|“||You know Father blames Uncle for the loss at the North Pole. And he considers you a miserable failure for not finding the Avatar. Why would he want you back home, except to lock you up where you can no longer embarrass him?||„|
|~ Azula to Zuko.|
Princess Azula (simply known as Azula) is the overall secondary antagonist of the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. She is the main antagonist of Season 2 and the secondary antagonist of Season 3. She also appears in the following comic books: Avatar: The Search and the Smoke and Shadow trilogy as the main antagonist.
She is the princess of the Fire Nation, and daughter of Fire Lord Ozai and his wife, Princess Ursa. She replaces Zhao as the main enemy for "Team Avatar" and for her banished brother, Prince Zuko. Near the end of the series, she begins to lose her calm nature and slowly slips into insanity. In the series finale, her brother and Katara of the Water Tribe team up and defeat her in one of the last battles in the series.
After her defeat, she suffered a nervous breakdown. According to Nickelodeon, Zuko took pity on his sister and sent her to a mental facility. It is unknown if she is still alive during the events of The Legend of Korra, which takes place seventy years later, though her absence from the series makes it unlikely.
Though her father is the primary antagonist of the series overall, Azula is the archenemy of Team Avatar, particularly as Zuko and Katara archenemy.
Azula was born to Fire Lord Ozai and Princess Ursa. She was born 2 years after her brother Zuko. She was named after her grandfather, Fire Lord Azulon. As stated by her brother Zuko, she was born lucky.She lived an extremely rich life and was spoiled but was not sheltered by any means. She was discovered to be a fire bending prodigy at a very young age, which made her Ozai's favorite child. He started teaching her about politics and how to be a successful ruler while ignoring Zuko. She went to the Royal Fire Academy for Girls, where she first met her best (and only) friends Mai and Ty Lee.
Tasked to defeat the Avatar
After Zhao is killed during the Siege on the North, Ozai ordered Azula to find and defeat the Avatar, Aang. Azula took this order with honor, and eventually not only almost killed Aang, but also caused Zuko to betray the Team Avatar.
However, after a while ever since returning to the Fire Nation, Zuko chose to follow the Team Avatar again. When Ozai announced himself to be the Phoenix King, he also announced Azula to be the new Fire Lord. Zuko, along with Katara, then went to the coronation to challenge Azula for the last time, once and for all.
Final Battle and Defeat
Azula showed up at her coronation impatient and with her hair a mess. Katara and Zuko then arrived to fight her, and she constantly provoked the duo as she attacked them. When Katara finally defeated Azula and chained her to the ground, Azula screamed in anger and breathed fire uncontrollably, furiously struggling to break herself free, falling into complete insanity. She dragged herself along the ground helplessly, as Zuko and Katara looked on in pity.
After The Hundred Years War
A year later, Azula is still in the mental facility and still seeing her delusion vision of her mother in mirrors (becoming a paler and thinner shadow of her former self). Zuko visits her, and asks her to try and coax the whereabouts of their mother out of Ozai. She accepts, but on the condition that she should be able to travel with Zuko to find their mother. Zuko accepts her terms and Azula is able to get their father to reveal an archive of intercepted letters from their mother to her former home. She discovers a letter that seemingly reveals that Zuko is not of royal blood, saying:
|“||My dearest Ikem, It's taken me a long time to admit it, but you were right. I belong with you, and nothing is worth this pain. My one consolation is our son Zuko. When I look into his eyes, it's as if I'm looking into yours. My thoughts are with you always.||„|
With this information, Azula comes to the conclusion that she, being the only one with actual royal blood, should be in the throne in place of Zuko. She continues on the quest, however, because of her increasing paranoia blames her mother, believing she'd been conspiring against her with everyone since she was born, for everything and that if she were to track down Ursa, she could be rid of her for good.
When Ursa's location and new identity is revealed to her, she quickly makes her way there and confronts her, and attacking her. She's also enraged that her mother, as Noriko, has another daughter: Kiyi. Eventually, Zuko was able to keep her down, and an amnesiac Ursa apologized to Azula if she hadn't love her properly or enough. She almost struck her down until Zuko intervened, though he refused to kill her. Realizing that Zuko still considers her as family no matter what, a confused Azula runs off into the forest.
