Azula

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Azula
Avatar: The Last Airbender character
Azula's Blue Flames.png
First appearance"The Storm" (Cameo)
"The Siege of the North Part 2"
Created byMichael Dante DiMartino
Bryan Konietzko
Portrayed bySummer Bishil (The Last Airbender)
Voiced byGrey DeLisle
Information
GenderFemale
FamilyOzai (father)
Ursa (mother)
Zuko (older brother)
Ikem (stepfather)
Kiyi (maternal half-sister)
RelativesIroh (paternal uncle)
Lu Ten (cousin)
Izumi (niece)
Grandfamily:
Azulon (paternal grandfather)
Ilah (paternal grandmother)
Jinzuk (maternal grandfather)
Rina (maternal grandmother)
Sozin (paternal great-grandfather)
Roku (maternal great-grandfather)
Ta Min (maternal great-grandmother)
Iroh Jr. (grandnephew)
NationalityFire Nation
Bending elementPrimary: Sub-styles:
Age14[1] in the series
15-16 (The Promise)
16-17 (The Search)
Hair colorDark Brown
Eye colorGold

Princess Azula (阿祖拉, Ā Zǔ Lā) is a fictional character and one of the two main antagonists, alongside her father, Ozai, in Nickelodeon's animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the character is voiced by veteran voice actress Grey DeLisle.

In the show, Azula is the crown princess of the Fire Nation and a Firebending prodigy.[2] Upon Fire Lord Ozai's orders, she begins a quest with her childhood friends Mai and Ty Lee to retrieve her exiled brother Prince Zuko and their uncle Iroh, while also attempting to capture the Avatar, a transcendent being capable of manipulating all four elements (Earth, Water, Fire and Air). Azula is notorious for being cruel and manipulative. As her brother Zuko states, she "always lies".[3] Throughout the series, she is shown to be capable of a much higher level of bending and yields blue flames, instead of red and orange, as well as having the rare firebending ability to generate pure whitish-blue fire.

Appearances[edit]

Avatar: The Last Airbender[edit]

Book One: Water[edit]

Since she is the shadowed firebender in the opening sequence, Azula appears at the beginning of every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the show itself, she makes her first appearance in a flashback during thirteen-year-old Zuko's Agni Kai, a duel that takes place between two firebenders using their pyrokinetic, thermokinetic abilities, against their father, Firelord Ozai, which left Zuko scarred and later banished - due to his refusal to fight his father, who took this as a sign of weakness and disrespect.[4] Azula makes a second brief appearance at the end of the first season, when Ozai tasks her with repatriating Zuko and Iroh.[5]

Book Two: Earth[edit]

After Iroh's brief cooperation with the series protagonists, Ozai tasks Azula with capturing Zuko and Iroh. Azula eventually encounters the Avatar in Omashu, and in later attempts to capture him by enlisting her childhood friends Ty Lee and Mai.[6] Azula continues to pursue the Avatar, Zuko, and Iroh for the rest of the season. After her initial failure to enter Ba Sing Se using a giant drill to breach the city's strong outer wall, Azula comes in contact with the Kyoshi Warriors, fighters who, despite their lack of the ability to bend (the term given to the ability to manipulate the four elements) dress as and utilize the fighting style of Kyoshi, a past avatar,[7] whom Azula along with Mai and Ty Lee defeat and impersonate.[8] Thus disguised, Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai enter Ba Sing Se and plot a conspiracy with the treacherous minister Long Feng,[9] only to betray him later, and annex the city to the Fire Nation. Azula encounters Zuko in Ba Sing Se and convinces him to join her in order to redeem his birthright as crown prince. During their showdown, Azula appears to have killed Aang with a bolt of lightning.[10] However, Azula gives Zuko credit for the kill, so that, in the event that Aang survived, Zuko would face the disgrace and dishonor of the failure.

