Mai's character design was overseen by Kazuki Takahashi. In the anime, in Duelist Kingdom, Mai wore a short-sleeved purple coat over her white tube top, exposing her midriff, along with recurring purple high-heeled boots. From Battle City on, she changed to a sleeveless light purple vest and a white tank top and wore long white fingerless gloves. She wears a dark purple mini-skirt and a Deck holder strapped to her thigh in the Duelist Kingdom and Battle City arcs and her cameo appearances at KC Grand Championship arc, but in Waking the Dragons, she wears dark purple shorts and now wears purple gloves. In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light, she is seen in an outfit similar to the one she wore in Waking the Dragons. However, her top is white/grey instead of purple.
In the manga, in Duelist Kingdom, she largely wore the same outfit as the anime, but her top was open, revealing the middle of her chest and held together using strings, like a corset. In Battle City, she changed to wearing a black leather vest and mini-skirt, and wore a similar tube top as her Duelist Kingdom self, but with the front closed.
In the dub, from Season 2 onwards, her cleavage and lines of cleavage are digitally reduced or erased, and her skirt is lengthened.
At the beginning of the series, Mai is a self-absorbed woman who is only set out for prize money, personal satisfaction and power. She was also very arrogant and prideful of her Dueling skills and looks.
At first, Mai often used her beauty to seduce men into giving her what she wants and making them her tools. She used her beauty to easily steal Rex Raptor's luxury room on the cruise to Duelist Kingdom by offering him a kiss if he could beat her in a Duel, and later manipulated him into Dueling Joey for her as revenge on Joey for defeating her in an earlier Duel.
Mai is extremely lonely and at first, is convinced that she doesn't need friends. At one point, she believed her "Harpie Lady" cards were the closest she would ever have to friends.
Mai's selfish attitude and outlook on life continues until she meets and finds meaning with Yugi Muto and his three best friends. After she meets them and Yugi fought Panik for her to regain her Star Chips, Mai begins seeing Yugi, Joey Wheeler, Tristan Taylor, and Téa as her friends. She even offered Yugi her extra Star Chips so he could enter the Duelist Kingdom's Finals and rescue his grandfather after Yugi lost to Kaiba, and gave Joey her entry fee card for the finals when his was stolen by Bandit Keith. From there, she continued meeting up with the four on occassions and helping them out from time to time on their adventures.
Mai's feelings of loneliness and emptiness return when she is forced to face Marik Ishtar in the Battle City finals. Marik enters her into a Shadow Game, where with each of her monsters destroyed she begins losing the memory of a former friend. In the end, Marik defeats her and leaves her mind trapped in the Shadow Realm for a long time while she continues feeling more and more alone, miserable, and isolated every minute, until Yugi finally defeats Marik in the final round and releases her.
After being freed from the Shadow Realm and gone separate ways from her friends for a while, Mai's wins become empty to her and her feelings of loneliness return even more. Eventually, she is unable to cope with the mental trauma and turns against her friends, joining the evil Dartz to assist him in his quest for power. However, Joey seems to eventually return her to her old self and she recovers her self-esteem and pride as a true Duelist, but was unable to face her former friends again after what she had done to them.
In the Japanese version; Mai typically uses a quite informal manner of speech. She commonly omits honorifics when speaking with others, but addresses Anzu and Shizuka as "-chan." She uses the informal and potentially condescending "anta", a contraction of the more formal "anata" (similar to the English "honey"). She uses the personal pronoun "atakushi", which tends to be a more elegant, if not older, form of self-reference.
"Kujaku Mai" means "peacock dance" in Japanese. Her name in the dub is a pun of "My Valentine".
Prior to debut
Mai was orphaned at a young age and spent much of her time alone (in the dub, she instead recounts that her parents were always busy and were away from home to work).
Mai once worked as a card dealer on a ship-board casino, where she first discovered the "Harpie Lady" cards. A lot of men, who she described as boring, would pay money to get with her. Using her "aroma tactics", she pretended she had psychic powers, as she could tell what her cards were without looking at them, since they were sprayed with different perfumes. With these tactics she defeated such men, winning their money. Although she made a lot of money, she got bored and quit.
Mai was invited to participate in the Duelist Kingdom tournament.
