Wednesday, October 6, 2010

America, "Eff" Yeah!

I'm struggling with how much anime I should review on here - I mean, there are plenty of other resources for that kind of information.
But sometimes there just comes a series really worth talking about. And I really like talking about things I like, so sorry if it's all been done before!

Now if you watch a lot of anime, you'll notice that a lot of it falls within certain genres like harem (Love Hina), magical girl (Sailor Moon), mecha (Gundam), or avant-garde mind-bender (Evangelion).  But sometimes there just comes a series that makes you think - "whoa, what was that?"

Hetalia is one of those series.
Based off a web-comic by Japanese artist, Hidekazu Himaruya, Hetalia's characters represent different countries, and their interactions with each other loosely and comically model our own world history.
Each five minute (yes, only five minutes. For you out there unsure of this whole "anime" business - it's completely watchable!) episode contains some snippet of European or World War II history. The webcomic covers more ground/time than this, but for now the anime only focuses on those times/locations. 

It is very interesting to me to see how Japan views the relationships between countries, especially our own.
America is depicted as a hyper-active, strong, hamburger-eating blond who believes the only opinion that counts is his own.  His tag-line phrase is "Watashi wa hero!", which means "I am the hero".

Is it bad that despite the not-most-positive-yet-sometimes-accurate depiction, I totally have a crush on America? He's a hottie.
Before you worry, every country is given it's own stereotyped-flaws for the sake of humor.  England is a chronic bad cook, Japan tries too hard to fit in with the western-world, France is pretty much a gigolo, and Germany is a stoic, serious man constantly put-off by Italy's constant frivolousness. The themes are mostly light-hearted, and they don't focus on the atrocities that war and invasion brings with it. The value of the show comes purely in the interaction between characters.
(source) (L-R: Japan, Italy and Germany)
It helps if you know your history - and I shamefully admit that I got a bit lost at times when the subject wasn't WWII or North America.  But I figure since it's the first anime that made me a smarter person (I look up and read about the world-event after if I get confused), it's worth looking at.
Just keep in mind that it does make light of otherwise serious events. It does generalize and stereotype. But it's a fresh and original anime concept. And it makes you think. I don't know how many more conversations Sak and I have had on world affairs due to Hetalia. Crazy.
(source) (L-R: America, France, Japan, Russia, Germany, England)
You can read the web-comic here.

And watch the on-going anime episodes here. New episodes come out about once a week or so.

And in case you're too lazy to click the above links, here's the first episode right here, for your viewing pleasure:

Watch Axis Powers Hetalia Episode 1(Subbed) in Anime  |  View More Free Videos Online at

The series is quite popular now, even though the anime started online. Perhaps it was considered too risque a subject to broadcast? I think it's funny that the American distribution has it rated as TV-MA. For the life of me I can't figure out why. It's also sparked a wave of doujinshi (fan-made manga) pairing up different countries (I'm still looking for a non-dirty Japan x America version!), as well as some of the simplest cosplay around (simply carry a countries flag around with you, and you're done!).

If you've seen it before - who's your favorite? If you haven't seen it before - watch the first episode and tell me what you think!


  1. I don't do anime. I've only watched it once in my life when my good friend "made me" watch an episode of One Piece when I was [trapped] at her house. :oP But this DOES seem interesting...

  2. ha! one piece is muhhh. lol. way too long, that anime is.

    this one is only five minutes! you can do it! haha!

  3. Does it count that I watched Pokemon back in the day while getting ready for school? I feel like that is a little bit of experience, right?

    Either way, I have no idea what you're talking bout when it comes to Conventions or Anime. Ever. But you're selling me hard on this one Penga. You found my weakness. Traveling the World.

  4. I totally explained history to a kid I tutored once describing countries as middle schoolers. (as in sugar embargo in the 60's was basically the united states way of telling Cuba they weren't invited to our birthday party.)

    I am not typically an anime fan, but I think I just might have to check this out!

  5. @gator - pokemon counts, but it's kids anime! you gotta watch some grown up stuff! (but maybe not *that* kind of grown up stuff, hahahah >.>) And yes! I actually thought of you when I posted this. Gator's gateway anime. lol.

    @tova - haha! that's awesome! I think history is much easier to understand when put in more interesting ways sometimes. definitely helps when you're not just reading about old dudes all the time.

  6. PENGA! When you're done with the thank yous - can you craft this?


Your thoughts - go!