Book Three: Fire[edit]

During the two-part episode "The Day of Black Sun", Aang assembles an elite invasion force and attacks the Fire Nation capital, taking advantage of an eclipse that rendered the firebenders powerless. Having gained knowledge of the invasion during her infiltration in the Earth Kingdom, Azula warned the Fire Lord and evacuated to an underground bunker prior to the invasion. Azula and her agents stall Aang and his friends Sokka and Toph from finding Fire Lord Ozai before the eclipse, lasting only eight minutes, allowing the Fire Nation to retaliate with full force once they regained control over their bending abilities, causing the invasion to fail.[11]

Later, Azula, accompanied by Mai and Ty Lee, head to The Boiling Rock, the top security Fire Nation prison, where Zuko has been captured in an attempt to infiltrate the prison and rescue the captured forces of the failed invasion; but Zuko, Sokka, Suki (leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, who had been captured in the aftermath of their battle with Azula), and Sokka's father Hakoda escape. Mai betrays Azula, by aiding the group in escaping, and proclaims that she did so out of her love for Zuko, and the latter attempts to attack Mai, but is stopped by Ty Lee, who renders Azula incapable of bending by blocking her Chi (the energy within one which one would use for bending). After having Mai and Ty Lee confined,[12] Azula leads a platoon to the Western Air Temple, where she contends with Zuko.[13] In the finale, Ozai marks Azula his successor as Fire Lord; but soon afterward, Azula sinks into psychosis and deposes nearly all of her servants and advisers. Before she is crowned, Zuko and Katara interrupt the ceremony, whereupon Azula challenges Zuko to single combat in an Agni Kai. However, her attacks, while powerful, are wild and emotional while Zuko's are calm and disciplined; and when his attacks begin to overpower her, Azula sends a bolt of lightning towards Katara, but ends up striking down Zuko who attempted to redirect it.[14] She is ultimately defeated by Katara who takes her captive via Waterbending.[15] Following the end of the war, Azula is admitted to a psychiatric institution due to her mental breakdown, where she is closely monitored.[16]

Appearances in other media[edit]

The Search

A year after the war's end, Zuko visits Azula with request for her assistance in gaining information from Ozai on the whereabouts of their mother. Azula accepts[17] and is watched by Zuko before suggesting him to leave when their father remains silence in her presence. Azula, having learned of the letters Ursa sent which falsely claim Zuko to not be Ozai's biological son, dodges her brother's questions while distracting him with her bending long enough to access the letters and burning them. She uses this as leverage as she convinces Zuko to allow her to join his quest to find Ursa in return for the letters' information, though she intends to use the letters' content to dispose her brother while also murder their mother.[18] Her request is granted, though she becomes a momentary ally to Team Avatar[19] until they find Ursa after she lost her memory and assumed the identity of Noriko with a new family.

Smoke and Shadow

Azula nearly killed Ursa, she becomes emotionally confused by her mother's apology and even more when Zuko reveals that he still cares for his sister despite their history. This resulted in a confused Azula running off into the wilderness, where she hid for several weeks.[20][21] Following an realization of her purpose, a fully sane Azula resurfaces under the guise of the Kemurikage while amassing followers from the mental institution she was held in.[22] A month later, she abducts children as hostages,[23] though they are later freed by allies of Zuko, who learns Azula's motivation is to make him more like their father. Azula escapes and is last seen observing Zuko's speech of apologizing for his actions to which Azula seemed actually pleased with, implying she was possibly being a stealth mentor by using reverse psychology on Zuko.[22]

Video games[edit]

She appears as an antagonist in the video games Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth[24] and Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno[25] again voiced by Grey DeLisle. Azula also appears in the live action feature film The Last Airbender in a flashback where Zuko gets his scar and before the end credits roll, she is played by Summer Bishil.

