|Relationships:|| Zuko (brother)|
Ty Lee (childhood friend)
Mai (childhood friend)
|Fandom:||Avatar: The Last Airbender|
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Azula is a character in the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. She serves as the main antagonist of Book Two: Earth, as well as a secondary antagonist of Book Three: Fire, and appears frequently in the Avatar comics.
Azula is the princess of the Fire Nation and the de facto heir to the throne of the Fire Lord following the banishment of her older brother Zuko. She is a firebending prodigy, a master manipulator, and a ruthless seeker of power. At only fourteen years old, she is one of the most formidable antagonists in the series, regularly outmatching even highly competent adults. She is the only daughter of Fire Lord Ozai and Ursa, and the niece of former General Iroh.
Events of Avatar: The Last Airbender
Azula is introduced when her father Fire Lord Ozai tasks her with capturing Iroh and Zuko by any means necessary, following the failed attack on the Northern Water Tribe at the end of Book One: Water. It was this task that would dominate the narrative of Book Two: Earth, as Azula's pursuit of Zuko and Iroh caused her to come into contact with Avatar Aang.
Azula's defining characteristic within the series was her willingness and ability to recognize when a strategy was not likely to succeed, and to react accordingly. Azula's greatest triumphs within the series often come on a second attempt, such as her recognition that a direct assault on Ba Sing Se was futile and infiltration and manipulation of existing authorities within the city would prove far more fruitful. This is not to say that Azula relied only on subversive or manipulative tactics; her combat abilities frequently greatly challenged her experienced opponents and she was skilled at manipulating them into committing actions she felt advantageous.
Perhaps Azula's greatest shortcoming within the series was her inability to fully trust her friends and allies, and her willingness to sacrifice them for her own personal gain. Azula likely perceived life as a zero-sum game (perhaps because of her father's influence), which left her with few allies that she could truly depend on.
By the end of the series, Azula stood largely alone, with her brother and both childhood friends turned against her.
Despite achieving her ultimate goal and being declared Fire Lord by her father, Azula still stood in the shadow of her father, who stated his intention to become the higher-ranking Phoenix King (who would control the entire world.)
Having this achievement tarnished by the actions of her father, and perhaps recognizing the vulnerability of her position with few allies, Azula experiences a mental breakdown and suffers from extreme paranoia.
During her coronation in the final episode of the series, Azula is confronted by Zuko and Katara with no friends, advisors, or allies to protect her. Despite severely injuring Zuko, Azula was eventually defeated by Katara and chained to the ground of the Fire Nation Palace. Seeing her brother healed and knowing her reign would never come to be, Azula collapsed into sobs.
Azula appears frequently in both canon and post-canon fanfiction, being both a major antagonist and a popular character in her own right. Due to her with close family ties to particularly well-liked characters such as Zuko and Iroh, she appears frequently even in fanworks featuring other pairings. After her mental breakdown during the final episodes of the series, many fans were sympathetic to Azula and expressed interest in a redemption arc for her. In particular, her mistreatment at the hands of Ozai is recurring theme in fan theories and other meta. Azula is often used as a vehicle in a number of fanworks to address mental health and other issues such as child abuse.
Zuko and Azula's complicated relationship also appears numerous times in fandom, as the complicated relationships between siblings and family members is a recurring theme within the series. The parallels between Zuko and Azula in comparison to Katara and Sokka are particularly striking.
Similarly, the relationships between Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai are addressed with the added challenge of a romantic relationship between two or more of these characters. Though Mai is most often paired with Zuko, Azula is quite frequently paired with Ty Lee.
Between October 2013 and September 2019, Azula was most often listed as paired with Ty Lee (63%), followed by Sokka (17%), Katara (6%), and Aang (6%) within the FanFiction.Net’s pairing mode. As of September 2020, Tyzula is also her most popular pairing on AO3, as well as the fandom's most popular femslash pairing.
Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai are collectively referred to as the Dangerous Ladies by the fandom.
- Blue Fire and Polar Bear Dogs A Legend of Korra fic in which a reformed Azula teaches Korra firebending.
- The Psychology of Azula l Avatar: The Last Airbender - meta video analysis
Links & Resources
- Azula (Avatar) tag on Archive of Our Own
- Avatar: The Last Airbender stories and crossovers featuring Azula on FanFiction.Net
- The Azula Nation of the World community on FanFiction.Net