Princess Azula is a fictional character
voiced by Grey DeLisle in the Nickelodeon
animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or
ending details follow.
Azula is Zuko's younger sister, first seen in the
audience at Zuko's ill-fated Agni Kai. She is named for her grandfather, Ozai's father, Fire Lorn
Azulon. Azula seems to take great pleasure in the punishment inflicted on her brother Zuko. Both
Zuko and Iroh express a deep dislike of Azula.
While in Zuko's case it stems from a childhood spent enduring Azula's physical and psychological torments, Iroh reacts purely
to her amoral ways and her eagerness in carrying out her father's world war.
Azula grew up in the riches, splendor, and privileges of being royalty in the Fire Nation.
Her sharp wits and the fact that she is a Firebending prodigy gained great attention
and acclaim, and quickly made her Ozai's favorite child. Her father began raising her as his true heir early on, taking her
into his confidence and grooming her in politics, while mostly ignoring Zuko. From the quality of her ship and soldiers, her
favored status is readily apparent. In the final seconds of the first season finale,
Fire Lord Ozai gave her the task of capturing Zuko and Iroh.
Azula's cruelty was evident even as child.
In "The Avatar State", Azula attempts and fails
to capture Zuko and Iroh, (now considered traitors to the Fire Nation) luring Zuko
with the false promise of being accepted home with open arms. When Zuko learns of the deception, he attacks her, but is unable
to land a single blow. However, she failed to finish her brother off, as Iroh redirected her lethal lightning attack away
from Zuko and into a cliff, and then kicked her off the edge of the ship.
Later she appears in "Return to Omashu" to recruit
her childhood friends, Ty Lee and Mai, to
help her with her task of capturing her brother and her uncle. Ty Lee, who was "persuaded" by Azula, decides to join her and
the two travel to Omashu (which Azula later names The City of New Ozai), where they meet up with their friend, Mai. Unlike
Ty Lee, Mai easily agreed to join the Princess in her quest. During this episode, Azula first encounters the Avatar, Aang. She and her new allies are almost able to defeat Aang and his friends, but they are able
to escape. Soon after the battle, she seeks the Avatar as a personal target, often choosing to hunt down Aang herself while
sending Mai and Ty Lee to face Katara and Sokka.
In "The Chase", Princess Azula and her two friends
relentlessly pursue the Avatar group, using a Fire Nation "tank train" and lizard mounts ("Mongoose Dragons") to pursue them night and day. After wearing down the foursome, the Avatar gang decides to split up as Aang tries
to lead Azula and her friends away from Sokka and Katara's trail. Azula notices the deception, however, and send Ty Lee and
Mai to follow Sokka and Katara, while she continues chasing the Avatar. Azula spots the Avatar in an abandoned town and gets
ready to fight him and her brother Zuko, who had tracked them and had his own plans for capturing Aang. Azula fights the two
boys, and despite the fact that both mostly concentrate on attacking her, she dominates the fight, landing a knockout blow
on Zuko and later trapping Aang beneath some fallen rubble. Victory is denied to her, however, when Katara, Sokka, Toph, show
up to rescue Aang, while Iroh arrives to help Zuko. Cornered, she claims to be willing to give in, saying that "a princess
surrenders with honor", but to everyone's surprise and dismay, Azula takes advantage of Iroh momentarily being distracted
and seriously wounds him with a surge of blue fire, then escapes as the four benders attack with their respective elements.
Azula is not seen again until "The Drill" where
she, along with her allies Mai and Ty Lee, are overseeing War Minister Qin's efforts to use a giant drill to break through
the walls of Ba Sing Se. When the engineers report an accident involving an ambushed
engineer, stolen drill schematics, and further "sabotage", Azula recognizes that it was the work of the Avatar. Upon finding
Aang, Katara, and Sokka attempting to break the engine's braces, Azula forces Aang and his gang to quickly flee. She sends
Mai and Ty Lee after Katara and Sokka while Azula follows Aang, claiming, "the Avatar is mine." She catches Aang trying to
bore a hole at the top of the drill, and they begin a brutal match. She attempts to stop Aang from destroying the drill, but
Aang uses a powerful impact on an earthen wedge to destroy the drill and knock Azula away.
Azula then appears in "Appa's Lost Days." This
takes places chronologically after the events in The Drill, and in it she, Mai, and Ty Lee have been tracking Appa's trail
while he is separated from Aang. She arrives in a forest and encounters the Kyoshi warriors and Appa, but no Avatar, as Aang
and Appa had been parted previously in the episode "The Library". Nonetheless, after
a brief trade of snide remarks with the Kyoshi warriors, Azula and her friends initiate a fight. Suki forces Appa to flee
and continue trying to find Aang, turning for a showdown with Azula. As Appa flees, the remainder of the fight is left unseen.
