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Mai was the daughter and eldest child of Ukano, the former governor of New Ozai, and his wife, Michi. During the last year of the Hundred Year War, she became one of Princess Azula's main allies, and therefore one of Team Avatar's greatest foes, as well as Prince Zuko's love interest once he returned to the Fire Nation. As one of the most privileged girls in the Fire Nation, she attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls[2] and became a friend of Princess Azula and Ty Lee at a young age.

Mai was exceptionally proficient at throwing stilettos, a self-taught skill she developed out of boredom. Using small knives and spring-loaded stiletto holsters concealed in her robes, she was capable of besting numerous benders at once, despite not being a bender herself. She was recruited by Azula along with Ty Lee to capture the princess' brother and uncle, as well as the Avatar and his friends.[6]

Mai outwardly resembled an impassive and apathetic teenager. A victim of her father's political aspirations since early childhood, Mai confessed she got anything she wanted from her parents so long as she was quiet, well-mannered, and perfectly behaved.[7] This had a profound effect on her personality, as it was deeply ingrained in her to keep all of her feelings and emotions strongly hidden. She did, however, show happiness when in the presence of Zuko, whom she loved deeply.

The strength of her feelings toward Zuko led her to save him from Azula at the Boiling Rock. She confronted Azula, declaring that her love for Zuko outweighed her fear of retaliation. As a result of this betrayal, Azula imprisoned her, along with Ty Lee, who stopped Azula's attack by blocking her chi.[8] Mai was later released after Zuko defeated Azula and claimed the throne. They restarted their relationship with a kiss before Zuko's coronation as the new Fire Lord,[9] though Mai broke up with him a year later due to his unwillingness to confide in her, claiming he loved his secrets more than her.[10] Regardless, she continued to support his rule, helping to put down uprisings and conspiracies instigated by her father and Azula.

History

Early life

Mai as a child in the Fire Nation palace garden.

Mai was born to Ukano and Michi in the Fire Nation. She was an only child for thirteen years and was given whatever she wanted, as long as she behaved. Her parents were strict and they constantly required her to stay silent and behave perfectly, which in later years led to her emotional distance.[7] Her mother told Mai stories of the Kemurikage, evil spirits that abducted children, to make her behave.[5] She greatly despised her life in the Fire Nation, to the point that she would throw knives at her wall out of boredom, a habit that eventually allowed her to develop a skill in fighting with weapons.[11] She later attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls and became friends with Ty Lee and Azula, who noticed Mai's skill with knives.[6]

From an early point, Mai was being manipulated by Azula. On one occasion during a sleepover, the princess "suggested" that she should steal the mochi which Michi had made for the seventieth birthday of Mai's grandmother. Despite secretly taking the mochi, Mai consequently refused to eat any of it, feeling terrible for having disobeyed mother's order to not touch the dessert. Azula consequently ate all of it on her own. In the next night, Mai had nightmares about the Kemurikage taking her for stealing the mochi.[5]

One particular day, when she was about ten years old, Mai sat off by herself under a tree in the Royal Palace gardens, looking disinterested as Ty Lee and Azula played together and did cartwheels. However, she did show a marked interest in Zuko, turning away shyly and blushing when he walked by with his mother. Azula noticed this and took Mai's obvious crush, which Azula later revealed to have been mutual, as a cue to humiliate both Zuko and Mai. Mai was ordered to balance an apple on her head which Azula set aflame. Zuko was subsequently tasked to knock it off her head, though the entire scheme ended up with both of them falling into a fountain on top of each other, much to the amusement of Azula and Ty Lee.[12]

Spring 100 AG

Meeting an old friend

Mai and Azula in the hostage exchange.

Before joining Azula, Mai unwillingly resided in the newly conquered city of Omashu with her mother, infant brother, Tom-Tom, and her father, the Fire Nation-appointed governor of the city-state. Mai described Omashu as "unbearably bleak" to her mother and complained of how bored she was, stating that she was even more bored than she was back in the Fire Nation. Welcoming the distraction, she did not hesitate to go on the attack when the Omashu Resistance failed in their attempt to crush her and her family under a boulder. Thinking Aang and his friends were responsible, she pursued them until the resistance helped them escape.

