|Allies||New Ozai Governor, Governor's Wife, Tom-Tom, The Warden, Ty Lee, Zuko, Team Avatar, more...|
|Weapon of choice||Knives and stilettos|
|Chronological and political information|
|Voiced By||Cricket Leigh|
Mai is the daughter of the Governor of "New Ozai" Omashu and his oldest child. During the course of the series, she becomes one of Princess Azula's main sidekicks (thereby one of Team Avatar's greatest foes), as well as Prince Zuko's love interest. As most privileged girls in the Fire Nation, she attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls and became a friend of Princess Azula and Ty Lee at a young age.
Mai is exceptionally skilled at stilettos, a self-taught ability she probably developed out of boredom. Using small knives concealed in her robes, with precision alone she is capable of besting numerous benders at once despite not being a bender herself. Presumably aware of her unique talents, Azula recruits her and old friend Ty Lee to capture the Avatar and his friends.
Mai outwardly resembles an impassive and bored teenager. A victim of her father's political aspirations since early childhood, Mai confesses she got anything she wanted from her parents so long as she was quiet and well-mannered. This had a profound effect on her personality, as it was ingrained in her to keep all of her feelings and emotions strongly hidden. The only time she is ever seen happy is in the presence of Zuko, with whom she is in love.
We are shown the strength of her feelings towards Zuko when she saves him from Azula in The Boiling Rock, Part 2. She confronts Azula, declaring that her love for Zuko outweighs her fear of retaliation. As a result of this betrayal, Azula imprisons her, along with Ty Lee. She is later released after Zuko defeats Azula and claims the throne. They restart their relationship with a kiss, before Zuko's coronation as Fire Lord.
Mai was born in the Fire Nation, daughter of a nobleman and his wife. In "The Beach", Mai gave more information about her childhood. She was an only child for most of her life and was given whatever she wanted, as long as she behaved. Her parents were strict and she was constantly required to stay silent and behave perfectly, which in later years led to her emotional distance. She greatly despised her life in the Fire Nation, to the point she would throw knives at her wall out of boredom. At some point, she attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls and became friends with Azula, who noticed her skill with knives, and Ty Lee.
During flashbacks in "Zuko Alone", she is shown, about nine years old, sitting off by herself looking disinterested, as Ty Lee and Azula play together and do cartwheels. However, she does show marked interest in Zuko, turning away shyly and blushing when he walks by with his mother. Azula notices this and takes Mai's obvious crush (which Azula later reveals to have been mutual) as a cue to humiliate both Zuko and Mai by orchestrating a situation where they end up falling into a fountain on top of each other, while she and Ty Lee stand giggling over their embarrassment.
Azula's victims respond to this in fury, with Zuko storming off, claiming "girls are crazy!" and Mai, upon standing up drenched, stutters "You two are such...ugh!"
Book 2: Earth Edit
Meeting an Old Friend Edit
During series present-time, Mai resides in the newly-conquered city of Omashu with her Mother, younger brother Tom Tom, and her Father, the Fire Nation-appointed governor of the city-state. Mai describes Omashu as "unbearably bleak" to her mother and complains of how bored she is, stating that she is even more bored than she was back in the Fire Nation. However, soon after, Azula arrives 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 agrees to this immediately even though she has not been told what that mission is. Before leaving, however, Azula appoints Mai, in lieu of the governor, 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 begins the transaction, Azula interrupts, coyly suggesting that trading a powerful Earthbender king for a two-year-old is strategically unwise. After a measured pause, Mai agrees and declares the deal off, thus initiating a fight between the two sides. Then, as Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee are leaving the city, Mai confirms, impassively, that their mission is to "track down" the now-fugitive Zuko and Iroh. Azula notes that they also now have a third target (Aang) and Ty Lee pointedly states that it will be "interesting" for Mai to see Zuko again, in response to which Mai turns away and indulges in a rare smile.
Pursuing Team Avatar Edit
Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee track Aang and his companions. Once Aang splits from Katara and Sokka, Azula sends Mai and Ty Lee to face those two while she chases down Aang. Mai and Ty Lee defeat the siblings rather easily (much in part thanks to the siblings' lack of sleep), but are caught off-guard by an airblast from Appa and sent flying into a nearby river.
When a Fire Nation drill is heading towards Ba Sing Se, Mai is shown being very bored sitting around in the control room. When a group of elite earthbenders attempts to stop the drill, Azula sends Mai and Ty Lee to face them, which elicits approval from Mai as it is something to do. However, when Azula sends Mai and Ty Lee after Sokka and Katara who were caught trying to sabotage the drill from the inside, Mai refuses 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 will not go into that "wall sludge juice"—which gives the impression that Mai is not scared of the Princess. Later, Aang destroys the drill by causing the slurry pipeline to back up and then explode, thus covering everyone in the general vicinity in slurry. After this, a completely pristine Mai leans out of a hatch and dryly announces to the sludge-drenched Ty Lee and Azula: "We lost".