Later, in "The Guru," it is revealed that Azula
and her team successfully dispatched the Kyoshi warriors, and took their clothes. The previous episode, "The
Earth King," showed them infiltrating Ba Sing Se disguised as Kyoshi warriors.
Shortly after, in the episode "The Guru," The Earth
King reveals that he has had a troubling week, with Long Feng and the Dai Li planning to take over. However, he also reveals
to them that the Earth Kingdom will invade the Fire Nation on the day of a solar eclipse, which interests her greatly.
Afterwards, she confesses to her allies, Ty Lee and Mai that she plans to take control of the
Dai Li and take down Ba Sing Se from the inside. She develops a plan to inform the Dai Li of their true nature, who will spread
the word on to their leader, Long Feng.
The plan is successful, and Azula is taken by Dai Li agents in the middle of the night to Long
Feng, who strikes a deal with her. He gives her control of the Dai Li to overthrow the government, and in exchange, he will
give her the Avatar.
Meanwhile, in the "The Crossroads of Destiny,"
Katara discovers that Zuko and Iroh are in the city, and approaches Azula, thinking
her to be Suki. However, Ty Lee takes her down, where they lock her in the crystal
catacombs beneath the city. Azula decides to have a "family reunion" by sending a letter to Iroh and Zuko, telling them that
the Earth King wishes for them to serve him tea. They fall into her trap, and the pair is surrounded by Dai Li agents. However,
Iroh manages to break free and escapes the palace. Zuko stays behind to fight Azula, but is overwhelmed by the Dai Li. He
is also locked away underneath the city, joining Katara.
Finally, Azula unleashes her coup upon the city, and arrests the Council of Five (the Earth
King's highest ranking generals) and the Earth King. Sokka and Toph are arrested as well, while Iroh and Aang seek a way to
free Katara and Zuko. Long Feng arrives on the scene and commands the Dai Li to arrest Azula, but is stunned when they fail
to act. Azula gleefully explains that the Dai Li were so impressed by her that they no longer know who to follow. She claims
that her royal blood gives her a divine right to rule and commands Long Feng to bow
to her, since he cannot compete with somebody born to rule. He reluctantly does, saying she beat him at his own game. She
responds that he was "never even a player."
Azula appears one last time in the episode, shortly after Iroh and Aang have freed Katara and
Zuko. There, she tells Zuko to join her and finally restore his honor, allowing him to return to the Fire Nation. She leaves
after Katara and Aang, claiming he is free to choose. Azula battles the Avatar and Katara, but seems to be losing the battle
when Zuko arrives, aiding Azula. A long battle ensues, in which Azula and Zuko gain the upper hand with the arrival of dozens
of Dai Li agents. In desperation, Aang enters the Avatar State, but is shot from behind with lightning by Azula before he
can unleash his power. Witnessing this, Katara summons a large wave and rides it to catch the fallen Avatar, knocking down
the Dai Li and Zuko in the process. As Azula and Zuko approach the defeated duo, they are saved by the timely appearance of
Iroh who temporarily holds off Azula, Zuko, and the Dai Li, allowing himself to be captured once Katara has made her escape
with Aang. Later, in the throne room of the Earth King, she tells Zuko that he has restored his honor by joining her. The
season ends with Ba Sing Se firmly in her grasp.
Azula relentlessly drills herself towards perfection and will settle for nothing less from herself
or those that serve her. She exhibits a need to be the best among her peers; even as a child she was seen to react violently
when another child would outdo her. She was likely spoiled by her father as a young child. She is rather vain and believes
that power and domination are what makes a person strong.
She is also known for being one of the cruelest characters in the series. Her sadistic aggression and lack of remorse suggest that Azula could be a sociopath — her own mother, Princess Ursa even remarked, "What is wrong with that child?” In "Zuko
Alone", her first reaction to hearing of her uncle Iroh's son
Lu Ten dying in battle is to wonder whether this now makes her father the heir to the throne. In a similarly cold-blooded
comment, when hearing that Iroh is ending his two year siege of Ba Sing Se due to grief over his son's death, she dismisses
him as a "loser and quitter". This cruel and seemingly total lack of compassion extends to all of her family, with the exclusion
of her father. She grins maliciously when Zuko is burned and scarred by their father. She also did not seem to care when her
mother disappeared or when her grandfather died, instead only appreciating her father's dishonorable gall in stealing Iroh's
birthright to the throne.
