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Hira'a is a town located in the Fire Nation and the hometown of Princess Ursa.[1]

History

The town of Hira'a is where Zuko's mother Ursa grew up, as well as where his maternal grandfather, Jinzuk, was the magistrate. Its theater featured the play Love amongst the Dragons in which Ursa and Ikem were cast for the roles of the Dragon Empress and Emperor, respectively.

Fire Lord Azulon and his son, Prince Ozai, traveled to Hira'a to seek out Ursa as they desired to add Avatar Roku's bloodline to the Fire Nation Royal Family. Ozai successfully proposed to and married Ursa, which meant she moved to the Fire Nation Capital and had to cut all ties with her previous life in this town.[1] After Ursa left, a heartbroken Ikem retreated to Forgetful Valley, where the Mother of Faces gave him a new identity as Noren. Noren returned to Hira'a, where he took over the acting troupe after Grandma Guchi retired.[2]

After being banished, Ursa returned to the place she had once called home. When she was there, she discovered that her parents had died, and she visited the stage she had once acted in. While on stage, she met Noren, who introduced himself to her.[3] Ursa took Noren to Forgetful Valley, where the former chose to change her face and forget her old life, becoming Noriko. Noren and Noriko had one child together, Kiyi.[2]

In 102 AG, a disguised Team Avatar and Azula arrived in the village, and observed a performance of Love amongst the Dragons. Fire Lord Zuko asked an elderly couple if they recognized the name Ursa, as the Water Spirit's actor took off his mask and reveals himself as Noren, inviting the group to his home. Noren and Noriko recounted the rumor that Ursa came back years later and went into Forgetful Valley in the search of her lost love, Ikem. Noren former worried that neither Ikem nor Ursa may be well if these rumors are true, given that Forgetful Valley was not an easy place to live. Team Avatar thus chose to go to the valley in search of Zuko's mother.[2]

The following night, Zuko and Sokka arrived at Noren's house, knocking at the door while Sokka stayed outside as a lookout for Azula. Kiyi pulled Zuko to the table, while Noriko questioned why he returned. Zuko asked her if she was happy in Hira'a, which she affirmed. Noren implored the disguised Fire Lord to reveal his identity, and informed Noriko that he was her son, having learned that she was Ursa. Noren apologized to Zuko for keeping his wife's identity as a secret, and explained to her that she was once named Ursa and had two children as Princess of the Fire Nation, and that she did not know due to her altered memories.[2]

At that moment, Azula crashed through the ceiling generating lightning, intimidating Noriko and asking if Kiyi was meant as a replacement for her. Sokka hit Azula in the back of the head with his boomerang and led Kiyi and Noren out of the house. A confused Noriko tearfully apologized for not loving her enough, in the case that she truly was Azula's mother. Zuko intervened, with his sister sending lightning at him which he easily redirected. Azula persisted in trying to persuade him that Ikem was his father and that she was the rightful Fire Lord, while Zuko revealed that he believed the throne was always his destiny, and that he did not kill her earlier because she was his sister. She ran to the door and left the letter behind, fleeing into Forgetful Valley while Zuko and Noriko plead for her to return. The Mother of Faces approached the town, asking Noriko if she wished to remember her old life. She agreed, even as Zuko discouraged her so that she could keep her life in Hira'a, and she returned to being Ursa.[2]

Avatar Aang, Sokka, and Katara speculated on Azula's possible return, while Zuko handed the letter to his mother and learned that Ozai was indeed his biological father. Ursa wished to tell Zuko more about her life in Hira'a, and her son eagerly heard her recount the story of her life.[2] Noren, Ursa, and Kiyi later left Hira'a for the Fire Nation Capital.[4]

Notable residents

  • Ikem (in his youth, and later as Noren, later relocated)
  • Jinzuk and Rina
  • Kiyi (relocated)
  • Ursa (in her youth, and later as Noriko, later relocated)

Trivia

  • Hira'a has been described by Gene Luen Yang as "someplace remote, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the Fire Nation capital city."[5]
  • Hira'a takes inspiration from the Japanese-settled Hawaiian villages of the early twentieth century, continuing the cultural parallels between Japan and the Fire Nation. True to form, its name is a contraction of "Hirahara"; Hirahara Zenmatsu was one of the first Japanese people to become a Hawaiian settler.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Search Part One (March 20, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Search Part Three (October 30, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  3. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Search Part Two (July 10, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  4. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part One (September 23, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  5. 5.0 5.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Search Library Edition (February 5, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
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