Mei Lee

I'm Meilin Lee. And ever since I turned 13, I've been doin' my own thing, makin' my own moves; 24/7/365. I wear what I want, say what I want, and I will not hesitate to do a spontaneous cartwheel if I feel so moved!Mei Lee's introduction in the opening scene

Meilin "Mei" Lee is the main protagonist of DisneyPixar's 2022 animated feature film, Turning Red. She has the ability to transform into a giant red panda whenever she feels a strong emotion.

Background

Born in 1989, Mei is a confident, dorky, 13-year-old torn between staying her mother's dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Whenever her emotions get the better of her (whether it be getting too excited or too scared), she turns into a giant red panda and has to calm herself to change back.

Personality

Mei is a confident, 13-year-old teenage girl. She highly enjoys school and learning, especially things like math (which the rest of her peers don't like). 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.

Before Mei's power activates, she was carefree, reckless, and she did not care what people thought of her. She liked saying and doing what she wanted all day, all the time. She was also really extroverted, dramatically entering school and proudly hanging out with her friends. Mei was also very close with her mother, Ming, as they hang out together a lot and get along well. She also has a secret crush on Devon, the local convenience store worker, making drawings of him as a buff merman, a centaur, and many other things; Mei is embarrassed when Ming discovers them.

After Mei's power activates, she is way more cautious of how she acts, afraid that she will unleash her red panda form at the wrong time. She is very ashamed of and angry towards her new ability for causing huge disruptions in her life. The fear of inadvertently transforming, as well as Ming's helicopter parenting, makes Mei very anxious and frustrated. This in turn leads to her relationship with her mother becoming strained. However, Mei's friends help her come to terms with her power and accept it as part of her, giving her a more positive outlook on it and allowing some of her old self to come back.

Mei has a close bond with her parents, though her relationship with her mother is much more complex as Mei has striven to be her mother's "perfect little Mei-Mei", in her schoolwork, chores, and mostly keeping her interests secret from her mother, knowing she wouldn't approve of them. As a result, Mei is very anxious around her mother, especially when she is hiding her interests from Ming (such as her crush on an older boy and her being a fan of the boy band 4★Town), and she's dismayed by how her mother doesn't approve of Mei's friends, especially Miriam. This leaves Mei unable to stand up to or speak up against her mother, due to fearing her disapproval and disappointment.

After Mei's powers emerge and she comes under stress in trying to keep them under control, her friends help her find the peace and calm she needs to do so, and she realizes that by thinking of and focusing on her friends she can keep her powers under control. This is because, unlike with Mei's mother, she can be herself around her friends and not have to hide who she is without fear of disapproval or judgment, as her friends love and accept Mei as she truly is as a person, as opposed to Mei having to be her mother's "perfect daughter" and living in constant fear of her disappointment, meaning that Ming is the source of Mei's anxieties and issues.

When Mei undergoes the ritual to seal her panda spirit, she realizes the panda helped her to be her true self, not because of the transformation, but because it gave her the courage and confidence to be who she is and not the "perfect daughter" she was raised and expected to be and refuses to give it up, defying her mother and family's expectations. When confronted by her mother (who'd flown into a rage and unlocked her panda spirit after it shatters on the floor), Mei finally stood up to Ming, confessing her lies, but declaring she wasn't the "cute little Mei-Mei" Ming wanted her to be anymore and that she (Ming) had to deal with it.

Seeing Mei's mother in the celestial plane, and realizing that Ming suffered emotional scars from issues and tensions with her mother that she never resolved, Mei finally understood that Ming had suffered far worse than she had, and helped her mother find closure and make amends with her mother. Though Ming and their relatives chose to seal their panda spirits again, Mei stood by her decision to keep hers because it had helped her begin to find who she truly is as her person, and though she fears that might cause a divide between Mei and Ming, they find mutual assurance that as long as they love and remain true to each other they will keep their bond as daughter and mother strong and healthy.

Indeed, their bond steadily improves as Ming has found peace within herself, with Mei's mother, and even with her friends, including Tyler, as she's glad to see Ming warm up to her friends by inviting them to dinner in their home. Mei is glad that Ming is trusting her more and letting her live her life and be her person, and though they miss the way things were, they are happier and closer than ever.