Soon after, Azula arrived in the city, with Ty Lee in tow, to recruit Mai to assist her on a special mission. Desperate to get out of Omashu, Mai agreed to this immediately even though she had not been told what that mission was. Before leaving, however, Azula appointed Mai, in lieu of her father, to oversee a pre-arranged hostage trade: King Bumi for Tom-Tom, her baby brother, who wandered out of the city with a group of fleeing citizens and was subsequently assumed "kidnapped" by the resistance. However, right before Mai began the transaction, Azula interrupted, coyly suggesting that trading a powerful earthbender king for a two-year-old was strategically unwise. After a measured pause, Mai agreed and declared the deal off, thus initiating a fight between the two sides. Initially, she was overwhelmed by Katara's waterbending skills until Ty Lee blocked her opponent's chi. Mai was about to finish Katara off before Sokka knocked her weapon away with his boomerang. Later, as Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee were leaving the city, Mai impassively confirmed that their mission was to "track down" the now-fugitive Zuko and Iroh, though she did smile at the thought of seeing Zuko again. However, Azula noted that they also had a third target, Aang.[6]

Pursuing Team Avatar

Mai fighting Sokka and Katara by the Nan Shan River.

Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee tracked Aang and his companions, and once Aang split from Katara and Sokka, Azula sent Mai and Ty Lee to face them while she chased down Aang. Mai and Ty Lee defeated the siblings rather easily, much in part thanks to the siblings' lack of sleep, though they were caught off-guard by an air blast from Appa and sent flying into a nearby river.[13]

When a Fire Nation drill was heading toward Ba Sing Se, Mai expressed her boredom by twirling a shuriken around her fingers. When a group of elite earthbenders attempted to stop the drill, Azula sent Mai and Ty Lee to face them, which elicited approval from Mai as it was something to do. However, when Azula sent Mai and Ty Lee after Sokka and Katara, who were caught trying to sabotage the drill from the inside, Mai refused to chase them into the slurry pipeline, stating that despite how much lightning this act of defiance might cause Azula to throw at her, she would not go into that "wall sludge juice"—which gave the impression that Mai was not scared of the princess. Later, Aang destroyed the drill by causing the slurry pipeline to back up and explode, thus covering everyone in the general vicinity in slurry. After this, a completely pristine Mai leaned out of a hatch and dryly announced to the sludge-drenched Ty Lee and Azula: "We lost."[14]

Fall of Ba Sing Se

Mai under the guise of a Kyoshi Warrior.

Mai later assisted Azula in attacking Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors, stating that their colorful makeup and uniforms were making her nauseous.[15] After the three girls defeated the Kyoshi Warriors, Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee donned their uniforms to sneak into Ba Sing Se. On Azula's orders, Mai and Ty Lee deliberately talked about their Fire Nation origins in the open, banking on the Dai Li to be spying on them and relaying the message to Long Feng.

While lingering in the Earth King's throne room, Mai and the group were surprised by Katara who ran in with news about Zuko and Iroh. Azula said she would tell the Earth King, but Katara realized who they were because of Azula's amber-colored eyes. Ty Lee paralyzed her with a chi strike before she could escape and the trio proceeded to capture the waterbender.[16]

During the Coup of Ba Sing Se, Mai sat in the throne room with Ty Lee, apparently having been ordered to guard the Earth King's pet bear, Bosco, but did not care enough about her assignment to attempt to stop Sokka, Toph, and Earth King Kuei from retrieving the pet. She was so bored and restless from her duty that she let Toph, Sokka, and Kuei escape with the bear, stating, "Just take the bear."[17]

Summer 100 AG

Rekindled love

Mai telling Zuko that "not everything's changed".

Mai and Zuko were later set up on a dinner date by Azula in a plan to persuade the reluctant prince to return home, playing off their childhood crushes on each other. However, the two caught on to the setup and decided to take a walk around Ba Sing Se. Soon after, they ran into Jin, who immediately recognized "Lee" and questioned who his companion was. Thinking quickly, Zuko sheepishly claimed that Mai was a friend from the circus, the knife thrower. Mai joined in on the charade and decided to give a demonstration. After moving Zuko in front of a fountain and placing a fish from a seafood stand they had passed earlier on top of his head, she targeted and precisely pierced the fish with an icicle. Mai persuaded Jin to give it a try. Zuko was just barely able to avoid being impaled by the sharp piece of ice, falling backward into the fountain in the process. Leaning over the drenched prince, Mai wryly stated that now they were "even".

As he chased her down an alley, Zuko exclaimed that she could have gotten him killed, but Mai merely laughed it off. Zuko stopped to point out that she finally seemed to be enjoying herself, going on to say that he had missed seeing this side of her. Mai admitted that a lot had changed since the days when she "used to throw mud in his face", but not everything had changed; she proved this by kissing him softly. The next day, the two of them arrived at the ship to leave for the Fire Nation together.[18]

To the Fire Nation

Mai and Zuko sharing a romantic moment.

