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Azula

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Azula
Avatar: The Last Airbender character
Background information
Portrayed by
Portrayed by Summer Bishil
Animators
Voiced by Grey DeLisle
First appearance "The Storm" (cameo)
"The Siege of the North"
Last appearance
Character information
Full name
Species
Other names
Personality
Appearance
Occupation
Citizenship
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Minions
Enemies
Quote
Azula
Princess Azula is a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The character, created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, was voiced by Grey DeLisle.

In the show, Azula is a gifted Firebending master and highly favored princess of the Fire Nation, a race of people with the ability to create and manipulate fire. She is initially depicted as bent on retrieving her exiled brother, Prince Zuko, and delivering him to their father, Fire Lord Ozai while accompanied by her childhood friends, Mai and Ty Lee. Eventually her focus becomes more directed toward capturing the Avatar and aiding in the war to help secure her nation's victory.

Plot overview

Azula first appears in a flashback displaying Iroh's story about the Agni Kai in which Prince Zuko receives his facial scar and sentence of exile. Fans immediately began speculating upon who the girl standing next to Iroh might have been. Azula is not shown again until the end of the season, after the siege of the Northern Water Tribe, at which point Ozai orders Azula to arrest Zuko and Iroh for failure to capture the Avatar and betrayal of the Fire Nation, respectively.

Although Azula's age is never stated in the series itself, the Avatar website gives her age at the time of her first appearance as fourteen. She is the great-granddaughter of both Fire Lord Sozin, through Ozai, and Avatar Roku, through Ursa.

In another flashback, it is revealed that she is named after her grandfather, Ozai's father Azulon, and that she and Azulon are both firebending prodigies. Even when she was a child, Azula demonstrated her natural talents early in life, along with her tendency for malice and perfectionism. Her sharp wit and the skill she displayed towards Firebending gained her much attention and acclaim. Her father showed her obvious favoritism, often at Zuko's expense.

Azula is depicted as interested in power from a very young age. She is shown destroying a doll that her uncle had sent her and young Zuko mentions that she throws rocks at the tame turtle-ducks that live in their garden pond. Young Azula suggests that her father would make a far better Fire Lord than the heir apparent, her uncle, Iroh, whom she also dubbed "a quitter and a loser" for abandoning his siege at Ba Sing Se after the death of his son and only child, Lu Ten. Years later, when her brother is burned by their father during an Agni Kai duel, she is shown watching triumphantly. After Iroh's betrayal at the north pole, Ozai tasks Azula with capturing Zuko and him (deciding to consider Zuko no better for not yet capturing the Avatar). While Zuko initially believes that Azula is here to escort Zuko home, it later becomes apparent that Azula is only there to capture them. Zuko and Iroh escape from Azula and are wanted by both the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. Azula eventually encounters the Avatar in Omashu, wherein she and Aang battle. Soon after, she names the Avatar as a personal target in addition to her brother and enlists the help of her friends Ty Lee and Mai. Azula continues to pursue the Avatar, Zuko, and Iroh for the rest of the season, becoming the main antagonist as Zuko had been during the previous season. After initially failing to gain entry to Ba Sing Se, Azula comes in contact with the Kyoshi Warriors and defeats them. Using the disguises of the Kyoshi Warriors, Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai enter Ba Sing Se and she arranges to meet with the security agents known as the Dai Li (who were being overthrown at the time), with whom she overthrows the Earth Kingdom. Azula captures Zuko in Ba Sing Se and convinces him to join her and defeat the Avatar in order for Zuko to get his birthright back. During their showdown in the catacombs, Azula appears to have mortally wounded Aang while he is in the Avatar State with a lighting bolt. It is assumed that the Avatar State has now become broken, and Aang is later shown explaining that his seventh chakra is now "locked". Azula suspects that Aang survived and eventually blames this on her brother.

Upon her return home in the third season, it is revealed that Azula has not taken credit for the murder of the Avatar, but has given it to Zuko, hinting that his honor would suffer if Aang's survival were known. This could lead many fans to believe that Azula planned to steal the throne from Zuko all along, as hinted at during a prophetic dream that Zuko has in Ba Sing Se, wherein Azula was depicted as a blue dragon.

During "The Day of Black Sun," Azula serves as a distraction to keep Aang, Sokka, and Toph from finding Fire Lord Ozai, assisted by Dai Li agents. Later, Azula accompanies Mai and Ty Lee to the Boiling Rock, where Zuko has been captured, but Zuko, Sokka, Suki, and Hakoda escape. During the escape, Mai attacks the guards allowing them to escape. Azula's calm breaks, and in a fury, she attempts to attack Mai, but is stopped by Ty Lee. After having Mai and Ty Lee locked away, a crazed Azula leads a platoon to the Western Air Temple. There she duels with Zuko until they are both thrown from the airship. She survives by propelling herself to safety. This could arguably signify the beginning of her descent into madness.

In the finale, Ozai, after declaring himself the Phoenix King, names Azula as the new Fire Lord, but says that she must remain in the Fire Nation to lead the people while he is gone. Azula's sanity begins to deteriorate, which leads her to banishing nearly all of her servants. When she is about to be crowned, Katara and Zuko arrive, whereupon she challenges Zuko to an Agni Kai. Zuko accepts the offer and later gains the upper hand, whereupon Azula attempts to distract him by attacking Katara. Zuko saves Katara at the cost of his own safety; immediately thereafter, Katara fights for her own life and ultimately captures Azula. After Katara healed Zuko's injuries, Azula began screaming, crying and shooting fire out of her mouth uncontrollably while Zuko and Katara looked on.

