several other manga series, including Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000,[86] King of Fighters Maximum Impact: Maniax,[87] SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos,[88] The King of Fighters '97,[89] The King of Fighters '99: Millennium Battle,[90] The King of Fighters 2000,[91] and The King of Fighters Zillion.[92] Chiba Reiko's single Non Stop! One Way Love includes the vocal track Kachou Fuugetsu Otome Mai which is also featured on Garou Densetsu SPECIAL Image Album Part 1 and NEO-GEO Gals Vocal Collection,[93] released by Pony Canyon.

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 series, wherein she hopes she will be finally able to conquer Andy's heart if she proves herself to be the number one female fighter of all time.[94][95][96] She also appears as a roulette character in several pachinko game machines (including "Garou Densetsu The Legend of Wild Wolf", "Garou Densetsu Special", "The King of Fighters", "The King of Fighters 2" and "Maximum Impact"). GungHo Games offered their users a Mai themed avatar skin.[97]

Maggie Q in 2009

In the 2009 live-action film The King of Fighters—loosely inspired by the game series—Mai is a major protagonist played by Maggie Q.[98] This version bears little resemblance to the video game character.[99] As with the other KOF characters in the film, her appearance, biography, and personality were completely redesigned. The movie's version of Mai becomes a girlfriend of Iori Yagami, who is mocking her in the games.[100] Maggie Q's promotional photoshoot showed a look different from that which appeared in the film.[101]

In promotion and merchandise[edit]

Four models dressed as Mai at SNK Playmore's TGS 2007 booth

The character was used extensively by SNK and then SNK Playmore for their games' promotion. Mai Shiranui was featured in live-action commercials for Fatal Fury Special and Fatal Fury 2 in 1993.[102] Five promotional models who dressed as Mai at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show (TGS) were the fifth most popular "booth babes" among visitors to the event in a survey by Famitsu.[103][104] Multiple Mai models were also present at other TGS events.[105] Korean idol Kyungri from the girl band Nine Muses dressed up as Mai for a promotional campaign in 2014.[106] One of SNK's attractions at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was the signing of limited edition posters of Mai Shiranui by Falcoon.[107] In 2009, Capcom also teased UDON's SF20 art book by showing Akiman's image of Chun-Li and Mai Shiranui "almost kissing and almost punching each other".[108] Mai featured heavily in promotional materials for KOFXIII,[109] including an appearance of pin-up model Sayuki Matsumoto dressed as Mai for its public announcement[110][111] and an exclusive Mai Shiranui T-shirt given to all registered participants in the KOFXIII championship at the fighting game event EVO 2012.[112]

According to Kotaku, "there are literally a gazillion Mai Shiranui figures"[113] and "when you think of SNK figures, you think of curvy Mai Shiranui figures."[114] Scores of figures, statuettes and dolls were made in her image,[115] including those by A-Label,[113] Aizu Project,[116] Alphamax,[117] Daiki,[118][119] Max Factory,[120] Volks,[121] and SNK themselves.[122] Some of them can be stripped topless[123] and an exclusive Volks figure was sold in an auction for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2009.[124] Two action figures of Mai were made in the Cy Girls series[125][126] and Mai figurines were included in the Pinky:St series.[127] Other licensed merchandise include several official T-shirts[115] and a Neo Geo joystick controller for PlayStation consoles decorated with Mai-related imagery,[128] and a number of cards in the Universal Fighting System collectible card game[129] which too has featured her extensively for promotional purposes.[130]


Cultural impact[edit]

Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez wrote "one of Fatal Fury 2's biggest contributions to the medium was that it was the first game to introduce a character with breasts that moved on their own. Known as Mai Shiranui, that character is famed for having very, uh, lively breasts. Though Fatal Fury may not be a huge franchise nowadays, its legacy is very much alive: many top fighting games include a similar jiggle effect."[131] Chun-Li's alternative costume in Super Street Fighter IV is a homage to Mai.[132] Her classic oufit also makes appearances an alternate costume or color scheme for female ninja characters in the non-SNK fighting games Naruto SD Powerful Shippūden (for Naruto‍ '​s Sakura Haruno) and Skullgirls (for Valentine, who also uses a combat stance that was inspired by Mai's). She and other KOF characters became especially popular among the young people in Hong Kong during the late 1990s, when their character design impacted on local youth culture, including the so-called 'MK look' that "has penetrated Hong Kong street fashion, action figures and martial arts comics."[133]