Mai was next seen having a brief moment with Zuko on the ship voyage home, where he expressed nervousness about how much things would have changed and whether or not he would be forgiven and welcomed home. She humorously replied that she had not asked for his life story, told him not to worry, and kissed him briefly before departing once more. Later, when Azula saw Zuko moping, she commented that he was acting like Mai, though she amended that, claiming that Mai had been unusually cheerful lately.[19] Later, Zuko and Mai were having a romantic picnic on an oceanside cliff and enjoying an orange sunset together. Mai hated the color and told Zuko so, but this only made him chuckle and state how beautiful she was when she hated the world. Mai told Zuko she did not hate him and he told her the same and they kissed. Their moment was interrupted by Azula, who wished to speak with Zuko alone. The two tried to ignore her until Azula told Mai to go help Ty Lee, who apparently needed help untangling her braid. Mai complied, but glared briefly at Azula as she passed.[20]

Vacation at Ember Island

Zuko attempting to impress Mai with his doltish gift.

Mai's relationship with Zuko went through a rocky period during a trip to Ember Island; Zuko became increasingly short-tempered and tactless around her, growing frustrated when shiny shells and ice cream failed to impress her, though Zuko did accidentally drop the ice cream on her thigh; he also became protective when Ruon-Jian took interest in her. When he shoved Ruon-Jian across a room, breaking a vase, Mai reprimanded him for being "impatient, hot-headed, and angry". He responded by saying that she has no passion for anything and that she is "a big blah". Stung by this, Mai softly and yet harshly said that their relationship was over and wordlessly watched him storm outside.

When Zuko met her on the beach, she greeted him in a conciliatory tone, but he rudely asked her where her "boyfriend" is, and she got angry again. She remained cold toward him when he joined her, Ty Lee, and Azula around a campfire for a discussion. When Zuko yelled at Ty Lee, Mai told him to leave her alone; he persisted, however, and Ty Lee finally broke the story of her childhood out to them. Considering her words, Mai theorized that Ty Lee needed "ten boyfriends" because she wanted to make up for the attention she missed as a child. Ty Lee angrily asked for Mai's story, saying that all she saw with Mai was a "dingy, pasty, gray" aura. Mai dismissed the idea of auras and sarcastically apologized to Zuko for not being as "high-strung and crazy" as the others. Zuko said that he would like it if she did not keep her emotions bottled up; Mai explained to everyone how her mother's control and her father's political career meant that she could not stand out as she wanted to as a child. Azula summarized this, saying that a controlling mother was why Mai was afraid of caring about anything and could not express herself. Mai snapped at Azula's attempt to be an emotional mediator, demanding to be left alone. When Zuko moved to calm her down, she angrily refused him again and said that his not having an easy life was no excuse for the anger he had been showing. She and the other girls pressured Zuko, asking at whom he was angry. When he admitted that he was angry at himself and confused about what was right and what was wrong, Mai saw him once again as the Zuko she loved. Moving to comfort him, she said he is the one thing she cares about. Mai kissed him again, reaffirming their relationship.[7]

A happy relationship

Mai and Zuko were on much better terms in the weeks that followed. Mai had learned to express herself more often and Zuko often visited her at home, which was across from the palace. Zuko asked her what she would want from the world if she could have anything she wanted, when she wanted it, and she said that it would be a fruit tart with rose petals on top. Zuko requested a tart from his servants, and they went on to discuss the advantages and downsides of being royalty. Mai suddenly mentioned a war meeting to which Azula had been invited, assuming that Zuko was also going, but he had not been invited.

Mai attempting to cheer Zuko up.

Zuko was annoyed that his father would invite Azula to the meeting as opposed to his true heir, despite the fact that Azula assured him that he was wanted there. Mai tried to cheer up Zuko by suggesting that he boss around some servants or that they have some more fruit tarts, but to no avail. The next day, they were hanging out again when a servant came in to say that Zuko was expected at the meeting. This cheered up Zuko and Mai a great deal. When the meeting ended, Mai was happy to hear that Zuko was allowed to sit by his father's right side, but he told her that even though he acted like the son his father wanted, he was not being himself. It was clear to her that he had more on his mind.[21]

A broken heart

Mai berating Zuko for dumping her.

Mai was not seen during the Day of Black Sun, as she and the rest of the people in the Fire Nation Capital had been ordered to evacuate. However, Zuko wrote a letter and left the message in her bedroom, stating that he was leaving to join the Avatar.[22] Zuko was clearly upset that he must leave her, but he told Sokka he did that in order to protect her since he became a traitor. He did not want her to get caught in the crossfire on his behalf, to be branded as a traitor along with him.

