Mai (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

“I don’t need any protection.”

Mai, the eldest child of Ukano, who once held the position of governor in New Ozai, and his wife, Michi, played a significant role during the final year of the Hundred Year War. She became a key ally to Princess Azula, consequently emerging as one of Team Avatar’s formidable adversaries and forming a romantic connection with Prince Zuko upon his return to the Fire Nation. From a privileged background in the Fire Nation, Mai attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls, forging early friendships with Princess Azula and Ty Lee.

Mai showcased remarkable proficiency in throwing stilettos, a skill she honed out of sheer boredom. Armed with small knives resembling ninja shuriken and concealed spring-loaded stiletto holsters within her robes, she could hold her own against numerous benders despite lacking bending abilities herself. Azula enlisted her, along with Ty Lee, to capture the Princess’s brother, uncle, the Avatar, and his companions.

Externally, Mai projected an aura of impassivity and apathy, a demeanor cultivated by her father’s political ambitions dating back to her childhood. She revealed that as long as she maintained a quiet, well-mannered, and perfectly behaved façade, her parents granted her every desire. This upbringing deeply influenced her personality, compelling her to hide her emotions and feelings. Her true happiness only surfaced in the presence of Zuko, whom she cherished deeply.

Mai’s profound love for Zuko was laid bare when she risked everything to save him from Azula at the Boiling Rock. She confronted Azula, openly declaring that her love for Zuko overpowered her fear of repercussions. In the aftermath of this courageous act, Azula imprisoned Mai, alongside Ty Lee, who thwarted Azula’s attack by blocking her chi. Mai was eventually freed when Zuko triumphed over Azula and ascended to the throne. They rekindled their relationship with a kiss prior to Zuko’s coronation as the new Fire Lord. However, a year later, Mai decided to end their relationship due to Zuko’s reluctance to confide in her, feeling that his secrets took precedence over their love.