Zuko and Mai were hands down one of the major couples or pairings in the Avatar mythos. They already were in a relationship long before the show started, and by the time we see their pairing, it is pretty established that they are in a relationship.
It was a pretty solid ship and had its own section of fans rooting for it. No matter the hurdles they faced, the Zai/Muko fans always wanted their faves to keep going on forever. And who can blame them? Zuko and Mai’s relationship was one of the most mature relationships in the series, filled with all that teenage angst, emotion, and good stuff.
But while there was a lot of love for our resident Hothead and Emo/Goth Girl, there were so many things fundamentally wrong with that relationship as well. Their interactions with one another were a sight to see (a major highlight of the excellent general character development on Avatar: The Last Airbender); but their blowouts were astronomical.
This pretty much just shows that as nice as they were together, they also did not make that much sense together. It’s probably why the creators had them break up in the tie-in comics, but we don’t know for sure if they stayed that way.
Here are things that did not make any sense about Zuko and Mai’s relationship.
Zuko and Mai Didn’t Seem To Have Much In Common
It’s obvious that Zuko and Mai cared a great deal about each other. However, it’s also kind of clear that they do not have much in common when it comes to similarities. The strange thin is that this is a common problem with tv shows and movies; as they usually do not have time to fully focus on relationships and show the basic details. The one time we see them share something that they both enjoy is the scene where they have a picnic. But even that does not prove much. It’s hard to tell if they do or do not have things in common with each other.
Mai Seemed to Be Much of A Loner
One thing is clear about Mai’s character: she preferred to be alone.
Sure, she may have been really close friends with Azula and Ty Lee, but mostly, she appeared to be someone who enjoyed her own company more. People seemed to annoy her easily. Even at the point where she tells Zuko he is one of the few things (or people) she didn’t hate, there is the chance that she may have been happier without the stress of having to deal with the problems of a romantic relationship.
Not everyone is meant to be in this kind of relationship or is made for such. With this, it started to seem like a stretch that Zuko and Mai were in a relationship.
Zuko and Mai Had Incompatible Personalities
Let’s be honest. Zuko and Mai were polar opposites. Zuko is a person directly fueled by his passions and emotions, and Mai is a rather subdued and emotionless individual. It even affects how she reacts to things; in the sense that she doesn’t even react to things.
Sure, they say opposites attract, and it might look like their being nothing alike in temperaments might be perfect for them to balance each other out. But that also means that there is a more likely chance that they get on each other’s nerves. Which they do. A LOT. The episode on the beach at Ember Island is a perfect example of their explosive pairing. Zuko on one hand gets tired of the fact that she never shows any emotion, and Mai is fed up with Zuko’s being overly dramatic.
They Are Like A High School Couple
They say there is no love like high school love. It’s also generally believed that high school love is young and dumb, and can’t last long. And that is exactly how Zuko and Mai feel as a couple.
They definitely have that endearing couple thing going on for them in some ways. Mai is an emo type of person and Zuko is dramatic and emo in his own way. However, it is this fact that makes their relationship seem like a coupling that is only fit for exuberant youth. It definitely does not feel like it can stand the test of time.
Just imagine seeing Zuko and Mai together forever, tying the knot, and starting their own family. It would scream catastrophic. Hence, it was only natural that the creators split them up in the follow-up comics to the series. However, there is still a huge chance that they got back together, as we never really get any confirmation as to who the mother of Zuko’s daughter, Izumo is.
Why Mai Went Along With Azula’s Plans for Such A Long Time
This one beats everybody. Okay, so we get the fact that they have been good friends for a long time. But for what it’s worth, Mai isn’t nearly as chaotically evil as Azula is, so why she stuck around to help her for so long is a huge mystery.
Her stance on the war may have been influenced by the heavy level of propaganda that the Fire Nation was giving its people, and there is the fact that Mai’s parents were top-level government as well. But this does not explain why Mai put up with Azula and her schemes, even where it was clear that she can’t stand the princess. She still went along loyally. Maybe this had something to do with extending her loyalty to Zuko to his sister.
Zuko and Mai Could Have Had Better Matches
There are other people who would have made better matches for Zuko or Mai in the Avatar series. While they are not really that bad of a couple, maybe they would have fared better off with different partners. However, it’s easy to see why they were constantly paired. Zuko and Mai have known each other since they were children, not to mention the fact that they provide some form of balance to themselves.
They actually share a lot of nice relationship moments in the series, but you get the feeling that the chemistry could have existed elsewhere. We’ve already seen some fans ship Zuko with Katara (sorry Aang fans), so we knew there was something budding perhaps. As for Mai, a character like Ty Lee would have been perfect for her, with all of that cheerful positivity meeting Mai’s negative outlook.
Why Zuko Was So Possessive of Mai
Zuko does come off as a possessive boyfriend in the Zuko and Mai ship, and it is really not surprising that he is. The problem is that why.
Their relationship is understandably broken due to Zuko’s exile, and it meant they were apart for longer than they were together. There obviously wasn’t enough time to create any sense of serious ownership; and yet we see Zuko get really mad that Mai is talking to other boys at the beach house party. It’s nothing short of dramatic at the very least; an overreaction if you will. It did show they had serious jealousy problems in their relationship though.
Why Didn’t Zuko Explain Why He Left Better In His Letter
When he leaves the Fire Nation and goes on to help Aang and the rest of the gang in the Book of Fire, Zuko writes a letter to Mai. However, the contents of that letter are rather surprising, as they do nothing by way of explaining why he is leaving. He does not even explain what he is going to do. We get it, you’re cryptic Prince Zuko – but it still made no sense why he took that approach.
Mai definitely deserved a better explanation on the state of things. He could have surely written more in his letter, explaining in detail. Better still, he should have just had a physical conversation with Mai, no matter how she would have taken the news. It’s one of the most puzzling things about Zuko and Mai’s relationship.
Zuko and Mai Never Tried to Find Each Other While He Was In Exile
You could argue that they were just teens and therefore it would have been difficult for Mai to seek out her boyfriend. But if Avatar: the Last Airbender is clear on something; it is that pre-teens, teens and teenagers rule the fictional world of the four nations.
It would have actually cost her nothing to seek him out and help him. If she really cared about him like she said she did, and if their relationship was so serious, then we expect her to have reached out to him since; and not just when a significant amount of time had passed.
She would have tried to find out how he was doing.
Zuko Never Really Asks Mai to Join Him
It’s only natural to want your significant other to join you on important quests, right? Well, surprisingly Zuko never does ask Mai, and you wonder why.
On the Boiling Rock, Zuko was surely done for. But luckily (for him and for their relationship), Mai intervened and saved his life, albeit at the betrayal of Azula. Before that though, we never see Zuko ask Mai for any help.
Maybe he just never thought she wanted to be part of the entire war. Even throughout the series, we never really can tell what feelings Mai has towards the war. She might have been morally grey about it all, and Zuko could have asked her; but he never does.