At the Boiling Rock, Zuko learned that the warden was Mai's uncle, who told him that he had broken Mai's heart when he had left her.[23] When the two met unexpectedly, Mai was in her characteristically irritated demeanor, but she had clearly been deeply hurt, and argued with Zuko about his motives for leaving. She also berated him for leaving only a letter as a good-bye, rather than having the courage to break with her to her face. Zuko attempted to explain himself, saying that it was necessary to save his country, but Mai did not agree with his intent, saying he was betraying it instead, and turned away from him as he tried to protest. When a riot started, a guard arrived with orders from the warden to protect her- although, as both she and Zuko stated, she did not need any protection. Zuko took advantage of this moment and locked both inside the room. Mai glared at Zuko tearfully through the view hole, and Zuko showed deep regret before he fled to help Sokka.[8]

Arrest

Mai preparing to defend her choice to double-cross Azula.

Later, during the escape, the guards were about to cut the line from the gondola that held Zuko, Sokka, Hakoda, Suki, Chit Sang, and the warden. The guards were attacked and stopped by Mai who, when questioned what she was doing, stated that she was "saving the jerk who dumped [her]." Reactivating the cable, she engaged the gondola guards in combat, outmatching them with her knives, darts and sheer agility.

Mai was eventually arrested and brought before an enraged Azula and a frightened Ty Lee. When she was asked why she did what she had done as she knew what the consequences would be, Mai scornfully replied that her love for Zuko was stronger than her fear of Azula, adding that the princess had thus miscalculated.

Enraged by this retort, Azula prepared to attack Mai with her firebending; despite knowing that Azula's lightning would quickly kill her, Mai answered the challenge, readying a shuriken to defend herself. Much to Mai's surprise, Ty Lee intervened by chi blocking Azula. The two friends were immediately apprehended by the guards, however, and Azula ordered them to be locked away.[8]

Release from prison

Mai reaffirming her love for Zuko by kissing him.

Mai and Ty Lee were locked up at another prison, where they met the rest of the Kyoshi Warriors, until the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai during the coming of Sozin's Comet. After the battle, Mai and Ty Lee were freed after Mai's uncle "pulled a few strings", and as that her boyfriend was the new Fire Lord. While they finally reunited with a kiss, she sternly told Zuko not to ever break up with her again before embracing him.

Mai had apparently made peace with Team Avatar since the Hundred Year War ended. She was seen in Earth Kingdom robes, enjoying the newfound peace with her boyfriend and Team Avatar in Ba Sing Se at the Jasmine Dragon. She joined Suki in a game of Pai Sho and later, joined the rest of the group in making fun of Sokka's amateur drawing; in Mai's case, his efforts made her resemble a man.[9]

101 AG

Harmony Restoration Movement

Mai breaking up with Zuko, shortly after she became aware of his meetings with Ozai.

When Fire Lord Zuko returned to Capital City from his trip to Yu Dao, Mai noticed how tired he was and asked him to tell her his problems since she was his girlfriend, to which Zuko answered that he would. Mai subsequently informed him that, in order to put his mind at ease, she had asked the Kyoshi Warriors, including Ty Lee, for help with the security of the palace after an attempted assassination of Zuko by Kori Morishita.[24]

However, Mai later found out through Suki that Zuko had been secretly visiting his father. Angered that she was being kept out of the loop of everything, Mai broke up with Zuko, saying "You love your secrets more [than you love me]".[10]

Learning of the New Ozai Society

After their break up, Mai left the Fire Nation Royal Palace and accepted her Aunt Mura's invitation to work at her flower shop as her assistant. While working on a flower arrangement, a young man named Kei Lo entered the shop and started flirting with her. The two went out on a date together, sharing a meal at the local noodle shop.

Mai leaving her defeated father, taking Tom-Tom with her.

When Kei Lo established that Mai had been downcast ever since she had broken up with Zuko, he led her to a meeting of the New Ozai Society. To her surprise, her father was the leader of the society, having propositioned Kei Lo to bring his daughter there. Mai was displeased to see him, even more so after he offered her to join them in their attempts to reinstate Ozai to the throne. As Zuko's former girlfriend, she could give the society the confidential information they would need to bring Zuko down. However, Mai picked up her brother, tied him on her back in a sash, and promptly announced that they were leaving, rejecting Ukano's offer. The society members moved to apprehend her, but they were no match for Mai, who swiftly dealt with them. Apart from her father, Kei Lo was the last man still standing. He did not fight her, instead trying to tell her that he really liked her, though she cut him off by knocking him out, declaring that to be the end of their date. She left Ukano in the middle of the wrecked meeting room. Afterward, she returned to her aunt's flower shop with Tom-Tom and stared at a picture of her and Zuko.[25]

102 AG

After exposing her father's activities to her mother, her family moved out and went to live with her Aunt Mura. Mai subsequently formed a romantic relationship with Kei Lo, mainly because he agreed to act as her double agent. As a result, she was able to stay up-to-date on the New Ozai Society's plans. One night, Ty Lee visited Aunt Mura's shop. Even though she was happy to see her old friend again, Mai was a bit annoyed to be hugged by Ty Lee. The two ventured to a nearby teashop to catch up. As they talked, Mai noticed her friend's unease, and was shocked when Ty Lee revealed that Zuko had freed Azula.

