Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender has plenty of memorable villains for Team Aang to fight in their quest to restore peace and balance to the world. Aang meets his first villain, Zuko, early on, and they soon start a deadly game of cat and mouse. But Zuko isn’t the only one whom Fire Lord Ozai sent after the last air bender. Princess Azula burst onto the screen in season 2, and she’s a whole new level of fire bender.
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As a product of the powerful Ozai-Roku bloodline like her brother, Azula quickly proves herself a real powerhouse of a bender, assassin, and military strategist. But there’s more to this princess than just her flames. What else is there to know about the Fire Nation’s most fearsome bender?
Update June 4th, 2020 by Louis Kemner: The Avatar: The Last Airbender series has returned to Netflix at last, and this is a chance for old fans to revisit their favorite show while newcomers can try it out for the first time. Classic characters from Aang to Toph to Azula are back, and there is a lot to know about princess Azula. She isn’t just a cunning villain; she’s nearly as complex and tragic as her fire-scarred brother. What else should fans know about the fearsome Fire Nation princess?
15 Rare Apologies
Azula is, overall, a vain and arrogant person, and she is not typically seen trying to comfort anyone or make amends to them. She thinks that everyone owes her something, and this even includes her friends Mai and Ty Lee.
But Azula will make an exception for Ty Lee. Azula once called her a tease, and when Ty Lee took it really hard, Azula relented and gave her a sincere apology. That was the only time Azula was seen saying “I’m sorry” to anyone.
14 Blue Princess
Azula is the only known character in the entire franchise (including The Legend of Korra) to create blue flames. This is a mark of how skilled she is, and how strong her firebending can be.
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So, the creators named her after this distinct blue fire. Azul means “blue” in several languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, and Filipino. So, Azula’s name must be pretty on the nose when dubbed in those languages.
13 Her Chinese Year
The Chinese zodiac of twelve animals is a part of the Avatar universe, and a number of major characters are confirmed as being born in certain years. In Azula’s case, the year of the Snake.
None of the zodiac animals have a negative connotation. The Snake is intelligent, wise, enigmatic, and cunning, traits that can be used for good. But they are also tailor-made for villainy, as in the case with Azula.
12 She’s A Comfortable Liar
Not only is Azula a manipulative and cunning person, but she can lie too, and she doesn’t easily give herself away. This is useful for taunting team avatar, tormenting Zuko, and much more.
Toph can sense when a person is lying by feeling their change in heartbeat and blood pressure, but Azula can tell lies without being detected this way. She’s too confident and ruthless to feel nervous when lying.
11 Agni Kai Fighting
An Agni Kai is a ritualistic firebending duel, fought during the evening so the two combatants won’t hurt each other too badly. It’s not a fight to the death; it’s a way to settle grievances.
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Zuko, Zhao, and Ozai have all been seen fighting this way, and Azula is the first and only girl seen fighting an Agni Kai (against Zuko during the finale). It’s unclear whether this is a coincidence, or if Agni Kai duels are usually fought between men by tradition.
10 She’s A Full-Blown Prodigy
Only her grandfather, Fire Lord Azulon—for whom she’s named—has had the honor of being named a fire bending prodigy. Plenty of skilled fire benders appear in The Last Airbender, from Jeong-Jeong to Admiral Zhao to Zuko himself. But Azula is a step above them, to her father’s delight, and Azula can produce rare and powerful blue flames. That, and this princess is graceful and deadly in combat, using all sorts of innovative fire bending techniques while hunting Team Aang.
9 She Can Play Mind Games
This princess can really get into your head, especially if you’re Prince Zuko. Even as a child, Azula always knew exactly how to provoke her brother and friends alike, sometimes to tease, sometimes to turn her enemies on each other. And, as a 14-year-old princess, Azula can intimidate or coerce anyone, including the Dai Li, who become loyal to her over Long Feng. Not even Long Feng’s fervent order to arrest Azula worked against her mind games. She’s good at taunting, too, to control her enemy’s actions during combat.
