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Reviews Comments: I don't see why it needs to be in WWII Axis Powers Hetalia whole series review by Gear Box Clock

If you a) know a lot about WWII's atrocities or b)have been affected by WWII in an emotional way, you'll likely not like this series. Having lost relatives in WWII, I hate it with a passion.

However, if you enjoy anime (I don't) and homoeroticism (instead of character development, imho) then you will likely enjoy this series. It's fairly standard in most ways, focusing on the "wacky" adventures of the Axis and Allies. Almost all of the characters are bishonen males, and I greatly feel that the series would have not earned my ire if it didn't have the WWII as people premise. The characterization of several characters is at odds with what the country was actually like during WWII. The most glaring example would be the USA as a foolhardy country ready to dive head-first into war to be a hero. During WWII, the USA originally envisioned itself as a supplier of the Allies with an isolationist streak. The USA was also extremely racist. Canada was also not just "America but more British", but a major presence throughout the war, alongside the other British colonies. I also find the portrayals of various battles extremely distasteful, especially Nanking being a stab in the back. I also find the community/fandom of this series incredibly low quality. I've heard that it used to be filled with history buff weeaboos, but now it's primarily slash-writing fangirls. Not to mention the fangirls. There is NO EXCUSE for dressing like the characters and posing at monuments to WWII heroes. That kind of behaviour is inexcusable, in ANY circumstances.

tl;dr Hetalia's translated name would be Axis Powers Sh Italy and I hate it (the series, I love the name). Also, the art is pretty sucky.


  • GearBoxClock
  • 24th Sep 10
I get the humour. It just isn't very good.
  • 24th Sep 10
Yeah, all the slashers came in when they made the anime. I miss all the history buffs... *le sigh* I wish we could go back to the webcomic days, in which the art didn't suck. Especially recently, Hidekaaz's art has really improved. (Also, Nanking wasn't the stab in the back. Where did you get that idea? The stab in the back was the first Sino-Japanese War, I think, which is a much more appropriate metaphor, IMHO. Unless they changed that in the anime too. Although maybe you're just misinformed.) And, although I'm not speaking about the anime as I haven't watched most of it, I know that at least Poland had a ton of character development.
  • GearBoxClock
  • 24th Sep 10
I think the backstab was the anime then. I remember that a major event between Japan and China was a backstab
  • GearBoxClock
  • 24th Sep 10
Oh, and "Not to mention the fangirls" should be "Not to mention the Cosplayers"
  • 25th Sep 10
Yeah, I think the backstab was the first Sino-Japanese war. I remember that strip. It was rather sad... Although I had heard that they had cut it out of the anime, because the government or something along those lines would get mad. I guess they didn't?
  • GearBoxClock
  • 25th Sep 10
From what I've read Japan isn't very happy when talking about WWII. That wouldn't surprise me. I've modified the review for the new info
  • 26th Sep 10
Everyone has sore spots. WWII people don't get special treatment.
  • 26th Sep 10
With respect to this review, this feels more like supporting evidence for the first one. Especially considering the "your mileage may vary." And yes, this review's admittedly a tad misinformed.
  • 30th Sep 10
Perhaps a more accurate review would be "If you think that The Producers was a tasteless crime against humanity, then Hetalia isn't for you."
  • supernova
  • 1st Oct 10
I'll admit I couldn't sit through it, but after about five episodes creeping idea that in this WW II there was no place for death and the holocaust. Maybe Hetalia is a way to cope with national trauma, but I was disturbed to find war buried in so much sugar and agree with the title of this review.

werdnak84: I think there's a big difference between slapping in the face and ignoring the face even exists.
  • amitraday
  • 3rd Oct 10
The entire point is that all the characters are sterotypes. If you want politically correct, watch the news, not a comedy show based on being not politically correct. It's the entire basis of the show. Also, if there was no world war going on, there would be no conflict. Unless you want more slash as emotional conflict. WWII was included because it's rather recent, but still old enough to not be a fresh wound, and because it included pretty much the entire world, meaning more characters would be included. Why are you even attempting to make a review if you don't like anime? I actually wonder if you've seen more than a handful of episodes. As it stands, I seriously doubt you have.
  • mollypop
  • 5th Oct 10
If you don't enjoy anime, then why bother trying to watch it or even looking it up? It clearly states that Hetalia's genre is anime not cartoon or live-action. You should have generalized it as an anime and have ignored it. If you didn't know that it was an anime—which I doubt that—you've might known from the synopsis that it satirizes WWII and WWII has a great impact on yourself, you should have left it alone. Hetalia is not for everyone and you would have known this if you read the synopsis.