A cosplayer of Mai Shiranui at Anime Friends 2008 convention in Brazil

The character became very popular in the cosplay community.[134][135] described Mai as "everyone's favorite cosplay choice"[136] and GamePro noted her as being "also notable for being the favoured costume choice for cosplay attention-floozies."[137] She was subject of performance by Yuuri Morishita, a Japanese booth companion turned a gravure idol.[138] Professional Chinese models who have performed as Mai included Yoyo,[139] Wu Xi Er,[140] Shan Shan Maity (Li Mengtian),[141] Isabella Yang (Yang Qi Han),[142] Mia (Lan Fenghuang),[143][144] and YUKO (Yourong Ma).[145] According to Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft in 2012, "In Asia—especially China and Taiwan—models keep popping [up] in non-gaming related events." Ashcraft argued that rather than showing a following for the King of Fighters games, the character became popular because "the outfit is skimpy and revealing and has become a uniform of sorts."[143]

Mai Shiranui also featured in several unofficial erotic and pornographic film productions.[146] During the 1990s, Japanese adult model and actor Ran Asakawa appeared in a naked cosplay session.[147] Another pornographic actress, Misa Nishida, appeared in a homage video Queen of Fighters 2005.[148] Fatal Fury anime director Masami Ōbari's own magical girl parody erotic series Angel Blade features Mai Shiranui-inspired ninja character Ayame Fudou.

Critical reception and popularity[edit]

Mai's sex appeal quickly made her a famous and popular character, and a female icon of SNK and later SNK Playmore.[7] German magazine Play Time noted there has been "already a cult" of Mai in Japan by 1994.[149] According to Kotaku's Ashcraft writing in 2010, "Mai is one of the most popular and recognisable fighting game characters. Her image has been recreated in countless figurines and endless fan art."[150] Japanese arcade gaming magazine Gamest named her as one of the best characters in arcade gaming for five consecutive years in its annual awards, placing her second in 1994,[151] tenth in 1995,[152] 21st in 1996,[153] 28th in 1997,[154] and 25th in 1998.[155] Destructoid editor-in-chief Dale North named "Terry and Andy Bogard, and the ever-bouncy Mai Shiranui" as the most popular of all characters from the Fatal Fury series.[156] Chile's CerUno ranked Mai as the sixth most memorable heroine in a 2008 top list[157] and Luke Plunkett of Kotaku included her among the possible candidates for the title of the greatest video game character of all time in 2010.[158] Similarly, Spain's Games Tribune in 2013 described her as not only one of the most admired characters of SNK but also in the entire history of video games.[159] Engadget's Colin Torretta wrote "The King of Fighters games come heavily recommended too ... if only for Mai Shiranui."[160]

Mai has been often compared to the genre's other game female icon, Chun-Li from Capcom's Street Fighter franchise, with whom she shared the "Top Girls" entry in a 1994 ranking of fighting games in Hobby Consolas.[161] UGO editors declared Mai the "Chun-Li of the SNK universe", stating the authors' preference for her,[162] and Ed Laurence of Sinclair User wrote in 1993 she did "out Chun Li Chun Li."[163] Previewing Capcom vs. SNK 2, GameSpot's Justin Speer wrote about its "beautiful and powerful females such as Chun-Li and Mai,"[164] and Rich Knight of Complex pitted the characters against each other in his 2011 "battle of the beauties" feature, stating: "Breasts or legs? Personally, we'll take 'em both."[165] In ScrewAttack's "Death Battle!" series the same year, Mai, dubbed "the queen of fighters", defeated Chun-Li due to her greater nimbleness and superior ranged attack abilities.[19] Joystiq's Richard Mitchell wrote in 2007 that "there is one thing Street Fighter will never have, and that's Mai."[166] GameSpy's Hardcore Gaming 101 called the Street Fighter‍ '​s Maki Genryusai a "sexy Mai Shiranui ripoff" (Maki was actually introduced in Final Fight 2 in 1993, around the same time as Mai was).[167] Comparisons between Mai and Maki have been made by other sources, including GameSpot,[164] CNET[168] and IGN,[169] and Iroha from SNK's own Samurai Shodown VI was described as this game's "equivalent of Mai Shiranui" by Siliconera.[170] A female writer for ScrewAttack Magazine used Mai as an example of well-animated fan service breasts that move around realistically as she moves in games, unlike in some other cases such as Kasumi from Dead or Alive.[171] Mai Shiranui has also been compared to other game characters, such as Lara Croft and Ivy Valentine.[172]

