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Zuko: Hero or Antagonist?

Discussion in 'The Nicktoons Forum' started by DarkToph, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. DarkToph

    DarkToph The Blind Earthbender

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    I believe that Zuko is one of the more interesting characters on Avatar. Can we actually define Zuko as just a antagonist compared to Aang who is the hero of the series?

    His personalty is that he is focused, ill-tempered, and more likely, obbessed with capturing the Avatar to restore his honor. In the early episodes of season 1, we've seen this. Most notably, in "The Storm", his own crew hates him due to his imperious and disrecptful beahivor.

    Though he is beginning to show a code of honor in himself and is willing to accept that the safety of his crew and his uncle are more important over his personal objective to capture the Avatar.

    In season 2, his personalty changes a lot. He only uses violence when provoked compared to his personalty in Season 1. He is also upholding his personal code of honor even going as far as defending an Earth Kingdom vilage from a few bullies. He is begining to relate to the common people that even though they are the enemy of his nation.

    So what are our thoughts on his character?
     
  2. tb4000

    tb4000 Active Member

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    He's basically the Sesshomaru/Seto Kaiba type character, if you want to get all anime on it. Got his own selfish agenda in order to maintain power and honor, but isn't out to destroy the world. He will however battle the main character to get what he needs. Basically, you stay out of his line of fire, you don't get hurt.
     
  3. Simon Trent

    Simon Trent Member

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    He's both, actually, depending on your POV. In fact, most characters are both depending on who you are and how you've interacted with them. He's the antagonist of Aang's story but he's the protagonist of his own struggles with his father and Azula.
     
  4. Neo Yi

    Neo Yi The Apparition
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    Or in short, Zuko is an anti-hero.

    Which makes sense. In the first book saga, he did indeed have a more antagonistic role in that he must capture the Avatar, but the reasons behind his actions was of a good one: he wanted to win his father's approval and love, so he did the wrong things to get the right.

    By the second book, he was a complete outcast from the Fire Nation and this is when his anti-heroism showed the most. He's not completely good yet as he's clearly on the run from the law with his uncle and has resorted to desperate measures such as stealing in order to survive. He has every potential to be good, he just has to work his way up. Seeing his development is a very interesting one.
     
  5. I.R Joey

    I.R Joey Yep my face got stuck this way

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    Ah a discussion on my favorite charecter in what could be my favorite current American cartoon.

    Arguments for Zuko being a villan.

    -He's not at all adverse to putting his own needs ahead of other peoples. Most obviously this is displayed in his quest to capture the avatar. Think about it if he succedes the whole world's doomed. This also can be seen in the fact that he endangered the civilian population of the Southern Water tribe and Kiyoshi Island to get what he wanted. Most recently he resorted to stealing from innocent people to get food and other things.

    -Will do buisness with known pirates and other people of ill repute to get what he wants.

    Arguments for Zuko being a hero.

    +He has shown the potential to sometimes put other peoples safety ahead of capturing the Avatar. The Storm, and Winter Solstice demonstrated this.

    +He has a sense of honor that is really strong. I mean after fighting Zhao he tried to save his life when the ocean spirit dragged him off the bridge. In his solo episode he even went to fight a battle that he could have walked away from, all to save people who would turn on him because of his lineage.

    +The whole reason Zuko was banished is an interesting one for me. When you think about it he was kind of banished for trying to do the right thing. The general wanted to callously sacrifice some Fire nation troops, and Zuko told him that this wasn't right. As a result he went to that fateful Agni Ki against his father.

    +He's sometimes teamed up with Aanh and friends to fight a greater foe. That shows potential for an eventual alliance.

    Overall Zuko right now is a very gray charecter, that's what makes him compelling.
     
  6. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
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    Howdy,

    I think Zuko is the kind of character who will do the right thing for the wrong reasons and do the wrong thing for the right reasons. He is definitely not evil in the same way that most cartoon villains are -- that's Azula's job.

    If he has a defining character flaw, it's that he is too intensely proud for his own good and has a way overdeveloped sense of honor. Combining these two things will lead him to act in completely illogical or even counter-productive ways. It also makes him one of the most interesting characters on the show.

    If I had to guess, I think Zuko will get pulled into the Avatar's circle to teach him firebending, but only because he believes that the only way back into the Fire Nation is to seize the throne himself, and that the Avatar is the only way to defeat his father, Admiral Zhao, and the rest of the Fire Nation. Perfect example of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    For all the challenges that Zuko presents, I think Iroh is an even tougher nut to crack. There are some times when I don't understand why he continues to maintain his loyalty to the Fire Nation.

    -- Ed
     
  7. Simon Trent

    Simon Trent Member

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    That's because he is crazy.
     
  8. Ghostbuster Man

    Ghostbuster Man "Batman's my Cousin"

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    I know. His lust for power and restoring his honor is going to get
    him killed.