  • GearBoxClock
  • 21st Oct 10
I've watched several episodes because I wanted to see if a popular, history based anime could make me not hate it.

I also don't see a satire of a war in it either.
  • 22nd Oct 10
That's because it's a satire of countries.
  • Windsong12
  • 22nd Oct 10
The thing is it's not about WAR, okay? It's about the characters themselves and how they interact with one another. Sure, there's war, but the main focus is on the characters. And the characters are based on stereotypes and how people see countries. Right now? People think Americans are kind of dumb. So America is dumb. People view Italy as a relaxed place filled with music and pasta. So that's how Italy is portrayed. People think Canada is America only more French/British, so that's what Canada is.
  • 217
  • 3rd Nov 10
I was fine with your review until you had a problem with the USA not being racist enough for your tastes. I don't think other countries at the time were exactly shining examples of political correctness, thanks.
  • ArlaGrey
  • 15th Nov 10
Just one point - although WWII is the time period most frequently visited, the majority of the series isn't set then - Himaruya gave up on the main storyline a long time. The strips are set in different periods throughout history, and the modern day.

It's still understandable you find it offensive, I just wanted to clear that up.

Oh, and though I completely agree that stuff about cosplayers is creepy (I don't tend to watch cosplays so I didn't know about that), I resent the suggestion that recent fans are only in it for the slash. I don't watch a lot of anime, I just genuinly like historically based humour. And from what I can tell, there are still plenty of history buffs in the fandom.

Sorry, that was one more point than I intended to make.
  • Lightninging
  • 19th Jan 11
Not all of it takes place in WWII, as several people have pointed out; dissing the fandom is also a little low. (Like any other fandom, it has its hordes of yaoi fangirls- but it also has its more mature, sensible fans.)

Other than that, this review raises a few valid points.

Yes, it does make light of several battles. There are the occasional serious moments- some (such as Bloody Sunday) verging on depressing- but it is a comedy series. Its aim is to present basic world history through a series of short, funny little gags. History is more than just wars. I would like to point out that Hetalia tries very hard to keep each character sympathetic. The moment you begin to portray war as the horrible atrocity it is, someone is going to have to be the bad guy. And, since the characters are all nations, that would mean a nation would have to be the bad guy. There's no way that could end well- lots of people would get very, very angry. The way Hetalia avoids being too offensive is, simply, by taking Refuge in Audacity. Stereotypes and caricatures. That way, no-one has to be the bad guy. If you want war shown in its proper light, go through the fandom. Like everything else, it follows Sturgeon's Law, but there are a surprising number of truly touching fics out there.

(And the non-isolationist USA has been something that has bugged me for a while, too.)

No character development? The series lacks a concrete timeline, so how can you judge that? The only possible way to show character development is by showing different sides of the characters at different points in time. And, imho, it does a pretty good job of that. Characters that have gotten enough 'screen time' have gotten the character development to go with it.

I'm not going to touch on the issue with the cosplayers. Not gonna go there, thank you very much- that's an argument to take to the cosplayers, not to include in a review of the series.

As a history buff myself, I honestly enjoy this series. Actually, I honestly enjoy its fandom- the good side of it, that is. Where else can you find heartwrenching, romantic, dark, and historically accurate fics about, say, the Seven Year's War?

Oh, and one last thing: If you don't like anime, why on earth did you watch this series?!
  • Shota
  • 20th Jan 11
But reviewer has one good point: any fan artist of Hetalia usually draws the characters better than the mangaka! :D
  • ChrisWWII
  • 30th Jan 11
To the people complaining about the non-isolationist America, I always assumed that the meetings with the Allies were assumed to be after America had joined the war. If you notice, in episodes set before WWII America tends to have no friends other than Tony. Besides, the countries are based on modern stereotypes of nations, and modern stereotypes of Americans are of gung-ho, overly bombastic individuals who think they can solve everything.
  • 31st Jan 11
As my account was banned (I don't know why) I'll shall provide something of a rebuttal to Lightningings well though out and well written comments. I felt that there was a significant enough fandom presence to make warrant a mention. I maybe should have specified that it is the part of the fandom that I find... unsavoury, but the slash-writers seem to be the most visible part. That could just be me. I personally feel that it's somewhat pointless to have a series set in a horrific conflict without exploring the implications of the horror, even if it's through anthropomorphic countries. I also don't really see much in the wave of stereotypes. At least none that make any sense at all. I've also seen series with jumbled or otherwise strange timelines have good character development. The best example would be Pulp Fiction. I feel that the characters stay pretty flat regardless of events. I also feel that the mention of cosplay was relevent to the type of review I was trying to write. Personally, I stay away from interaction with fandom, so I tend to see the loudest examples. At the very least, I've never had a good experiance with a group calling itself a "fandom". And for the last point, I wanted to expand the types of media I enjoy. I felt that there was too much AMERICA FUCK YEAH type media for my tastes and that a popular Japanese take may be good. I also shouldn't have said that I don't like anime. It's not a principal thing. I just don't tend to like anime and the kind of 'spergin' that goes on in anything related to it has basically caused me to stay away from all but the brightest examples.
  • 31st Jan 11
And again, how do you satirise a War or Nation? I'm very confused about that.
  • 31st Jan 11
Just noticed this, Comment #5462. They are somewhat offensive. I am less offended by them as they didn't portray WWII as a happy-go-lucky bunch of adventures. As I said before in my review, I woudn't actually care at all if WWII and other wars weren't used as the setting. It would become a silly little anime about silly people doing silly things and I wouldn't be bothered.
  • maninahat
  • 1st Feb 11
Decent review. I happen to like Hetalia, but unlike some people, I'm not going to tell you your opinion is wrong, or that you shouldn't critisize the show.