The over-endowed, perpetually jiggling Mai has become not only a mascot for SNK's King of Fighters series, but also for the whole company. Mai is an unapologetic sex symbol, with her low-cut blouse and loincloth barely covering her assets as she whips ass on whoever stands in her way. While some decry Mai's ubiquitousness as pandering fan service, we're more than happy to pick up the yearly iterations of the King of Fighters franchise just to get fresh hands on this fetching fighter.[173]

UGO Team

Mai was called a "buxom fan-favorite" by Daniel Feit of[109] and the KOF "series' bosomy fan (service) favorite" by Michael McWhertor of Kotaku.[174] In addition to her popularity with male fans, Mai is a personal choice for some female gamers, such as Dawn Hughes of The Lakeland Mirror, who favorited Mai due to her costumes and being "fast, agile, and sexy,"[175] and Seraphina Brennan of Joystiq wrote in 2009 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?"[176] SNK Playmore's controversial decision to feature her in-game only in a small cameo in 2009's The King of Fighters XII has disappointed and even upset many fans of the series,[39][177][178][179][180][181][182][183] sparking a meme phrase "no Mai, no buy".[184] Asked about it by Kotaku, Shane Bettenhausen, director of business development of the game's publisher UTV Ignition Entertainment, "likened it to Capcom leaving their most popular female fighter, Chun-Li, out of the original release of Street Fighter III;"[177] Destructoid's Jim Sterling compared it to "releasing Street Fighter without Ryu."[178] GameSpot's Andrew Park also noted "the conspicuous absence of SNK's iconic female ninja/geisha girl"[185] and Siliconera opined about the absence of the "fan favorite, fan carrying ninja" Mai that "SNK isn’t going to make that mistake again."[186] GamesRadar's Mikel Reparaz chose Mai Shiranui and Geese Howard to represent Fatal Fury in his imagined crossover game Vertigo vs. SNK.[187]

Mai has appeared on several lists of top ninja characters in video games, including being ranked seventh by CrunchGear in 2008[188] and ninth by Wild Gunmen in 2010.[189] GamePro ranked Mai as the sixth top video game ninja in 2010, comparing her to Taki from Namco's Soulcalibur series as "a gravity-defying marvel of science and physicality."[137] In 2011, UGO listed her among the "hot ninja girls" in all entertainment.[17] In 2012, Gelo Gonzales of FHM included Mai among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games", comparing her to Daiana Menezes,[190] while Complex placed her at number one in its list of "hot female killers" in video games.[191] Jon Ledford of Sushi Arcade included her among the ten best video game "ninjas" in a 2013 list.[192] Márcio Pacheco Alexsandro of Brazil's GameHall placed Mai at number one spot in his 2014 list of top female ninja characters in games, comparing her to Mortal Kombat's Kitana in regards of their shared use of fans as a weapon, and also noting her as an equal of Chun-Li within the fighting genre.[193]

Looks and costume[edit]

According to GameAxis Unwired in 2007, "Sex sells, and everyone knows it. Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury first stumbled into this magical power when she captivated thousands of Ah Bengs the world over with the heaving bosoms during her matches."[194] Mai was awarded the title of "Hottest Game Babe of 1994" by the staff of Electronic Gaming Monthly,[195] and was chosen as the "Hottest Videogame Babe" of the year for the Video Game Awards '95 by readers of German magazine Mega Fun after receiving over over half of all votes.[196] Previously, Mega Fun also called Mai "a favourite of the editors that could leave the likes of Cammy from Super Street Fighter II or Blaze from Streets of Rage downright pale with envy."[197] A 1996 review of Fatal Fury 3 in German magazine Video Games called her "the hottest babe in the universe" in English.[198]

