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Ursa
爾姝
Ursa
Biographical information
Alternative name(s)

Noriko

Nationality

Hira'a, Fire Nation

Ethnicity

Fire Nation

Age

40-41 in The Search trilogy[2]

Born

c. 60 AG

Physical description
Gender

Female

Hair color

Dark brown

Personal information
Allies

Zuko, Azula, Iroh, Ozai (formerly), Lu Ten, Roku, Ta Min, Ikem, Kiyi, Jinzuk and Rina, Team Avatar

Enemies

Azulon, Ozai

Chronological and political information
Profession
  • Herbalist
  • Theater actress (formerly)
Position
  • Former Fire Nation traitor (amnestied by Fire Lord Zuko)
  • Princess of the Fire Nation (formerly)
  • Wife of the Fire Lord (estranged)
Affiliation
First appearance

"Zuko Alone" (flashback only)

Last appearance

The Search Part 3

Voiced by

Jen Cohn

Ursa was the wife of Ozai and later Ikem, mother of Zuko, Azula, and Kiyi,[2] daughter of Jinzuk and Rina, and granddaughter of Avatar Roku and Ta Min. She was a kind, caring, and loving mother to her children, though Azula believed she favored Zuko over her.

She grew up in the Fire Nation village of Hira'a until she, as a descendant of Roku, was forced by Fire Lord Azulon to marry Ozai in order to fulfill a prophecy that would bring great power to Azulon's lineage. When she learned years later that the Fire Lord had ordered her husband to murder Zuko and that he was going to go through with it, she ensured her son's life was spared, but was subsequently banished from the Fire Nation Capital for treason.[3]

Ursa returned to her home town, where she rekindled her relationship with her old boyfriend, Ikem. In order to lead a normal life again, she requested that the Mother of Faces grant her an entirely new face and identity while also wiping all of her memories relating to her life with Ozai as a Fire Nation princess. As Noriko, she had another daughter, Kiyi, though after her two elder children tracked her down, she encountered the Mother of Faces again and decided to have the spirit restore her old face and memories.[2]

History

Leaving her loved ones

Ursa and Ikem

Ursa and Ikem confirmed their engagement with a passionate kiss.

Ursa was born to Jinzuk and Rina in the small Fire Nation town of Hira'a. From an early age, she was close friends with a boy named Ikem. Though she would tease him when they were younger, they became a happy couple as they grew up.

At twenty-one, Ursa auditioned for the role of Dragon Empress in the local production of Love amongst the Dragons. She went to tell Ikem that she had received the role and found him rehearsing his lines on an empty stage during the day. Upon Ikem's request, they rehearsed a scene of the play in which they would have to kiss on stage, but Ursa expressed her dissatisfaction with "masked kissing", as the props stood in the way. Once she had taken off her mask, Ikem startled her with an unnerving stare; Ursa questioned him about it and he promptly proposed. Ursa, after some slight confusion, happily accepted, and they sealed their engagement with a passionate kiss.

Later at night, she gleefully made her way home to tell her mother of Ikem's proposal, but she found her mother crying over Avatar Roku's headpiece. When she inquired as to what was going on and where her father was, her mother told her that he was in the greenhouse with a visitor. However, before Ursa left the room, her mother emphasized that she loved her no matter what happened.

Ursa crying

Ursa tearfully bid Ikem farewell to ensure his safety.

Upon entering the greenhouse, Ursa discovered that the guests about whom her mother had been talking were Fire Lord Azulon and his son, Prince Ozai. The Fire Lord complimented her beauty before mentioning a prophecy made by the Fire Sages that ensured a powerful lineage of rulers to come forth from a marital union between a descendant of Avatar Roku and his own bloodline. Ozai subsequently proposed to Ursa, and she, without a choice in the matter, agreed. As Ursa was leaving town with her betrothed, Ikem blocked the carriage's path. She pleaded with Ozai to order his soldiers to stop, calling the prince "[her] love". He complied, and she stepped out from the carriage and told Ikem to go home. Despite his begging, Ursa told him that her decision could not be undone, as Ozai's proposal had brought honor to her family. She made clear to Ikem that marrying Ozai was what she truly wanted and, with tears in her eyes, told him once more to go home, knowing that it was the only way to ensure his safety. She subsequently left a devastated Ikem by the side of the road.