Most of all, she enjoys torturing Zuko, calling him "Zuzu", a nickname he detests and frequently tells her not to use. She derives pleasure from reminding him of his inferiority in their
father's eyes, and causing him great embarrassment in front of both friends and family. She is likewise vindictive and ruthless
with others and does not hesitate to threaten those who would disobey or fail to fulfill her wishes.
Azula's mastery of the Firebending art has not helped curb her attitude. Her characteristic
blue flames symbolizes the power she possesses and constantly seeks to increase. Her
apathy also accounts for her ability to create and direct lightning, the "cold-blooded fire;" according to Iroh, the skill requires complete control of all emotion, which would not prove
difficult for Azula with her one-track mentality. Despite all of this, she is quite
the tactician, as she can take advantage of the situation, regardless of how bleak, and turn into her favor. This is how she
was able to escape capture from Aang's group, and capture Ba Sing Se.
Azula's advanced Firebending.
Azula is revealed to be proficient in the highly difficult technique of creating and guiding
lightning, a sub-skill of Firebending, and was the first character within the show
to demonstrate its creation.
The most noticeable features of Princess Azula's Bending are her ability to create lightning
and her characteristic blue flames, both of which are much more intense than the red, orange and yellow fire normally used
by Firebenders. In the second season finale Azula is shown using her flames to propel her forward almost similar to a jet.
Also notable is her ability to produce much larger flames than previously displayed by most other Firebenders on the show.
She is even able to charge up her fire before releasing it, as was seen during her fight with Aang in the Episode, "The Drill." These abilities, when combined with her expert martial arts skills and aggression,
make her extremely dangerous and deadly. So far, Princess Azula is Aang's most dangerous foe, having been able to defeat him
twice in combat ("The Drill" and "The Crossroads of Destiny"), fight evenly against the team of Zuko and Aang ("The Chase").
She is also skilled with acting, which she uses often to deceive or trick the enemy, seen especially in the hour long season
finale, when she pretends to be afraid of Long Feng when purposely captured by the Dai Li. She has amazing self control, and
is said to be "terrifying and inspirational" at the same time. It is thanks to her fighting prowess, mastery of Firebending,
conniving mind, and her pursuit of absolute perfection that Azula managed to conquer Ba Sing Se where everyone else had failed.
Azula and her allies: Mai and Ty Lee.
As of the season two episode "Return to Omashu",
Princess Azula is traveling with her old friends Ty Lee and Mai in search of Zuko and Iroh, who were now proclaimed to be traitors by her father Fire Lord Ozai. They also seek to
find and capture the Avatar, although only as a secondary goal. While Ty Lee did not want to join Azula on her mission, Azula's
methods of persuasion (by ordering the circus ringmaster to make Ty Lee's performance in "Return to Omashu" increasingly more dangerous) were enough to change her mind. Mai, however, was more than willing to join Azula in
her mission, claiming that her lifestyle in Omashu (now New Ozai) was deathly boring and needed a change. Recently, in "The Crossroads of Destiny", Zuko and the Dai Li join forces with Azula and assisted her
in her coup against the Earth King.
Fire Lord Ozai
Explicitly stated by Zuko, Azula is favored by their father, Fire Lord Ozai; Azula's cruelty
and sadism is only matched by her father's. As Firebending prodigy and the favored sibling, everyone adored her and, judging
by her ship and soldiers, she was given the better treatment. In the final seconds of the season one finale, Fire Lord Ozai
gave her the task of capturing Zuko and Iroh.
Little has been revealed of the relationship between Azula and her mother, Ursa. It is known
that she cared deeply for the neglected Zuko, despite her daughter Princess Azula having better Firebending powers. This is
a direct contrast to her husband Ozai's feelings towards his children, who has stated that while Azula was "born lucky", Zuko
was "lucky to be born." It is also seen that Azula was often scolded by Ursa for the unkind and disrespectful remarks she
made about her brother, uncle, or grandfather.
In "Zuko Alone", Azula tells Zuko that his father
was going to have to kill him after angering the then Fire Lord Azulon. Zuko tells himself that Azula is just lying, but as
his mom gives him her final goodbyes, she states that everything she has done has been to protect him. Despite the fact that
Ursa disappears on the same night that Azulon dies, it is unclear what exactly took place or how these two events are related.
Ursa's ultimate fate is unknown. It is noted, however, that Azula seems to show no concern or sadness at all over the death
of her grandfather or the disappearance of her own mother, especially when it becomes known that Ozai will be crowned Fire
Lord; like her father Ozai, family seems to be pale in comparison to her desire for power.