    On the other hand, he did tried to save his people from being a human
    shield in the Fire Nation's war against everybody and his sister has a
    sick mind and is a bloodthirsty monster.
     
  9. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!
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    Howdy,

    The statement that Simon Trent was responding to was referring to Uncle Iroh, not Prince Zuko. I'm pretty sure that ST was referring to Iroh as well.

    Zuko may be several things, but "crazy" is not one of them. "Crazed," perhaps, and obsessed with regaining his lost face in the Fire Nation (pun slightly intended), but I don't think he is crazy. I don't think Iroh is (completely) crazy, either, but that's another discussion ;).

    -- Ed
     
  10. Neo Yi

    Neo Yi The Apparition
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    Iroh is a very eccentric man. Perhaps it's just the years he's lived in his entire life with the Fire Nation, that he still values his royal family is probably why he is loyal. Maybe deep inside, he has some complicated feelings on the ways the Fire Nation does things, somethings he may not believe in (especially since he's lost a son and gone through war), but yet even Iroh possess a sneaky side that rarely comes out.

    If anything, he IS a harder character to figure out then Zuko...which makes it all the more funner to theorize when it comes to him. :D
     
  11. Neo Ultra Mike

    Neo Ultra Mike Creeping Shadow of "15000"+ Posts

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    Admieral Zhao is DEAD though. Has been ever since he was taken away by the Water Spirit in "Siege Of The North, Part Two."

    Iroh does have loyality to Zuko as well as loyality to some of the central ideas of the Fire Nation, but obviously not loyality to any of the truley barberic or wicked ideals and the ones who come up with them. Thus why he tried going after Zhao in "Siege Of The North Part Two" when he killed the Moon Spirit because unlike most other Fire Nationers he truley believes in the balance and does not want to disrupt it. I don't really see him being as hard a nut to crack as Zuko though: Iroh is smart enough to know when to go against his people and what cause to do it for, and if the situation presented itself in a way would probably join up with Aang and Co for the greater good.

    As for Zuko, I wouldn't say he's exactly a hero or a villian as anyone said: He only seems to do what he feels necessary. I noticed that he will do pretty much anything to get the Avatar but he isn't even that malicious about it (he usually warns everyone to get out of his way or just to tell him where the Avatar is and if they don't then he will fight with them. And that he only specifically targets the Avatar instead of promoting any of the proganda of the Fire Nation at all). And it is about him restoring his honor and becoming part of the Royal Family again, though it's doubtful at this point if he'd ever be allowed to come back on regular terms. And when he's not questing for the Avatar he has shown to be mainly a good person who'se only truley bad qualties are hot headness/anger about the situation or doing what he feels is neceassary to be done.
     
  12. judyindisguise

    judyindisguise Active Member

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    Zuko is the best kind of villian there is: a sympathetic villian. Not evil, but flawed, frustrated, victimized in his own way, but able to learn from his mistakes and appreciate goodness in others. I like him a lot.
     
  13. I.R Joey

    I.R Joey Yep my face got stuck this way

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    Personally, I think that Iroh has already rejected the idea of the Fire Nation's superiority. He see's the value of the other nations, and will sometimes fight against Fire Nation troops to preserve the balance. Check out the episode Bitter Work for evidence of this. I think Iroh is working behind the scenes to reform the Fire Nation through Prince Zuko's transformation. Who knows that could even be the purpouse of the White Lotice society.
     
  14. Rasputin

    Rasputin Self-Declared Expert

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    The thing is that it's not likely either Zuko or Iroh would completely side with the Avatar if that meant siding with the Fire Nation's enemies. To use an analogy here, when German commanders disagreed with the way their country was headed in the days leading up to Germany's defeat in the Second World War, they didn't sign up with the allies and fight against their countrymen, they tried to change things inside their own country and often got shot because of it. Fighting against your own country because you don't like the regime is ideological laziness at best, since there are deeper emotional ties that would prevent it. Zuko and Iroh's hand has been forced since they've been declared traitors and had Azula sicked on them. Their concern seems to be more dealing with Azula, not fighting the Fire Nation.

    This would of course be a non-issue if the Avatar got on the wrong side of the Earth Kingdom. That would make the Avatar's cause rather more profoundly...shall we say...'non-partisan'.
     
  15. I.R Joey

    I.R Joey Yep my face got stuck this way

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    Ah but you see Iroh already has sided with Aang and crew and when it came to the greater good he fought against Zhao and his soldiers (Siege of the North part 2). That got him branded as a traitor and it's a big reason why he's being hunted now. Even in the chase he helped Aang and company fight Azula. He's a man who definately see's the flaws in the Fire Nations current policies, and I wouldn't be suprised if he (and perhaps the White Lotice society) are already working to undermine Oazi.

    We also know that he see's the value of the other nations, and believes very much in "the balance" as he calls it. Aang and the others avatars embody that.

    I don't think it's so crazy to think that he could eventually jump over to their side, and perhaps bring Zuko with him.
     

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