...There's a certain sort of romance to it, isn't there?
Mai Taniyama is the main protagonist of Ghost Hunt and is the assistant to Kazuya Shibuya whom she nicknames 'Naru' (short for narcissist). At the end of Volume 1, she was hired to work part-time at Shibuya Psychic Research.
Mai is a petite teenage girl with short brown hair, chocolate brown eyes and thick lashes. She often dresses comfortably, preferring to leave her hair down most of the time. In later volumes, it's hinted that she has trouble clothes shopping due to high-prices. Through the course of the manga, her hair grows from a pixie cut to a short bob. In the anime, Mai's hair is a short bob.
When wearing her school uniform, she wears a pleated skirt ending at her thighs with over the knee black socks.
Mai often believes the best in people; when Naoko Kuroda and Chiaki Kasai are suspected, she sticks up for both of them, despite knowing neither very well. She is also very compassionate, as demonstrated in Volume 2, when she forms a close bond with the child involved in the case, and Volume 7, when she comforts a kidnapped Masako Hara, despite the two not getting along. Mai is easily annoyed and quite jealous.
Starting with the very first volume, Mai expresses enjoyment of her work with SPR because it is exciting, as she tends to be an adventurous-romantic. This attitude is prevalent in all the cases she takes, but only when no one is being harmed. She is very brave, and asks Houshou Takigawa and Ayako Matsuzaki to teach her spells and counter-curses in order to feel more useful. She is also quite impulsive; deciding to exorcise a multitude of spirits last-minute, despite her lack of skill.
Although not dumb, Mai is the least experienced of the group, and appears not to take schoolwork too seriously. She is very intuitive and good with people, rather than traditionally intelligent, something Naru likes to poke fun at. Her sympathetic nature leads her to be a big target for spirits. Mai is shown to be very stubborn in her beliefs. She isn't afraid of expressing her reasoning, regardless of authority. Mai is hinted at to be very lonely, which is why she so eagerly accepts SPR as a family.
When Mai is first introduced, she and her school friends Keiko and Michiru are telling ghost stories. She then meets Kazuya Shibuya (Naru), who claims to be a student at their school. Mai doesn't trust him, due to his perceived insincerity, although her friends admire his good looks.
While walking to school the next day, Mai approaches the supposedly, haunted school a friend of hers discussed. While investigating the building, she accidentally injured Lin Koujo (Naru's assistant) and took his place.
In the course of the case, Mai and Naru meet spiritualists: Houshou Takigawa (Monk/Bou-san), Ayako Matsuzaki, John Brown and Masako Hara. In the beginning, Mai seems to have no problem working with these other experts; however, she does berate them for not admitting their mistakes and doubting Naru's abilities. It is at this time that Mai also has her first dream about Naru, and begins to harbor romantic feelings towards him.
Over the next few volumes, Mai begins to demonstrate psychic power, often dealing with her dreams. Naru determines that Mai has latent sensitivity. She often has post-cognitive visions during cases, which help the SPR team locate and determine the motive of spirits.
It is revealed in Volume 6 that Mai is an orphan; her father died when she was very young, and her mother died when she was in junior high. Before working at SPR (where she is unusually well paid), she lived with a teacher, but now she is able to afford a place of her own.
Mai has latent ESP. She has extremely good intuition. When sleeping, she also demonstrates an ability to receive visions and have out-of-body experiences, (Astral Projection). Mai demonstrates this when she gives Masako Hara her key to comfort her, after she is kidnapped by Urado, in episode 21.
However due to her psychic abilities, she has telepathic visions, often experiencing what the victims did during a case. This happened during The Bloodstained Labyrinth case, where Mai experienced how a victim was killed by Urado. This was also shown in The Nightmare Dwelling: she had experienced the last moment of a child, who was killed by someone who broke into the house at night and killed the whole family. Because of this experience, Kazuya Shibuya (Naru) had to make sure she was under 'over protection'. Her dreams are often categorized as post or retro-cognitive.
- Her name Mai (麻衣) means "linen robe".
- Mai's surname Taniyama means "valley" (谷) (tani) and "mountain, hill" (山) (yama).
- Mai is older than Masako Hara by several days.
- Out of all the members, Mai has been attacked the most by spirits.
- Mai was able to perform exorcisms and a cleansing after being taught by Eugene Davis, Houshou Takigawa and Ayako Matsuzaki. Although her psychic level was not too strong in the beginning, Takigawa had warned her not to aim it on people.
- Mai keeps her old family's house-key as a good luck charm.
- Mai has an affinity to kotatsus, and by The Blood-Stained Labyrinth case, is ecstatic that she was able to afford one.
- Naru gave a photo of him with his twin brother to Mai in the novels.
- Mai's favorite drink is Green Tea.