This artigo may contain some spoilers, particularly for those who haven't read Smoke and Shadow yet.
In The procurar one common thing that kept getting bought up was Ursa telling Azula to "take off that mask, only then will you see your true destiny." Recently another layer was added with the semi-recent announcement of the Kemurikage becoming the fogo Warriors--the fogo Nation equivalent of the Kyoshi Warriors. And naturally Azula is their leader.
This just got me thinking about Azula's fate in general. Personally, I think that this role (as a fogo Warrior) suits her way mais than being the fogo Lord does. She always seemed like mais of a warrior to me; it seemed like she enjoyed the thrill of the conquer mais than the ability to rule that followed. I'm not gonna lie though, it was mais like one of those things that was in the back of my head. Like I knew I thought something but I didn't know exactly what that thought was. So up until now, I firmly supported Azula on the throne. And then the fogo Warrior thing was bought up and it just clicked. For me Azula seemed mais like a warrior than a princess; though she of course is both.
Furthermore I think she's an amazing leader. But I think the reason the trono isn't right for her is because that's not the kind of leader she's supposed to be! There are so many types of leaders for a while I thought she best fit as the leader of a nation. I'm fairly certain there's a part of her that still thinks so. However this isn't the case, in my opinion. She's mais of a military leader. That's the kind of personality she has. Zuko has the compassion of a good fogo Lord, someone who will rule justly. Azula has a mais firm and stern rule, suited for warrior/military head positions.
All of this said I almost feel like Bryke had this laid out from the beginning or at least for quite a while. I mean we've seen her try to socialize on the de praia, praia and that was a bit of a trainwreck. That hinted off that Azula wasn't right for the trono because she didn't have the type
of people skills needed for the job. To be a good fogo Lord I think she'd need a better balance of non-political and political social functioning. And God knows that Ozai seemed to void her of all non-political social skills. This isn't to say that I think she couldn't be a fogo Lord--I think she very well could be. But I think she's better suited and her skills could be better put to use elsewhere.
Likewise and similar to the above, we've also seen Azula in a different kind of social situation. And this social situation was the mais militia social situation. The kind of situation where she proved to be a brilliant and powerful leader. This was exploited in a few areas; her friendship with Mai and TyLee and when she took control of the Dai Lee and most recently with the Kemurikage. I suppose her type of leadership was also seen with her servants too.
So I'll start with them. Azula was also mais firm with her servants. She strived for perfection and pushed her servants for perfection. This kind of perfection is usually exhibited within the military. I've watched a number of documentaries in history classes, wherein it is shown that the soldiers were practically perfect; they could spend hours on getting their uniforms ready. Within the documentary they'd shine every last button and smooth every last wrinkle. Likewise they're routines seemed to hold little room for error. Even the smallest error could earn them a scolding from the man in charge. This is exactly what Azula seemed to hold herself to. And based on her interactions with her servants; what she expected of them. Not one imperfection was missed. An each of the perfections seemed to be handled with stern discipline. Granted I feel like she loosens up a bit in S&S, but I'll get to that later.
The segundo kind of relationship we've seen her in is her friendship with Mai and TyLee. 'Normal' teen socializing aside, she was excellent with taking charge of her trio. Despite it all she respected them as her companions. And she was able to lead them, successfully through many battles such as taking down the Kyoshi Warriors and infiltrating Ba Sing Se. In that she was described as "terrifying and inspirational at the same time", which in itself fits the military leader type role to a tee. We've also seen this demonstrated earlier on in The Drill--when things started going down hill, she took charge. And though she didn't win that one, she got them very far. And again, despite all the bad things she's done, she didn't punish Mai nor TyLee for the defeat. It wasn't really even implied that she had. A poor leader would have punished them servery, Azula seemed to have accepted the loss and moved out without placing blame on any of her posse. Heck, she showed her leadership even earlier than that, in Return To Omashu. She took charge of that city right when she entered it. But again, she didn't seem to take charge in a govern/king/queen kind of way. She took charge por handling a sort of hostage situation. A situation that was once again, mais reminiscent of something that required military leadership over royalty leadership. And that was executed nearly as she had planned it. Granted Bumi wanted to go back with her and Aang wanted to return Tom-Tom, but that's getting a little off topic.
