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Why I love Prince Zuko

September 9, 2011

I resisted watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for a long time. I mean, it was a cartoon and it wasn’t even Japanese. It couldn’t possibly be any good, right? I was completely wrong. I watched the first episode when my sister insisted during her visit and finished the show three weeks later. Three seasons in three weeks? Yes, it’s that good.

Avatar is one of the best animated series ever made and it stands out from the crowd for numerous reasons. As a writer, there is so much to learn from this show. They planned out the three seasons, made them and then finished. Amazing in television. They make every character real, by making them well-rounded and flawed. Oh the flaws! They have created an interesting and diverse world, including minorities and disabled characters. The women are strong and empowered without being men with boobs. There is an equal ratio of female to male characters, which NEVER happens in cartoon shows, let alone movies. But that is another post altogether. Later.

Nice angry faceWhat I really want to talk about is one character from the show: Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation. If you haven’t seen the series, this is your last warning for spoilers. Also, shame on you! Go watch right now

Prince Zuko is quickly surpassing Severus Snape as one of my favorite characters of all time. His story is complex and he makes a complete transformation, from narrow-minded, anger-driven villain to caring and wise ally and friend.

The transformation is not slight. Zuko’s character begins as a banished prince, seeking to regain his honor by capturing the Avatar. However, along the way he begins to realize that what he is doing is wrong and he doesn’t know why. He is working to please his father, his country. How could that be wrong? In the end, Zuko makes the decision to turn his back on his father and his people in order to do what he thinks is right. He joins the Avatar to fight against his own father.

One thing I love about his character is how driven he is. He fails over and over again to capture the Avatar but never gives up. And you’re happy about that because he’s the bad guy. You don’t want him to win. But as you watch him struggle with his past, with himself, to find what he truly wants, you ache for him. You begin to cheer when he gets up and keeps going.

At one point Zuko loses the ability to fire bend. Previously, he had always relied on his anger to fuel his bending. But now that he has turned away from his anger, he finds himself powerless. I think I love this about his character. I think sometimes we need to find a difference source of power in drive our lives, especially when we’ve made a significant change. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something quite like this in another character and it fascinates me.

Finally, the last thing that makes Zuko awesome? He is voiced by Dante Basco. You might remember him looking like this.

Rufio! Rufio! Ru-Fi-O!That’s right! Prince Zuko is voiced by Rufio from Hook!

I nearly had a heart attack when I figured that out. I had a huge crush on Rufio as a kid that I never quite got over. No wonder I never hated Zuko as much as I should have in season one!

What do you love about Avatar: The Last Airbender?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2011 11:39 pm

    I LOVE Zuko. Mostly because I feel like I screw up ALL the time, even when I don’t even realize I’m doing it, and I often don’t know why. Sometimes I hate how all the heroes in fiction don’t feel like me, but once in awhile a hero comes along who totally DOES feel like that, and Zuko is at the top of the list.

    Although the hotness of who does the voice wasn’t really a factor for me… =D

  2. September 15, 2011 12:00 am

    To be honest, I wish I screwed up more! Zuko not only makes mistakes but he puts himself out there to get what he wants. I’m still learning how to do that. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!

    P.S. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog so often. It makes me feel great. :)

  3. September 15, 2011 12:05 am

    Haha, no problem! One of the MAJOR reasons I went to Worldcon was that I wanted to meet other people that were in the same boat – you had a really cool story idea, and you weren’t a total dick to me just because you wanted to spend time schmoozing agents (which was my experience with quite a few other writers), and on TOP of all that, you’re a Dan Wells fan…You’re cool in my book.

    I figure we’re in the same boat, and blogging is for sharing and support. Let’s just hope this boat is on the river to Publishtown.

    • September 15, 2011 3:57 pm

      I don’t think I talked to enough people to meet the jerks or else I have really good radar lol! Only you and one other person I met at the conference have kept in touch with me because, like you said, we are in the same boat. And being supportive is much more fun than being a jerk. I’m so glad you said hi to me at the YA panel. Best of luck! Hope the rest of your day is productive! You should be writing!

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