Originally from SNK fighting series (mainly Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters), Mai is currently the only recurring guest character in Dead or Alive series since her debut as a DLC guest character in a 2016 update of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round.
Details of Mai's life are unclear, although she has had run-ins with the Mugen Tenshin Ninja Clan in the past.
The Sixth Tournament
Mai Shiranui tracked down Kasumi, and announced her arrival by throwing a paper fan at her, forcing Kasumi to dodge by teleporting from her bench. Mai Shiranui then asked if she was the strongest kunoichi, with Kasumi acknowledging Mai's presence. Mai, noticing her Mugen Tenshin symbol, deduced that Kasumi must be intelligent before requesting a spar to see who was the strongest in Japan.
After the spar, Kasumi and Mai chatted, with Mai admitting that exercise always leaves her hungry.
- See also: Mai's costumes
Mai has fair skin, long dark brown hair tied into a tight high topknot style waist length ponytail with parted bangs and light brown eyes.
In her default outfit, she also wears black two-toed shoes with red linings. Similar to Kasumi, she wears a kunoichi dress as her default, although her dress was primarily red in color and was sleeveless, as well as two red and white tassels at the back containing orbs of the opposite colors, and circular ropes around her shoulders. She also wears another dress that was similar in overall appearance, but was blue instead of red. She also carries a Japanese war fan.
The only thing in common with her various outfits are her twin tassels at her back (which are always colored in a similar manner to her current attire) and her paper fan (of which the edges have a similar color to the attire she's currently wearing).
Mai is a very cheerful and temperamental girl. She can tend to also be somewhat of an airhead and admires any kind beauty or attractiveness, which sometimes comes across as being vain. She also at times compares attractive boys who flirt with her or acknowledge her beauty to Andy, acknowledging their attractiveness but ending with a comment saying they're 'not as cute as Andy'.
Like many girls, she dreams to get married with her prince charming. She found that same Prince Charming in Andy and self-proclaimed herself his fiancé, which at times, have creeped out Andy himself. A notable example of this is her intro with Andy in KOF '97, proposing to Andy outright in a wedding dress, or scaring Andy with a mock child doll in KOF '99 and 2001. Despite this, Andy mutually acknowledges her love, but prefers to keep quiet about it.
Although her peppy fighting persona suggests otherwise, Mai is actually a traditional and ideal Japanese beauty, always speaking with honorific language, known as "keigo (敬語)". However, her pride as a Shiranui shinobi and infatuation with Andy usually keeps her from fitting the mold 100% of the time.
In Last Round, her personality is still the same: She's confident and very eager to fight, with her intros involving her announcing her entrance in third person(One of her signature intros from King Of Fighters) as well as telling her opponent to come fight her with a confident calm composure. Unlike the other fighters, she will frequently say the name of her attacks and special moves as well as throws in combat. After a match, she will sometimes confidently exclaim that's she's the "best in Japan" whilst catching her fan or fan herself while saying she got sweaty, further showing her confidence and easygoing attitude. She doesn't hold any hard feelings towards her opponent as seen in her last win pose where she sweetly apologizes to her opponent before suggesting they "have fun".
"Mai" (舞), is the Japanese word for "dance", and her surname (不知火) is the title of a Japanese optical phenomenon similar to will-o'-the-wisp.
- See also: Mai's command lists
Mai uses the Shiranui style of ninjutsu combined with her fire powers to fight. Her style resembles normal ninjutsu with more graceful and majestic moves, somewhat in reference to traditional Japanese dance. She also tends to strike with her buttocks, whether as her butt-first charge Genei-Shiranui (lit. "Phantom Fire"), or to crush enemies under her butt with her Yusura-Ume (桜桃, lit. "Wild Cherry").
She also uses paper fans as weapons, integrating them into her combat technique and using them to perform several combinations and moves, such as her Banka ("Elegy"), Kiri-Zakura ("Mist Cherry Blossom"), Kogarashi ("Wintry Wind"), Hototogisu ("Lesser Cuckoo"), Haimen-Hiji-Uchi ("Rear Elbow Strike"), Kazaguruma ("Windmill"), Kachousen ("Butterfly Fan"), Hana-Arashi ("Storm of Flowers"), Hakuro no Mai ("Dance of the Snow Heron"),Raicho no Mai ("Dance of the Thunder Bird"), Chidori-Gaeshi ("Plover Counter"), and her Chou Hissatsu Shinobi-Bachi ("Super Deadly Swarm of the Unseen Assassains") Power Blow. Her clothing, specifically, the tassel on her ninja garb, is also used to attack the opponent. When about to deal a heavy blow against her opponent, she proceeds to place her paper fan in her mouth to free up all her limbs.
Like in her past games, Mai has the ability to manifest flames into many ways. For example, both her Ryu-Enbu ("Waltz of the Fire Dragon") and her Ryubitenmai ("Beautiful Dragon Dance") has her create a ring of fire by spinning, both her Koshu no Mai (2) ("Dance of the Drummer") and her Hisho-Ryu-Enjin ("Dragon Ring of Summer") involve her performing a flaming backflip kick, her Kagerou no Mai ("Dance of the Heat Haze") has her summon a spiralling column of fire around her, and her Gekka-Midare-Botan ("Moon Flower Wild Peony") has her create a fiery explosion from her buttocks. Also, her Cliffhanger attack ends with her striking her opponent while "imbuing" them in what appears to be electricity, causing them to explode.
Originating from a 2D fighting game, Mai retains most of the mechanics, such as special cancels and jump attacks, such as her Shosen-Da ("The Aftermath"), Sho-Kyaku ("Soaring Kick"), and her Musasabi no Mai ("Dance of the Flying Squirrel"). She is also recommended for beginners.