According to the official Nick website, Azula has been sent to a mental health facility on an island where she receives constant care and supervision.

Personality

Azula is a complex young woman. Ever since she was born, she was raised by her father to be a cruel, ruthless firebender and to manipulate people by controlling them through fear. She is a dedicated nationalist, relentlessly drilling herself towards perfection and will settle for nothing less. Even as a child she was seen to react with hostility when outdone. In a flashback, a young Azula is shown pushing Ty Lee over after Ty Lee beats her at cartwheeling. She is rather vain and believes that power and domination are what makes a person strong. She is known for being one of the cruelest characters in the series. From a young age, Azula demonstrated symptoms of psychopathy[1], manifesting as sadistic aggression and lack of remorse. She lacks empathy, treats people as expendable, and seems unable to view them as her equals. Her cruelty and seemingly total lack of compassion extends to many born into her family. Her amorality also accounts for her ability to create lightning, as the skill requires peace of mind.

Ironically, for all her refinement and self-confidence, Azula does retain some insecurities. Although she is shown as a good strategist and capable of predicting what her enemies will do, she has a disadvantage in ordinary social situations. In particular, she does not know how to act around teenage boys, whom she tends to intimidate. Her over-competitive nature surfaces during a Kuai ball game, where, despite its being a friendly game, she turns an opponent's slight lameness against her and overly crushes her, comparing the game to an act of war. She later admits to jealousy of Ty Lee's ability to attract potential sweethearts and is shown deliberately exploiting her companions' emotional weaknesses for no apparent purpose other than her own amusement. It later becomes apparent that her bullying and abusive treatment of people, even "friends" such as Mai and Ty Lee, stems not only from her cruel nature but a deep-rooted fear and inability to trust others. From a young age, she believed her mother favored Zuko and thought Azula monstrous. This shaped Azula's fears that she would be unable to rely on anyone for affection. Unable to trust others, she instead tries to dominate them through fear - a paranoia that ultimately drives her insane following the betrayal of her closest friends. Ironically, it was through the affections her friends had for others that ultimately allowed them to defy her terror against them, a fact Azula cannot understand due her isolated nature. Above all, she is obsessed with pleasing her father.

Abilities

Azula is a very difficult person to defeat in a single combat. Her excellent firebending abilities, hand-to-hand combat skills, intelligence, and quickness has made her a formidable opponent to the main characters in the show.

Azula is proficient in the difficult technique of using lightning, a pure form of Firebending. The only other known firebenders who are capable of lightning are Iroh and Ozai. Iroh, Aang and Zuko have been shown to redirect lightning by Iroh's technique, though Aang and Zuko have never been seen creating lightning. Even while breaking down into paranoia and insanity, Azula is still able to create lightning.

The second most noticeable feature of Princess Azula's bending is her ability to create blue flames, a feat that not even the Avatar, Ozai, Zuko, or Iroh can perform. Azula has been seen using flames in previously unseen ways, such as jets of flames and whirling disks. Notably, Azula often firebends using only two fingers, rather than a closed fist or open hand. Azula can fight for long periods of time without tiring. This discipline seems to deteriorate with her sanity; in her final battle with Zuko, she strikes with careless attacks and giant, wasteful bursts of flame, explaining why she tires so quickly and easily in that fight. Her reckless unpredictability in that battle, however, makes her all the more dangerous, given that Sozin's comet was present at the time. She is also able to generate powerful shields of swirling flames, which she once used to withstand the simultaneous combined attacks of Aang, Zuko, Katara, and Toph. She is even able to charge up her fire before releasing it, as was seen during one fight with Aang.

Azula is able to propel herself, using her flames, in a manner similar to a rocket. This ability has also been extended as a means to fly for short periods of time as seen in the Boiling Rock. She is also a skilled melee fighter; in the "The Avatar State", she easily blocked or parried all of Zuko's attacks without the use of Firebending, and in "The Eclipse", avoided the combined forces of Aang, Toph, and Sokka for several minutes without her bending to aid her. In "Appa's Lost Days", when Suki made a stab attack at Azula with her sword, Azula jumped horizontally and knocked Suki's sword out of her hand and onto a tree.

Her ability to lie without altering her heart rate and breathing patterns may stem from her discipline, or from the detached aspect of her personality that allows her to inflict savage cruelty without any hint of hesitation or remorse. She is also an accomplished tactician, as she was able to conquer Ba Sing Se, a city thought to be impenetrable, while usurping the entire Government and hierarchy of the Earth Kingdom capital.

Lastly, Azula is an expert in persuasion. She is capable of using psychological warfare, intimidation, and lying in order to change other peoples' minds quite effectively. She has used this to persuade Zuko and Iroh to return home in the episode "The Avatar State," she convinces Ty Lee to give up her dream career in order to hunt Zuko in "Return to Omashu" and even intimidates an entire legion of elite Earthbenders (the Dai Li) to turn traitor and join the fire nation at the end of season two.

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