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YMMV: Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • After Yu Dao blew up in his face, Aang changed. He's willing to compromise on his goals to achieve partial victories. He's become far more practical in his solutions to problems, like punting Yu Dao's reformation to an international conference and advising Zuko to burn a letter that could undermine his claim to the throne, rather than relying on good intentions, friendship, and lucky breaks. He's also being more political in how he treats Zuko, recognizing that his friend is also a somewhat shaky ally who needs propping up after an ambiguously suicidal fall.
    • Ursa is probably the biggest example: is she a sympathetic and loving mother who was broken by all the pain in her life, or a weak, cowardly, selfish woman who cared more for herself and her old boyfriend than for her own children? Ursa even derides herself for her choice.
    • Ozai, again. Was he always a heartless, power-hungry Evil Prince and abusive parent and husband or, just like Ursa, was he a victim of his father's eugenic schemes? In some point, did he really try to be a good father and husband?
    • Azula's apparent Heel-Face Turn is this in-story, as Aang and Katara are willing to believe it, but Sokka isn't and thinks she just slipped up in her craziness and will still be a threat when she next turns up.
    • Does Zuko completely forgive Ursa for wiping her memories of him at the end? Or is he being a Stepford Smiler and just trying to be a good son to her?
    • The question of to what extent Iroh knew about or was involved in Fire Lord Azulon's eugenic scheme to create the perfect Fire Nation heir and how much he knew about Ursa's disappearance.
  • Author's Saving Throw: A failed attempt. The original reveal of Zuko's parentage generated so much backlash that it was hastily rewritten in the later parts. But this just generated more backlash as the explanation was seen as even worse than the original.
  • Base Breaker: Ursa. See Alternate Character Interpretation above: either people sympathize with her or find her unforgivable.
  • Broken Base/Contested Sequel:
    • Because of the Fan-Disliked Explanation, see below.
    • Just like its predecessor, exactly how canon these books are is a debated topic in the fandom; some fans even feel these books almost as a fanfiction, and bringing it up risks starting a fan war.
  • Complete Monster: Fire Lord Ozai forced Ursa into marrying him, and tried to kill her old lover out of spite. He obtained the throne when he manipulated Ursa into murdering his father to usurp the throne from his grieving older brother Iroh. He then thanked her with banishment from the Fire Nation and threatened to hunt them down and kill the children if she took them with her. He doesn't regret any of those moments and feels no remorse for the consequences.
  • Fan-Disliked Explanation: The arc exploring the reason why Ozai treated Zuko as The Unfavourite manages to give two of these.
    • Many dislike the twist that Zuko isn't Ozai's son, mainly because many fans feel it renders pointless a lot of Zuko's character development from the animated series and undermines its original aesop: "You are not your bloodline, your family does not define who you have to be."
    • Eventually it's revealed that this first twist was a lie and Ozai really is Zuko's father after all, but the reason why it's untrue, along with what actually happened to Ursa, has become an entirely new Fan-Disliked Explanation: Ursa wrote that Zuko was not Ozai's son in a deliberate attempt to 1) see if Ozai was reading her letters (which worked) and 2) piss him off if he was (which very much worked). But Ozai, being Ozai, was more pissed that she dared play an obvious lie that he would punish Ursa by treating Zuko like he wasn't his son for the rest of his life. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Due to Fan-Disliked Explanation many fans just pretend that this story never happened; or happened on a very different way.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Azula naturally continues to be this, with her pain and insanity even worse than before.
    • Also, Koh the Face Stealer, who doesn't even appear here, becomes one due to his revealed backstory and Freudian Excuse.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Admittedly, while what Ursa did was terribly tragic and there isn't really any excusing it; even Ursa herself agrees with this. However, some fans take it too far and actually claim she's a worse, more awful parent than Ozai, which is hyperbole to the extreme.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Misu and Rafa. Many readers found these two to be a pointless waste of space who took time away from more important things.
    • Some see Ikem as a Scrappy too, due to being at the center of the (fake-out) twist that he's Zuko's true father.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The whole trilogy is this, especially Ursa's story.
    • It gets worse when said story has a Bittersweet Ending, with most of Azula's issues (and sanity) still unresolved, and the future status of how Zuko, Ursa, Ikem, and Kiyi's familial situation will organize themselves is still very up in the air.
    • Azula's final scene in the trilogy, in which she confronts her amnesiac, different-faced mother, probably takes the cake for the most heartwrenching moment. Just when you thought she couldn't possibly be more of a Jerkass Woobie, she becomes one.
    • And earlier, when she's got Ursa/Noriko pinned against the wall about about to strike:
      Ursa/Noriko: (strokes Azula's face) If what you say is true...if I really am your mother...then I'm sorry I didn't love you enough.
      • The look on her face when she realises Kiyi is her half-sister. This happy, well adjusted little girl who plays dolls and adores Zuko and... there is so much wrong with that situation.
    Azula: TELL ME, MOTHER: DID YOU HAVE TO HAVE A NEW DAUGHTER WHEN THE LAST ONE TURNED OUT TO BE SUCH A MONSTER?!
    • Also, said little girl's trauma at what happens: her new friend (Zuko) suddenly turns scary to her by insisting that her parents are his parent too, her father reveals several shocking truths he's kept to himself for years, Azula attacks in a violent rage and calls her a replacement for her, her mother gets a completely new face and identity....
    • Zuko's repeated attempts to reach out to Azula, the open envy with which he watches Sokka and Katara, and the look of absolute heartbreak on his face when he decides that he can no longer justify putting those around him in danger for the sake of giving his sister a second chance.
    Azula: Zuzu, how could you be so naive?!
    Zuko: You're right. I have been naive. [To Sokka and Katara] Take her down.
    • Then, of course, his last scene with Azula.
    Zuko: Come back, please! I can help you! I want to help you!
    Azula: Same as always, Zuko...even when you're strong, you're weak.
  • The Woobie:
    • Kiyi, Ikem and Ursa's little daughter, who obviously ends the story being traumatized as Hell for all that gets revealed.
    • Ursa is a straight-up Woobie for most of the story (though some readers lost their sympathy for her by the end of the story).

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