Another great entry (or five) from you, brimming with character and creativity. Mao personifies his home series nicely, with violence and layered mechanics galore, but the simple presentation that lays out the basics of the moves, then the added layers of his mechanics, and finally a summary of how it all comes together gets everything across as an easy read. I find the Magichange absolutely fascinating, of course, being a big fan of basically everything Mao can do with them, and his melee game underlying it all is solid enough to be interesting on its own.
The heart mechanic is worth mention, too- I've always been the sort to prefer a fresh stock to be a reset just for how different modes might affect a given set (I'm the kid who would play 50 stocks or the like on the most chaotic stage possible in melee when I had time to burn), but the way things can carry over and the added level of strategy it adds to any reasonable match rule set makes for a good case for long-term planning mechanics you don't tend to see in sets. Befitting his honor student status, Mao is well-versed in evil plans, and the way he can force buffs and debuffs on opponents to disrupt their game plan and combo strings befits his mad genius. It's powerful enough to justify the restrictions and drawbacks, without unbalancing Mao or leaving him helpless if he over-commits (though he'll definitely be worse off for it).
Kat already covered all the more in-depth mechanical craziness and small touches that keep the multi-layered set from getting too crazy despite his wide variety of tools, but it's worth repeating that Mao is incredibly tightly designed as a set to make this work in a way that'd be easy to learn for players despite all he can do and avoids being overpowered or any dead simple exploits that'd get spammed to the netherworld and back that'd invalidate bothering with the other options.
Mao feels like a mix of all I liked about Kactuar and Pete from last contest without any issues that might've plagued them. It's a legitimately strong set even in a contest that's been full of them (I'm getting to be a broken record pointing this out but holy CRAP has this contest been consistently strong across the board), and was more than worth the wait. Excellent job!
(Also, thanks for the small cameo, heheh!)
Hero Prinny by
Digging further into Mao, we have a joke character in the line-up who is an excellent take on the genre. Far from unplayable, Hero Prinny is nevertheless designed to be fighting an uphill battle at all points, with subpar stats all around aside from being a slightly small target, and moves that either hover around mediocre, are outright bad unless used in a specific manner, or are actually good at the cost of serious risk to oneself- including quite a few ways to do in your own stock by accident or even by choice!
Hero Prinny's design isn't just 'make it bad and call it a day', however; the Specials outline an interesting gameplan with explosive results if you manage to keep control of the situation, with some minor touches like the bombs being solid obstacles to force foes to jump past and the means to exploit that (including Prinny's air game being perhaps its 'strongest' position relatively speaking) as well as a solid shield punish game. It can make a big sacrifice by losing its scarf to get an extra recovery, at the cost of turning the foe's grab into an instant KO, but this comes with the side effect that its self-destruct can make a damaged foe trying to toss him a stock trade in Hero Prinny's favor; your 'advantage' state comes from having a stock or point lead, allowing you to abuse its strong but costly options to keep that lead any time the foe threatens to turn things around- fitting that a soul so wretched as to be punished with the form of a Prinny would practice the time-honored tradition of kicking them while they're down!
I feel it's a good example of how a deliberately underpowered set should be designed, and it carries with it some good humor that's on-brand for the series. Hero Prinny is a legitimately fun set front to back, and is a fast enough read that I recommend everyone give it a go.
I love what Majorly has going on with her skulls and assorted uses thereof, the 'throw stuff everywhere and then use it do nasty stage control things' archetype being right up my alley. There's plenty of nuance to how she can set them up and place them, leave alone her smashes and Neutral Special all being fantastic pay-off. The core concept and flavor of the set is on point as always, though I will note that compared to Mao, Majorly feels a bit threadbare in the more nitty gritty stuff; there's the fact she doesn't have the same amount of stuff going as he does, of course, but in some areas like her throws it feels like the set could stand to have a twist or two more?
I feel like Majorly would benefit greatly from an 'Appendix' section as per Mao and your other recent sets; noting how certain moves synergize, like moves that aren't necessarily 'combos' but can punt foes into skulls from x, y, or z move for the purpose of blowing them up or slapping a few skulls on them, a move that can bait shields, etc- Jab and DTilt pushing foes back safely feels like a good reference point, especially with Forward Aerial producing a skull that'll hug the ground- maybe note what moves she can use to punish jumps or rolls in with that as an aspect? If I remember right, FTilt's hitbox is great for the former. Back Aerial to drag a skull behind you or 'hook' it under a ledge as you fight for fun and profit is also an idea.