Mai continued to manipulate Kei Lo's feelings as he revealed the New Ozai Society's plans.

They then changed the topic, as Mai told of her recent history with the New Ozai Society and Kei Lo. Soon after, Kei Lo entered the teashop. Mai warmly greeted him, whereupon he relayed Ukano's plan to ambush Zuko's family during their return to the Fire Nation Capital. She responded by faking emotions, praising his bravery and affirming her love for him. As soon as Kei Lo had left, however, Mai switched back to her usual self and was scolded by Ty Lee for using him like that. This rebuke left Mai unfazed, arguing that he had lied to her during their first meetings as well. She asked her friend if she though that Kei Lo was telling them the truth, causing Ty Lee to respond that he was truthful than Mai. This left her a bit hurt. The two subsequently notified Suki of the New Ozai Society's assassination plot regarding Zuko.

Ty Lee and Mai subsequently told Suki about the planned ambush, and prepared everything for the safe return of Zuko and his family. It was decided to set up a decoy caravan that would travel the regular way from the harbor to Royal Caldera City, whereas the Fire Lord took a secret route through the woods. Ty Lee, Mai, another Kyoshi Warrior, and a group of Fire Nation soldiers were stationed at the official pathway up to Royal Caldera City. While they were waiting for an attack by the New Ozai Society, Mai mused how the official pathway was an extremely difficult target for a rebel assault, as it had been designed to be well defendable by Fire Lord Sozin. Believing it unlikely that the New Ozai Society would attack there, she concluded that Kei Lo had be a liar after all. Ty Lee rebuked this assessment, causing the two friends to bicker until the decoy caravan approached. Just in that moment, a group of rebels attacked, whereupon Mai, Ty Lee, and another Kyoshi Warrior rushed to help Iroh, who was posing as Zuko.

Mai attempted to question a New Ozai Society rebel to no avail.

Mai and her comrades easily defeated the attackers, causing her to wonder that this rebel assault was far too small. She tried to question a captured New Ozai Society member, but he refused to talk. Shortly afterwards, the group saw a distress flare go off in the nearby woods, signaling that Zuko's actual caravan was being threatened. Mai regarded this as proof that Kei Lo had betrayed and mislead them, commenting that Ty Lee's belief in the boy's "good aura" had proven to be misplaced. They then rushed to help Zuko and his family, using a hot air balloon. The group arrived just in time, fending off the New Ozai Society. As Mai saw Kei Lo, she accused him of betrayal, but Zuko revealed that the ex-insurgent had actually helped to save the royal family. In that moment, more rebels attacked, causing Mai to set off to find her father. Together with Kei Lo, she defeated a few rebels, whereupon she accused her boyfriend of having been fooled by Ukano. However, she was still concerned for him when a rebel threw him into a depression. Kei Lo responded that he was fine, but Mai was now left alone with her father.

Despite helping to prevent him from killing Zuko, Mai could not move herself to arrest her father.

Mai asked Ukano about why he was doing this, and he argued that Zuko was no effective ruler. He also claimed that Mai had been "pushed away" by Zuko despite being his only true friend from the Fire Nation. Despite mostly disagreeing with him, Mai was not willing to arrest her own father, allowing him to flee. Afterwards, she sought out Kei Lo who was moving through the woods with a hurt leg. She helped him to walk, exchanging some friendly barter, before offering him to ride with her in the Kyoshi Warriors' hot air balloon back to the capital. Mai also admitted that she now believed his claim about being manipulated by Ukano.

One month later, Mai was on a date with Kei Lo, who asked why she did not visit with her and she dryly responded she was not attracted to "casts". Kei Lo correctly recognized that his broken leg had not been the real reason, however, but that she still needed time to trust him. Mai admitted that this was the case, finding it difficult to believe how someone could abandon their cause to be with her. He maintained that he had simply sought a place to belong when joining the New Ozai Society, but now wanted to belong to her. Moved by this revelation, Mai kissed Kei Lo. The heartfelt moment was interrupted by Michi screaming from the nearby flower shop, causing Mai to rush off and witness her brother Tom-Tom being kidnapped by the Kemurikage. Despite her desperate attempt to rescue him, the kidnappers got away. The next day, Mai and Michi reported the abduction to the police, who were confused by her claim that spirits were involved. However, Zuko arrived at the flower shop and argued that Mai's story was probably true. He went on to contact Avatar Aang, believing him more versed in dealing with spirit issues.[26]

Mai informed Aang of the kidnappings.