So lets mover onto the Dai Lee scenario. This literally was her taking a position of military leadership. And it was perhaps her most successful and flawless victory. They clearly had to have had respect for her mixed in with that fear, to not
turn on her when Long Feng tried to make himself relevant again. I mean let's be honest they could have taken her down due to a sheer number advantage. But they didn't. Let's go back to "inspirational and terrifying at the same time". Not only does the prove that they did feel like she was a good leader. But it also acts as mais proof of her being better suited as a military leader; seeing as, as mentioned, this is the type of leadership a military leader would exhibit. It is a statement that implies that Azula is great it what she does and has some degree of care for her subjects but at the same time harshly demands respect.
Let's compare her to Kuvira for a moment. Kuvira was a woman who lead through her military. And the people who worked under her seemed to care for her and support her through and trough minus Bolin, Verrick, and Zhu Li. I feel like Azula had the same kind of bond with her friends and with the Dai Lee.
Finally we have the supposed friendships she created with her Kemurikage. I think this was a huge step for Azula; she seemed to have combined her leadership skills with genuine social skills. Slowly she seems to be leaving behind the persona Ozai pushed on her. Her demanding nature and her positions of power are her comfort zones. That's the level on which Azula interacts with people, because it's where she feels safest. But the Kemurikage ladies seem to have a different kind of relationship with her; while she is their leader I feel as though she's got mais of a genuine bond with them. I mean, Zirin openly back-talks and perguntas her "How much longer are we going to do this, I didn't sign up to run a daycare, Azula." Azula doesn't snap at her or even scold her. She simply tells her (and with a smile, one that doesn't look vicious at that) to be patient. With them Azula is both a leader and a friend and is finally leaving her comfort zone.
With all of this said I think Azula would be much mais comfortable as the head of a military/warrior group than the head of a nation. I think it's a much mais natural fit that flows mais compatibly with her personality. Not to mention there is much less pressure put on her, so she won't have to worry about losing control of her emotions as much.
mais over, I think this much better compliments Zuko. Because he too he has a lot to work on in order to become a good fogo Lord. Which is why I think the two of them would make a good team; Azula’s mais aggressive and Zuko’s mais passive; they’d balance each other out. And they could mais easily achieve this balance if Azula offers her leadership skills elsewhere. She can have the aggression she wishes to place on Zuko, and exert it in a mais healthy way, while at the same time making up for the aggression Zuko lacks on the occasions when he should
be putting it forth. Basically these two would make an insanely powerful brother-sister duo that would greatly benefit their nation. Azula just needs to recognize that her skills & ambitions aren't being placed in exactly the right place just yet. Though she definitely has a start. And if I dare say so, things are looking good for her.
With all of that said I'd like to bring up the self acceptance. Azula has come a very long way from there too. As pointed out often on tumblr, Azula's hair is noteworthy. At her first appearance we are shown a girl so obsessed with perfection that she gets worked up over one strand of hair out of place. This continues in The Search. Every time she starts to slip, that hair falls out of place. And she usually tucks it back into place within the seguinte panel or so. However this (as pointed out por a few tumblr users before myself) changes in S&S. After battles and small breakdowns she doesn't put her hair back up right away. She kind of just lets that one strand of hair do it's thing. Which shows that she might just be letting go of the super high standards she sets for herself. Which is extremely good for her, because her own high standards contributed to her breakdown. Azula just seems to expect way too much from herself and in S&S she may just be starting to accept that she can't be perfect. And starting to embrace that as she is with the fact that she has a different destiny than the one Ozai hand picked for her.
That in mind, I think all of this development has had the chace to happen because a lot of the pressure Ozai had put on her has been lifted from her. And with him in prison, his influence has been lifted. Azula's starting to realize that Azula can be who Azula wants to be. Not who Ozai wants her to be--a mini him.
In short, in just one comic and with a few subtle hints, I think it can be said that Azula has already come a long way. Though she still has a lot to work on. She's got the right idea and seems to want to help make the fogo Nation a better place...now all she has to do is stop doing things like abducting children and find a better method of helping Zuko become a stronger leader.