Zuko, a.k.a. Zuzu (the nickname in which Azula had called him in "The
Avatar State",The Guru" and also in "The Chase"), is Azula's older brother, but there is no love between the two. Even though she is the younger sibling, Azula has
been known to lie to Zuko and take pleasure in torturing him; though Zuko knew that "Azula always lies" (as he repeatedly
says in "Zuko Alone"), she was often able to manipulate him. This is most notable
in "The Crossroads of Destiny", when she uses his hope of redemption to make him betray
Iroh and join her in attacking the Avatar and conquering Ba Sing Se.
Like Zuko, Iroh cares little for Azula. Even as a child, Azula had a considerably low opinion
of her uncle; she referred to him as "His Royal Tea-loving Kookiness", promptly torched a doll he had sent her from an Earth
Kingdom city he had recently held siege to and called Iroh a "quitter and loser" for losing heart and failing to capture Ba
Sing Se after the death of his son Lu Ten. She also expressed excitement at the idea that he might die in battle, which would
put Ozai (and her) in line for the throne. Once, in "The Chase," she attacked Iroh
with a fire blast---after she had, as she put it, "surrendered with honor"---and severely wounded him. Unlike Zuko, Iroh is
not blinded by emotion and can see through Azula's lies. Despite Iroh's tendencies to avoid unnecessary conflict, he knows
that she is sadistic and will go as far as teaching Zuko more difficult bending techniques in order to help him defeat her.
Iroh is the only other character who has been shown with the ability to create lightning, and has demonstrated the technique
of redirecting lightning, of which Azula has no knowledge. Azula also acknowledges him as her "Old Fuddy-Duddy Uncle". In
"The Crossroads of Destiny," while Azula was trying to manipulate Zuko into taking
over Ba Sing Se, Iroh was trying to convince him to let go of trying to restore his honor and "choose good".
Not much is known about Azula's relationship with Iroh's son, her cousin Lu Ten. In "Zuko Alone", Ursa says "Iroh has lost his son. Your cousin, Lu Ten, did not survive the battle",
Zuko is shown to be very shocked and sad by the news, while Azula is shown in the background with a somewhat sad face. However,
she calls Iroh a "loser and a quitter" when Iroh decides to come home from the battle at Ba Sing Se, after hearing the news
of his son's death. It is unknown how Azula really felt towards Lu Ten.
Aang, as the Avatar, has become Azula's target along with her brother and uncle. In their
first encounters, she nearly defeats him, normally forcing him to flee. However, he proves that, with newly learned bending
skills, he can stand against her. In "The Drill," Aang defeats her in battle with
a little help from Momo though the victory was hard fought. In "The Crossroads of Destiny," she attempts to take on Aang and Katara on her own but is clearly outmatched. Zuko however, quickly shows up and
aids her in battle. After a long battle, and being out numbered with the recent arrival of the Dai Li, Aang attempts to go
into the Avatar State only to have been nearly killed by Azula.
Mai regards Azula as a friend. However, Azula treats her with as little concern as she
treats Ty Lee with, doing things like causing her brother Zuko to fall with Mai into the water in order to laugh at them when
they were children. What is interesting to note, however, is that Mai does not necessarily fear Azula, as shown in the episode
"The Drill," where Mai refused an order from Azula to chase Sokka and Katara in the
drill's waste system ("She can shoot all the lightning she wants at me: I am not going in there.") She also allows
Sokka, Toph and the Earth King to escape in "The Crossroads of Destiny," merely because
she doesn't want to bother to fight them, and likely because they were willing to take the Earth King's pet bear Bosco off
Like Mai, Ty Lee regards Azula as a friend, but ever since they were both children, she hasn't
treated Ty Lee as a friend. Because Azula cannot stand to be "number two", even as a child, she shoved Ty Lee to the ground
when she could do acrobatic flips that Azula couldn't. Azula also bullied an unwilling Ty Lee into joining her search for
the Avatar and her brother and uncle while she was doing a performance (forcing the ringmaster to set fire to the net underneath
her and releasing the most dangerous animals) until she finally gave in. As with her family, Azula seems to show just as little
mercy and compassion to her "friends" as she does to her enemies.
Azula is the first female Firebender to appear
in the series.
Azula is the Firebender silhouetted in the opening
credits of the series.
Azula's name might come from the Spanish/Portuguese word for blue, azul, a fitting reference to her use of blue fire and lightning
in her Firebending, and "-a", usually used to denote the female gender. Another proposed theory is that the name is an alteration of the Hindi word
asura, meaning "demon."
It was revealed in the episode "Zuko Alone" that
Azula is named after her passed grandfather Azulon.
In "The Earth King," Azula was seen as the blue
dragon on the right of Zuko. In Chinese traditions, the blue or Azure Dragon is strongest
of the Four Symbols of the constellations, is Dragon of the East, controls the largest territories, and it represents the
spring season (which happens to be the time setting for Book 2).