Azula

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Princess Azula
Avatar: The Last Airbender character
Azula.png
Azula's Machiavellian facial expression
First appearance"The Storm" (2005)
Created byMichael Dante DiMartino
Bryan Konietzko
Portrayed bySummer Bishil
Voiced byGrey DeLisle
In-universe information
SpeciesHuman
GenderFemale
TitlePrincess
Fire Lord (never crowned)
OccupationStrategist, combatant
Fighting styleChangquan
Shaolinquan
Xing Yi Quan
FamilyOzai (father)
Ursa (mother)
Zuko (older brother)
Ikem (stepfather)
Kiyi (maternal half-sister)
RelativesIroh (paternal uncle)
Lu Ten (cousin; deceased)
Izumi (niece)
Grandfamily:
Azulon (paternal grandfather; deceased)
Ilah (paternal grandmother)
Jinzuk (maternal grandfather; deceased)
Rina (maternal grandmother; deceased)
Sozin (paternal great-grandfather; deceased)
Roku (maternal great-grandfather; deceased)
Ta Min (maternal great-grandmother)
Iroh Jr. (grandnephew)
Unnamed Izumi daughter (grandniece)
NationalityFire Nation
Bending elementPrimary: Sub-styles:
Skin colorLight
Hair colorBlack
Eye colorGold

Azula (阿祖拉, Ā Zǔ Lā) is a fictional character and one of the main antagonists in Nickelodeon's animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender, created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and voiced by Grey DeLisle.

In the show, Azula is the princess of the Fire Nation and an extremely powerful firebending prodigy.[1] 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 his mentor, their uncle Iroh, while also attempting to capture Avatar Aang, considered the Fire Nation's greatest threat to victory in the war. Azula is known for being a skilled strategist and manipulator.[2] As her brother Zuko states, she "always lies."[3] Throughout the original series and the sequel comics, she is shown to be capable of highly advanced firebending, producing hotter blue flames as well as lightning.

Appearances[edit]

Avatar: The Last Airbender[edit]

Azula's unique blue flames

Book One: Water[edit]

Since she is the shadowed firebender in the series' 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 13-year-old Zuko's Agni Kai (firebending duel) against their father, Fire Lord Ozai. Azula smirks as Zuko's face is burned after he refuses to fight Ozai, who takes this as a sign of weakness and disrespect. The Fire Lord then banishes the permanently scarred Zuko and tasks him with finding the long-lost avatar.[4] Azula makes a second brief appearance at the end of the first season, when Ozai tasks her with repatriating Zuko and Iroh, who accompanied his nephew into exile and briefly cooperated with the series' protagonists.[5]

Book Two: Earth[edit]

Azula eventually encounters the Avatar in Omashu, and later attempts to capture him by enlisting her childhood friends Mai and Ty Lee.[6] Azula continues to pursue Aang, Zuko and Iroh for the rest of the season. After her initial failure to enter the Earth Kingdom capital 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 ability to bend any element, dress as and utilize the fighting style of Kyoshi, a past Avatar.[7] Azula along with Mai and Ty Lee proceed to defeat and impersonate them.[8]

Posing as Kyoshi Warriors, Azula and her friends infiltrate Ba Sing Se and befriend Earth King Kuei, who tells them about the planned invasion of the Fire Nation during an upcoming solar eclipse. Azula also comes to understand that the secret police and intelligence agency known as the Dai Li is the key to power in the capital. She is discovered as an infiltrator by Dai Li agents and brought before their imprisoned leader Long Feng. Having in fact intentionally exposed herself, Azula lulls him into a false sense of control, and accepts his offer to help stage a coup d'état against the Earth King and the loyalist Council of Five.[9] Immediately after her seizure of power, Azula betrays Long Feng and assumes permanent leadership of the Dai Li. She also encounters Zuko in the city and convinces him to join her in order to redeem himself. During their showdown, Azula kills Aang by striking him with a bolt of lightning while he is in the Avatar State, though he is later revived by Katara. Azula then orders the Dai Li to tear down the walls of Ba Sing Se, exposing the city to an invasion and occupation by the Fire Nation.[10]

Book Three: Fire[edit]

