I've seen a post (and a post about it) about how Iroh could be just as harsh as Mai and that zutarians are taking her words out of context. Like, Iroh telling Zuko to stop trying to find the Avatar or reminding him about his past trauma is the same as Mai making such comments. Like, I pretty much understand Iroh right there; many parents tell the true to their kids even if it is harsh. Mai on the other side not even tries to reassume Zuko; she simply doesn't care.
Oh brother. Sounds like Maiko fans really need to reach so they have to throw Iroh under the bus. Iroh bringing up Zuko’s issues has nothing in common with Mai doing it. They are like the exact opposite.
Iroh’s Love Vs. Mai’s “Love”
Iroh: Sailing into Fire Nation waters … Of all the foolish things you’ve done in your sixteen years, Prince Zuko, this is the most foolish!
Zuko: I have no choice, Uncle.
Iroh: Have you completely forgotten that the Fire Lord banished you? What if you’re caught?
Zuko: I’m chasing the Avatar! My father will understand why I am returning home!
Iroh: You give him too much credit. My brother is not the understanding type!
Here’s why Iroh brings up Zuko’s banishment. He is worried about him getting caught since he’s not supposed to be sailing in Fire Nation waters. The concern is for his safety.
Mai: So, we’re tracking down your brother and Uncle, huh?
This is really the only time Mai ever even broaches the subject of Zuko’s banishment. She is happy even though they are hunting him as a traitor. She is more concerned with his looks than his safety.
Zuko: We’re going home! After three long years, it’s unbelievable!
Iroh: It is unbelievable. I have never known my brother to regret anything.
Zuko: Did you listen to Azula? Father’s realized how important family is to him! He cares about me!
Iroh: I care about you! And if Ozai wants you back, well, I think it may not be for the reasons you imagine.
Zuko: You don’t know how my father feels about me. You don’t know anything!
Iroh: Zuko, I only meant that in our family, things are not always what they seem.
This is Iroh’s reaction to Zuko going home to his abuser. He doesn’t want Zuko to go home because he doesn’t trust Ozai. Zuko yells at Iroh, and Iroh still accompanies Zuko in order to protect him. He only brought it up because he knew Ozai didn’t love Zuko and he was concerned. He did it because he cares.
Mai: Aren’t you cold?
Zuko: I’ve got a lot on my mind. It’s been so long, over three years since I was home. I wonder what’s changed. I wonder how I’ve changed.
Mai: I just asked if you were cold, I didn’t ask for your whole life story. Stop worrying.
Here’s how Mai reacts to Zuko going home for the first time in 3 years to a father who she knows burned and banished him. Mai dismisses Zuko when he tries to talk about it. She just wants to kiss him.
Jee: I’m sick of taking his orders! I’m tired of chasing his Avatar! I mean, who does Zuko think he is?
Iroh: Do you really want to know?
Iroh: Try to understand. My nephew is a complicated young man. He has been through much.
Here’s how Iroh reacts to Zuko’s anger problems. He tries to get the crew to have empathy for Zuko because he has had such a hard life.
Zuko: My life hasn’t been that easy either, Mai.
Mai: Whatever. That doesn’t excuse the way you’ve been acting.
Here’s how Mai reacts to Zuko showing anger problems as a result of his hard life. She doesn’t care and doesn’t want to hear any more.
Iroh: Prince Zuko, have you forgotten what happened last time you dueled a master?
Zuko: I will never forget.
Here’s how Iroh brings up the subject of how Zuko’s Agni Kai. He is concerned that Zhao is going to burn him.
Mai: Zuko, it’s just a dumb meeting. Who cares?
Zuko: I don’t.
Mai: Well good. You shouldn’t. Why would you even want to go? Just think about how things went to the last war meeting you went to.
Here is how Mai brings up the subject of the Angi Kai. She reminds him of it to change the subject because the war meeting bores her.
Iroh: And then what!? You never think these things through! This is exactly what happened when you captured the Avatar at the North Pole! You had him, and then you had nowhere to go!
Zuko: I would have figured something out!
Iroh: No! If his friends hadn’t found you, you would have frozen to death!
When Zuko goes off to do to a prison break without telling him, Iroh confronts him angrily. He is upset because Zuko is putting himself in dangerous situations and he is fearful of losing him. The only time he yells at him is because he cares. He is trying to stop him from doing the wrong thing.
Zuko: How did you know I was here?
Mai: Because I know you so well.
Zuko: But, how-
Mai: The warden’s my uncle, you idiot. The truth is, I guess I don’t know you. All I get is a letter? You could have least looked me in the eye when you ripped out my heart.
When Zuko goes off to do to a prison break without telling her, Mai confronts him angrily. It’s not because she was worried about him. She is mad that their relationship ended. She wants to stop him from doing the right thing. Basically, Iroh loves Zuko. Mai loves being in a relationship with Zuko.