8 Her Pragmatic Side
While Azula likes to show off her brilliance and royal status, she soon learns that this does not work for some jobs. Early in season 2, Azula easily gives away her presence with her large and fancy Fire Nation ship. Team Aang could spot that thing from a mile away. So, Azula correctly realizes that she needs “a small, elite team” that can stealthily go anywhere and get the job done. Soon enough, Azula recruits the acrobat Ty Lee and the knife-throwing Mai for the job. The hunt is on.
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7 The Finest Lightning Bender
Azula isn’t the only one seen bending lightning. Iroh can bend it too (and later learned how to redirect it), and seven decades later, Mako proves himself a fine lighting bender, too.
But, as with her fire bending, Azula takes it a step further. The princess can bend it with extraordinary skill and power, and she very nearly killed Aang with it—and thus, nearly ended the Avatar Cycle for good. Fortunately for the world, Katara’s healing water fixed the damage enough for Aang to recover and resume his quest. That was a close one!
6 She’s Got An Insecure Side
Almost anyone who meets princess Azula will see her proud, arrogant, and confident side, and even her allies may fear her for it. But deep down, Azula is a teenage girl like any other, and she shows her more vulnerable side during a house party on Ember Island.
There, far away from the courts or battlefield, Azula is just another girl, and she’s a lousy flirt. She actually does want to meet and impress boys, but her awkward boasts don’t go over well. At least Ty Lee tried to coach her a bit. Azula’s also not thrilled about her chilly relationship with her mother, Ursa, but more on that later.
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5 A Flair For The Dramatic
Azula needs to put on a tough act to impress her allies and enemies alike, but it’s clear that she enjoys this and doesn’t just do it for appearances. During a beach vacation, Azula is invited to play a round of volleyball with the other teenagers, but she manages to turn that into a game of life or death! She sets the net on fire and exploits an opposing girl’s bad ankle to secure victory, and boasts rather loudly about it. So much for “graceful loser, humble winner.” And don’t forget the time Azula set Ty Lee’s safety net aflame during a circus.
4 Flaunting Her Superiority
As an extension of her love of drama, Azula never fails to show off how superior she is (or feels) compared to others. Late in season 2, Azula infiltrates the walled-off city of Ba Sing Se, and takes command of the Dai Li right out from under Long Feng’s feet.
Later, when the scheme is complete, Long Feng kneels and admits “you beat me at my own game.” But Azula doesn’t just agree; she says “don’t flatter yourself. You were never even a player.” That must sting.
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3 She’s About To Lose It
Azula has a lot on her plate as a princess and the prime hunter of the Avatar. For the most part, Azula has the mental fortitude to juggle her many responsibilities, but things turn on her later on.
Zuko has fully defected to the Avatar’s side, and, at the Boiling Rock prison, Mai and Ty Lee turn against Azula at the last moment to secure Zuko and Sokka’s escape. Azula is shocked, then furious, then secretly devastated. Combine all this betrayal with increasing pressure to perform and deepening resentment against her mother, and it’s clear how Azula eventually lost it.
2 Azula and Acrobatics
While Azula is not quite the expert acrobat that Ty Lee is, Azula is still a skilled acrobat in her own way. She uses this to great effect in combat, moving with finesse and finding the right angle for attack. This also makes it easy for her to evade attacks and maneuver around the battlefield.
1 Azula and Ursa
While Ursa doted on her son Zuko, things were different as mother and daughter were concerned. Ursa was deeply disturbed by young Azula’s constant teasing, mocking, scheming, and general cruelty, and Ursa scolded her every time. But Azula didn’t learn her lesson. She resented her mother more and more, and instead took comfort in her father’s bottomless admiration of her.
Ursa appeared again as a hallucination later when a hysterical Azula heard this imaginary mother telling her “I love you.” Azula took this as mockery, though, and shattered the mirror where this imaginary Ursa appeared.
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