Physical appearance

As a human, Mei has fair skin, pink blush light brown eyes, and neck-length red hair (formerly black). She wears silver glasses, a teal barrette on the right side of her hair and two magenta barrettes on the left, yellow star earrings (that are stickers), and a black choker. Her outfit consists of a cardigan with a light and dark red lacy-like design at the top, and pink buttons (without the cardigan she wears a light pink polo shirt with two buttons on it). She wears an indigo or denim-colored box pleated skirt with mauve ankle-length leggings, pink socks, and gray and pink sneakers. Some parts of her red panda form reveal in her human form at times. She has a rainbow friendship bracelet with a green and pink-red bracelet underneath on the right wrist and a pink watch with multiple buttons on the left

When Mei was a little girl, she had her black hair in buns, with a red hair clip in her hair, she still had her glasses on as a child. She wore a red short Chinese dress with flowers all over it, black and she wears red Mary Janes shoes.

When hiding the change in Mei's hair color, she is seen wearing a red tuque with light red stripes with maple leaves in between them.

Mei's pajamas consist of a white t-shirt that has a red maple leaf in the middle with red lines on the collar and end of the sleeves and pink gym shorts. All of her head accessories are off, including her glasses.

Mei's gym clothes consist of a white t-shirt that has dark green lines on the collar and sleeves and a "Lester B. Peason phys ed" logo on the top right of her shirt. She wears green and white shorts.

During the red panda ritual, Mei wears an outfit consisting of a plastic magenta flower with Mei's teal barrette underneath, a yellow dot at the top of her hair, and a velvet red hanfu (Chinese robe), which the front has a brown and white sash that switches palette when it ends with a thing that holds that sash, she wears a tan dress underneath and wears magenta Mary Janes.

As a red panda, Mei has a large round head and a short dark brown nose that is in front of a white muzzle that begins from her nose and ends with her mouth her face also includes additional white tear tracks starting from where her zygomatic bone is to the corner of her chin and though maybe not visible, she has dark brown/black lips. Her teeth are pointier than her human form, however, she bears the same reddish-brown eyes as her human form her eyebrows however are white and thick, and she has white messy whiskers. She has large, white, pointed ears that are red from behind. Her coat is reddish-brown fading to a dark brown when moving further to her arms and legs while having a brown swirl on her upper arms. Her hands have dark brown paws with small black claws in them. She has a long, bushy tail with alternating dark red and light red rings. She also has an upward and well-formed back with a narrow pelvis, and she also has visible claws hidden under her paw sheaths. When mad, her form slightly alters with her head and cheek fur pointing upwards, her eyebrows having a more pointed shape, her fangs become sharper, and her eyes become an intense, almost-dilated fiery red color.

Powers and Abilities

On Mei's own, she is very intelligent: a straight-A student in school on all subjects. She can also proficiently speak French and play the flute.

Mei's ancestors had a mystical connection with red pandas, something unwillingly passed down to her. This connection allows Mei to transform into a ten-foot-tall anthropomorphic one, gaining a variety of powers in the process. However, she has little to no control over this: her panda form can be released by "any strong emotion", especially those that heighten her adrenaline, causing them to happen at inopportune times. Due to her panda form's size, she possesses great strength and the ability to leap great distances. By learning to control her emotions better, she can transform only parts of herself. In one instance, she turns her right arm into that of a panda's to increase the force put into throwing a ball; this gives the ball the speed a cannonball would, as well as setting the ball on fire from the speed. A minor side effect is that Mei's hair, including her eyebrows, becomes red in her human form.

Mei's transformations occur in brief explosions or "poofs", of pink smoggy smoke. The size of the explosion seems to be related to the intensity of her emotions. Mei can use these to leap great distances and jump to great heights as she shifts from one form to another.

Appearances

Turning Red

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Mei is introducing herself and her story.