Chun-Li was slutted out of town by Cammy, but none could hold a candle to Mai, who may very well be the first case of bouncy animated boobs. Gaming magazines were abuzz with commentary on what Mai's bobbing bosom meant for the industry - it was like witnessing (half-naked) women entering the workplace for the first time.[199][note 3]

—Brett Elston, GamesRadar

Since her introduction, Mai has been featured in numerous lists of the sexiest female video game characters. For example, she was ranked the fourth top "babe in games" by Bryan Johnson of GameSpy in 2003, who wrote that she "probably went a little over the top,"[202] while Johnny Firecloud of CraveOnline also listed her fourth in his "hottest video game girl of all time" list in 2010.[203] In 2008, UGO Team placed Mai seventh on their list of top "girls of gaming",[173] and GameDaily ranked her as the sixth "hottest game babe".[204] In 2009, MSN declared Mai the fifth "hottest babe" in video games,[205] and the staff of Complex included her in their list of the top ten "hottest video game girls".[206] In 2011, UGO listed her among the 25 finest female characters from fighting games,[134] and ranked her as the sixth "hottest videogame hottie".[162] The same year, Mai was ranked as the 18th "hottest" video game character by Larry Hester of Complex,[207] and placed seventh in a similar list by Kristie Bertucci of Gadget Review.[208] She was also spotlighted in the 2012 listings of ten "sexiest girls of games" by,[209] twenty "hottest women in video game history" by MSN Malaysia,[210] and ten sexiest game characters by TecMundo, who also noted her as one of the most "sympathetic" characters in fighting games.[211] In 2013, João Vitor de Oliveira of Brazilian edition of Official Xbox Magazine ranked Mai as the sexiest woman in fighting games and expressed satisfaction that she was created instead of a male character as it had been originally planned for her fighting style.[212] Mai placed second in the 2013 ranking of "most sexually charged" female characters in gaming history by Stuart W. Bedford of WhatCulture,[213] and was given an honorable mention and the first place in the 2014 lists of sexiest female video game characters as compiled by and GameHall's Portal PlayGame, respectively.[214][215]

According to Sherilynn Macale of The Feed in 2011, "if there's one female fighter who really is just the Queen of the Bosom, it's Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters. She is boobs."[216] GameDaily featured Mai in several "babe-of-the-week" galleries, including "Outrageous Boobs",[217] "Asian Beauties",[218] and the special "Mai Shiranui".[219] 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."[220] In 2011, Ross Lincoln of GameFront ranked her bust as the fifth best in gaming history,[221] and Rich Shivener of Joystick Division ranked her first in his list of "incredible chests" in video games.[222] Including SNK Vs. Capcom among top five rossover games,'s David Wolinsky wrote it "made for much more convenient ogling of Mai Shiranui's ample bosom regardless of a player's fighting-game allegiance."[223] In 2012, Mai's breasts were placed second-best in a similar list by Drea Avellan of Complex,[224] while Zachary Miller of Nintendo World Report ranked Mai as his third favourite "chesty heroine" on Nintendo systems, calling her "arguably the queen of gaming cleavage."[225] Ranking Mai as the 23rd most dominant fighting game character in 2012, Complex noted she is "mostly known for having the most ridiculous pair of baby feeders in gaming history. She still moves faster than the wind and puts up a good fight with those things."[226] The magazine's Rich Knight also wrote, "Mai Shiranui is the queen mother of outlandish bouncing breasts. She was the first animated babe to really have them featured in a game and is still considered by many to be the female game character all bouncing breasts are judged off of."[227] French Retropolis placed Mai and her "heavy artillery" third in a 2013 ranking of sexiest girls in fighting games where the busts were primary rating criteria.[228] described Mai as "notable for having one of the sluttiest costumes in video game history."[229] In 2010, Mai topped's list of "gaming's top cleavagey characters"[230] and PLAY placed her third in its list of top "side-boobs" in games.[231] Mai's classic costume was ranked as the second most sexy outfit in games by ScrewAttack in 2011, who noted it for its broad appeal,[232] and placed third in a similar list by ZoominGames in 2012.[233] 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."[234] Some commentators wrote negatively about the sexualization of the character.[235] According to the 2009 MSN article, "there is no denying the fact that most gamers know of Mai Shiranui ... The developers may have created a character that will upset every feminist out there, but the guys ain't complaining."[205] In 2011, Winda Benedetti of NBC News included Mai's classic costume in her list of top five "most preposterous getups in games", and wrote, "Oh Mai! When you arrived on the scene in the early '90s, you set womankind back decades."[236] Comic book artist Adam Warren drew a picture of his own character Emp cosplaying as Mai Shiranui; the drawing shows the character saying, "This goofy costume would be even more potentially mortifying that my own stupid supersuit!" and declaring her "sincerest sympathies" for Mai.[237] Giovanni Simotti, designer of the 2011 video game Akane the Kunoichi, intended the "non-so-practical look" of the titular character on the game's cover as "a small tribute to two of the most famous kunoichi from the history of the videogames – a mix of Mai Shiranui with a bit of Ibuki."[238]