In the early episodes of this season, Azula bonds with her brother and friends after their victorious return to the Fire Nation with Iroh as a prisoner. However, Azula lies to Ozai by claiming that Zuko killed Aang, as she has a hunch that Aang survived and knows that all the blame would now fall on Zuko if this were true. During the two-part episode "The Day of Black Sun," Aang assembles an elite invasion force and attacks the capital, taking advantage of a solar eclipse that renders the firebenders powerless. Having been warned by Azula, Ozai is evacuated to an underground bunker prior to the invasion. Azula and her Dai Li agents stall Aang and his friends Sokka and Toph from finding Ozai before the eclipse, which lasts only eight minutes, allowing the firebenders to retaliate with full force once they regain their bending, causing the invasion to fail. However, Zuko defects to Team Avatar after confronting Ozai during the eclipse.[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. However, 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 manage to escape. Mai betrays Azula by aiding the group's escape, proclaiming that she did so out of her love for Zuko. Enraged, Azula attempts to attack Mai but is stopped by Ty Lee, who renders her incapable of bending by blocking her chi (the energy within one which one would use for bending). After having Mai and Ty Lee imprisoned for betraying her,[12] Azula leads a platoon to the Western Air Temple, where she duels with Zuko.[13]

In the finale, Ozai leaves Azula behind in the Fire Nation as he sets out to conquer the world, naming her as his successor to the Fire Lord position. Soon afterward, Azula sinks into psychosis, hallucinates about her long-lost mother and deposes nearly all of her servants and advisers. Before she is crowned as Fire Lord, Zuko and Katara interrupt the ceremony, whereupon Azula challenges Zuko to single combat in an Agni Kai. However, Azula's attacks, while powerful, are wild and emotional while Zuko's are calm and disciplined; and when his attacks begin to overpower her, she sends a bolt of lightning toward Katara, but ends up striking down Zuko, who attempts to redirect it.[14] She is ultimately defeated by Katara who takes her captive via waterbending, causing Azula to have a complete nervous breakdown.[15]

Avatar comics[edit]

The Promise

Following the end of the war, Azula is admitted to a psychiatric institution, where she is closely monitored.[16] A year after the war's end, Zuko visits Azula to request her assistance in gaining information from Ozai on the whereabouts of their mother, and Azula accepts without asking for anything in return.[17]

The Search

When Azula visits Ozai in his prison, they are watched by Zuko before she asks him to leave when their father remains silent in her presence. Azula, having learned of the letters Ursa sent which falsely claim that Zuko is not Ozai's biological son, dodges her brother's questions while distracting him with her bending long enough to access the letters and burn 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 dethrone her brother while also murder their mother.[18] Her request is granted, and she becomes a protagonist by joining Team Avatar.[19] The team eventually find that Ursa lost her memory and assumed the identity of Noriko, starting a new family in her home village. Although Azula nearly kills Ursa, she becomes emotionally confused after her mother apologizes for not showing her enough love and even more after Zuko reveals that he still loves his sister despite their strained relationship. This results in a confused Azula running off into the wilderness. For several weeks, Zuko searches for Azula but fails to find her.[20]

Smoke and Shadow

After several weeks, Azula helps her followers from the mental institution she was held in escape. They resurface under the guise of kemurikage (dark spirits).[21] The "kemurikage" kidnap many children.[22] After Zuko frees the children, Azula tells him that her motivation is to make him more like their father by relying on fear to maintain control. Azula then escapes and is last seen observing Zuko apologizing to his people for his recent actions. As Azula directly tells Zuko about her supposed intentions and seems to take his speech seriously, she is possibly acting as a stealth mentor by using reverse psychology on Zuko.[21] Azula's ultimate fate is unknown, as she does not appear in any later storylines.

Video games[edit]

Azula appears as an antagonist in the video games Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth[23] and Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno[24] again voiced by Grey DeLisle.

Film[edit]

Azula appears in the critically panned live action feature film The Last Airbender in a flashback where Zuko gets his scar and before the end credits roll. In the film, 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 powerful than Zuko as well as a firebending prodigy, and also to easily distinguish her attacks from his in their fights.[25] She was initially intended to have an arranged marriage during the third season.[26] 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 villain in the series.[25]

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.[27] 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.[28]

Characterization[edit]

Although Azula's age is never stated in the series itself, the Avatar website gives her age as fourteen. However, the graphic novels state that she is in fact a year younger than Zuko, making her around fifteen during the events of the show. She is Fire Lord Sozin's great-granddaughter through Ozai, and Avatar Roku's through her mother, Ursa.[29] 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 firebending prodigy and a dedicated perfectionist.[30] As one who wants nothing less than absolute control, she likewise has remarkable control of herself, seemingly able to react to any situation at a moment's notice without losing her composure. This is shown when she learns of a secret plot to invade the Fire Nation while in disguise, but does not react to not blow her cover.

