In the animated series Avatar: the Last Airbender, two young men are battling it out to decide the fate of the entire world. A savage war has been raging for an entire century, as the Fire Nations attempts to conquer the globe, but the actions of avatar Aang and prince Zuko will decide the war once and for all.
Which one of them might be best boy, though? Aang is the last living air bender, a monk who strives toward peace and harmony in the world, while Zuko is the outcast Fire Nation prince with everything to prove and a bitter conflict raging in him. Over time, we get to know both boys quite well, and they are standout characters for sure. Let’s see why each of them has a shot at the title of best boy.
Update May 15th, 2020 by Louis Kemner: There is little doubt that Aang and Zuko are the two main characters on each side of the conflict in this animated show, where Aang stands for harmony and peace while Zuko represents conquest and ambition (up to a point). They are perfect foils for each other in many ways, but they slowly converge, and they realize how much they might have in common after all. These are deep characters, and it is now time to review a few more reasons why each should be Best Boy.
15 Aang: Sense Of Humor
Animated shows for young adults like these are always going to pack some humor to keep the viewer engaged and break up the tension and drama here and there. When it comes to laughs, Sokka is pretty funny, but so is Aang, and in all the right ways.
Aang’s boyish spirits and good humor help balance out the darkness of the character (having “last of my kind” syndrome), and it suits his air bender ways well. The air benders are detached and relaxed people, and they know how to use humor to keep things in perspective. Even Monk Gyatso has a prankster side to him, and Aang learned well.
14 Zuko: Inner Struggle
This is one of prince Zuko’s most defining traits, and it makes him an absolute blast to watch over the course of three seasons. At first, he is a cartoony villain, the fire-slinging angry prince who wants to capture avatar Aang and win all the glory.
But he’s not so shallow. Zuko suffers from being an outcast and facing his father’s and sister’s rejection, and over time, he is less and less sure that capturing the avatar and winning their approval is really what he wants at all. He definitely needs to find peace with his life, but how? A good question!
13 Aang: All The Elements
Aang isn’t just the last of the Air Nation… he is the avatar! He inherited this role from avatar Roku, and Aang is 0n a quest to master the four elements. Easier said than done, though, given how hostile fire benders are nowadays.
All the same, Aang recruited the best masters for the job, and he became much more flexible both in mind and body to gather the elements like this. He learned water from Katara and master Pakku, earth from Toph, and fire from none other than Zuko (and even some dragons).
12 Zuko: Uncle And Nephew
In this scene, Zuko takes charge, and his uncle Iroh (left) does little more than watch and offer token advice. But this dynamic does not last long, and soon, Zuko and his doting uncle become much more of a team rather than a comic duo.
Their endless banter is hilarious and sometimes tragic, and we learn a lot about both characters while they’re on the road. Zuko’s patience is worn thin from uncle Iroh’s silliness, but over time, he learns much, and becomes a whole different person.
11 Aang: Against Impossible Odds
Let’s see. You are a twelve-year-old boy who just woke up from the ice. Your family and friends are all gone, the world is at war, and you are tasked with facing an entire enemy army alone to save the entire world. What a mission that is.
Aang never gave up hope, however, not for one minute. He longed to return the world to peace and restore harmony, and he knew that fire benders are not bad people, not even Zuko. He understood that all four elements belonged equally in the world, and he overcame incredible odds to make that happen. All as a kid, no less.
10 Zuko: Forgiveness
Zuko’s personal arc is arguably the best part of the entire series, and there are many aspects to it that make Zuko a serious contender for best boy. Not only does he grow much closer to his uncle and not only did he yearn to settle his inner conflict, but he learned humility.
Unlike Admiral Zhao and Azula, Zuko later learned that arrogant pride and bullying do not make you well-respected or a great person. Instead, Zuko learned humility and forgiveness, to let go of the past and accept his faults with good grace. In fact, he and Katara learned this together, and he helped Katara realize that murdering her mother’s killer would not bring her peace.
9 Aang: Generous Spirit
Aang is many things, but selfish, he is not. True to his air bender roots, Aang lives lightly and does not grow too attached to possessions, titles, or wealth. Living like a king is just bizarre to him, and he’d rather have spiritual fulfillment. He’s rich in the soul.