Aside from that, I think what itches at me is that she has a few neat tricks in her kit that aren't explored or toyed with the same way her skulls are, which I feel could be the extra bit she needs. Doesn't have to be insane with it, again, but stuff like Up Special directly teleporting the opponent in front of herself seems like a potential goldmine for shenanigans, like if she had a move that's a more middling launcher/late KO tool that also has low end lag, letting her opt to either set up or abruptly yank the foe back when they're not expecting it. Side Special being a command dash/grab is its own fun, especially when her skulls are all moving with her. Down Special feels the least tied into the set at a glance, but I think there's things that could work with it- just the fact it's a projectile of sorts in a set that's not really loaded for bear with them or approaching options helps out.
You expressed interest in editing Majorly at some point when that's normally not something you like to do, and I can see why; aside from having been part-way in production for some time, there's a lot of potential here that could be tapped with only a bit more polish or elaboration rather than needing any sort of overhaul or refurbishing, and even then, she's a perfectly good set with interesting mechanics, animations, and playstyle. Hopefully this was of some help if you do go in for another pass.
Almaz is an interesting twist on the combo character, with a mode change where he is either lacking in attack speed or movement speed and using the other tools of his kit to compensate. From burst movement options and short-lived buffs, to a limited supply of free combo glue hits via Neutral Special applications, to an assist from his princess in his other specials, Almaz the set nicely embodies the lesson he learned in his source material- try going solo and you'll find yourself in hot water, but be willing to ask for and accept help and you can go far. Maybe he'll even get some respect from his oppo- heh, yeah, probably not.
He's not fully without more natural combo options, ones that don't require his limited resources or leveraging Sapphire to glue moves together, mind. He also has some nice tricks as a 'plan b', scoring an early KO or simply trading with his opponents. This is all without touching on his own mechanic, which can make him a combo food punching bag for foes, but still keeps him in the game long enough that he can pull out that heroic comeback he longs for, and even lets him leverage the tail end of his stock if he KOs the foe first. Contrasting Hero Prinny who is an intentional joke character, Almaz is a more seriously balanced set who seems pathetic on that level at first glance (aided by the first person narration riddled with lacking self-confidence) and can even become downright deadly when used to his fullest potential, and his mechanic helps him stick around long enough to reach those heights. It's a cool touch.
I ended up not having much to say about Almaz, but ignoring all that, he's a good reminder that 'swordies' can be plenty interesting.
Coming in under the wire, we have a comment for Asagi, who finally gets a little taste of stardom in the fictional realm of MYM. Asagi's fighting style is heavy on the flash, dramatic poses and bullet arts-like follow ups that take advantage of the odd firing angles her attacks provide to pile on excessive amounts of damage- albeit with the limit that she needs to break off and reload at some point. Despite her plethora of ranged angles of attacks, she's still equipped for melee and better uses them to cap off an up close encounter over trying to camp, all the while grandstanding and providing some sick looking tricks like Down Tilt into Down Aerial. Whether up close or at a distance, Asagi keeps the punishment and pressure coming, as if trying to hog the spotlight with a constant flurry of attacks that doesn't give foes any time to breathe.
All of this helps her build up a resource for a proper finishing blow with her bazooka, though she can set herself back some on its build up to get extra recovery or even float through the air some, doggedly hanging in there or pursuing foes skyward to finish the job, with her throws providing a nice finale to the set by giving her alternate payoffs for building up her charge. All the same, being overenthusiastic or getting tunnel vision on piling on damage may leads you to running out of bullets at the wrong time and eating a punish as some far less effective melee hitboxes come from the tip of her guns- getting ahead of herself is an issue she struggles with, fittingly enough, and her efforts to dominate the match non-stop will have her learn the hard way that Smash has no 'main' character.
I do feel Asagi could benefit from an appendix section quickly going over some of her tools/summing up her playstyle, even if not as in depth as Almaz has for the latter, though it may not be needed. She's a simple, good set, and her match-up section provides some very helpful context for how she plays.