Other versions[edit]

Debating the merits of polygonal fighting games in 1998, Hyper used a question whether "Would Mai Shiranui be as bouncy in polygonal form?" as an argument "that some aspects of the 2D fighting medium cannot be replicated into 3D."[239] Nevertheless, in a review of the 3D The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact six year later, the staff of Official Xbox Magazine opined that while "hardcore KOF fans won't like it," for "the rest of the world (...) Mai Shiranui's heaving bosom redesigned to fully utilise the immense funbag recreating power of the Xbox" is "exactly what the doctor ordered."[240] David Clayman and Jeremy Dunham from IGN applaued "a wonderful job" done redesigning the Maximum Impact characters "to the modern age", including "Mai's new shorthair look", and opining they "all look great -- and in some instances, surpass the classic designs that were established so many years ago,"[241] while Hardcore Gamer positively noted how "Mai Shiranui's bouncy, laid-back personality [still] shows in her stance."[242]

GamesRadar's Henry Gilbert wrote Ōbari "found a fitting muse" in Mai while directing Fatal Fury, as he appeared to be "never missing a chance to fill the screen with her heaving chest" and actually giving more attention to her shower scene than he did to the film's fight scenes.[243] In The Complete Anime Guide, Trish Ledoux noted that "the animation of modern-day ninja girl Mai Shiranui gave an all-new meaning to *bouncy* anime girls."[244] John Funk of The Escapist wrote bluntly that the live-action film's outfit for Mai Shiranui was "not nearly as cleavage-tacular as it needs to be" and recommended "getting some members from Tecmo's Team Ninja as consultants."[245] Regardless, despite "a couple of very... prominent differences," Peter Rubin of Complex placed the live-action film's Mai at second place in his 2012 ranking of the "hottest women in video game movies".[246]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mai's breast motion as well as blood effects in some games (including KOF'94[25][26] and KOF '95[27]) can be restored through the use of special cheat codes.
  2. ^ Conversely, when asked which character from which game he was happiest with, King of Fighters logo designer and illustrator Nao Q answered: "You know full well it's Mai from Fatal Fury! As a fan of full-figured females, I can't do without her!"[31]
  3. ^ An example of this could be the review of Fatal Fury 2 by VG&CE, stating that "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."[200] In an otherwise negative review of Fatal Fury 2, a staff member of SNES Force commented: "There's a pair of bouncing tits in this! And I'm not talking about another one of my lucid dreams! You know the story with Nintendo and blood, but when it comes to girls showing their wares and wobbling here and there they turn a blind eye. Unfortunately, (and this is where I'm going to sound sexist) Mai Shiranui's boobs are the only interest in the game. And it's not just me, everyone who had a go retorted what 'a crap game... nice pair though.'"[201]


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