No one in Avatar: The Last Airbender is purely good or bad, but Princess Azula is undoubtedly one of the most elusive characters. Azula was born with everything: talent for fire-control, wealth, prestige, a keen intellect, and ample opportunities to use it all. She is known for her cruelty and lust for power, but Azula is not a one-dimensional villain. Whether she can find redemption or not, the next five moments prove she has something good inside her.
When Azula welcomed Zuko to the Fire Nation
At the beginning of the second book, Azula tried to capture Zuko and Iroh to drag them back to the Fire Nation as prisoners. However, in the third book, Zuko was truly welcomed in his homeland and his sister Azula made him feel at home.
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By now, Azula had a better opinion of her brother, as she was impressed by his apparent loyalty to the Fire Nation, and she really wanted Zuko to be happy there. In Azula’s eyes, the family was finally together again (she doesn’t usually count Ursa), and that was something to celebrate. However, Zuko’s conflicting feelings boiled beneath the surface, and Azula still wasn’t aware of it.
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When Azula sent Zuko and Mai
Azula and Zuko have known Mai and Ty Lee since childhood, and even then, Zuko and Mai were special to each other. Azula noticed this and gently teased Mai and her brother. Considering how cruel Azula can be, this gentle taunt was downright charming, making it seem like she really enjoyed the idea of Zuko and Mai being together.
Also, if Zuko can get a girlfriend, they might both get out of Azula’s way. At the time, Mai was quite upset about all of this, but eventually, Zuko and Mai would get together, so Azula’s instincts were correct.
When Azula wanted to have fun with ordinary people
By Fire Nation royalty standards, at least, the other vacationers on Ember Island count as « common people, » and Azula was a little curious as to how they lived their lives. For the most part, Azula revels in the adoration and deference that everyone shows her as royalty, but every now and then it’s okay to take a break.
Azula found out about a party at a house on Ember Island, and she wanted to attend the party anonymously and explore a whole new world. Azula had a hard time, especially since her ego is not easy to hide, but she tried, and did not do it with bad intentions. No one could blame Azula for wanting to take a break from being a scary princess and party like a « normal » girl.
When Azula tried to get a boyfriend
Arranged marriages are the order of the day for royalty, but for the moment, Azula didn’t mind trying her hand at the love game, commoner-style. Azula was secretly unsure of her ability to impress boys, and so she confessed to Ty Lee, a social butterfly.
Because of this, Azula behaved less like a tyrant princess and more like an ordinary girl while trying to meet some guys at the party and make a good impression. After a few false starts, Azula had a genuine moment with one of the guys on the starlit balcony, and she had a great time, even if it killed the mood at the last minute. At least I try.
When Azula helped her friends vent
During that same trip to Ember Island, Azula showed her kind side again when she, Zuko, Mai, and Ty Lee retired to the moonlit beach around a modest bonfire to talk about things. The four of them vented their intense personal baggage, including Azula. She was hurt that her own mother saw her as a monster, and that made Azula feel quite empathetic when the other three took their turn to air their problems.
Azula knew that the four of them needed to vent a little more, so at her suggestion, the four of them trashed the house of the conceited and hateful host. It was a very destructive and petty act, but it was all to make Azula’s friends feel better. For once, his destructive tendencies helped someone.