Fall of Ba Sing Se Edit
In "Appa's Lost Days", Mai has a minor role and her only action is assisting Azula attack Suki and other Kyoshi Warriors stating that their colors were making her nauseous. After the three girls defeat the Kyoshi Warriors, Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee dress up as them to sneak into Ba Sing Se. In "The Guru" Mai and the group are surprised by Katara who runs in with news about Zuko and Iroh. Azula says she will tell the Earth King, but at that moment Katara realizes who they are, but Ty Lee disables her chi and the trio proceed to capture the Waterbender.
Mai is next seen where she has apparently been ordered to guard the Earth King's pet bear, Bosco, but does not care enough about her assignment to attempt to stop Sokka, Toph, and the Earth King from retrieving the pet. She was so bored and restless from her duty that she let Toph, Sokka and The Earth King escape with the bear, stating "just take the bear".
Book 3: Fire Edit
Rekindled Love Edit
In "Going Home Again", a comic featured within the second All-Avatar Nick Mag Presents edition, Mai and Zuko are set up on a dinner date by Azula in plan to persuade a reluctant Zuko to return home, playing off their childhood crushes on each other. However, the two catch on to the setup and decide to take a walk around Ba Sing Se. Soon after, they run into Jin, who immediately recognizes "Lee" and questions who his companion is. Thinking quickly, Zuko sheepishly claims that Mai is a friend from the circus, the knife thrower. Mai appears to join in on the charade and decides 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 targets and precisely pierces the fish with an icicle. Mai then persuades Jin to give it a try. Zuko is just barely able to avoid being impaled by the sharp piece of ice, falling backwards into the fountain in the process. Leaning over the drenched prince, Mai wryly states that now they're "even."
As he chases her down an alley, Zuko exclaims that she could have gotten him killed, but Mai merely laughs it off. Zuko stops to point out that she finally seems to be enjoying herself, going on to say that he had missed seeing this side of her. Mai admits that a lot has changed since the days when she "used to throw mud in his face", but that not everything has changed; she proves this by kissing him softly. The next day, the two of them arrive at the ship to leave for the Fire Nation together.
To the Fire Nation Edit
Mai is next seen having a brief moment with Zuko on the ship voyage home, where he expresses nervousness about how much things will have changed and whether or not he will be forgiven and welcomed. She humorously replies that she hadn't asked for his life story, then tells him not to worry and kisses him briefly before departing once more. Later, when Azula sees Zuko moping, she comments that he's acting like Mai, then amends that, claiming that Mai had been unusually cheerful lately. Later, Zuko and Mai are having a romantic picnic on an ocean side cliff and enjoying an orange sunset together, Mai hates the color and tells Zuko so. This only makes him chuckle and state how beautiful she is when she hates the world. Mai tells Zuko she doesn't hate him and he tells her the same and they kiss. Their moment is interrupted by Azula, who wishes to speak with Zuko alone. The two try to ignore her until Azula tells Mai to go help Ty Lee who apparently needs help untangling her braid. Mai complies but glares briefly at Azula as she passes .
Vacation at Ember Island Edit
Mai's relationship with Zuko goes through a rocky period during a trip to Ember Island; Zuko becomes increasingly short-tempered and tactless around her, growing frustrated when shiny shells and ice cream fail to impress her (though Zuko did accidentally cause the ice cream to fall on her thigh) and protective when Ruon-Jian takes interest in her. When he shoves Ruon-Jian across a room, Mai reprimands him for being "impatient, hot-headed, and angry." He responds by saying that she has no passion for anything; stung by this, Mai softly says that their relationship is over and wordlessly watches him storm outside.