Mei, right off the bat, is shown to be a very headstrong, intelligent, 13-year-old teenage girl, full of personality, belief, and confidence. Mei is first heard at the beginning of the film, explaining the reasons you should respect your parents, describing them to be “the superior beings that gave you life and worked hard to place a roof over your head.” Mei then goes on that it's only obvious that you should give them everything they desire of you. However, Mei points out a flaw, repeating a saying that reads, “If you respect your parents too much, you'll forget to respect yourself.” However, Mei flaunts that she doesn't need to worry about that, going on to fully introduce herself as she walks down a sidewalk in Toronto. Mei explains however since she turned thirteen, she's been doing her own thing, wearing what she wants and saying what she wants “twenty-four seven, three sixty-five.” As she gets on the bus, Mei explains that she's an adult now, at least, according to the Toronto express, while showing her bus pass to the bus driver, who congratulates her uncomfortably. Mei then whips out her math homework and pencil, beginning to work on the bus. She then talks to another commuter, telling them that it's all about the hustle. Mei then makes it to her school, busting in through the doors. With her flute case handle in her mouth, she yells out for the besties to assemble, naming all of her best friends; Miriam, Priya, and Abby. They all put their hands together and trill. Then we see a montage of Mei, answering math questions, and French questions. Mei is then seen aggressively playing her flute in band class. Mei then explains that she's in the eighth grade, saying she doesn't have time to mess around.

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Mei freaks out when her mother discovers her drawings.

When Mei leaves school she meets up with her friends and then goes to check out the store clerk Devon, Who Mei isn't fond of at all at first glance. She shows her besties that the ideal men are 4★Town, she and her friends are "4★Townies" and it's always ride or die for all of them. Miriam then challenges Mei to some test which she has to sing with her friends, She is then rewarded a disc. Her friends ask her if she wants to go out to karaoke, but Mei denies the offer to go and work at the temple with the one she looks very highly upon; Ming. She guides tourists to teach them facts about the temple and the legend of Sun Yee. After her work shift, Mei goes into her room to study and then catches a trace of her sketching Devon. She bluffs at first saying he isn't that hot, but then looses thought into his appearance until she ends up drawing him completely. Getting lost in her daydreams, Mei hides under her bed and shifts more pages, and makes more strokes with the pencil she has, covering the whole notebook left-right, and center with Devon. This however is stopped by Ming entering. Mei hops onto the bed trying her best to keep on a straight face, yet desperately wishing for Ming to not look at the notebook. But that said notebook was peeking out of the sheets. Mei stops Ming, however, it was too late, as Ming drives to Daisy Mart in a fit of rage. With all the exposure and humiliation she is given Mei wanted to just shout at Ming, but couldn't. On the way home, Mei reassures her mother that everything is "all good"; when it isn't. As she throws a fit at herself for letting her mother down, she promises herself to never do that to Ming ever again and settles herself to sleep.

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Mei is in shock when she sees the panda for the first time.

During Mei's slumber, She has a vivid nightmare with lots of red imagery, that ends with the 2 red pandas in the tapestry leaping out and pouncing onto Mei, the shock waking her up. Upon hearing that breakfast is ready from Ming, Mei groggily gets up and heads to the bathroom. However, she spots an unfamiliar being in the mirror, bending down to see it is her: she has inexplicably turned into a giant red panda. She screams, closing the door. She stares at herself in absolute shock and utter disbelief, trying to convince herself it is all a dream. After being disgusted by her new pot belly and rancid scent, Mei begins to cry and begs herself to wake up. Soon, Ming comes and asks if everything is okay; panicking, Mei demands she not come in, her tail knocking over pictures in the bathroom. Ming soon believes Mei just experienced her first period and goes to get "everything [Mei] needs". Still panicking, Mei tries to escape out the window but gets her foot stuck in the toilet. In the nick of time, she gets out and behind the shower curtains as Ming enters with a box of supplies. Mei snaps at Ming to leave, but then apologizes for this outburst, calls herself a "gross red monster", and slaps herself. Mei keeps trying to get Ming to leave as her mother tries to give her 'the talk', then begins panicking again as Ming pulls back the shower curtains to see her. Fortunately, Ming finally leaves the bathroom due to her porridge burning; Mei takes this time by dashing into her room and hops onto her bed, desperately hoping to wake up to everything being normal. After her bed breaks under her new weight, she tries to go to sleep. Until the effects of the transformation reverse for her, first by her ears, and then her tail. She then takes to brushes to further calm herself down, which reverses her transformation, but gets a little too ecstatic and then transforms into a red panda again. She however notices that the key to not being a red panda is to remain emotionally calm. She tries to reassure herself that she is "Calm" and "Zen". She returns to a human again, and then, she says "yes" in a calmer way. Then she takes notice that her hair color has been affected by the transformation, with her black locks now gone, being replaced with red. She then goes onto her bed and knows that this is not a dream and in fact reality, She tells herself that it's gonna be fine.