At the Duelist Kingdom island, Mai watches Yugi's Duel with Weevil Underwood and comments on how Yugi doesn't stand a chance - criticism that was clearly in contrast with Yugi's friends' encouragement. She later Duels Joey Wheeler, psyching him out with her aroma tactics while powering up her "Harpie Lady". Joey wins after exposing her "psychic powers" as a fraud.
She wins a few off-screen Duels, and is later challenged to a rematch by Rex Raptor. She didn't want to face Rex since she had already defeated him, but still wanted to beat Joey. She thought it would be immature to challenge Joey again, so she offered to Duel Rex, provided he defeated Joey first. If she could beat Rex after he beat Joey, that would be like beating both of them, she thought.
She caught up with Joey and his friends and got Joey to face Rex. She got mad when Rex made a bet to try to win Joey's "Time Wizard", as he would be able to use it against her later. However, Joey managed to win.
She shared her food with Yugi, Joey and their friends, saying they could be friends tonight, but enemies tomorrow.
That night, she was targeted by Pegasus' eliminator, PaniK. Yugi and his friends heard her scream and rushed to help her, finding that she had lost all her Star Chips to PaniK. Yugi defeated PaniK and returned Mai's Star Chips.
After Yugi loses to Kaiba, Mai offers him some of her extra Star Chips claiming she owed him them. Yugi cannot accept them, so Téa Duels Mai for the Star Chips. Mai begins to greatly outplay Téa. But after Téa makes a comeback, Mai, impressed by Téa's spirit and eager to repay her debt to Yugi, surrenders so Yugi can take the Star Chips.
In the finals, she is paired against Yugi in the first match. Yami Yugi was distracted by the prospect of Dueling Pegasus to win back the souls of Yugi's grandfather and the Kaiba brothers, and was not taking Mai seriously as an opponent, forcing Yugi and Mai to help convince him to face Mai out of principle. In the dub, Yugi was afraid of what happened in his Duel with Kaiba and wouldn't let Yami Duel. Mai initially dominates Yugi, but helps him face his own fears, allowing Yami to make a comeback that leaves Mai at a complete disadvantage. With her strongest monster destroyed, Mai chooses to surrender rather than see the rest of her "Harpie" monsters destroyed as well. With Bandit Keith's disqualification from the tournament, Mai's final placing in the Duelist Kingdom Tournament is 3rd.
After her loss, she gives Joey one of her entry cards, to prevent him being disqualified.
Shortly after Duelist Kingdom, Mai Valentine was invited by The Big 5 to test out the new, reprogrammed version of the Virtual Game that Seto Kaiba has built. Yugi, Joey and Mokuba searched for Kaiba. On the way, Joey was forced to Duel Mai. When she finds out her opponent is Joey (as they were both masked), she joins in the search for Kaiba. On the way, they were attacked by a "Sand Stone" monster, trapped in a Maze, fought an army of Winged Beasts and Insect monsters and fought the Big Five's "Mythic Dragon". Each of the five Legendary Heroes had to Summon a Dragon-type monster in order to defeat the Big 5. Mai Summoned her "Harpie's Pet Dragon". Mai sacrificed her Dragon so that Yugi's "Black Luster Soldier" could stay on the field, therefore losing all her Life Points. She was later revived by the "Mystical Elf".
During Battle City, Mai wins enough Duels off-screen to qualify to the quarter finals. She assists Yugi and Joey's friends (Serenity, Tristan, and Duke) by driving them to Yugi and Joey's Duel at the pier. She explains how she knows about the Rare Hunters as a group who lie, cheat, and steal rare cards. She also wonders what is going on in the piers.
Before proceeding to the quarter finals she meets Jean-Claude Magnum. She does not recognize him at first, but comes to remember him proposing and her telling him to come back when he became a better Duelist. Magnum holds her to that and Duels her again. This time if he wins, she marries him. Mai wins and Magnum tries to kidnap her in desperation using a hang glider. Mai nearly falls to her death but is saved by Joey.
