One of the great things about fiction is you can live vicariously through made up characters as they do the impossible. What better way to enjoy that freedom than through fetish fuel? After all, there are certainly some odd fetishes that are hard to pull off in reality. One of the best fantasy fetishes, at least in my humble opinion, is guro/ryona with immortality. Imagine the freedom of abuse that could come with a girl who can never die, but still feels pain. This is exactly the kind of depravity realized in Uziga Waita’s infamous manga, Mai-Chan no Nichijou or as it’s known in English, Mai-Chan’s Daily Life. The manga follows the life and times of a young 17-year old maid by the name of Mai who has a miraculous ability: she can regenerate any part of herself even after horrific bodily harm.
In case you didn’t catch it, Mai-Chan’s Daily Life is a guro manga (and live action film) written and illustrated by Waita Uziga and published by Sanwa Shuppan on April 21, 2004. One of the most well-known guro manga out there, Mai-Chan’s Daily Life harbors a variety of intense graphic violence melded with comedic situations. Mai herself runs into this humor and gore during her day-to-day life as a maid and sex toy for high paying customers; the kind of people who want to explore darker sides of their sexuality. The mansion where these sadistic acts take place is run by Mai’s boss Kaede, a stern woman who takes pleasure in bringing misfortune to her poor maid. There’re some minor plot related characters who turn up throughout the manga’s 11 chapters, such as the mute amputee Sayurin and the masochist Kizuna.
One of the best elements of Mai-Chan’s Daily Life is the balance between humor and somber tones. You spend time growing attached to Mai through her comedic misfortunes as she’s hacked apart. There’s a real emotional payoff seeing such a sweet girl like Mai tortured after you build an emotional connection with her, having her tormented as the things she’s grown fond of are torn from her, along with her limbs and various body parts. There’s a balance between comedic violence and deeply painful ryona moments that are handled expertly. The same content is completely different depending on how the manga presents it. Mai’s story is a slice of life story with little carry-over between events, the proviso being that, at times, she blocks out the more traumatic memories.
As a character, Mai is the perfect lead for a story of this nature: she always seems sweet and innocent, even though her whole life revolves around being brutally raped and tortured to death over and over. Her innocence is attractive, and the fact that she retains this even after temporarily eroding it through sexual violence keeps her entertaining. She’s clumsy, but still tries her best even in bleak situations, and — without spoiling anything — she shows off some serious strength of will at times. Kaede is a fear-inducing presence in Mai’s life, managing her clients and giving her tasks to carry out. She takes a rather nonchalant approach to Mai’s dismemberment but draws some satisfaction in her sadistic tasks for Mai.
The only other characters worth mentioning are Sayurin and Kizuna: Sayurin has had all her limbs removed from the elbows and knees down, forcing her to walk on all fours like a dog. She cannot speak and is for all intents and purposes a pet that Mai is tasked with caring for. The duo forms an adorable bond in the way a human and dog would in any other conventional story. Kizuna, meanwhile, is a young boy with masochistic tendencies. He’s brought into the mansion as another slave and Mai’s “brother”, with her tasked to teach him the ropes. Both of these characters only exist for their own story arcs, but they’re excellent additions and Mai’s relationships with them help build her character.
Mai-Chan’s art is what you’d expect for a 2004 manga, and it’s pretty good at that. Characters look cute at a distance and good up-close, along with an array of expressions that range from “happy” to “tortured emotional wreck”. On top of the faces and proportions being in check, the blood and guts is pretty top quality too. Burning and evisceration is all done brilliantly, but the only drawback is that, at times, the gore turns into a giant black mass in some spots. I assume Uziga probably didn’t have the time or knowledge to always be anatomically correct in every panel where Mai’s guts are spilling across the room.
Stylistically, it all works well: Mai looks appropriately seared when she’s on fire, pale and fading when she’s mortally wounded; it’s engaging and attractive. “Stylized” is the key word here, though, as giblets and internal organs mostly just turn up if they’re needed. Otherwise, it’s your own personal interpretation of what the black inking that encompasses Mai’s bloody body parts is. This works mostly for the comedic elements, but thankfully doesn’t hurt the guro too much, as bits and pieces of bones, sinew, and organs are drawn when needed.
There’s a decent selection of violence on display; decapitation, amputation, disembowelment, and immolation. One of my absolute favorites is oddly specific; it involves a girl being disemboweled and hung up with everything from the ribs down torn off, along with a single eye gouged out. Miraculously enough, Mai-Chan’s Daily Life delivers on that incredibly specific fetish too! That being said, some of the gore can get a bit repetitious over time. You can only make a girl being dismantled look so different for so many times. The variety in the manga mostly comes in the humor, with silly situations ending up mangling Mai. Overall, though the gore tends to be a bit samey and Mai-Chan’s Daily Life doesn’t necessarily push the envelope at every opportunity, particularly given the lack of detailed viscera at times. Without going into spoiler territory, I can say there are definitely some memorable moments of murder to be had.
Mai-Chan’s Daily Life is a great manga that’s not too long and lives up to the promise of a “daily life”. Events are short and satisfying, delivering explosively violent scenes mixed with amusing comedic segments. Mai is an adorable character you can’t help but grow attached to, making the torture all the sweeter as she’s broken from extreme emotional and physical stress. Few things personify those traits better than the ending, but I wouldn’t spoil that for you. The series is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you have even a passing interest in guro and sadistic content in your manga, you should definitely give this a read.