Psychological analyses estimate Azula as being highly intelligent,[2][31] and as suffering from narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders with notable Machiavellian and, at times, sadistic traits. Following the betrayal by her closest friends Mai and Ty Lee, she possibly develops schizoaffective disorder, as indicated by her delusions of persecution, hallucinations of her mother speaking to her, as well as her frequent and radical intermittent mood fluctuations.[2] The drastic combination of antisocial, narcissistic and Machiavellian traits suggest that Azula appears to suffer from a dark triad personality.

From a young age, Azula had a cruel, sociopathic personality, showing almost no empathy or remorse for actions that harmed others both physically and emotionally. Azula was heavily influenced by her father, who favored her over Zuko due to her superior firebending abilities.[3] However, Azula's father was a ruthless man incapable of true love. Azula was also constantly scolded by her mother due to her cruel nature. This shaped Azula's fears that she could not count on love from anyone, no matter how close they seemed. Unable to trust others, she instead began to control them using fear.

Although a skilled 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 true personality.

From childhood, Azula believed her mother favored Zuko and thought her monstrous, which she admitted to be true but hurt her deeply. After she was betrayed by Mai and Ty Lee, her mental state gradually collapsed, as her attacks became far more vicious and she was seemingly obsessed with killing Zuko. After her defeat, it is revealed in the graphic novel The Promise that she was admitted into a mental institution in the Fire Nation due to her deranged mental state, possibly suffering from schizophrenia. Both in the series and the comics, she is shown to be disturbed by frequent hallucinations of her mother.

Azula often acts cold-hearted towards her uncle and her brother, but she appears to show some genuine care and love for Zuko in the season 2 finale and early episodes of season 3. Although she seems to care about her friends, she frequently manipulates them, as seen when she threatens Ty Lee into leaving the circus in Book 2. There has been only one known occurrence of Azula showing remorse by apologizing after unintentionally insulting Ty Lee.

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 one of the most skilled firebenders in the show 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.

Blue flames[edit]

Azula is the only firebender who can produce blue flames, which are hotter and contain more energy (according to Planck's law) than those of other firebenders who bend normal orange flames. Her flames are blue due to her fire being fueled by pure hatred. In fact, her name is derived from azul, the Spanish, Galician and Portuguese word for blue. However, Azula could not produce blue fire as a young child, as shown in flashbacks. Similarly, her grandfather Azulon was never shown to wield blue flames despite his namesake implying otherwise. 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.[30]

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," she 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 psychopathy), 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pittarese, Frank (2006). "Nation Exploration". Nickelodeon Magazine (Winter 2006): 2.
  2. ^ a b c Hickson, Timothy (13 April 2019). "The Psychology of Azula l Avatar: The Last Airbender". archive.org.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  4. ^ Director: Lauren MacMullan; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2005-06-03). "The Storm". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 12. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Transcript.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  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, The Search Part 2
  20. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Search Part 3
  21. ^ a b Avatar: The Last Airbender, Smoke and Shadow Part 3
  22. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender, Smoke and Shadow, Part 2
  23. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth
  24. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno
  25. ^ a b Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series, pg. 87.
  26. ^ "An Avatar Spring Break with Mike and Bryan (part 2 of 3)". avatarspirit.net. 2007-04-06.
  27. ^ "An Interview with Princess Azula of the Fire Nation (Grey DeLisle)". October 1, 2012.
  28. ^ Guendelsberger, Emily (June 22, 2012). "The Legend Of Korra lead Janet Varney talks fun with fandom and strong female leads". The A.V. Club.
  29. ^ Director: Ethan Spaulding; Writer: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz (2007-10-24). "The Avatar and the Firelord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  30. ^ 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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  31. ^ Shung, Min Tham. "The Psychology of Azula's Character" (PDF). DigiPen Institute of Technology.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  37. ^ Director: Giancarlo Volpe; Writers: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (2006-09-15). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  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. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.
  39. ^ Director: Giancarlo Volpe; Writer: Aaron Ehasz (2007-09-21). "The Awakening". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 1. Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Episode Tanscript.

External links[edit]