After Joey becomes unconscious in his Duel with Odion Ishtar, he has a dream involving his friends which helps him regain consciousness. When Mai asks if she was in his dream, Joey lies and says that she wasn't. This infuriates Mai and she proceeds to Duel Marik Ishtar in the next round, ignoring any help or support her friends try to give. Mai takes a clear advantage in the Duel, outplaying Marik and even stealing his Egyptian God Card, "The Winged Dragon of Ra" with "Amazoness Chain Master". However, Marik uses the powers of his Millennium Rod to take the Duel to the Shadow Realm (or make the Duel a Yami no Game in Japan), where whenever one of Mai's Monsters is destroyed, she loses the memory of one of her friends. Toward the end of the Duel, Mai has 3 copies of "Cyber Harpie" and is in a position to win, however she tries to Summon "Ra", only to have it appear in Sphere mode, as she isn't one of the chosen ones with the power to control it. Since she couldn't read the Hieratic text to unlock Ra, Marik does so, using its ability to swap the card back over to his side. Her feelings of loneliness and emptiness return, despite encouragement from Yugi. Just as she is about to lose, Joey rushes onto the field, trying to stop the Duel. After Joey talks to Mai, he eventually manages to break through to her and her memory of Joey is restored, much to the shock and upset of Marik, who comments in the Japanese version that he is surprised their bond of genuine and strong friendship is actually strong enough to break though his powers. She then loses to Marik. In the dub, she is sent to the Shadow Realm after she loses to Marik, while in the Japanese version, she is trapped within her own mind, subjected to brutal mental assaults. After Marik's defeat, Yugi saves her. She parts ways with Joey and the others after the tournament, realizing that they indeed were her true and closest friends, she must ultimately move on.
Waking the Dragons
Mai continues her Duel Monsters career by herself and wins several minor tournaments, but is overshadowed by Yugi, Kaiba, and Joey, and without her friends to show her the way again, her fear of defeat still persists. She also suffers recurring nightmares of Yami Marik. (In the dub, Mai dreams of Yami Marik trapping her permanently in the Shadow Realm, while in the Japanese version she dreams that she's trapped again and Marik is trying to kill her while she helplessly calls on her friends to save her but to no avail.)
After winning one particular tournament, she shatters the trophy after hearing the runner-up and his friends say how embarrassing it is to lose to someone like her, that she isn't a strong Duelist like Yugi, Seto and Joey are, and believe those three, unlike her, are still eons above them in strength.
Afterwards, she meets Valon, who recognizes her as a fellow Duelist who wants nothing more than to always win (while in the dub he sees her as a loner). He wants her to stand by his side and he'll keep on winning, just for her, against anyone she wants. He says that she is "his" reason to keep on winning (while in the dub he encourages her to forget about her friends and gain the power of "The Seal of Orichalcos" by joining Dartz's henchmen).
On Dartz's orders, Mai ambushes and defeats Pegasus, trapping his soul. Under Dartz's influence, Mai believes that it was Yugi, Joey, and her other friends that abandoned her. She particularly despises Joey and wants to defeat him for herself. Valon, who has developed feelings for Mai, believes Joey to be the source of Mai's suffering and aims to take out Joey himself, although Mai doesn't agree to this.
Mai saves Joey and his friends from a gang of bikers by throwing cards at them. Although the gang does not get a clear view of their rescuer, Joey gets a glimpse of one of her "Harpie Lady" cards as well as a glimpse of her in her helmet visor and begins to suspect that it is her.
Yugi, Joey and their friends arrive at the Industrial Illusions headquarters to meet Pegasus but instead find Mai and are locked in. Mai faces Joey in a Duel, using "The Seal of Orichalcos", putting both players' souls at stake. Although Mai dominates most of the Duel, Joey makes a comeback after acquiring his Legendary Dragon. When it becomes apparent that Joey is about to win (when he actually is trying to end it in a draw to save them both), Valon intervenes, using his fragment of the Orichalcos to break the seal, saving Mai. This greatly angers Mai as she claims to have had the Duel under control.
Valon takes matters into his own hands and tries to defeat Joey before Mai can face him again. Joey manages to win and change Valon's attitude. Mai catches the end of the Duel and Valon tries telling her that Joey is a good guy. Regardless, Mai gets possessed by the powers of the Orichalchos again and faces Joey again. Joey accepts, realizing that he can never truly get through to her until she is freed from Dartz's control. Joey tries to convince Mai that Dartz has deceived her. Exhausted from both Duels, Joey nearly passes out as Mai is about to win. Mai finally sees through all of the deception and remembers everything that they went through, and as a result, doesn't declare her final attack and rushes over to catch Joey. The Seal, however, proceeds to take Joey's spirit because he no longer has the strength to continue, and therefore, loses the Duel. Devastated, she holds Joey close in her arms and tearfully tells him she won't let the Orichalchos take him away, as the Seal closes in. Before losing his soul, Joey pushes Mai away and throws her fragment of the Orichalchos in the air. She screams in agony as Joey loses his soul while breaking the fragment, her strong emotions finally freeing her from Dartz's influence.