At some point before Smoke and Shadow, Azula (seemingly more stable, but still demented) rescued a group of females from the institution she was in to impersonate the Kemurikage, spirits from Fire Nation legend. They approach Ukano, leader and founder of the New Ozai Society, and berate him for his failure to overthrow Zuko. They begin kidnapping children from the Fire Nation, including Ukano's son and Mai's brother, Tom-Tom, in order to persuade Ukano to cooperate. Azula successfully convinces everyone the original Kemurikage are the culprits until she is confronted by Aang and Zuko. When she is forced to attack in battle, Zuko, recognizing her abilities, realizes that she is the true culprit behind the kidnappings.
Zuko later pursues and fights Azula, who reveals that she no longer wants to become Fire Lord, but rather seeks to turn Zuko into a tyrannical Fire Lord like she would be. Azula insists that her plan has not failed, pointing out the harsh measures Zuko has taken to keep his people in line over the past 24 hours. Warning him that he is no different than her, Azula flees. In a public address, Zuko apologizes to his people for his poor leadership while Azula and her allies watch from afar with Azula apparently pleased with the speech, implying she was possibly being a stealth mentor to Zuko.
Azula relentlessly drilled herself toward perfection and settled for nothing less from herself or those who serve her. She believed that power and domination are what makes a person strong. She had absolute confidence in her "divine right to rule" which she believed she was born with. She had neither pity nor mercy toward those she marked as treasonous or inferior.
Azula was marked by a distinct lack of empathy. Even as a child, she was seen to react with hostility when outdone, when she shoved Ty Lee to the ground after Ty Lee had bested her in gymnastics. This behavior would characterize her relationship with her friends for many years. Although she could be sympathetic and loyal toward them, she never cared for their feelings and manipulated them as she saw fit, such as when she threatened Ty Lee into leaving the circus and joining her cause.
She was prone to asserting herself and her authority in an extremely grandiose way, such as when she humiliated Long Feng in front of his former henchmen or when she threatened the captain of her ship. She also showed a need for admiration from her father, whom she emulated to a great degree, and to a lesser extent from everyone else around her. She was shown reacting with despair and rage when she learned her father was going to the Earth Kingdom without her, which soon increased her mental deterioration.
In her ever increasing insanity, Azula gave into her fear of being killed. She accused her servant of purposely leaving a pit in her cherry so that she would choke. She got angry at the Dai Li when they arrived five minutes late, suggesting that in that time an assassin could sneak in, kill her, and "be on his merry way". She then suggested that the Dai Li could betray and kill her ("just like Mai and Ty Lee"), and banished them. She also began keeping her back against one of the throne's canopy poles as often as possible, probably out of fear of being attacked from behind.
It also appeared that she was not sleeping well, as she had dark circles under her eyes, likely fearing being killed in her sleep. Upon Lo and Li's arrival to counsel her, Azula's fear of disappointing her father was clear. Azula became so enraged when her old mentors' questioned her wishes that she momentarily forgot that they were not firebenders, and ordered them to fight an Agni Kai with each other.
Azula appeared to be unaffected by her failure to kill the Avatar. However, her failed relationship with her mother (and her jealousy toward Zuko for receiving more of their mother's affection) coupled with the betrayal she suffered at the hands of Mai and Ty Lee, who were the closest persons in her entourage, and her subsequent defeat by Zuko and Katara, finally sent Azula over the edge as she cracked, screaming and crying uncontrollably having failed to be crowned Fire Lord. Azula was admitted into a mental health facility on a nearby island in the Fire Nation, where she was closely monitored and observed.
After the Hundred Years War, Azula seems to started to get better ever since she was released from the asylum and joined Zuko and the Team Avatar in a journey to find Ursa. However, once they found her, Azula goes back to her violent self once again and attempts to attack Ursa, only to unable to do so when Ursa apologizes for abandoning her, and Azula runs into the forest. In the Smoke and Shadow trilogy, Azula appears to help Ukano to release Ozai at first, but then reveals that she only using him for her own plan. In the end, she seems to be somewhat happy when Zuko apologizes to the people, implying that she might try to teach him to be a better leader.