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Mei is transforming into a panda at school.

Later in the day, Ming takes Mei to school, she is now wearing a beanie to hide the change. Ming hopes for her best, as Mei gives a fake smile with two thumbs up, as she goes into the school. She goes into the school to meet with her friends, but she is acting oddly monotonous. Her friends take notice that she is acting very uncharacteristic, and wonder if she's alright. Mei notices a guy that passes by her and she gets lovestruck. She gets back to her senses by Miriam and her friends notice Tyler exposing Mei for her love of Devon. Mei gets so mad that her powers show up again. Mei hides her paw, and then her tail appears, which she cannot hide despite her desperate attempt. Mei then dashes into her math class, and her tail disappears. She takes her math class as Miriam passes a note to Mei that reads "are you ok?" which Mei writes back "Yep!" and then another note gets passed to her that notifies her "Your Mom is outside." Mei then panics and hides from Ming's sight. Until too much emotional pressure gets onto her and she transforms into a red panda. She then notices that she is gonna be caught by a lot of people seeing her, and being seen by people did happen. Mei goes out of the school and to her house as quickly as she can. Along the way, Mei causes some damage to the town trying to escape. Even spotting Devon at one point. She then tries to calm down while in tears when Ming sees and knows that Mei has transformed. After Jin says that "it has happened already" Mei slowly gets up from the sheets and slowly asks "What did you say?"

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Mei is crying while listening to her parents talk at night.

Mei learns the story of Sun Yee and how she gained her power. She is told that this blessing became some "inconvenience". But Mei with a slow realization that becomes pure fury calls it out as a curse. She attempts to attack the tapestry as Ming and Jin hold her back and tell her that there is a cure for her. There is a ritual that seals the red panda spirit into a jewelry piece, but Ming tells her that the more Mei transforms the harder it is for the ritual to be done. Mei and her family take all the stuff out of her room leaving only her bedsheet, Winifred, pillow, and blanket. Her room's going to remain like that for a while as a precaution to ensure no more accidental transformations. Mei hears her parents talking through the closed door, and cries in her sleep, which transforms her.

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Mei is hugging her friends and realizes that they help control the panda.

The next morning, Mei wrestles with her red panda form, trying her best to keep it in, but there is no use. Mei notices her friends arrived, she keeps her friends out until she takes notice that 4★Town is coming to Toronto, exposing herself to her friends. They get scared by her presence, as Mei takes in her friends to tell her that the red panda is her, and tells them all to chill. Mei then notices Priya and Abby like her red panda form a lot. Mei then tells her friends that this form is an inconvenient genetic thing, and has hope that it will go away. Until she breaks into tears, knowing all of this is too much for her, and 4★Town's arrival might not help it. Believing she has no hope that this form will go away from her and tells her friends to go on without her. But with an acapella version of "Nobody Like U" Mei cheers up and thanks to her friends. This calms her into her human form, Her friends are impressed by the new red color she has on her hair. Abby kind of disappointed her red panda form was not present, pinches her cheek. Mei takes notice that she didn't transform this time, and asks for Abby to hit her, which didn't transform her yet again. She then notices her friends are the people that help her maintain this panda. Then she hides her friends when Ming comes and tells her that she is ready for the trigger test.

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Mei tries to convince her parents to let her go to her first concert.

Then, Mei is tested to see if she can keep it in which she knows she can by the plan she has, She maintains herself and almost slips on the 3rd testing, but then keeps the thought of her friends in her mind and passes the 3rd test, and then endures the 4th one, which is a box of kitties. Mei almost loses it, but then visualizes the cats as her friends, and keeps calm. Passing the test entirely and tells them that she thinks of the ones she loves, and she lies and says that her parents are those. She then asks them for one request, To go to a 4★Town concert. Which is turned down by Ming way too quickly because Mei will lose it and become a panda way too quickly, Mei gets mad at this and takes all the stuff she set up away. It turns out that Mei's damage was on the news and unknown to her, Ming's Grandma and reinforcements were on their way.

