In some cases Mara is referred to by a number of other names, such as Marller or Marla. Marller is how Mr. Fujishima romanizes her name whenever her name is written out in roman characters, and Marla is how it sounds like when a Japanese speaker pronounces it and is also the romanization used by Geneon Animation for the Mini-Goddess series. In Buddhism Mara is also the name of a demon who tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women. Similarly in the series, Mara uses such tactics on Keiichi in her first appearance by using Sayoko to distract him from Belldandy. The reason most Japanese speakers prefer not to pronounce her name Mara is because the word 魔羅, romanized "mara", is Japanese for "penis".
In the early manga, Mara's gender is drawn sexless. To confuse the readers a little more, at one point she claims to be Belldandy's fiance, something the goddess denies later, revealing Mara to be a woman as a matter of fact. Her outfits become more showing in the middle manga, and her hair resembles Urd's in that stage. Later, as seen in the picture on the left, Mara's hair becomes more defined and begins to calm down, her face is drawn rounder, as the rest of the AMG characters, and her outfits become less revealing. At this latest stage of the manga, even though she still keeps her signature leather getups and unique metal accessories (such as chains) she becomes more stylized. Like the other characters, Mara's character design was majorly influenced by Kouske Fujishima's change in style in the 20 year run of Ah! My Goddess.
Mara has a past with the sister goddesses, more specifically the older two. She was childhood friends with Urd while she lived in Hell with her Mother Hild. However, Urd chose to be a goddess, and Mara was left alone and resentful. This possibly becomes one of many motives for Mara to constantly target the Goddesses. Another motive would be because of her boss, Hild, the ruler of Hell, the counterpart to the Almighty. Hild's a frightening woman; no wonder Mara does her very best to try to overtake the goddesses!
Occasionally, Mara has used the help of other minor demons and creatures to carry her plans. For a while, she had a minor demon named Senbei, the 'God of Poverty and Disaster' as her helper. Later on, Mara would create three tiny ninja lackeys for use in a plan against the Goddesses. In the Mini-Goddesses series, she also recruits the assistance of some talking rats.
Mara is a very complex character, and the nature of the manga does not really allow it to go in depth to explore her character. Consequently, a good amount of the character Mara is has to be obtained by observing her, inferring, and digging down. She also wants Belldandy to go back to the sky realm so there would not be so much luck and love around Keiichi. It is sometimes speculated that Marller's hidden agenda is to separate Belldandy and Keiichi only because she is jealous and wants to steal him for herself.
In the anime Mara was sealed into a CD, the reason given for her imprisonment was that she broke the rules. Later during Hild's first visit she stated the with the single exception of killing each other anything goes in the war between heaven and hell. So if the only rule is no killing...(the conclusions are yours to draw.)
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Though often subject to comic relief, as a First Class Demon, Mara possess a great amount of power. She has on one occasion out done Belldandy in a magic duel (though her power limiters were still in place). She also has many abilities such as being able to fly, shrink, split from herself, project herself into other people's dreams, possess others, and the ability to curse people, turning them into objects. In one instance, she is able to conjure the Winds of Pain and Winds of Agony, hinting she may have an affinity or preference towards Wind or Air. Throughout the series, she also has an affinity to buy items from the Demon Realm and use them in her plots to smite the Goddesses. The exact extent of her powers as a demon isn't known. As of date, she is not seen with a demonic familiar.