One of the most beloved animated television series is the Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fifteen years since its release, the series is still a huge hit among fans, especially because it’s readily available for viewing on Netflix. Every character, even the minor ones, has their own unique backstory and persona.
One particular character—Zuko aka the Prince of the Fire Nation—has been the topic of many online debates and discussions for his rather interesting character arc. Basically, he started out as the bad guy but ended up redeeming himself throughout the course of the series. We all love the classic redemption arc in stories, but we rarely get to understand the reason behind such character development outside of what is necessary in the storylines. Avatar enthusiasts and casual viewers alike would surely appreciate a closer look at Zuko’s psyche.
Well, a group of students from a college organization called Ateneo Psyche decided to make an in-depth character analysis of Zuko using science. Called The Iroh Effect, the research done by Isis Cancio, Joshua Monzon, and Margarita Sison discusses the role of Iroh—Zuko’s uncle—in his character development.
By taking key points in Zuko’s story throughout the different seasons of the show, the students used psychological theories to back up their analysis. For instance, the research points out that, in the beginning of the series, Zuko had always felt “inadequate in his father’s eyes” and also felt like he’s “less than” his sister Azula, which could be explained by the concept of inferiority complex, a term coined by Alfred Adler to describe one’s feelings of being unable to reach other’s standards.
They also explained significant scenes in the series. Like how in Season 3, Episode 11—when he finally realized that trying to impress his father was useless—Zuko finally realized and accepted that Iroh has been like his father figure more than Ozai ever had.
Read the entire character analysis here:
Ateneo Psyche is the premier psychology organization of Ateneo de Manila University. They are currently holding a donation drive for Arko ng Pilipinas (L'Arche Philippines), a non-profit organization that takes care of abandoned special persons with intellectual and physical disabilities. Click here for more details if you're interested in donating.
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