Ultra Maniac (ウルトラマニアック Urutora Maniakku) is a manga series written by Wataru Yoshizumi. The romantic comedy series features 8th grader Ayu Tateishi, a tennis club member, and her transfer student friend, Nina Sakura, who is actually a trainee witch from the magical kingdom. It premiered in Shueisha's Ribon manga magazine in February 2001 and ran until January 2004. It was also published in five collected volumes by Shueisha. Viz Media licensed and released anEnglish translation of the series in North America.
The series was first adapted into a 20-minute anime OVA, released August 6, 2002. Later, it was also adapted into a 26-episode anime television series. Both were produced by Ashi Productions and Animax. The anime series premiered on May 20, 2003 in Japan on Animax, and was later licensed for Region 1 distribution by Geneon Entertainment.
Ayu Tateishi is a well-adjusted middle-schooler in her second year, until the fateful day when she finds a dejected looking Nina Sakura outside of the school. Nina explains that she lost something very dear to her earlier that day. Ayu offers to help Nina look for her lost item, but Nina seems reluctant to say what the item is that she lost, and runs off. On her way home Ayu finds what seems to be a mini-computer underneath the bench she knew Nina to be at earlier that day. After returning the item to Nina, Nina struggles to decide whether to let Ayu in on the 'big secret' she keeps.
In order to see if Ayu is trustworthy, she starts to follow Ayu around and eventually decides she can trust Ayu. Nina reveals that she is actually from the Magic Kingdom and is a magic girl. Ayu, however, doesn't believe Nina and thinks she is a bit crazy at first. Ayu herself had always shunned the ideas of magic and fairy tales, even admitting she had never read Harry Potter, so having someone tell her they are a witch truly isn't something she can easily accept. After several mishaps with her magic, Nina proves she is a magic girl, and a failure who came to Earth as her last chance to prove that she can get things right. These first mishaps and the fact that Nina has shared her secret with Ayu, Nina attaches herself to Ayu as a friend and does everything she can to help Ayu with getting the attention of the boy she loves. As their adventures continue many friends from the magical kingdom come and visit Nina to the chagrin of Ayu.
The anime adaptation has a very different plot starting after Ayu and Nina have first met. Instead of coming as a witch failure who is trying to prove herself to be more than she is said to be, Nina has come to Earth to find the five "Holy Stones". She tells Ayu that whoever collects all five will qualify to marry the prince of the Magic Kingdom. Nina's childhood friend Maya is also on Earth from the start, competing with Nina to find the stones. Though Nina does collect them all first, she learns that the prince and Maya are truly in love with one another, so Nina gives up the stones and her dream, allowing Maya and the prince to be with one another, and Nina stays on Earth with her friends.
- Ayu Tateishi (立石 亜由 Tateishi Ayu)
- Voiced by: Yui Horie (TV Series), Satsuki Yukino (OVA) (Japanese), Stephanie Sheh (English)
- One of the female protagonists of the story, Ayu constantly tries to stay calm and keep her cool about everything. This is quite a facade for her to keep up, because the only reason she wants to be "cool" is because Tetsushi Kaji (her crush, and later on her boyfriend, and the star of the school's baseball team) told her once that he liked how cool she was about everything. (He said this because when their class was given a pop quiz she was the only one in the class who didn't freak out, but she was actually just tired.) However, after she met Nina, she was everything but cool and calm. She is the president of the girl's tennis club and one of the most popular girls in the school, and she works hard on keeping up her "cool, calm and collected" reputation.
- Nina Sakura (佐倉 仁菜 Sakura Nina)
- Voiced by: Akemi Kanda (TV series), Mayuko Omimura (OVA) (Japanese), Carrie Savage (English)
- Nina Sakura is a second female protagonist in the story Ultra Maniac. Her first scene is when Ayu Tateishi finds her crying because she lost a small, pink "box". Later, when Ayu finds and returns to box to Nina Sakura, Nina realizes that she has found a perfect person to reveal her strange secret to. She later reveals it to Hiroki Tsujiai, who also becomes her boyfriend in the manga. She is often seen in the anime trying to help Ayu with her love life. She'll do absolutely anything to ensure that her friends are happy, even if it means suffering a little grief herself. Nina is very peppy and perky, and she loves sweets. She also enjoys manga. In the anime, her real name is Nina Saqurail, and near the end, the last of the five holy stones was unleashed when she and Tsujiai were reaching to each other in the Dark Zone.