Azula and Zuko
Perhaps her most complicated relationship was with her brother Zuko. She had little respect for her older brother and enjoyed tormenting him when they were kids. She even showed no empathy when he was exiled and scarred by Ozai. Zuko in return was hardly on terms with her as he found her cruelty to be unreasonable and the fact their father favored her only added insult into injury. When she was ordered by Ozai to hunt down Zuko, Azula did not hesitate to do so and whenever they meet, Azula was always the superior one and mocked him for being inferior and how he had lost all hope to be recognized by their father. Zuko continued to express a strong desire to overcome her in combat. However, she was willing to reach out to Zuko's desire to be restored to his royal status and afterwards took measures to ensure he return to the Fire Nation. She even appeared to have began to warm up to Zuko and start to show a level of compassion and care for him, as she expressed concern over Zuko after discovering that he had been secretly visiting an imprisoned Iroh, warning him that if it were to be discovered that he was meeting with their uncle, it could be misinterpreted as conspiracy and shared nostalgia and depression with her brother as they paid a visit to their family's decrepit summer beach house. After Azula found Zuko within the old house, she told him to leave, noting that she understands his feelings toward the place. Along with Mai and Ty Lee, Azula later helps Zuko realize why he was feeling angered, assuming the role of interpreter as they each shared revelations of their life experiences that shaped them into who they are and showed a faint amount of sympathy over Zuko's confused feelings. When her turn came, Azula admitted to her awareness that their mother loved Zuko more, but unlike her brother, did not feel the need to care or spend her time complaining about it. However, she was fully willing to combat him again after he betrayed the Fire Nation again. This time, Zuko had finally obtained the power and skill needed to finally fight Azula on reasonably equal footing and she clearly noticed this as her brother easily deflected her attacks, choosing to dodge his fire blasts rather than repelling them. She didn't seem to show much joy over how her brother would die unlike their previous altercations but after Mai and Ty Lee betrayed her for Zuko, Azula started to become obsessed with killing Zuko, even abandoning her hunt for Aang to fight Zuko, to no avail as the fight once again ended in a standstill as Zuko's firebending power and prowess now rivaled hers, and outright flaunting the knowledge she was the only one who could become Fire Lord. At this time, Zuko no longer cared about Azula being Ozai's favorite and even expressed a level of concern as Azula fell from the airship. When they faced each other for the title of Fire Lord, Azula challenged Zuko to Agni Kai in a manner that easily showed she wanted not to even the odds of him having Katara but to defeat him on her own in her madness despite having experienced how much Zuko had grew, which Zuko easily sensed and used to his advantage to steadily pummel her into submission. She taunted Zuko with faked regret of having to beat him but Zuko solemnly told her she did not, which caused her to sadistically smile, before beginning their duel. In her anger, Azula even abandoned her cool persona for a moment and was really about to fire Lightning at Zuko despite knowing he could redirect it, only stopping in the last moment to hit Katara instead, and outright laughed as Zuko collapsed from her attack. The mere sight of Zuko being alive caused Azula to finally breakdown and Zuko watched in clear sadness as Azula fell apart.
Azula's madness earned her Zuko's pity and she was sent into a mental facility for treatment rather than being left in prison. Zuko continued to monitor her and even was willing to ask for help in finding their mother. Azula eagerly accepted in order to overcome her mental breakdown, feigning a desire to help the Fire Lord. However, Azula quickly resumed her clearly antagonistic behavior towards Zuko, outright lashing out to him in anger in her episodes, until she finally realized that no matter what she did Zuko would continue to consider her family. This caused her to cry and leave behind the letter, no longer interested in being Fire Lord. She later even expressed a desire to help him be a better Fire Lord, although in her own way, and she continued to taunt him over Mai and being once again bested.
In the end, although Azula herself would probably never admit it, deep down she did had a familial bond with Zuko but her massive anger and jealousy towards him for having taken away Mai and Ty Lee and their mother favoring him ultimately made her incapable of seemingly being in peace with him.
Azula and Ursa
Azula's relationship with Ursa is nearly as complicated as her kinship with Zuko. As Ursa had continued to scold Azula for her cruelty and lack of respect, Azula believed incorrectly that Ursa's attempts to make her a better person was not out of love but was because Ursa hated and feared her as a monster and this had caused her to develop deep-rooted feelings of anger and bitterness towards her mother, completely incapable of seeing that her mother truly loved her and only wanted her to become a better person. Although not showing any sadness over Ursa's banishment, it turns out later on that she deep down had mourned her mother's loss and it would show itself as Azula became unstable. Seeing an illusion of Ursa showing she truly loved and cared for her and wanted her to have a better life was enough to cause her to actually sob deeply, showing outright self-loathing and sadness over how she was ultimately unable to built a good relationship with Ursa and it even appeared she admired her mother's goodness as her conscience took the form of her. Seeing her had a deep impact on Azula, even a year later. She agreed to help Zuko find Ursa, though she did so with her own agenda, as her paranoia led her to blame Ursa for every bad thing that had occurred in her life, and to conspire with her enemies. Throughout her journey to Hira'a, where Team Avatar was hoping to find some more leads about Ursa's whereabouts, Azula was often plagued by delusional thoughts of Ursa's treacherous conspiracies against her and hallucinations that declared her mother's love for her, something Azula still could not comprehend. Accusing her mother of setting everyone against her, even her own mind, Azula revealed her plans to Ursa's mirage that she would find and kill her, in order to be free of her interventions forever. After learning Ursa had chosen to forgot her, Azula was utterly furious and she was particularly bitter at how Kiyi was Ursa's new daughter, bitterly asking if Kiyi was to replace her. However, she hesitated when Ursa declared her remorse of being a failure of a mother to her, even crying, allowing Zuko to stop her. Ursa felt regret over Azula's subsequent escape to the Valleys, realizing that her rough methods ultimately cost Azula much, and tearfully pondered on her safety, despite likely knowing all she had did.
