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    Mei Lee
    "This is going to be the best year ever! And nothing's gonna get in my way!"
    Gender: Female
    Type: Furry ticking time bomb of awesomeness
    Species: Human/Red Panda
    Portrayed by: Rosalie Chiang
    Status: Alive
    Media of origin: Turning Red


    Meilin "Mei" Lee is the protagonist of Turning Red. Born in 1989, she is a 13-year-old girl who loves hanging out with her friends, makes good grades, and is obsessed with 4*Town, despite dealing with her very overprotective mother, Ming Lee. One day while going to bed, she had a nightmare where lots of red imagery ends up going out of control with red pandas appearing. During her sleep, she manifested her red panda form. While she can turn back into a human, she becomes aware that any strong emotion can trigger the red panda and there is a ritual that allows her to be free from the red panda in her. It will get harder to break free if she triggers it more often.

    Why She Makes Us Turn Red (in a Good Way)

    1. The first Asian protagonist in a movie made by Pixar. You can tell that the film does a good job portraying her character and culture without being preachy about diversity or being stereotypical.
    2. Mei is by far one of those quite expressive characters, which fits so well with the movie she comes from. She expresses a range of crazy emotions that are worth a moment and thus could be considered to be one of the most expressive Pixar characters to ever exist.
    3. Mei is quite passionate about her friends. She expresses an optimistic side to her anywhere she goes like school and whatnot. You can really tell that she's a soul full of fun joy. Seriously though, some of these fun characteristics can prove that those kinds of fun people can be easily friendly around you if you want to be friends!
    4. She cares deeply about the environment, as she and her friends are shown with campaign signs to protest current issues, such as the whale populations, and the human littering that needs to stop. Yes, this is for real believe it or not.
    5. She's really good at math which is something most kids in her school don't like. You can tell that she's an ace student. Not only is she really good at math, but she's also good at French and playing the flute.
    6. Her character design is so cute and her red panda form is also adorable, very soft and huggable.
    7. She had a personality shift during the movie. Before having the red panda powers, she was carefree and reckless yet she was proud of hanging out with her friends. When her red panda powers awaken, she becomes much more cautious and has gone to the point where she dislikes her mother watching over her. When Mei's friends help her to accept the red panda that is part of her, she got more positive about her condition. Even at the end of the movie, she decided to keep her panda powers.
    8. Mei also faced character development, she starts off as having some kind of strained relationship with her mother due to her interests and her red panda form. At one point she fought against her mom in a red panda battle. When Mei went to the celestial plane, she finds a younger version of her mother who suffered from emotional issues, due to her own mother's overbearing nature towards her throughout her life and starts to sympathize with her. Even though, Mei kept the red panda form in her because of what her heart said, she rekindles her relationship with her mom.
    9. Mei has some funny moments. It gets even more humorous when her red panda kicks in. For instance, a scene where Mei yells "AWOOGA" or when Mei throws a dodgeball while raging. Even without her red panda form, she did have some funny moments like when she drew Devon as a buff mermaid.
    10. After being enemies, Mei and Tyler became friends in the end. Nothing else needs to be said as she is now friends with a former enemy.
    11. Rosalie Chiang did an awesome job voicing Mei.

    Qualities That Turn Red (in a bad way)

    1. She does do some cringy moments like her dance moves that she does during the movie despite some of her movements being chuckle-worthy, and the twerking scene at the stadium.
    2. Though cute, her character design can look a little uncanny due to her facial expressions. This could be justified due to the direction her movie wants to go.
    3. She can be a bit annoying due to her personality.
    4. Mei disobeys her mom quite often, though it's pretty hard to blame her, since her mom is kind of insane prior to character development.
    5. At one point she attacked Tyler at his birthday party which can be a little mean-spirted and/or out-of-character of her, even if Tyler insulted her first.
    6. They really aren't many stakes with Mei's red panda form aside from her mother.

    Trivia

    • Her name is a reference to the Chinese word called "美丽", symbolized as "beautiful" in English.
    • As seen in the trailer, Mei has worn her red toque to hide the change of color in her hair, as it went from black to red when her red panda form became true because if she didn't wear the beanie, people would call her "redhead" as redheads are often bullied for being different in schools and as it occurs in only about 2 percent of the world's population, according to the National Institutes Of Health.
    • Mei has some real-world red panda trails when she is transformed.
      • Being disgusted by her panda's scent as the real red panda can release a strong pungent smell for defense against vicious predators
      • When Mei gets scared, she raises her arms. Red pandas do that when scared to make themselves look larger to predators.
      • Mei can flatten and upward her ears, just like other animals and red pandas. Red pandas do this when they are scared, frightened, or aggressive.
      • Mei in panda form can climb onto things like rooftops and chimneys. Red pandas are great climbers.
      • Mei tucks up into a ball with her tail hiding her face when she is upset or worried about something. Red pandas, in real life, do this when they're cold and naturally sleep in that position.
    • Mei is represented by the color red, for very obvious reasons. The color signifies the passion, anger, and love that she feels throughout the film. It is also a sign of the womanhood she experiences via her panda transformations. It is also the color that separates her from her friends and appears the most dominantly when she is with them.
    • Domee Shi and Pete Docter compared Mei's transformation to that of Marvel's The Incredble Hulk only Mei transforms into an animal.
    • The fact that Mei's hair is black in the beginning of the film but turns red after her Red Panda curse is similar to Susan Murphy the protagonist of DreamWorks Animation's 2009 film Monsters vs Aliens to when Susan Murphy's hair was brown at the beginning of the film but turned white when she became Ginormica.
      • Another similarity is Zenitsu Agatsuma from the 2019 anime and manga series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba when Zeneitsu's hair was black before getting struck by lightning and it turned yellow, later eventually becoming a Demon Slayer.
      • A third similarity would be the character Freddy Lupin from the 2020 comedy 100% Wolf where his hair was brown in human form until he came out of a transform function to turn into a wolf but instead turned into a poodle dog, and his hair turned white/pink.
    • Mei is going through puberty throughout the film according to Domee Shi.
    • Mei does not know Cantonese as she had to ask her mother what her aunties were saying when performing the ritual.
    • Mei's nickname "Mei-Mei" is likely inspired by Mei Mei, the female Giant panda who is a resident of Panda Village and a passionate ribbon dancer, from 2016's Kung Fu Panda 3.
    • Mei's barrette looks like Marcy Wu's barrette from Amphibia
    • Mei compares 4*Town to various musicians such as Mozart and Beethoven when she wears her mom Ming's signature green blazer.
    • In an earlier version of the film, Mei was going to be the only person in her family that could transform into a red panda after being chosen by the gods. Not only that but she was also supposed to have a freckled cousin named Leo who could also transform into one. Both their ways of staying human involved doing something that always calmed them. For Mei, it was drinking tea and for Leo, it was having something tight around his wrist to keep him accompanied.
    • Red Panda Mei is eight feet (2.43 meters) tall.

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