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Mei taking photos with other kids to earn money for the concert.

During dodgeball Mei and her friends are all annoyed that they didn't manage to get tickets for the 4★Town concert, Miriam quickly gets a trace of Ming spectating Mei, Which Tyler teases her for calling her a "Mama's girl". Mei slowly gets mad and turns her hand into that of a red panda, and throws the ball so fast it breaks a window. She is then taken into the bathroom to tell her friends she can't take it anymore getting tired of being the "perfect little mei-mei" for Ming. Mei then notices that Abby wants her to be a red panda, Abby brings the hug in on Mei as she fantasizes about a mermaid named Robaire. She transforms again and then gets caught by Stacy and her group of people, Her friends hide her in the bathroom. Mei expects Stacy to not be so fond of it. But the response is surprisingly different, as Stacy and her friends would do so much as give their liver for it. Mei and her friends know the source to make money. Mei commences "Operation 4★Town shake down". Mei and her friends operate the plan by directing students to Room 202 for "panda pics" Then Mei's panda form becomes a hit among the school, with T-shirts, prop Panda ears and Tails, etc. Mei hides all this stuff underneath her bed, knowing that she and her friends are gonna get that $800 for the tickets in no time.

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Mei receives a warning from her grandmother of the dangers of the panda.

Mei and her friends are working on some red panda pendants. Mei panic's when she notices they still don't have enough cash, Miriam however calms her down and tells her it's gonna be alright. She then sees 3 guys and makes the flirt "Are you a triangle? cause you Acute!" Tyler then thinks of snitching Mei to Ming about her Panda form flocking about. Mei gets up to Tyler's face, shouting at him he has nothing to do with this. Tyler then tells her that he will tell it to Ming unless she did one thing: Join Tyler's Birthday as a red panda. She reluctantly agrees and then prepares for the party. Ming however wants to go with Mei. Mei gets very scared of this and begs her not to follow her, Then her aunts come in along with Ming's grandmother; Wu. Mei then has to be stuck with her aunts for a while, As Tyler and her friends await her appearance. Mei then attempts to leave. But not before Wu comes in and tells her that she has a tuft of her red panda fur, how dangerous the red panda is, and that she cannot transform too often or she will be bond with it forever and the ritual will fail. Mei then escapes going to the party.

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Mei is attacking Tyler during his birthday party.

Then, Mei arrives at the party...the party however is ruined when Mei appears in a cheaply made red panda outfit. Tyler says that she needs to become a panda and calls this whole party a sellout. Mei then tells them she cannot transform cause she is afraid that the red panda is too dangerous to keep. But after she notices her friends agree to not want to get tickets at all. She then endures the temptation and turns into a red panda. And then the party gets moving, as Mei dances with everybody and people ride upon her. Mei and her friends chill on the roof and talk about how all of them finally get to meet 4★Town and get excited till Mei and her friends take notice on the radio that the 4★Town tour to Toronto on the 25. Mei gets angry knowing that the ritual will also be on the same day. Tyler demands Mei a ride when she isn't in the mood. She and he argue until Mei jumps off the roof and attacks Tyler. Ming was called to Tyler's house and scolds her friends for rotting Mei's brain to get 4★Town tickets. Ashamed, she fails to stand up to her mother and come to her friends' defense, which disappoints them. She is then taken home to prep for the ritual that night.

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Mei firmly tells her family that she has decided to keep the panda.

On the night of May 25th, Mei and her family eat a meal before the ritual. She has to not let any of her female family members down. She then gets dressed in her ritual outfit and gets a horrible flashback of her red panda form harming Tyler. She gets scared and then settles that she does want her panda spirit out of her. Then Jin walks in and tells her that some moments of her being a red panda made him laugh (after seeing a video of her with her friends on a video camera). Jin then tells her that her mother got into a fight with her grandmother because of him. Jin encourage Mei to to stay true to herself by not pushing the panda away, but to make room for it and embrace it. Mei then is called to start the ritual. She is settled into a circle made of chalk, and then her family sing's in Cantonese. With Mr. Gao telling her to let the harmonizing voices guide her to the astral realm. She focuses on the voices and then her spirit goes out of her body and into the heavens, straight to the astral realm. Mei then walks past some bamboo sticks and then meets Sun Yee's ghost. Sun Yee then forms a mirror for her to go through. She walks closer to her reflection to be met with herself with black hair. She touches the mirror but her hands right through. Her paws appear from the opposite end. She hesitates a bit and then goes into the mirror with all the force she got. She goes through unbearable pain, but pushes herself through. She was almost there. One more step and everything was going to be over. But one glance at her red panda spirit, and all the memories of her being a red panda and cherishing every bit of it, through good and bad came back to her. Mei then rejects getting healed altogether and fuses into her red panda spirit, coming back as a red panda. Mei then notices that Ming wants Mei to start the ritual over again. But Mei refuses to finish it, saying that she's keeping the panda and escapes the temple to go to the concert.