Mai greeted Aang upon his arrival and informed him of Tom-Tom's abduction by the Kemurikage. Her explanation was cut short when her father barged in, accusing her of being the reason Tom-Tom was kidnapped, as she had taken him from the safety of their home. When Ukano propsed a curfew and special task force to deal with the dark spirits, Mai disagreed and backed the Avatar's suggestion to first investigate the events before acting rashly. Zuko decided to side with Aang and Mai, leaving Ukano shouting furiously as he was escorted from the palace. The Fire Lord thought that he recognized the ex-governors screams from the New Ozai Society's previous ambush, and inquired if Mai knew about her father being involved of the attack. She lied, stating that she had no information of Ukano aiding the attack.

Soon after, as Aang and Zuko prepared to gather information on the Kemurikage, Mai and Kei Lo were left alone. He used this opportunity to urge her reveal Ukano's involvement in the rebellion, but Mai stated that he was right that she had failed to protect her family. Accordingly, she could not allow him to go to prison, as this would leave Tom-Tom without his father.

Mai read the scroll to her friends which revealed the Kemurikage's origins.

In the evening, Mai and her friends traveled to the High Temple where Mai revealed to Kei Lo that she knew the place, as she and Zuko had once gone on a date there. She sarcastically commented that the Fire Lord had believed the "burial site of his ancestors" to be romantic place, causing Zuko to retort how he had been proven right on their date, leaving Kei Lo and Aang feeling awkward. The group then descended into the Dragonbone Catacombs, where Mai continued to bicker with Zuko. She later helped Kei Lo to open a door to the sealed parts of the catacombs, causing Mai to praise her new boyfriend's ingenuity. Deep in the burial chambers, Mai eventually located a scroll explaining the emergence of the first Kemurikage during the Fire Nation's violent past.

Left alone in the Dragonbone Catacombs, Zuko and Mai shared moments of awkward sielence.

Afterwards, the group followed a ghostly smoke that led them to the grave of the first Fire Lord. There, they split up, as Mai refused to enter the burial chamber. While Aang and Kei Lo ventured deeper, Mai and Zuko stayed behind, starting an awkward conversation. The Fire Lord expressed his remorse about their relationship and said he missed her, but Mai angrily insisted both of them should move on. She then claimed she regretted ever allowing him to break her heart so many times, and intended to stay with Kei Lo, despite her lack of enthusiasm for him.

After Aang discovered that the actual Kemurikage had never returned to the mortal world, the group returned to the Caldera City. On the way, the group pondered what the new information meant, with Mai arguing that the recent dark spirit attacks might be committed by human imposters. Back in the city, they found out that Ukano had set up the Safe Nation Society to "protect" the citizens from spirit kidnappings. Mai confronted her father, telling him that he was surely hiding something. She and Kei Lo then returned to Mura's flower shop, where Mai expressed her annoyance at Zuko's increasingly imperialistic behavior. After telling Kei Lo how she was sorry for always talking about her ex-boyfriend, she expressed her worries about Tom-Tom before saying goodbye. Upon returning to her room in the flower shop, Mai took a painting of Zuko and her as couple, and put it into a drawer, seemingly trying to get over their relationship.[1]

Mai finally revealed Ukano's involvement in the New Ozai Society.

On the following day, Mai heard that the false Kemurikage had abducted Zuko's half-sister Kiyi, prompting her to travel to the palace to express her condolence. Hugging the Fire Lord, she stated that they found find their siblings. However, Mai was shocked upon hearing from Aaang, Zuko, and the Kyoshi Warriors that the false spirits were led by Azula. This revelation convinced her to reveal that Ukano had led the New Ozai Society. After defending her initial reluctance to betray her father, she argued that she suspected his involvement in Azula's plot based on his suspicious behavior on the previous day. As the Fire Lord consequently organized a curfew and the arrest of Ukano's followers including most Safe Nation Society members, Mai stayed by his side. The two eventually went to the Capital City Prison where they learned that Ukano had escaped. Mai was not surprised to hear this, but nevertheless frustrated. As Zuko consoled her, the two held hands until the arrested Safe Nation Society members arrived at the prison. Mai was shocked to see Kei Lo among the prisoners, and successfully demanded that Zuko set him free, as he had been captured by accident.

After Kei Lo was released by General Mak, Mai hugged him in relief. Afterwards, Aang arrived and took Zuko with him, prompting Mai, Kei Lo, and the Kyoshi Warriors to follow them. The Avatar revealed that they had found secret passageways that probably led to Azula's hideout. Hoping to save her brother, Mai consequently joined the ad hoc rescue team. Using the passageways, the group arrived at the Garden of Tranquil Souls where they were quickly confronted by fake Kemurikage. In the middle of the fight, one of the hooded figures attacked Mai, revealing to be Azula. The princess commented that Mai had practiced her skills, but refused to reveal the location of the kidnapped children. Azula instead mused on how Mai had inspired her to take up the guise of the Kemurikage, prompting the nonbender to attack her in annoyance. However, she was driven back by Azula's lightning, whereupon the princess continued her rant, asking for Mai's opinion on her new style.