In Dead or Alive 6, a few of her moves have gained new properties. For example, landing her Musasabi no Mai ( while jumping forward) on a launched opponent will have her perform her Shiranui-Ryuu Ougi Kunoichi (Shiranui Style Secret Ninja Art") from King of Fighters XIV.
The following are Mai's official stats as listed in the game.
Dead or Alive series
- Dead or Alive 5 Last Round (playable DLC, 2016; only for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam/Windows)
- Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Arcade (playable, 2016)
- Dead or Alive 6 (playable DLC, 2019)
Non-Dead or Alive appearances
Mai first appeared in the 1992 arcade title Fatal Fury 2. Due to her popularity, she has been a recurring playable character in every SNK series aside from later Fatal Fury games, such as Mark of the Wolves, where she is an NPC.
The King of Fighters
Mai is one of the recurring Fatal Fury characters to appear in every KOF game since ’94, except XII and KOF: Kyo (where she is an NPC in the latter), while her playable appearance in XI is only on PlayStation 2.
SNK vs. Capcom series
Mai is one of the Fatal Fury representatives to appear in all SNK vs. Capcom games since Match of the Millennium, including the Capcom-developed Capcom vs. SNK series.
Mai appeared in this Queen’s Blade game alongside Dead or Alive's very own Kasumi as one of the known third-party guest characters. Mai is also the only SNK guest character in this game who isn’t originating from Samurai Shodown.
Shinobi Master Senran Kagura: New Link
Mai appeared in this gacha game alongside her fellow SNK fighter Kula Diamond, Dead or Alive characters Ayane, Honoka and Marie Rose, who are all recurring guests in Senran Kagura games: Ayane first appeared in Estival Versus, while both Honoka and Marie debuted in Peach Beach Splash. As for Kula, she is one of the three other SNK characters who are included in this game a year later after Mai, thus marking the second time she and Kula are together since Dead or Alive 6.
- "Sacred Flower" - Dead or Alive 5 Last Round (default theme), Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Arcade
- Mai was rated #4 in GameSpy.com's "Top Ten Babes in Games" feature and number 5 in Game Informer's "Top Ten Hottest Girls of the 16-Bit era."
- In the character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website, she was voted as the fifth favorite character with a total of 2,380 votes.
- Mai is the only female character with a cheerleader DLC costume to wear heels with it; The other girls wear sneakers with socks.
- Mai's birthday (January 1) is on New Year's Day. She also shares her birthday with Bankotsubo, the final boss in Dead or Alive 2.
- Coincidentally, both characters had fighting styles involving the use of fans (paper fans in Mai's case, and ha-uchiwa's in Bankotsubo's case).
- In the teaser for Mai at Dead or Alive Festival 2016, she was shown to have a face and build similar to Momiji. However, she was given a slight redesign in the August 2016 Famitsu coverage for the character's gameplay that made her closer to her appearance in the King of Fighters series, making her the second character to have a different design from the first "final design", the only other being Hitomi when Dead or Alive 5 was first announced.
- Mai is the second guest character in the overall series to only speak in her native language (Japanese) regardless of language options while not having recycled voice clips (despite having had English voices in some previous SNK games), the only other being SPARTAN-458 from Dead or Alive 4.
- Mai is the fourth character that holds a weapon whilst fighting, after Gohyakumine Bankotsubo, Genra, and Nyotengu. Similar to the two tengus she holds a fan, but of a different design.
- Unlike Nyotengu, Mai utilizes the same fan regardless of outfit.
- Mai is the second character that uses fire in her attacks, after Momiji.
- Technically, this is the second time Mai and Kasumi have "interacted" to some degree, as they had both previously been in the crossover video game Queen's Blade.
- They also "interacted" in a special wallpaper that was released in collaboration by SNK and Team Ninja celebrating the Steam release for King of Fighter XIV and 8 million downloads of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round.
- Mai is the only character to be absent from the Halloween 2016 costume set. This was most likely because she debuted long after the 2016 Designer's Contest ended yet before the actual release of the Halloween DLC. However, Team Ninja recently announced a Designer's Contest for 2017, but for unknown reasons, Mai is the only character absent for a costume design for said year.
- Mai did not receive any further DLC costumes following her debut pack.
- If Mai performs her fire summon attacks in the Azuchi stage, the lighting in the arena will briefly dim during the attack's duration. It's unknown whether or not this is intentional.
- It's unknown whether or not her appearance in Dead or Alive 5 Last Round is canon, as her DOA5LR bio makes no outright mention on whether she is participating in the tournament or how she even got into the DOA universe, unlike Naotora Ii. However, her prologue chapter's description in Dead or Alive 6 implies that it was indeed canon, stating: "Mai Shiranui, a Shiranui-style ninjutsu teacher, is again ready to use her techniques against the Mugen Tenshin clan!"
- Mai is the first guest character to reappear in another Dead or Alive game (not counting expansion packs), having first appeared in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, and reappearing in Dead or Alive 6.
- In Dead or Alive 6, despite canonically being 165 cm (5' 5") in height, she is shown to have the same height as Kasumi during gameplay and cutscenes.
- Mai and Kasumi were both once designed as males before being changed to females during development.
- Mai was partly modeled after two real life Idols in Japan. Her bust was based on Fumie Hosokawa, while her hips was modeled after the late Ai Iijima.
- Mai's trademark bounce was based on an assassination technique often utilized by Kunoichi, where they engage in sensuality towards unsuspecting targets before going in for the kill.
- In her home series, she was shown to be in love with Andy Bogard, often wanting to marry him. As Mai in the Dead or Alive series is implied in Kula Diamond's story mode of Dead or Alive 6 to not be the same one as in The King of Fighters, it is unclear if this is the case in Dead or Alive.