Life as Fire Princess

Ozai and Ursa's wedding

Ursa and Ozai's wedding.

During his wedding celebration, Ozai informed Ursa that she should tell her parents that they had always been good to her, revealing that she could no longer have ties with her former life after the event. Thus, she was forced to bid her parents farewell, and started her new life as a Princess of the Fire Nation.[4]

Following her marriage, Ursa gave birth to Prince Zuko, and two years later, to Princess Azula. On a family trip to Ember Island, Zuko nearly drowned in his attempt to assist a turtle crab. After Ozai rescued him, Ursa comforted Zuko by holding him while he recovered from his experience.[5]

However, even after the birth of her two children, she was unwilling to forget the loved ones she had left behind and wrote to them frequently. She employed a palace servant, Elua, to send secret letters to her loved ones in Hira'a, causing Ursa to view her as part of her family, and was eternally grateful for Elua's services. However, unbeknownst to Ursa, none of her letters made it to their destination as Elua had betrayed her trust and filed the notes away on the orders of Prince Ozai.

Ursa and Zuko

Ursa and Zuko.

Ursa eventually became suspicious of the fact that Ozai had intercepted and read her letters, and came up with a plan to trick him into admitting it: she wrote a fake letter to Ikem in which she stated him to be Zuko's real father.[2] Months later, Ozai confronted her with his knowledge of the letter, stating that her actions were treasonous to the crown of the Fire Nation. Ursa was initially furious to learn that her suspicions of Ozai were correct, but quickly burst into tears when Ozai revealed that he had taken measures to kill Ikem.[3] Ursa demanded to know why Ozai had done so, since they both knew Zuko was really Ozai's son, and Ozai responded by asking her why she had written the false letter in the first place. Ursa told him her original plan, and that part of her motivation was that she wished Zuko was not Ozai's son. As an act of vengeance, Ozai stated that, from that point onward, he would treat Zuko as if Ursa's desire had been reality.[2]

Ursa's deal

In order to save Zuko, Ursa made a deal with Ozai, providing him with an untraceable poison to murder his father.

Later one night, Ursa found her children squabbling over something. Curious, she pulled Azula aside to get the full story and found out that Ozai asked Fire Lord Azulon to pass Iroh's birthright of the throne to him now that Lu Ten had died in the Siege of Ba Sing Se. As punishment for his insolence, Ozai was tasked by an infuriated Azulon to feel the pain of losing a firstborn by killing his own. Shocked by this information, Ursa sent Azula off to bed and went to find her husband. After Ozai declared that he had every intention of going through with his orders, Ursa made a deal with him: the throne for Zuko's life. Ozai accepted her offer on the added condition that she was to leave the palace after having concocted the untraceable color- and odorless poison, as he feared that she would otherwise slip it to him as well. Ursa tried to negotiate that she would leave with her children, but was forced to leave on her own lest they would all be hunted down and killed by Ozai.

Ursa hugs Zuko

Ursa comforted Zuko just before her disappearance.

Ursa crafted the poison and handed it to Ozai before making her way to the rooms of her children to say her goodbyes. She kissed a sleeping Azula on the cheek, before moving on to Zuko and waking the young prince. She reminded him of her true, strong motherly love and told him to always remember who he was, no matter how things seemed to change. She subsequently pulled the hood of her cape over her head, and walked away into the shadows.[1] She left the palace on a boat, heading back toward Hira'a.[3]

Reunion with Ikem and life as Noriko

Arriving in Hira'a in the middle of the night, Ursa went to her parents' old house to visit them. However, a little girl opened the door instead and informed her, unaware of who she was, that Jinzuk and Rina had both passed away years prior. Saddened and with nowhere to go, Ursa retreated to the theater stage in the middle of the town and cried to herself in silence. Noren came up to her, believing that she was looking for a part in the next play, but after realizing how sad the former Fire Nation princess was, he invited her to breakfast, something Ursa gladly accepted.[3]

Ursa becomes Noriko

Ursa received her new face and identity from the Mother of Faces, becoming Noriko in the process.

