The year is 1943. America is in a power struggle with the nations of Italy, Japan, and Germany, known as the Axis Powers. The war seems to be endless and carry on, when all of a sudden…Italy is seen over the horizon, and he’s…waving a white flag? No, it’s not an alternate theory of history, it’s what happens most of the time in the popular animé series, “Hetalia: Axis Powers!”
In Hetalia, the story proposes the concept of each country of the world during World War II being represented not as countries, but as people, acting and behaving like the preset stereotypes that unfortunately exist in today’s society. That being said, America is a over eccentric jerk who is full of himself and drowns himself in the idea that America is at the center of the world, Italy is a scared little boy/girl who isn’t afraid to raise the white flag and surrender to anyone, or anything that scares him, and France, who is a flamboyant pretty boy who many believe is a little “too friendly” to many of the other nations. They’re crude, mean, and sometimes true, but these stereotypes do add personality and charm to these characters and make them all that more enjoyable.
What makes Hetalia unique is how the series is spread out. Instead of twenty-three minutes of story spreading over the course of twenty-something episodes, Hetalia is broken down into short, five minute episodes which during our interview with Eric Vale who voices America (CLICK HERE FOR INTERVIEW), is explained that the series was intentionally meant to be a web mini series, so you get a small Hetalia vitamin, rather than a 30 minute supposatory. However, those five minutes are some of the best minutes you can enjoy watching animé. You don’t need to follow any extensive storylines, or know what the character is even talking about to enjoy it (and with Italy, that’s A LOT of the time).
Along with the main storyline of the countries interacting with each other, there is also Chibitalia, a small side story that shows the life of Italy growing up as a little kid. Oddly enough, Italy is raised like a little girl (explains so much, yet so little) because no one knows whether he’s a boy or a girl, and after watching the series, we still can’t tell. It’s a cute little story and it shows a lot of character development without giving a lot of complex storyline.
It is now time where we grade the anime based on our three prime categories; Originality, Story, and Characters.
Originality: It does something that a lot of shows about World War II don’t; poke fun at it. It’s not a sad and haunting look about a war that resulted in the deaths of thousands, but a whimsical tale of the countries of the world personified as people with the stereotypes that accompany each county. It’s difficult, but Hetalia pulls it off nicely in a feel that kind of resembles what Hogan’s Heroes did. 9/10
Story: The world during WWII and how the countries interact with each other. It’s historically accurate to a certain amount, and while it may not be a good substitute to an actual history lesson, it might get you interested in learning about what actually took place during WWII. The wording might make you think of Hetalia character pairings, but that’s the price you pay to enjoy this wicked comedy about a serious series of events. 8.5/10
Characters: FUNimation does an exceptional job of portraying all these characters in a humorous and over the top way. Of course, if you find stereotyping offensive, then this might not be a series you would like. America is full of itself, Germany is strict, and Russia is kind of creepy. We even get to see countries that are not normally talked about when one thinks of WWII, such as Ukraine and she is….not too bad on the eyes, if you catch our drift. 9/10
Overall, Hetalia is a very enjoyable series to watch. Each episode is short, so even the most time pressed animé fan can watch the episodes and enjoy them, and with World Series (Season 3) now available, there will be more adventures with our favorite crazy countries to enjoy. You can also check out the Hetalia feature film, “Paint It, White”, which is also available from FUNimation.