Conception and creation[edit]

Konietzko notes that Azula's design when compared to other main characters "came together relatively quickly". Azula was originally going to wear a heavily phoenix-themed armor, though the idea was eventually abandoned. Azula's blue firebending was meant to symbolize that she was more skilled than Zuko as well as a prodigy in the art of bending and easily distinguish her attacks from his in their conflicts.[26] She was initially intended to have an arranged marriage during the third season.[27] Both creators hold the character in high regard; Konietzko believes she is "by far the most complex, interesting, and dangerous villain in the series" while DiMartino wrote that she was his favorite antagonist in the series.[26]

Voice[edit]

Azula is voiced by Grey DeLisle. DeLisle recounts that she had studied her "whole life" for well-written characters like Azula who were hard to come by.[28] Overall, DeLisle felt her life had changed positively from the role, and association with the series, relaying this to Janet Varney who would voice Korra in the sequel series.[29]

Characterization[edit]

Although Azula's age is never stated in the series itself, the Avatar website gives her age as fourteen. She is Fire Lord Sozin's great-granddaughter through Ozai, and of Avatar Roku's through her mother, Ursa.[30] In another flashback, it is revealed that she is named after her paternal grandfather Azulon, Ozai's father.[3] Even as 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, often at Zuko's expense. Even when young, Azula suggests that her father would make a better Fire Lord than the heir apparent, her uncle Iroh, whom she dubbed "a quitter and a loser" for abandoning his siege of the Earth Kingdom's capital Ba Sing Se, which would have secured the Fire Nation's victory in the war, after the death of his son Lu Ten.[3]

Personality[edit]

Azula is a prodigy of the Fire Nation, she is also a dedicated perfectionist,[31] even as a child; and from a young age, Azula demonstrated sadistic aggression and lack of remorse in actions of harming others, both physically and emotionally.[3] There has been only one known occurrence of Azula showing remorse and apologizing.

Although an amazing strategist and capable of predicting her enemies' moves, she is awkward in social situations, and later admits to jealousy of Ty Lee's ability to attract potential sweethearts during "The Beach" episode. She ends up seducing Chan with Ty Lee's advice to act dumb; however, she scares him away when she shows her real personality.

From childhood she believed her mother favored Zuko and thought Azula monstrous, which she admitted to be true but it still hurt. After she was betrayed by Mai and Ty Lee, her mental state gradually collapsed. After her defeat, it is revealed in the graphic novel, The Search, that she was admitted into a mental institution in the Fire Nation due to her psychosis, paranoia, and deranged mental state. Both in the series and subsequent comics, she is shown to have hallucinations of her mother.

Although Azula acts cold-hearted towards her uncle and her brother, she appears to show some care and affection towards her friends, such as apologizing after unintentionally insulting Ty Lee, as well as looking out for her brother in early episodes of season 3. However, she can also be quite domineering and manipulative even towards her friends, as seen when she threatened Ty Lee into leaving her circus.

Firebending[edit]

Azula is highly skilled in Firebending which utilizes chinese martial arts techniques of Changquan, Shaolinquan, Lóng Xíng Mó Qiáo and Xing Yi Quan.[6][32][33][34] The series' creators consulted a professional martial artist in the design of the show's fighting style.[35] Azula is the most skilled Firebender of her generation and is a very difficult person to defeat in single combat. Her excellent firebending abilities, hand-to-hand combat skills, intelligence, agility and charisma make her a formidable opponent.

Azula is unique in that she creates blue flames (something which not even her father has demonstrated) which implies the flames she creates are hotter and contain more energy according to Planck's law than those of other firebenders who bend red or orange flames. Azula can also use her firebending in previously unseen ways, such as jets of flames and whirling disks. She often firebends using only two fingers, rather than a closed fist or open hand common to other firebenders.[6] Azula can fight for long periods of time without tiring. She is also able to generate powerful shields of swirling flames, which she once used to withstand the simultaneous combined attacks of Aang, Katara, Zuko and Toph.[36] She is even able to charge up her fire before releasing it, as was seen during one fight with Aang.[37]

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.[38] She can also breathe fire, as shown when she was defeated by Katara and Zuko.

Lightning generation[edit]

"Lightning is a pure expression of firebending without aggression. It is not fueled by rage or emotion the way other firebending is. Some call lightning the cold-blooded fire. It is precise and deadly like Azula. To perform the technique requires peace of mind."

