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My Analysis on Zuko's Character Development

JimJam97 August 31, 2012 User blog:JimJam97

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Hello! After a few months on the wiki, I've decided to create my very first blog!

YAY! *cues fireworks, confetti and balloons*

(*clears throat*)

So anyway onto the reason why you clicked this link and will begin to invest some of your time left on Earth into this analysis. Keep in mind that this is my perspective of how I'm seeing Zuko's character develop. It may have flaws or may just be a bit narrow minded at times but I'm sure that you could just put a comment containing your differentiating opinion of my perspective of a Zuko's character. So without further delay, I will now present to you the opinon of how I define Zuko and I will go from there, enjoy!

I think Zuko was an interesting character even from the beginning. He was almost like a Phoenix in a way. Before season 1 started, he got his scar and was banished but he still rose up and took the challenge that his father left him for the sake of his honor. At the end of season 1, Zuko realized that his father lost faith in him since he failed to catch the avatar multiple times so Zuko and Iroh became fugitives and hid from the Fire Nation. Zuko then figured that he needed to carve his own path and become more independent for himself as a part of growing in a sense (I mean, we all need some alone time sometimes to get our acts together). In the episode "Zuko Alone", he realized that he couldn't run away from who he is because once everyone knew who he really was, they all turned away from him. I believe that in a sense, Zuko felt that he was pushed back on the road to hunting the avatar again because he knew that he couldn't change what was said and done in the past. He then decides to follow Azula because he knew that Ozai gave her the task of tracking down the avatar. As you all know, Iroh was severely injured and Zuko then wants to "get back" at Azula. Zuko then trains with Iroh and is told that he is not like Azula since he can't generate lightning. I believe this could be used as a plot device for one (or both) of these reasons:

1.)This may hint at the fact that Zuko is nothing like Azula or Ozai since he clearly differs from them in combat abilities. However, the same can be said about how Zuko is nothing like Iroh since he as well can generate lightning at will. However, since Zuko did learn the original way to firebend like Iroh did from the Sun Warriors, it's saying that he is truly like Iroh.

2.) This could also mean that Zuko can't beat his sister by copying what she's doing and forces him to fight in his own unique way. This is obviously why Zuko had to meet the Sun Warriors in the first place as it is a comletely different style compared to Ozai and Azula's techniques. (On a personal note, I know what it means to use aggressive technique as opposed to a more passive technique. I play 1st Trombone, which has the highest range on the instrument, and I was originally taught to muscle the note out by pinching my lips together and push the mouthpiece against my lips. This created a pinchy and airy sound to it and their was no ring to it. I was then taught to not force or muscle the note out since it cuts off blood circulation and has worse tone quality. Basically, I'm saying that Ozai and Azula's firebending technique wants you to be aggressive and forces you to muscle it out while the Sun Warriors technique wants you to let it flow out and almost respect the art in a sense)

Zuko and Iroh then travel to Ba Sing Se where he is faced with a decision, a fork in the road that leads into two different directions. His decision ended up being the bad one which was to kidnap Appa and supposedly hold him for ransom. Zuko intially decides to go on with "Operation: Kidnap Appa" but Iroh explains that his plan may not come to fruition since Zuko wouldn't know where to put the bison let alone how he would get into contact with Aang. Zuko then decides on letting the bison go for multiple reasons but at this point Zuko begins to become a dynamic character and this is where his development takes off.

(For clarification purposes only: A dynamic character is a character that changes emotionally, morally, in wisdom, etc over the course of the story or series. The opposite of a dynamic character is a static character that doesn't change in any way over the course of the story or series. An example of a static character would be Iroh since he is always the same wise old man throughout the whole story while Zuko on the other hand goes from a villan to a fugitive to a person who is finding their path to a villan again and then to a hero which is why I called him a dynamic character :D)

So, Zuko then goes through a stage where he begins to change (as Iroh puts it). This is a glaring hint from the creators that Zuko is changing, whether it be for the better or for the worse, and how torn between the two sides he is (Side #1: Being a part of his Fire Nation royal family and Side #2: Being with Iroh and starting a new life). It appears as if Zuko chose to be with Iroh but it changes when he decides to fight Azula. I'm not sure why exactly he chose to fight Azula but here are some theories:

1.) He feels as if he has to prove to both/either himself and/or Iroh that he is better that Azula. This connects back to what I said earlier about Zuko finding his own fighting style to combat Azula's. However, if this is why he made this desicion then he clearly jumped the gun and didn't think things through.

2.) He thinks that he is a changed man and with that, he believes that all of his desicions must change as well. This means that if Zuko didn't go through sick faze, he would've jumped out with Iroh.

3.) He truly doesn't want to be a coward and wants to face Azula head on.

4.) He's afraid of heights

(Side note: I can't see the episode again since Netflix stopped streaming certain episodes so my logic may be incorrect in some of the theories since I can't remember exactly how it played out.)

Zuko is then plunged into the center of the Earth where he meets Katara: The Love of His Life (I'm not a Zutara fan). While there he is told about all of the things he has done in the past but reassures Katara that he changed and how he lost someone to the Fire Nation as well. Katara then offers the oasis water and tells him that his scar may be able to be healed which would mean that he is not the "banished prince" anymore. This is even more evidence that shows that Zuko is changing for the better as he has earned Katara's trust at this point. Zuko then betrays Katara's trust by attacking Aang for a few theories that I can think of:

1.) He lost to Azula the last time and may think that he is incomplete without her.

2.) Zuko never intended on being "the good guy" as he may have guessed that Aang and Iroh is more powerful than Ozai and Azula during the time that he is sick. However, once he is defeated, he thinks it's the other way around which forces him to choose the more powerful of the two which in this case was Azula.

3.) Zuko rethinks everything that has happened during his time in jail and changes once again to a belief that reflects his royal family status and how he must redeem himself.

Zuko then goes back to the Fire Nation with everything that he wanted in season 1. He likes it at first but then slowly becomes appalled at the life style after talking with Iroh and learning about his family's history. Now he truely changes at this point since he abondoned all that he was working for in season 1. He destroyed his reputation, his status, his wealth, his love interest's heart, and most importantly, his honor. After "dying" from this he rises from the grave like a phoenix, joins the avatar, defeats Azula with his own unique fighting style, and becomes Fire Lord in the end. I honestly can't go into much more detail as it is currently 4:17 am at the time of this writing but I think I covered a wide ground with my perspective of Zuko.

So if you have anything to add, to argue, to complain, or you just want to strike up a conversation with your good pal JimJam about this subject with some coffee you may do so in the comment section below. I will end this post with one final observation that I have made related to Zuko and the fanbase. A lot of fans have said that Zuko is their most favorite character and I believe they say this because he is the most realistic character in a way since he is always trying to find the right path. That was his main struggle throughout the series and is still his struggle in The Promise and may even still exist in The Search. Humans always have a drive to find what they were meant to do, especially when choosing a career (I know some users on these forums know what I'm talking about) and that is the reason why he is my favorite character as well.

{Update: There is a blueprint, in a step by step format, that details how a perfect story should be laid out. It's called "The Hero's Journey" and it's been stated by the authors of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings that their books would not be as good as they are considered today if they did not follow "The Hero's Journey" format. I believe that Zuko's character development is heavily influenced by "The Hero's Journey whether the creators were aware of this or not. I won't go into detail since I'm not getting a lot of traffic but you can check out this link Here and it will explain how "The Hero's Journey" format is used. However if you want me to give my two cents on how Zuko's character development is specifically influenced by "The Hero's Journey," then I will be overjoyed to have a hot discussion with you about this.}

Cheers!

-JimJam97

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