‘Avatar’: Why no one on Ember Island recognized Zuko & Azula?
Without a doubt, ‘The Beach’ is one of the best episodes from Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was episode 5 of season 3 and gave us a rare insight into how Fire Nation royalty behaves among normal children. Firelord Ozai sent his kids to have a vacation on Ember Island. They played games on the beach and even went to a house party, just like regular teenagers. However, they were only able to do so because no one on Ember Island recognized Prince Zuko and Princess Azula. How was that possible?
Being a part of Fire Nation royalty meant that both Zuko and Azula lived really sheltered lives. Most of the Fire Nation probably knew they existed, but the siblings were mostly cut off from ordinary life and citizens. This also meant that they would become socially awkward, as was evident in this episode of Avatar. Zuko had a weird reaction to other boys talking to his girlfriend, Mai. Meanwhile, Azula’s attempt at flirting soon ended up in her telling Chan about her plans for world domination. Totally normal, right? But, that doesn’t explain how no one could recognize the royal prince and princess. Well, the answer to that is technology or a lack of it, to be precise.
The technology in Avatar: The Last Airbender helped Zuko and Azula stay unrecognizable
You have to first understand that Avatar: The Last Airbender is based in a still technologically primitive world than ours. There were no digital or social media at the time. In fact, there was no internet or television either. The world of Avatar had yet to undergo it’s computer networking revolution as of yet to make that possible. They had undergone an Industrial Revolution but were still a few years away from having computers, smartphones, or any kind of technological advancement more familiar to our youth. That played into Zuko and Azula’s advantage.
These technological limits prevented anyone from recognizing Zuko and Azula in the public. The only images of the royal siblings were childhood portraits or the wanted posters of Zuko. Other than that, the public really had no way of identifying Zuko and Azula. Even in the case of Zuko, a wanted poster isn’t enough for his face to become more popular. Posters aren’t that accurate, and those who do pay attention to it only catch a glimpse of it. Moreover, there was nothing in their royal attire or bodyguards that distinguished them from other children of their age. There were no digital media, broadcast media like television or radio in Avatar that could popularize their faces or features to the public. In short, the ordinary Fire Nation folk had no way of knowing Zuko and Azula’s appearance.
Some fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender refute this theory
There are some who suggest that the rest of the Fire Nation in Avatar should have known about their appearance. After all, the Ember Island play knew how they looked like. However, those plays were largely inaccurate. I mean, they even portrayed Avatar Aang as a girl. And they made Toph a large muscular man (although, that might not be so inaccurate). So, the world of Avatar truly helped in Zuko and Azula keeping their appearance private.