As Ursa ate her breakfast, she conversed with Noren, when suddenly, Noren mentioned her name while Ursa was certain she was yet to introduce herself. An awkward Ursa lost her appetite and prepared to leave, when Noren admitted he is actually Ikem, her ex-fiancé. Ikem revealed that he had encountered the Mother of Faces, who had altered his face. Ursa deduced that Ozai was unsuccessful in finding and killing Ikem because he changed his face and identity. Ikem offered Ursa a chance to make up for their lost time as lovers: to have Ursa have her face be changed as well to continue their love. The couple went to Forgetful Valley and waited for the next season to come to meet the Mother of Faces. The Mother of Faces did arrive, but was puzzled by Ursa's decision to change her face, despite her obvious beauty. To test her sincerity, the spirit offered the former princess a new, much plainer face, which Ursa accepted without hesitation. Sensing Ursa's pain, the Mother of Faces also asked her if she would want a new mind that didn't remember her old life. After much deliberation, Ursa agreed to forget her past life, even it meant for her to forget the children she left back in the palace. With a new face and identity, Ursa, who knew herself as "Noriko", married Noren and had one child, Kiyi.[2] "Noriko" was living peacefully with her family in Hira'a until the arrival of a disguised Team Avatar in 102 AG.

Noren and Noriko

"Noriko" remembers hearing that Ursa once returned to Hira'a, looking for Ikem.

Noriko questioned Aang and Katara on whether they were thinking about marriage, but upon seeing their reactions, quickly withdrew her inquiry. Noren interrupted their conversation, and, claiming to believe Sokka's cover story about them being drama historians, informed the group that Ursa was the acting troupe's most famous member, but that she was taken to the Fire Nation Capital. When Zuko inquired about Ikem, Noren relayed to them that Ikem was Ursa's boyfriend, but after Ursa was taken, he left, with Noriko adding that he was believed to have run off to Forgetful Valley, a dangerous forest near the town. She informed them that Ursa apparently returned to Hira'a years later, looking for Ikem, and subsequently traveled to Forgetful Valley to find him, though Noren questioned the accuracy of his wife's statement.[3]

Revelation of the past

Azula threatening Ursa

As Azula threatened to kill her, Ursa apologized to her first daughter for not having been a better mother.

The next night, Zuko returned to the house upon learning the truth about Noriko actually being Ursa. When Zuko was about to leave, Noren stopped him and told his wife the truth about her identity. Azula appeared in the house wanting to kill her and questioning if Kiyi was a replacement for her. Noriko's response was that if she was indeed her mother, her only fault was not loving her enough. After Zuko defeated Azula and she ran off, the Mother of Faces appeared, asking her if she wanted to regain her former memories, which she agreed to. The next day she apologized to Zuko and told him the truth about the letter. Zuko forgave her and Ursa decided to share her past with her son.[2]

Afterward, she and her new family visited the capital for the first time since her exile, with Zuko giving them his support.[6]

Personality

Little Zuko and Ursa

Ursa cared for her children greatly.

One of Ursa's defining features was her strong motherly love and protectiveness of her only son, Zuko, and her life was dedicated to safeguarding him from any harm. She would resort to any means necessary to keep her son safe, even going so far as to give Ozai a vial of poison, aware that he would use it to kill Fire Lord Azulon and take the throne.[3]

She was also a pragmatist, as she chose to leave Ikem behind in order to protect him and later accepted banishment in order to save Zuko. Despite her love and affection for her children, she opted to forget their existence at one point in order to find inner peace once she reunited with Ikem. Ultimately, she came to regret this decision, realizing that Zuko and Azula were her true family.[2]

Though she does show a fun side, as she playfully frightened Ikem and teased him in their younger years.[4]

Her relationship with her eldest daughter, Azula, however, was strained by the fact that the young princess was emotionally abusive toward everyone else in the family, especially her older brother, Zuko. She was forced to discipline Azula on a regular basis, but it was apparent to her that her daughter's cruelty was beyond a normal level.[1] In turn, Azula believed that Ursa thought of her as a monster,[7] which scarred the princess for the rest of her life and may have influenced some of her later behavior.[8] In contrast, the relationship she has with her youngest daughter, Kiyi, is very loving and caring.

