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Tear Jerker / Avatar: The Last Airbender The Search

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The whole trilogy is this, especially Ursa's story.


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  • Ursa's beautifully tragic backstory: Years ago, she was but an aspiring young actress in Hira'a, who lived a comfortable life with her high class parents, and was on the precipice of being sweet but "cowardly" Ikem's fiance. Then, everything changed when the royal family arrived... Swept up in a political marriage to Ozai, Ursa was taken away from her home. Ikem tried to stop them, but when the royal family threatened his life, Ursa told him she gladly accepted Ozai's proposal and tearfully told him to go home. At their wedding reception, Ozai sadistically told Ursa that she would never see her family again, now that she belonged to him. And from there, her married life would go downhill...
    • The fact that the one person Ursa trusted to secretly send her letters to her family (and Ikem) was a spy for Ozai, meaning those letters never reached Hira'a at all.
    • The poor heartbroken look on Ursa's face when Ozai tells her he recently sent an assassin to kill Ikem. (Thankfully, he was bluffing).
    • During Ursa's banishment, she decided to go home to live with her parents. But when she got there, a unfamiliar little girl greeted her instead. According to her, Ursa's parents died years ago. So she has no place to go.
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  • Ikem wasn't faring any better. After she left, he went into the woods to despair, becoming a unkempt hermit. Even after he got a different face and started over as Noren, he never truly moved on. As indicated, when Ursa later asks why he didn't start a family, he sadly answers "You know why".
  • As a little boy, Zuko once had a horrible nightmare of his sister Azula standing in his room, burning his bed and burning his toys and laughing. His mother took him to her room to assure him, showing a sweet, infant Azula innocently asleep. If only Zuko had known then how prophetic his dreams were.
  • We get to see for ourselves the very moment Ozai told Zuko how the latter was "lucky to be born". The poor kid looks devastated, as though he was just stabbed in the back.
  • There's having to see the same flashback from "Zuko Alone" starting with the moment Zuko finds out his father is going to kill him on his grandfather's orders up until the last time Ursa left his bedroom, this time from Ursa's perspective. With Zuko's life in danger, Ursa had to make the most heart-wrenching decision that will mean never having to see her children again once Azulon is poisoned.
  • 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.
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    • Azula's health was failing hard. Each and every one of the hallucinations she's had of her mother is of her mother telling her that she loves her. Azula is actively repelling the advances of her mother with rage. And her motive? She wanted to kill her mother to rid herself of that nagging voice in her head. However, when you know of her past from the animated series, you realize that her rage and the repulsion are the psychological damage and emotional neglect trying to actively beat back the truth. And unfortunately, that's how psychosis presents: Her active mind cannot communicate any ideas of love and peace until the near end that she's actively lashing out against her own subconscious about her mother's own love.
    • 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 Azula'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.
    Azula: TELL ME, MOTHER: DID YOU HAVE TO HAVE A NEW DAUGHTER WHEN THE LAST ONE TURNED OUT TO BE SUCH A MONSTER?!
    • Poor Kiyi calling out to her mother as her father holds her back for her own safety.
    Kiyi: MOMMY!
  • Generally, poor little Kiyi's trauma at what happens: her new friend (Zuko) suddenly turns scary {in her eyes) 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, and finally, her mother gets a completely new face and identity.
  • A few moments before the above, Zuko saw Noriko, Ikem and Kiyi sitting around a small, but comfortable dinner table ready to enjoy a dinner together in each other's company. Zuko literally had no idea how to process such a scene like that.
  • 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.
    • Azula's retort and the panel bring something to the forefront. Even though Azula was just as abused as her brother was, Azula had some degree of autonomy over her actions. This last panel reveals something different. The tears, facial expression and eyes do not match the quote. The tears, body, and eyes are Azula, but the dismissal of Zuko and calling him weak? That's all Ozai. Zuko proclaiming that he'll always love his sister, no matter what, was a much needed intervention for Azula to finally start fighting back mentally against Ozai's teachings.
  • Ever since he read his mother's letter, Zuko has been under the impression that Ikem/Noren was his biological father. There's a certain hope that maybe, he's not meant to be with the monstrous Ozai and his insane daughter, but rather belongs in Hira'a with Ursa, Noren and sweet little Kiyi. There's even that momentary bit where he calls Noren "[his] father". But then in the end, Ursa reveals the truth with a heavy heart: what she wrote in that letter was a lie, she only said it to oust Ozai stealing her letters. Zuko somberly realizes Ozai, in all his cruelty, is his biological father. He comes to an acceptance of it, but it's still poignant that Zuko can't escape his relation to such a despicable, abusive man.
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