The main character is Mai Kuju, a 14-year-old Japanese girl with powerful psychic abilities. She is being pursued by the Wisdom Alliance, an organization which secretly strives to control the world. The alliance already controls four other powerful psychic children, and it has hired the Kaieda Intelligence Agency to capture Mai.
Mai, the Psychic Girl is one of, if not the, first manga series to be fully published in English. It, along with The Legend of Kamui and Area 88, were published in North America by Eclipse Comics and Viz Comics in a bi-weekly comic book format starting on May 26, 1987. As it was one of the forerunners of manga popularity in the West, Mai was chosen for localization due its middle-ground artwork: neither "too Japanese or too American". It was present in the "flipped" format that was the norm with early localized manga. Mai proved popular enough that second printings were needed of the first two issues.
In 1989, Viz publications eventually released a four volume collection of "Mai, The Psychic Girl". The collection featured a brief nude scene that had been edited out of the comic book edition. This was one of the first manga's to be released in the "digest" format that serialized manga series are printed in, when they are collated into a collection. It may also be illegal to own, due to its depiction of a nude, 14 year old girl. The series was later re-released in three volumes as Mai, the Psychic Girl: Perfect Collection.
Beginning in the late-1980s, New Wave rock band Sparks attempted to make Mai, the Psychic Girl into a musical, with interest from Tim Burton and Carolco Pictures, who purchased the film rights in August 1991. Carolco hoped Burton would start production in 1992, but he chose to work on The Nightmare Before Christmas and Ed Wood for Disney. The option on the film rights eventually expired, and Burton dropped out. Francis Ford Coppola later developed the property in the 1990s. In June 2000, Sony Pictures Entertainment started on a new different project with Kirk Wong attached to direct. By February 2001, a script had been written by Lisa Addario and Joey Syracuse for Sony's Columbia Pictures. The release of The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, a radio musical by Sparks, in August 2009, was informed by the six years the band spent trying to get their Mai the Psychic Girl produced. The album generated new interest, and gained a "second wind, vocalist Rusell Mael explained. "The music is all ready and we are hoping that this still might see the light of day.”
Notes and references
- Several manga have been published in English before Mai, but they were all one-shots or series interrupted before their completion.
- Gravett, Paul. Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics. New York: Collins Design, 2004. ISBN 1-85669-391-0.
- Joseph Galliano (2009-10-30). "Striking Sparks with Bergman". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- Jay Carr (1991-03-03). "Batman to battle DeVito's Penguin". The Boston Globe.
- Jeff Yang (2009-08-06). "The Pokemon generation grows up". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- Dana Harris (2000-06-11). "Wong to helm SPE's 'Psychic'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- Claude Brodesser; Cathy Dunkley (2001-02-18). "U opens its heart to Addario, Syracuse spec". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- Napier, Susan J. "Vampires, Psychic Girls, Flying Women and Sailor Scouts". In Martinez, Dolores P. The Worlds of Japanese Popular Culture: Gender, Shifting Boundaries and Global Culture. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521631289.