When Zuko meets her on the beach, she greets him in a conciliatory tone, but he rudely asks her where her "boyfriend" is, and she gets mad again. She remains cold toward him on when he joins her, Ty Lee, and Azula around a campfire for a discussion. When Zuko yells at Ty Lee, Mai tells him to leave her alone; he persists, however, and Ty Lee finally breaks the story of her childhood out to them. Considering her words, Mai theorizes that Ty Lee needs "ten boyfriends" because she wants to make up for the attention she missed as a child. Ty Lee angrily asks for Mai's story, saying that all she sees with Mai is a "dingy, pasty, gray" aura. Mai dismisses the idea of auras and sarcastically apologizes to Zuko for not being as "high-strung and crazy" as the others. Zuko says that he would like it if she didn't keep her emotions bottled up; Mai explains to everyone how her mother's control and her father's political career meant that she couldn't stand out as she wanted to as a child. Azula summarizes this, saying that a controlling mother was why Mai was afraid of caring about anything and couldn't express herself; Mai finally snaps and screams at Azula to leave her alone. When Zuko moves to calm her down, she angrily refuses him again and says that his not having an easy life is no excuse for the anger he's been showing. She and the other girls pressure Zuko, asking who it is who he is angry at. When he admits that he is angry at himself and confused about what is right and what is wrong, Mai sees him once again as the Zuko she loved. Moving to comfort him, she says he is the one thing she cares about. Mai kisses him again, reaffirming their relationship.
A Happy Relationship Edit
Mai and Zuko are on much better terms in the weeks that followed. Mai has learned to express herself more often and Zuko often visits her in her house, which is across from the Palace. Zuko asks her what she would want from the world if she could have anything she wanted when she wanted, and she said that it would be a fruit tart with rose petals on top. Zuko requests a tart from his servants, and they go on to discuss the advantages of being royalty, and its downsides. Mai suddenly mentions a war meeting that Azula got invited to, assuming that Zuko was also going, but he wasn't invited.
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 tries to cheer up Zuko by suggesting that he boss around some servants or that they have some more fruit tarts, to no avail. The next day, they are hanging out again when a servant comes in to say that Zuko is expected at the meeting. This cheers up Zuko and Mai a great deal. When the meeting ends, Mai is happy to hear that Zuko was allowed to sit by his father's right side, but he tells her that even though he acted like the son his father wanted, he was not being himself. It is clear to her that he has more on his mind.
A Broken Heart Edit
Mai is not seen during the "Day of Black Sun", as she and the rest of the people in the Fire Nation Capital have been ordered to evacuate on Ozai's orders. However, Zuko leaves her a message in her bedroom, stating that he was leaving to join the Avatar. Zuko is clearly upset that he must leave her, but tells 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 Zuko. At the Boiling Rock, we learn that the warden is Mai's uncle, who tells Zuko that he "broke his niece's heart" when he left her. When the two meet, Mai is clearly upset and irritated, as well as deeply hurt, and argues with Zuko on the motives he left. She also berates him for leaving only a letter as a good-bye. Zuko tries to explain himself, saying that it was necessary to save his country, but Mai evidently did not agree with his intent. When a riot starts, a guard arrives with orders from the warden to protect her. Zuko takes advantage of this moment and locks both inside the room. Mai stares at Zuko intently through the view hole, and Zuko shows deep regret before he flees to help Sokka.
Later, during the escape, the guards are about to cut the line from the gondola that holds Zuko, Sokka, Hakoda, Suki, Chit Sang, and the Warden. The guards are attacked and stopped by Mai who (when questioned what she was doing) states she's "saving the jerk who dumped me". After the others flee, Azula confronts Mai, who says that her love for Zuko is greater than her fear of Azula. When Azula is about to attack her, and with every intention to kill her, Ty Lee intervenes, striking Azula down by blocking her chi. She urges an apparently shocked Mai to escape. The guards seize them and Azula tells them to lock Ty Lee and Mai away and to "let them rot".
Mai and Ty Lee's betrayal had a disastrous impact on Azula, as it was the loss of her only two friends and her inability to instill fear in them that caused Azula's mentality to crumble. This ultimately proved her undoing when Sozin's Comet arrived.
Release from Prison Edit
Mai and Ty Lee remained locked up at another prison (judging by the fact they met the Kyoshi Warriors who were not imprisoned at the Boiling Rock) until the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai during the coming of Sozin's Comet. After the battle, Mai and Ty Lee are apparently freed after Mai's uncle "pulled a few strings", and due to the fact that her boyfriend was the new Fire Lord. She reunites with Zuko on his coronation day, and the two reaffirm their relationship, with Mai warning Zuko "Don't ever break up with me again". The two embrace and kiss.
Mai has apparently made peace with the Avatar's group since the War ended. She is seen in Earth Kingdom robes hanging out with Zuko and the gang at Iroh's tea shop in Ba Sing Se, playing Pai Sho with Suki and then criticizing Sokka's awful drawing of the group. She claimed that he made her look like a man. She, along with the rest of the group, laugh at Toph's joke when she says that they all look perfect.