- Tetsushi Kaji (架地 哲士 Kaji Tetsushi)
- Voiced by: Hiroshi Kamiya (Japanese), Tony Oliver (English)
- Considered an idol by the girls in his school, Kaji appears to be cool and always has a nice smile, but that's just his outer shell. In reality Kaji is a normal person who doesn't even like being an idol. He only acts like Prince Charming because Ayu unwittingly stated once that she liked him that way. (Ayu acted "cool" for the same reason.) He later explains to Nina that he's being "the nice guy" because of Ayu and that he worked hard for the title. Nina has a crush on Kaji during the second volume of the manga, but she forgets her original feelings for him when she sees how happy Ayu is to be with him. In both the manga and anime, he and Ayu eventually begin dating.
- Hiroki Tsujiai (辻合 宏基 Tsujiai Hiroki)
- Voiced by: Susumu Chiba (Japanese), Yuri Lowenthal (English)
- Kaji's best friend, who is often seen together with him. He is the head of the boys' tennis club. He is a fan of many manga and has similar taste with Nina. He is very steadfast and has a good sense of self-worth. Hiroki is in love with Nina, and he and Nina start to go out with each other mid-way through the manga. They continue to date up to the end of the series.
- Yuta Kirishima (桐島 由多 Kirishima Yuta)
- Voiced by: Isamu Hayashi (Japanese), Jim Taggert (English)
- Coming from the Magic Kingdom, Yuta and Nina are childhood friends. He is adept enough with magic that he doesn't need a computer to cast spells like Nina does, and teases her about that frequently. He has a kind heart. At first, Yuta appears to show affection for Ayu, but, as Ayu later discovers, he is actually crazy about Nina. In the last episode of the anime, Yuta appears to have some feelings for Luna, but in the manga, he falls in love and goes out with Sayaka up to the very end.
- Leo (リオ Rio)
- Voiced by: Reiko Takagi (Japanese), Mona Marshall (English)
- Nina's pet cat, Leo (called "Rio" in the English translation of the anime) can change into the form of a little boy, with a magic candy. In the anime, all he has to do is a flip and he becomes human. In the anime, he starts to like Ayu's dog, Tamako.
- Maya Orihara (折原 マヤ Orihara Maya)
- Voiced by: Saeko Chiba (Japanese), Vicky Green (English)
- One of the candidates to be the princesses of the Magic Kingdom and Nina's childhood friend, Maya has a pet chameleon named Ruru. Her hobby is black magic. At the beginning of the story, Maya had a strong rivalry with Nina but in episode 26, the rivalry ends. Maya has a crush on the prince, who loved her since the time from their childhood when they danced together and she saved him, and later marries him to become princess of the Magic Kingdom. Her real name is Maya Orphelia. She does not appear in the manga, but in the epilogue chapter she is mentioned as the roommate of Nina in Eltoria.
- Sayaka Nakamura (仲村 紗也香 Nakamura Sayaka)
- A beautiful girl at school, who is known as an "ice doll" because she is frosty towards all of her classmates. She is interested in dating Yuta, but has a secret agenda. Sayaka is revealed to be half-witch on her deceased mother's side. She taught herself magic, and as she grew up on Earth, Yuta and Nina could not detect that Sayaka had magic powers. Due to bad experiences when she revealed her powers to friends in the past, she is envious of Nina who has so many magical and non-magical friends. Near the end, she admits her feelings for Yuta, and they get together for real. She is a manga-exclusive character.
- Jun Kawanakajima (川中島 純 Kawanakajima Jun)
- Voiced by: Isao Yamagishi (Japanese), Doug Erholtz (English)
- Another character exclusive to the anime. He is the Committee Chairman at Ayu and Nina's school. The first time around, Jun accidentally sees Nina use magic. He instantly becomes determined to expose her as a witch and is constantly trying to take pictures of her. In time he relents.
- Mito Kirishima (桐島 美斗 Kirishima Mito)
- A manga only character, Yuta's older sister comes to school to teach and flirt with the teachers. She takes Nina and Ayu to bars and tends to get them in trouble. In the final chapter she is dating her crush.