Aang only needs money to further his world-saving mission, and he is quick to help other people and give them anything that they need. And on the rare occasion where an act of generosity or altruism wasn’t his idea, he will quickly hop on board someone else’s idea. For example, helping Katara mimic the Painted Lady to free a town from pollution and abuse from Fire Nation soldiers.
8 Zuko: Lightning Defense
What exactly is uncle Iroh doing here? He can generate lightning, a rare form of fire bending, but he can do more than that. Iroh taught Zuko how to redirect lightning, a technique he himself innovated, and Zuko learned it well.
This technique borrows from the flow-based combat styles of water bending, and Zuko used it to good effect to battle Azula during their final duel. As a bonus, this skill is symbolic of Zuko facing the evils of his family and turnng it away rather than becoming a monster himself. Ozai and Azuka bend lightning… only for Zuko to deflect it all.
7 Aang: Creative In Combat
In this scene, Aang is having a tough time learning to bend earth, since its stoic and strong-willed nature clashes with the styles of air bending. But Aang found a way, and with this creative mind, he harnessed the four elements.
It goes beyond that, though. Aang does not like to harm others, and during combat, he and Sokka together find all sorts of resourceful ways to turn a battle in their favor with minimal bloodshed. He even tricked Zhao into burning down his own ships, thus preventing the Admiral from continuing the chase.
6 Zuko: Alter Ego
Zuko, fighting with swords? Normally, he is a proud fire bender, but he is also willing to get his hand on some blades and slice his foes apart. Zuko shows some impressive flexibility this way, and he even has an alter ego: the Blue Spirit.
As this Spirit, he can further his own interests without anyone connecting those actions to him, and he used this disguise to steal Aang away from Admiral Zhao’s custody. He did this again to free Apa, but soon discarded the Blue Spirit identity.
5 Aang: Moved On
These are the new airbenders, but before that came the originals, and they were fully steeped in the ways of the Air Nomads. Aang was happy to live among them, but when he awoke from the iceberg, he learned the cruel truth: his people were gone.
Aang saw this for himself when he visited his old home, and it nearly broke him. But he found the strength to move on. Without saying so, he agreed with Katara’s claim that she and Sokka were Aang’s new family.
4 Sokka: Was A Kind Boy
Zuko was not always so hot-headed, competitive, or insecure. As a young boy living in the royal family, he was actually quite gentle and kind, and this set him apart from his ambitious father and his cruel sister.
This is why Zuko got along so well with his equally gentle mother, and Zuko also had an affinity for animals. He once tried to save a crab from an eagle, then felt conflicted about which side to take. He wanted the crab to live, but he didn’t want the eagle to starve, either.
3 Aang: Hilarious Visions
This scene was purely comic relief, but it did help emphasize Aang’s difficult position, and it was nothing short of hysterical and bizarre to see. Not even Zuko, Sokka, or Toph had a sequence like Aang’s sleep-deprived hallucinations.
Sleep deprivation is dangerous and scary, but in a PG show like this, it can be funny, too, and Aang imagined all kinds of mind-bending things. Fortunately, he found the strength to face his nightmares and finally relax before joining the invasion fleet.
2 Zuko: Serious Contingency Plan
To his credit, Zuko made absolutely sure that the Fire Nation would not get another Ozai. He knew that even an idealist like him could slip into evil, so he and Aang formed a pact in the comics as an emergency plan.
This was smart of Zuko, and proves that his heart is a selfless one that sees into the future. He made Aang swear that if he ever became like Ozai, then for the sake of world peace, Aang would kill him. Not a nice thing to think about, but it’s a good move on Zuko’s part.
1 Aang: Making Odd Friends
Meet king Bumi, protector of Omashu and the namesake of Aang’s firstborn son. In fact, Aang knew him as a boy, and now, these two friends look very different but get along great. And Bumi isn’t Aang’s only odd friend.
Aang is the sort of boy who can see the good in anyone and welcome them into his life, and this means he can make friends with just about anyone. This keeps him happy, and it means he has many diverse allies to call upon if the need arises. Zuko doesn’t have these people skills.
In the animated series Avatar: the Last Airbender, Aang and Zuko are battling it out to decide the fate of the entire world. But which one is best?