Review by Frank Plowright
In volume one the teenage Mai Kuju’s psychic powers were revealed, if not to the world, then to enough people to endanger her well being. She’s a target for the malevolent Wisdom Alliance, who have employed the Kaieda Corporation to hunt her down, wanting to employ her abilities for their own ends. Her father has protected her until now, but that’s no longer an option. She has, though, been fortunate enough to meet Intetsu, who takes her back to live in his frat house, seemingly a more innocent environment in Tokyo than it would be elsewhere.
Intetsu and his housemates prove surprisingly resourceful, but in dealing with the reach of the Kaieda Corporation Mai eventually concludes she’s endangering those who would protect her and engineers a novel solution. That only takes us halfway through a book in which Kazuya Kudo’s writing supplies an engaging blend of innocence, humour, surprise and action.
It was revealed in volume one that Mai wasn’t the only teenager to score highly when tested for psychic abilities, and that’s a matter occupying the second half of the book. It’s here that Kudo begins investigating the old adage of power corrupting.
By the time he began drawing Mai, Ryoichi Ikegami was an industry veteran with a twenty year career already behind him, yet his major breakthrough had occurred a year or two previously with the distinctly odd Crying Freeman. Mai was a deliberate departure for him, a different type of story permitting a greater sensitivity in his approach, and he depicts her as vulnerable and innocent, yet with a growing inner strength. As in volume one, though, images of a fourteen year old girl naked in her bath now have a more depressing connotation.
Mai, the Psychic Girl is written with an astute eye to a female audience, but not, like some Japanese comics, exclusively so. Anyone who enjoys a fast-paced adventure story for teenagers should find enough to pique their interest here and in book three.