Mai and Kei Lo saved Aang from the fake Kemurikage.

At that moment, Kei Lo intervened and tackled Azula, causing Mai to comment that purple did not fit her former friend. To Mai's horror, however, Azula quickly overwhelmed Kei Lo, threatening to harm him. As she pleaded for her boyfriend's life, Zuko stepped in, causing Azula to run off. Mai then helped Kei Lo up, exchanging some playful banter. The two subsequently followed Aang to a crypt, where they discovered the Avatar rendered unconscious by the fake Kemurikage. Mai and Kei Lo overwhelmed two of Azula's comrades, saving Aang and the kidnapped children. She was overjoyed to reunite with Tom-Tom, and happy to learn that her father had eventually aided the children in an escape attempt from the false Kemurikage. On the next day, Ukano turned himself in at the Capital Prison. There, Mai said goodbye to her father, telling him that he deserved punishment, but that he had also been "brave" in the end. She swore that she would remember his eventual bravery, causing Ukano to state that this was "more than [he had] a right to ask". When she returned to Mura's flower shop, Mai found Kei Lo who had decided to end their romantic relationship, leaving her in tears.[5]

Personality

Due to Mai's meticulous upbringing, she was consistently unamused.

Dark, brooding, stoic, and gloomy, Mai was usually bored by her circumstances and took little interest in anything around her. Her stoic exterior was often mistaken for a lack of emotion, but was really more self control and a great sense discipline. This was due to the manner in which she was brought up by her politically-motivated parents. Her seeming apathy tended to irritate others, such as when Zuko described her as "just a big blah", and when Ty Lee described Mai's aura as "dingy and gray".[7] Mai's self restraint and constant calm sharply contrasted Zuko's passion and temper as well as Azula's sadistic behavior and insatiable lust for violence.

Mai was also not easily intimidated; she was one of the few people not afraid of Azula. In fact, Mai was secretly disgusted with Azula's ruthless behavior and callous disregard for others. While aboard the Fire Nation drill, she vehemently refused to enter the slurry pipeline to pursue Sokka and Katara, unconcerned with the consequences of disobeying Azula's order.

She never displayed any bigotry or xenophobia toward people of other nations, attitudes that were characteristic of much of the Fire Nation nobility, especially Azula.[14]

Like Zuko, Mai was against the idea of needless killing; more often than not, she chose to disable foes rather than outright kill them during battle. She generally achieved this by using her weapons to pin their clothes, usually the sleeves, to a vertical surface.

When united with Zuko, Mai overcame her stoic nature and showed genuine happiness.

Despite her stoic nature, her strong relationship with Zuko tended to bring out her more passionate side. Azula took note of Mai's "strangely good mood" since Zuko's return to the Fire Nation.[20] When Azula started toying with them and mocked her boyfriend, Mai soothed him by assuring him that, even though she had trouble showing it, she did love him.[7] She expressed deep concern when Zuko fretted over why he was not invited to a war meeting hosted by his father.[21] Mai was devastated by Zuko's sudden departure from the Fire Nation and consequently harbored some resentment toward him, as evidenced by her bitter confrontation with Zuko in his prison cell at the Boiling Rock. Despite her hurt, however, she retained a great affection for Zuko, aiding his escape from the prison and, in the process, betraying her loyalty to Azula; she later affirmed to the princess that she loved Zuko more than she feared the latter.[8] Unwilling to hold a grudge, Mai happily reunited with Zuko after the Hundred Year War ended.[9]

Abilities

Mai's skill at throwing knives.

Mai was a master markswoman, able to skillfully hit targets from a distance.[27] This skill, also known as "stilettos", involved shuriken knives and hand arrows, a skill that apparently started with her throwing knives at her bedroom wall out of boredom.[28] She had a deadly accuracy with these weapons and used them to pin her opponents down, even if she or the target was moving, which also helped against benders as they primarily needed their hands and arms to be free to bend. Her expert marksmanship gave her enough strength to defeat powerful benders and multiple opponents.