Hetalia is basically an extension of those ''Punch'' style cartoons you get in newspapers. The ones with the national stereotypes fighting in comic scenarios. I can quite easily see how it can be offensive, but then again, I can see how humour could be derived from the comic portrayals and the interpretation of any given situation. Of course, not everyone likes newspaper style cartoons, so I don't see it being everyone's cup of tea.
  • ChrisWWII
  • 1st Feb 11
@Commen 6198

Quite simply, you create a character based on the stereotypes of that nation, e.g. America is loud, obnoxious and over the top, Japan is quiet, withdrawn and not very forward etc. etc. You then use the way things happened in history to develop their relationships. An example from the show would be that England raised America, but then America broke away from England, representing the American Revolution. Additionally, England has a huge extended family, representing the British Empire. All of this is played for laughs.

Or you could just watch the series. The subbed version is free on youtube from FU Nimation.

Oh, and to the original reviewer, do you find Hogan's Heroes offensive because it was set in a WW 2 concentration camp and was still a comedy? Do you find The Great Dictator Offensive for being a satire of Hitler and the Nazis? Just becaue a show is set in a serious time period does not mean they have to play everything for drama or seriousness.
  • 2nd Feb 11
Chris WWII: Thank you for explaining how satirises countries. T Hough it sounds more like a comedic analogy, you actually attempted to explain it. I have watched the series, otherwise I wouldn't have written a review. I also do find Hogan's Heroes offensive, though not to the same degree. It certainly didn't attempt to portray the Axis as good guys.
  • OrchidbreezeofFireClan
  • 4th Feb 11
You guys seem to be quite busy with your flame war and I generally try to leave people who don't like my fandoms to their opinions, but if I may...?

I agree that 'satire' is a misnomer, and 'comedic analogy' is far more appropriate. Hetalia shows a broad interpretation of the historical behaviour of a nation translated into a human analogue. It rarely, if ever, actually makes any points about these things, or the wars involved.

It seems to me that the premise made you expect something different than what the comic actually became, which is a perfectly understandable perspective. The premise of anthropomorphised countries could have produced a very sensitive, historically-accurate, and PC series. However, it's just better to accept that Hetalia does not aim to be and never will be any of those things. The creator was just the type of person who likes silly comedy that's not meant to be taken very seriously, so that's what Hetalia became. Not perhaps the typical treatment of history, but that's not in itself a sin.

As other people have previously pointed out, I would like to mention that as a whole, the series tends to sidestep the issue of war entirely. I like to think of it as a Battle Discretion Shot—not so much an implication that war was no big deal, but rather a decision not to show and address it.

As for character development, you can't expect the same treatment for these characters that you'd get from normal ones. Yes, we could have America mature to be sensitive, wise, and considerate, but then he wouldn't really fit the behaviour of the country anymore, would he? The characters are no more than symbols, ultimately derived from their real-life counterparts' policies.

I apologise profusely on behalf of the fandom as a whole for some of the caustic remarks you've received here. The people who actually participate in fandom (rather than just stewing in their own corner of The Pit Of Voles or hunt down dissenters to flame mercilessly) have, in my experience, been a really nice and tolerant bunch. We do have our fair share of crazies, but not all of us are completely insane.
  • ChrisWWII
  • 8th Feb 11
@6220 As I recall, Hogan's Heroes portrayed characters withing the Wehrmacht like Colonel Klink and Schultz as likable enough people. They weren't evil, and Schultz was DEFINITELY portrayed as a nice, decent human being. Colonel Klink (despite being ridiculouslly incompetent) was also a decent enough human being. The actual hard core Nazis, like the SS are portrayed as villains. It seems to me that you're saying any show set during World War II has to be run for drama and seriousness, and can't be run for comedic purposes. The Axis HAS to be portrayed as evil, otherwise it's not giving respect to those who suffered from it.