Because of their different personalities, Ozai and Ursa slowly grew apart. This partially shaped the lives of their children, as each of them was, at least in their eyes, favored by a different parent.

Abilities

Ursa making poison

Ursa created an untraceable poison to give to Ozai.

Ursa was taught a great deal about many medicinal herbs and poisons from her mother, a master herbalist. After she accepted Ozai's marriage proposal, she was not known to practice the skill, and it remained unknown to the prince until Zuko's life became endangered, and she offered her skill to Ozai. She used her knowledge of herbs and medicine to create a powerful colorless and odorless poison that was completely untraceable.[3]

Relatives

Main article: Fire Nation Royal Family
Sozin
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Roku
   
   
Ta Min
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Azulon
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Ilah
   
   
Rina
   
   
Jinzuk
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Iroh
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Ozai
   
   
   
   
   
   
Ursa
   
   
Ikem
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Lu Ten
   
   
Unknown
   
   
Zuko
   
   
Azula
   
   
Kiyi
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Zuko's daughter
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Iroh
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Appearances

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book Two: Earth (土)

Book Three: Fire (火)

Graphic novel trilogies

Trivia

  • She appeared in one of Zuko's nightmares, desperately calling out to her son for help.[9]
  • While imprisoned together in the Crystal Catacombs of Old Ba Sing Se, Zuko disclosed information about his own mother to Katara, which briefly won him her trust.[10]
  • It was also revealed that Azula harbored some resentment toward her mother for favoring Zuko.[7] This resentment eventually aided in her mental collapse, as she could not reconcile the belief that Ursa hated her with the subconscious knowledge that her mother did love her.[8]
  • Avatar Roku was Ursa's grandfather, making two of Zuko and Azula's great-grandfathers Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku. Similarly, Ta Min, her grandmother, looked similar in appearance to her. Her relation to Avatar Roku also means that she and Aang were related spiritually.
  • Ursa never appeared in the present timeline of the television series. Her story was told in flashbacks.
  • During the 2008 San Diego Comic-con, it was announced that a reunion between Ursa and Zuko had been arranged and made into a storyboard by director Joaquim Dos Santos, but was later dropped just before the finale was finished at the request of show co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino for reasons unknown.[11]
  • In the 2010 roundtable discussion with M. Night Shyamalan, one change he said he may make in the sequels of his film adaptation is to reveal Ursa's fate.
  • In 170 AG, Jinora, who had read the adventures of Team Avatar, asked her paternal grandmother what happened to Ursa. Katara began to answer that it was "an incredible tale", but was interrupted by Ikki before she could continue.[12]
  • Ursa was cast to play the Dragon Empress in a production of Love amongst the Dragons at Hira'a, but never got to perform due to her engagement and subsequent marriage to Ozai. She did, however, watch a production of the play by the Ember Island Players every year when she and her family went to Ember Island.[7]
  • Ursa also kept a collection of four theater masks hidden behind a painting of her and Ozai: the masks of the Dragon Emperor and Empress, along with the Dark Water Spirit's, from Love amongst the Dragons, and an unknown white mask.[4] Zuko later used the Dark Water Spirit's mask to disguise himself as the Blue Spirit.[13]
  • Ironically, the last thing Ursa told Zuko before leaving was to never forget who he was, but she herself forgot who she was for years.
  • Ozai had Ursa watched for months prior to their arranged marriage, which allowed him to immediately know that her letter to Ikem claiming Zuko as their son was false.[2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (May 12, 2006). "Zuko Alone". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Search Part 3 (October 30, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Search Part 2 (July 10, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Search Part 1 (March 20, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  5. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Promise Part 2 (May 30, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  6. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Rift Part 1 (March 5, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mattila, Katie (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (October 19, 2007). "The Beach". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 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.
  9. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. 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. Acastus (2008-07-26). SDCC 2008 Con Report. AvatarSpirit.Net. Retrieved on August 22, 2011.
  12. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 14, 2012). "Welcome to Republic City". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  13. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Filoni, Dave (director). (June 17, 2005). "The Blue Spirit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.

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