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Mei apologizing to her friends for not standing up for them sooner.

Mei runs through the streets and roads and then transforms which shoots her into the air this time. Mei gets scared by the impact at first...but then notices she gains temporary flight with this method. Using that method, Mei jumps and leaps switching between human and red panda forms to get to the concert fast. She then skydives into the crowd to get to Miriam, Priya, and Abby. She transforms into a human to soften the fall and tells her that she came back to watch the concert and couldn't do the ritual. Miriam is disappointed with Mei and tells her that she isn't part of the group. But it doesn't take too long for Mei to take notice that Miriam was keeping check of Robaire Jr. and then gets together with her friends. Then they notice that Tyler is also a 4★Townie himself, and get very excited. Then the concert begins, Mei gets very immersed in the concert and climbs up some people to touch Robaire's hand, until Ming as a giant red panda (but drastically bigger than Mei) crashes the party. She grabs Mei by the paw and shouts at her saying that this isn't her. Mei says that it is. Mei comes clean to Ming with everything she has done, claiming that she likes boys, she likes loud music, and she likes gyrating.

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Mei yelling and challenging Ming for the first time.

Wu tells Mei to keep Ming busy, which Mei accepts. Mei then runs from Ming, who tells Mei that "How can she be so crass?!" Mei then challenges Ming by showing her something that is truly crass, Mei then shakes her butt (along with hitting it towards Ming) repeatedly right in front of Ming. Ming finds this repulsive, and backs away from seeing it, along with urging her to "Stop moving like that!", then unintentionally asking her “Is this bothering you?”. Then, her friends and Tyler all root and cheer for her, along with wishing Mei good luck. Mei then shouts at Ming "Take it mom!". After Ming finally had enough and went up to her patience limit, her kaiju-sized red panda hits Mei with her fluffy, colossal panda tail. Mei shouts out to her mother that all she wanted to do was go to a concert to see her idols. Ming retorts by saying she always puts her family first. She tells her that she was always wanted to be the perfect daughter. Mei then tells Ming that she is never perfect, and tells her that she is sorry that she will never be like her. Flying to Ming and knocking her out with a headbutt to the face. Mei then attempts to wake up Ming and bring her back into the circle. Mei's aunts and grandmother assume their panda selves to help Mei pull Ming into the circle while chanting, with her friends and 4★Town joining in the song by singing Nobody like U. Then the whole crowd joins in and Mei and her aunts and grandmother all ascend into the astral realm altogether.

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Ming finally accepts Mei's decision to keep the panda in the Astral Plane.

Mei then goes to find Ming in the astral realm, only to find her as a 16-year-old. Ming cries saying that she had hurt her mother and she was never the perfect daughter for her at all. Mei then tells her that she knows. Mei takes her hand and walks with her as Ming grows up to her current age. They meet their female family members. Ming apologizes to Wu, and Wu hugs her telling her she has nothing to apologize about. Mei watches as her mom, grandmother, and aunts all enter the mirror and diffuse with their red panda spirits. Mei tells Ming that she is not separating from her spirit, and Ming tells her that she will go by with her on that decision all the way through. The mirror disappears, and Sun Yee flies Mei to the moon, and then sends her back to the mortal world.

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Mei hugs her mother before going to karaoke with her friends.

Now, Mei is shown that ever since she was 13, it has been a lot, with the whole "pandapocolypse", but Mei and Ming call it "growing pains". They then get ready for their next tour guiding, selling merch alongside to raise money, along with a record fundraiser to rebuild the SkyDome. Mei meets with her friends with Tyler now added alongside the group. Miriam asks to go to karaoke with them, Mei accepts and then turns into a human, however having her ears and tail present. Ming then notices this, and Mei responds with "My panda, My choice." Mei then leaves to go sing with her friends, and knows that some people don't let their inner red panda out, but she did.