Dark, brooding, stoic, and gloomy, Mai has been described as the Avatar version of a "Goth". She is usually bored by whatever situation she is in, and takes little interest in anything around her (the clinical term for this would be anhedonic - "unable to feel pleasure.") Her "aura" is described by Ty Lee as "dingy and gray". She does seem to have a dislike for 'messy' things, as seen in 'The Drill' when she refused to enter the slurry water vehemently, although it was neccessary to pursue Aang. It was also shown in this episode that she is one of the few people not afraid of Azula, due to her lack of emotion. It is heavily implied in "The Beach" that this is due to her controlled upbringing by her politically-motivated parents. Her apparent uninterest in anything enjoyable tends to irritate others, such as when Zuko describes her as "just a big blah". Like Zuko, Mai seems to be against the idea of needless killing; more often than not, she would often disable foes rather than outright kill them during battle. She generally achieves this by using her weapons to pin their clothes (usually the sleeves) to a vertical surface
However, it appears that her relationship with Zuko tends to bring out her more passionate traits. When Zuko returns to the Fire Nation, Azula tells him that Mai has been in a strangely good mood. In "The Beach", Zuko and Mai argue frequently, but when Azula starts toying with them, and mocks Zuko after forcing him to reveal why he's so angry all the time, Mai soothes him by assuring him that, even though she has trouble showing it, she does love him. Later, in "Nightmares and Daydreams", she is shown genuinely enjoying spending time with Zuko, and both of them are shown ordering the palace servants around. She also shows deep concern when he frets over why he wasn't invited to a war meeting hosted by his father, and later when he admits that while in the meeting, he didn't feel right about something. In "The Boiling Rock, Part 2", she confronts Zuko about leaving her, saying that he broke her heart. After the confrontation, she saves Zuko from the prison guards cutting the line and tells Azula that she loves Zuko more than she fears her.
Despite their previously unpleasant encounter at the Boiling Rock, Mai was more than happy to reunite with Zuko after the War ended. She reaffirmed her love for Zuko and celebrated the War's end with him and his friends. Her love for Zuko obviously remains strong as she is unwilling to break up with him again, and now that he has finally found his way and is at peace with himself, and threats such as Fire Lord Ozai and Azula are defeated they can be together again and she can be happy.
Mai is a master of knives, hand arrows (called "stilettos") and shuriken knives, a skill that apparently started with her throwing knives at her bedroom wall out of boredom. She has a deadly accuracy with these weapons and uses them to pin her opponents down, which also helps against benders as they primarily need their hands and arms to be free to bend. Her skill is great enough to defeat powerful benders and multiple opponents. While she usually pins her opponents down with her stilettos, she has been seen throwing them in a way that would cause severe, and possibly fatal, injuries, such as when she attacked Aang and Katara in "Return to Omashu", and Toph in "The Crossroads of Destiny". Her skill was enough to incapacitate several prison guards in "The Boiling Rock, Part 2" without killing or injuring them. Mai is also shown to be able to slide across surfaces on her side, when attacking the guards on the Boiling Rock, she is able to attack and dodge, by throwing a knife and diving onto her side, gliding across the metal surface in one fluid motion.
- The name Mai (明—pronounced identically to the English, "May") means "brightness" in Japanese, which is very likely an ironic statement on the part of the creators. Mai is also the Cantonese pronunciation of Mèi (袂) and means "sleeve of a robe", which is where she hides her weapons. It is also the same name as Katara's voice actress, Mae Whitman (though the the last letter is different). Her name could be a reference to Mei which means "dark" in Japanese.
- Note that due to the severity of her attack methods, Mai's daggers are never actually shown as hitting the person or persons directly, rather they are just barely blocked or dodged. When they do hit however, they are always aimed at the target's sleeves or clothing, and are meant to disable the target. The closest these knives are shown to hitting in the show is when Katara is fighting Mai in Omashu, Mai throws a flurry of knives at her, and Katara uses 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.
- Though Mai is most often seen using knives and daggers she can also shoot arrows from the holsters on her wrists and ankles.
- Another possible translation of her name, in Chinese, is 梅, which means plum blossom.
- Yet another possible translation of her name, in Chinese is beautiful. (美)
- Her name has been pronounced both as "My" and "May".
- Mai (舞), a female Japanese given name meaning "dance".
- Mai, a Vietnamese given and last name meaning "golden flower", in reference to the yellow Ochna integerrima blossoms that are used during the Lunar New Year in southern Vietnam as tokens of good luck.
- Mai, a Hmong name often used for the only daughter or the youngest daughter of the family.
Main article: Mai's Relationships
- New Ozai Governor (father)
- Governor's Wife (mother)
- Tom-Tom (younger brother)
- The Warden (uncle)
- Zuko (boyfriends)