— General Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Azula is capable of lightning generation, one of the rarest types of firebending; Iroh notes that it isn't really possible to teach lightning generation, it's just something particularly powerful firebenders are capable of.[31]

Other skills[edit]

Azula is a skilled unarmed fighter. In "The Avatar State", she bested Zuko in combat without resorting to firebending, and in "The Day of Black Sun", 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 fan, Azula jumped horizontally and knocked Suki's sword out of her hand and onto a tree.[11]

Azula is an expert in persuasion. She is capable of using psychological warfare, intimidation, and mistruths to con other people into obeying her. She also has the ability to lie easily without causing any change in her breathing and heartrate (an indication of her psychopathic tendencies), making it nearly impossible to detect if she's lying, which she demonstrated in "The Day of Black Sun". She is also an accomplished strategist, as she was able to conquer Ba Sing Se, a city thought to be impenetrable, while usurping the Earth King and hierarchy of the Earth Kingdom capital all in one swift move.[38][39]

Reception[edit]

Azula ranked #9 of "The 20 Best Characters From The Avatar Universe" list by Zach Blumenfeld.[40]

Trivia[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Go to "Season 2" → "The Avatar State" → "Characters" → "Azula"
  2. ^ Pittarese, Frank (2006). "Nation Exploration". Nickelodeon Magazine (Winter 2006): 2.
  3. ^ a b c d Director: Lauren MacMullan; Writer: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz (2006-05-12). "Zuko Alone". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 7. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  4. ^ Director: Lauren MacMullan; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2005-06-03). "The Storm". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 12. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  5. ^ Director: Dave Filoni; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2005-12-02). "The Siege of the North, Part II". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 20. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  6. ^ a b c Director: Ethan Spaulding; Writer: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz (2006-04-07). "Return to Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 3. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  7. ^ Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 13, 2006). "Appa's Lost Days". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  8. ^ Director: Ethan Spaulding; Writer: John O'Bryan (2006-11-16). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  9. ^ DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Guru". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  10. ^ Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  11. ^ a b Director: Joaquim dos Santos; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2007-11-26). "The Day of Black Sun Part 2: The Eclipse". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 11. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  12. ^ Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (July 16, 2008). "The Boiling Rock, Part 2". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  13. ^ Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 17, 2008). "The Southern Raiders". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  14. ^ DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  15. ^ DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  16. ^ From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. No longer updated.
  17. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Promise Part 3
  18. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search Part 1
  19. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender
  20. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search Part 3
  21. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, Smoke and Shadow, Part 1
  22. ^ a b Avatar: The Last Airbender, Smoke and Shadow Part 3
  23. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, Smoke and Shadow, Part 2
  24. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth
  25. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno
  26. ^ a b Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series, pg. 87.
  27. ^ "An Avatar Spring Break with Mike and Bryan (part 2 of 3)". avatarspirit.net. 2007-04-06.
  28. ^ "An Interview with Princess Azula of the Fire Nation (Grey DeLisle)". October 1, 2012.
  29. ^ Guendelsberger, Emily (June 22, 2012). "The Legend Of Korra lead Janet Varney talks fun with fandom and strong female leads". The A.V. Club.
  30. ^ Director: Ethan Spaulding; Writer: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz (2007-10-24). "The Avatar and the Firelord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  31. ^ a b Director: Giancarlo Volpe; Writers: Aaron Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch Ehasz, Tim Hedrick, John O'Bryan (2006-03-17). "The Avatar State". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 1. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  32. ^ "Nickelodeon's Official Avatar: The Last Airbender Flash Site". Nick.com. Retrieved December 2, 2006.
  33. ^ The Lost Scrolls: Fire, page 159 of The Lost Scrolls Collection.
  34. ^ http://www.kungfumagazine.com/ezine/article.php?article=1038
  35. ^ "Kisu - Filmography by TV Series". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  36. ^ Director: Giancarlo Volpe; Writer: Joshua Hamilton (2006-05-26). "The Chase". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 8. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  37. ^ Director: Giancarlo Volpe; Writers: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (2006-09-15). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  38. ^ a b Director: Michael Dante DiMartino; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2006-12-01). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  39. ^ Director: Giancarlo Volpe; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2007-09-21). "The Awakening". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 1. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript. Nickelodeon.
  40. ^ Blumenfeld, Zach (June 21, 2016). "The 20 Best Characters From The Avatar Universe". pastemagazine.com.

External links[edit]