Trivia

  • Mei Lee's name translates to "beautiful" in Chinese.
  • Mei Lee is not only the third Pixar protagonist who wears glasses, but the first female Pixar protagonist to wear glasses.
  • She is the second female Disney protagonist to wear glasses, after Mirabel Madrigal from Encanto, and the fifth Disney protagonist to do so.
  • Mei is the fifth female protagonist in a Pixar feature film after Merida from Brave, Joy from Inside Out, Dory from Finding Dory, and Elastigirl from Incredibles 2.
    • This also makes Mei the third female protagonist in an original Pixar feature film, as both Incredibles 2 and Finding Dory are the second installments of their predecessors.
  • Mei is the first Asian protagonist in a Pixar movie.
  • Mei can turn into her red panda form not only when excited, but also in situations that heighten her adrenaline (she can also switch to her red panda form just as easily as she can change to her human form).
  • With the film being set in 2002 as confirmed by producer Lindsey Collins[1] and since Mei is established as being 13-years-old, this would mean that she was born sometime around 1989.
  • 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.
  • As explained by Mei's mother, the reason she has this power is through an ancestor's mystical connection with red pandas.
    • This is what makes the movie an "anti-fantasy", though not entirely due to Chinese culture predicting they can shapeshift into various mythical creatures of folklore, such as Huli Jings or Wyverns.
  • Mei takes on some real-world red panda traits while transformed:
    • Mei being disgusted by her panda form's scent references how red pandas can release a strong, pungent smell to ward off vicious predators.
    • When Mei gets scared, she instinctively raises her arms; this is used by red pandas 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.
    • As seen, Mei clings onto rooftops, city post lights, and chimneys. This indicates that red pandas are great climbers, even though she is shown to be afraid of heights.
    • 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.
  • Mei's digital pet has a resemblance to the Tamagotchi toy.
  • Mei has been compared by many (including Domee Shi and Pete Docter) to Marvel's Hulk because of her power and its nature.
  • The fact that Mei's hair is black at 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 2016 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 is Freddy Lupin from the 2020 comedy film 100% Wolf where his hair was brown in his human form until he came out of a wardrobe transform function to turn into a wolf, but instead turned into a poodle, and his hair turned white/pink.
  • Mei is also the third female Disney character to wear glasses that is from a different country/city, the second being Mirabel Madrigal from Encanto and the first being Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.
    • Mirabel and Mei both have their families on the maternal side as supporting characters, but unlike Juileta and Pepa, and like Agustín and Felix. Ming doesn’t keep her maiden name.
      • Both Families have connections with stuff, their backstories are both related to war, and they discover the magic.
        • Mirabel is 2 years older than Mei, Mei has a power while Mirabel doesn’t.
  • Mei Lee's barrette looks like Marcy Wu's barrette from Amphibia.
    • Her grandmother shares a surname with her.
  • According to an article dedicated to Domee Shi,[2] Mei is going through puberty throughout this film, despite the red panda transforming.
  • Mei does not know Cantonese as she had to ask Mr. Gao what her parents, grandmother and 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 DreamWorks' Animation 2016 film Kung Fu Panda 3.
  • Mei Lee is the 6th Pixar protagonist to have powers.
  • Some scenes in the movie featuring Mei have become popular memes on social media, such as:
    • Where Mei starts drawing under her bed.
    • Where Mei yells "AWOOGA!" to Devon outside the Daisy Mart in her red panda form.
    • Where Mei throws a red dodgeball angrily to Tyler.
    • When Mei twerks in red panda Ming’s face during the battle sequence (TikTok only).
    • When Mei pours Coca-Cola from a can in her mouth at a dream in her presentation of 4★Town.
  • Mei is the 2nd Asian lead-character in a Pixar film, after Russell from Up.
  • Mei's tail is ring-and-striped colored similarly to those seen on a raccoon's or a ring-tailed lemur's.
  • 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.[3]
  • According to the official Pixar website, red panda Mei Lee is eight feet tall.

References


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