In an attempt to pay back Joey and Valon, she tries to take on Dartz to beat him and win back their souls, but is instead confronted and defeated by Rafael at their headquarters, resulting in the loss of her own soul. Rafael later saves her life by pulling her unconscious body from the wreckage of the collapsing headquarters.
After Yugi, Kaiba and Joey defeat Dartz, Mai's soul is freed alongside Valon's, as well as all others who were victim to the Orichalchos.
Mai spends the rest of the series alone and out of the picture, reevaluating her life, and trying to rediscover her passion for Dueling. In the dub, Mai claims she cannot face Joey and the others until she can "face up" to what she's done. Mai leaves one of her "Harpie Lady" cards with Valon (in this case, "Cyber Harpie"); she also promises to return one day to both Joey and Valon. However, in the dub, Mai and Valon's relationship seems to end, and she doesn't say whether she will go back to Joey.
She is on the invitation list to participate in the KC Grand Prix but only attends the final Duel as a spectator to witness Yugi defeat Leon von Schroeder. Though not a part of the action of the final season, she is seen in passing a few times, such as being shown as one of the Duelists destined to be a part of the Pharaoh's journey according to Pegasus (when Mai is shown, she is sitting alone in her car looking up to the clear skies). The ending credits in the Japanese version shows her Dueling alongside Vivian Wong against the Meikyū Brothers (Paradox Brothers) on top of the Great Wall of China. However in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, there is no record of this Duel, as it was said that the Paradox Brothers' had only ever lost once, which was in their last Duel, before facing Jaden and Syrus. This referred to their Duel with Yugi and Joey, so it is unclear whether the brothers were lying as per usual, or whether they defeated or tied Mai and Vivian.
She is mentioned only once in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. When Professor Banner teaches the students about Dueling legends like Yugi Muto and Seto Kaiba, a Slifer Red shouts from the crowd, "I like Mai Valentine!" However, that line is not present in the Japanese version.
She is often paired up with her dearest and closest friend, Joey Wheeler. There is no clear-cut indicator that they are deeply romantically interested in one another throughout the manga or anime, though it has been implied in the anime (more so in the dub). Mai is viewed as a role model by Serenity Wheeler.
|Jean-Claude Magnum||80||Win (flashback)|
|Striped sweater Duelist||6||Win|
|Yugi Muto/Yami Yugi||29-30||Lose|
|Joey Wheeler||44||No result|
|2 Unknown Duelists||152||Win (flashback)|
|Maximillion Pegasus||151||Win (flashback)|
|Joey Wheeler||151-154||No result|
|Para and Dox||224||Not shown (with Vivian Wong)|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Mai Kujaku's profile Yu-Gi-Oh! Character Guide: The Gospel of Truth (Japanese)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Character". 4K Media Inc.. July 7, 2015. http://www.yugioh.com/characters/mai-valentine.
- ↑ 81produce.co.jp Haruhi Terada profile
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 91: "Mind Game: Mai Vs. Marik, Part 2"
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 80: "Lights, Camera, Duel"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 152: "My Freaky Valentine - Part 1"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 151: "An Unexpected Enemy"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 153: "My Freaky Valentine - Part 2"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 154: "My Freaky Valentine - Part 3"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 155: "The Challenge"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 174: "Grappling with a Guardian - Part 1"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 177: "A Duel with Dartz - Part 1"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 184: "Rise of the Great Beast - Part 2"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 185: "Unwanted Guest - Part 1"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 198: "Sinister Secrets - Part 3"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 220: "The Final Journey"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 224: "The Final Duel - Part 4"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! GX episode 10: "Tag Team Trial, Part 1"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 21: "Double Trouble Duel, Part 3"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! GX episode 40: "A Lying Legend"
- ↑ Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's episode 1: "On Your Mark, Get Set, DUEL!"