Powers and Abilities
FirebendingAzula was one of the most skilled firebenders of her time, recognized as a prodigy by both Ozai and Zuko. The most noticeable feature of Princess Azula's bending was her ability to create her characteristic blue flames, which are much more intense than the red, orange, and yellow fire normally used by firebenders. Azula was only seen bending normal fire during her childhood (and in the opening sequence). Azula also used her flames in previously unseen ways, such as jets of flames, whirling disks, and blades of fire. She often firebends using only two fingers, rather than a closed fist or open hand common to other firebenders. Also notable was her ability to produce a greater amount of flames than most firebenders without tiring, as she was shown to be able to maintain successive assaults for long durations of time.
She had also demonstrated the skill to condense her flames, enabling her fire to cut clean through various objects. When formed into fireballs, the flames served to be rather concussive, able to firmly pulverize objects such as stone. Azula was able to generate powerful shields of swirling flames which could withstand the full force of four simultaneous elemental attacks (and a boomerang). She was even able to charge up her fire before releasing it, as was seen during her fight with Aang. Azula was also capable of fighting off multiple Kyoshi Warriors, using both firebending and hand-to-hand techniques. The outcome of this fight was not shown, but the fact that Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee infiltrated Ba Sing Se posing as the Kyoshi Warriors revealed that Azula had won. Azula later stated that Suki was her favorite prisoner, further revealing that she had won the duel against Suki.
Azula was proficient in the highly difficult technique of creating and guiding lightning, a sub-skill of firebending, and was the first character within the series to demonstrate the ability.
As Azula gradually lost her sanity prior to the arrival of Sozin's Comet, her firebending became unfocused and wild, making her all the more dangerous, however it also resulted in her becoming exhausted more easily than usual. Despite her state of mind, her attacks on Zuko and Katara during her final duel proved ferocious and destructive, and she was still able to fire lightning accurately. However, her mental instability still weakened her battlefield prowess, and this ultimately resulted in her defeat at the hands of Katara. She displayed the ability to breathe fire as she struggled against her chains, but this was only brought about by her madness and rage in her defeat.
Azula is remarkably intelligent and a tactical genius. Despite being only 14 years of age, she is arguably the most competent and dangerous planner and strategist in the entire series. She was also highly manipulative, often stringing people along without them even realizing it. She also knew how to use political instabilities to her advantage, was able to think outside of the box for unique strategies and could change her plans at the drop of a hat when she saw better solutions.
While these were displayed many times throughout the series, they were never displayed as thoroughly as in the second season finale, in her takeover of Ba Sing Se, a city that had withstood siege for a century.
Infiltrating the city with only Mai and Ty Lee, disguised as Kyoshi Warriors, she realized the political instability of the city and widened the scope of her original plan from just capturing the Avatar, to conquering the city. She had her friends discuss who they were so they would be heard by the Dai Li, the source of the instability. Taken to their leader, Long Feng, they both plotted a coup on the city's leadership with him placing the Dai Li under her command, both planning to betray the other.
However, she gained the Dai Li's respect through her charisma and ruthlessness and, once the coup was complete, turned them against their leader after he attempted his betrayal. She then successfully stopped her brother from changing sides by appealing to his greatest desires, and nearly succeeded in killing Aang. Using only two non-bending friends, and her tactical brilliance, she not only succeeded where entire armies had failed for a century in conquering the city, but also took away a powerful ally for the heroes (temporarily), and put Aang out of action for a good period of time.
|“||Well what choice do I have? Trust is for fools! Fear is the only reliable way. Even you fear me.||„|
|~ Azula to a hallucination of Ursa.|
- Azula is the shadowed firebender in the opening sequence of each episode.
- She is obviously named after her grandfather, Fire Lord Azulon.