While she usually pinned her opponents down with her stilettos, she had been seen throwing them in a way that would cause severe, and possibly fatal, injuries, such as when she attacked Aang and Katara,[6] and Toph.[17] Mai's excellent reflexes, speed, and agility, enabled her to incapacitate several prison guards[8] without killing or injuring them. She proved to be quite nimble; on several occasions she was able to leap across long distances and over high obstacles with little effort. She was also shown to be able to slide across surfaces on her side. When attacking the guards on the Boiling Rock, she was able to attack and dodge by throwing a knife and diving onto her side, gliding across the metal surface in one fluid motion. In addition to her shurikens and the arrow-like darts in her sleeve and ankle holsters, Mai was also proficient with a three-pronged, retractable sai dagger which she used for close combat.[8]

Relationships

Main article: Mai's relationships

Relatives

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Warden
   
   
Mura
   
   
Michi
   
   
Ukano
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Mai
   
   
Tom-Tom

Appearances

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book Two: Earth (土)

Book Three: Fire (火)

Avatar comics

Book Two: Earth (土)

Book Three: Fire (火)

Other comics

Graphic novels

Trivia

  • At Emerald City ComiCon 2017, Gene Luen Yang implied that Mai and Zuko rekindled their relationship three years after their break-up in The Promise Part Two.[29]
  • Mai is the Cantonese pronunciation of meaning "sleeve of a robe", which is where Mai conceals her weapons. Her name is also phonetically similar to the Japanese meimei (冥々, めいめい),[30] meaning "dark" or "invisible", which is relatable to both her gloomy personality and her fighting style.
  • Mai's hairstyle was based on the Chinese traditional "ox horns" hairstyle. Like many traditional Chinese hairstyles, Mai's hair was bunched up and tied into buns on the top, with the rest let down below shoulder-level. Her hairstyle should not be confused with the odango hairstyle, which was popularized by and refers to styles in certain anime.
  • Due to the severity and violence of her attack methods, Mai's daggers were never actually shown hitting a person directly. Rather, they were just barely blocked or dodged. However, when they did hit, they were always aimed at the target's sleeves or clothing and were merely meant to disable the target. The closest these knives were shown to hitting someone in the show was when Katara was fighting Mai in Omashu; when Mai threw a flurry of knives at her, Katara used her waterbending to knock wooden boards into the air in front of her, causing the knives to hit the boards only inches from her face.[6]
  • Though Mai was most often seen using knives and daggers, she could also shoot arrows from the holsters on her wrists and ankles.[6]
  • Mai is the only person who wears nail polish in the entire series, though only in Book Two: Earth.
  • Mai's personality is based on Lisa Yang's, a writer for the series.[31]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part Two (December 16, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  2. 2.0 2.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: Mai.
  3. "EXCLUSIVE: Yang Continues 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' in The Search". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved on June 25, 2012.
  4. Casey, Dan (2013-03-20). "Comic Book Day: Join 'The Search' with Gene Luen Yang". Nerdist. Retrieved on April 27, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part Three (April 12, 2016), Dark Horse Comics.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (April 7, 2006). "Return to Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Mattila, Katie (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (October 19, 2007). "The Beach". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (July 16, 2008). "The Boiling Rock, Part 2". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  10. 10.0 10.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part Two (May 30, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  11. Robert Moscoe (April 6, 2007). An Avatar Spring Break with Mike and Bryan. Avatarspiritmedia.net. Retrieved on August 12, 2013.
  12. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (May 12, 2006). "Zuko Alone". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  13. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (May 26, 2006). "The Chase". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  14. 14.0 14.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  15. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 13, 2006). "Appa's Lost Days". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Guru". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  18. Chan, May; Ehasz, Aaron; Mattila, Katie; Wilgus, Alison (writer), Ganter, Amy Kim (artist), Dzioba, Wes (colorist), Comicraft (letterer). "Going Home Again" (September 18, 2007), Nick Mag Presents: Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  19. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 21, 2007). "The Awakening". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  20. 20.0 20.1 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (September 28, 2007). "The Headband". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  21. 21.0 21.1 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 16, 2007). "Nightmares and Daydreams". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  22. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 30, 2007). "The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  23. Chan, May (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 16, 2008). "The Boiling Rock, Part 1". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  24. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part One (January 25, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  25. Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Hill, Ryan (artist), Heisler, Michael (letterer). "Rebound" (May 4, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  26. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part One (September 23, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  27. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Gear: Mai's Stilettos.
  28. An Avatar Spring Break with Mike and Bryan (part 2 of 3). Retrieved on April 13, 2012.
  29. Yang, Gene Luen (March 2, 2017). The Comic Elements of Avatar and Korra - ECCC 2017. Retrieved on March 2, 2017.
  30. Jisho (Web). Jisho.org. Retrieved on December 24, 2017.
  31. Basco, Dante (host), Varney, Janet (host), DiMartino, Michael Dante (guest host), Konietzko, Bryan (guest host). (June 29, 2021). "Origin Stories with Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko Pt. 2". Avatar: Braving the Elements. Episode 3. iHeartRadio.
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