However, as far as Hetalia is concerned, we have to note that the nation-tans themeselves do NOT represent 'Nazi Germany', in international relations jargon, the nation-tans represent the nation—the people. e.g. Germany represents Germans, not the German state. The character's 'boss' represents the state, and during the few episodes actually set in World War II, Germany does mention that he views his boss as overbearing and insane. To say that the Axis nations have to be portrayed as evil in Hetalia is to say that Germans, Italians and Japanese as a whole have to be portrayed as evil. This simply not true, and could easily be seen as offensive in and of itself.
  • 11th Feb 11
Orchidbreezeof Fire Clan: Thanks. I guess that makes sense, though, as I stated before in my review title, it kinda invalidates the entire WWII setting. Also, I find it quite funny how badly people misuse the term satire.

Chris WWII: You also bring up a good point. I would argue that the actions of a country, a country's military and a country's populace do tend to reflect badly on the country. Maybe evil isn't a good word, but there was a lot wrong in just about every WWII-era nation, politically and popularly.
  • ChrisWWII
  • 12th Feb 11
I do agree that the actions of nations in WWII leave a lot to be desired. No one came out of the war with perfectly clean hands, however I feel that the way Hetalia goes about portraying all the characters as comedic is better than a black and white morality drama.

However, I do agree with the fundamental point that it doesn't have to be set in WW 2. The series has gotten to the point where the historical setting for a particular short is nex to unimportant.

I do also offer my apologies for the behavior of some of my fellow fans, I am a bit....unnerved by the way the yaoi fangirls use the series. I wish there was a bigger focus on the historical aspect, but a Russia cosplayer, I'd just like to say we're not all crazy rabid fans.
  • Orchidbreezefc
  • 12th Feb 11
(same poster as Orchidbreezeof Fire Clan) The WWII setting is pretty indefensible, you're right. It's more like 'two groups of nations that happen to be allied in the same way as in WWII are in opposition for whatever reason. Hilarity Ensues.' The mangaka saw that, which is why that particular setting never got very far. Currently the 'wacky hijinks' section is more often relegated to the present day, whereas historical time periods are reserved for strips with actual historical content.

I'd emphasise that the series is currently known as 'World Series Hetalia' rather than 'Axis Powers Hetalia', and there's a reason for that. The series is not ultimately about WWII. From the Chinese age of exploration to Bloody Sunday 1905 to simple present-day culture differences, it's a very versatile series.
  • 15th Mar 11
Everyboy quit being so butthurt. NOT everyone is stereotyped for one. You should know. Nordics Greece everything! Instead of watching the first two series (axis powers) watch world seris. If your offended by WWII, then don't watch axis powers. I am a big fan but I hate Axis powers, but im a big fan of world series. The webcomic is alot more accurate. they just cut it out of the anime to make alot more comedic. Not all of it is ww2 for one. and yes it's not for everyone Im a big fan of the series, although I can admit I do hate some of the stereotypes. But the fandom is pretty large.

In fact the fandom is alot lot more fun polish swedish wars for example.

now There is one thing I must point out: It's not a substitue for a textbook, but I have actualy found out a few things myself. such as habsburg and maria theresa.

and besides who wouldnt wanna see a personified country?

  • 15th Mar 11
@ #6391: Thank you for pointing that out. People are just very quick to jump to conclusions. It's just axis powers is known alot more. In fact Norwegian people founded U Iceland ^^ I am a bit dissapointed that they whitewashed Seychelles, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Spain. BUT it's also a world thing and not just Japan. Most animes are all about a shool girl in Japan.

It's fun too cause of world cup (I know half of you aren'; world cup fans)

And when I said Nordics aren't stereotype that's why the nordic fanbase is big too. Cause every other person dislikes/likes the stereotypes, there is nothing wrong with nordics, so..... Not all the seasons of Hetalia are the same.
  • 22nd Mar 11
Would just like to mention, harking back to the OP's review, that as a Canadian having gone through a 'History of Canada' course last year, I can honestly say that Canadian forces in WWI and WWII were generally seen as "America but more British," even by Canadians themselves. Seeing as we only established ourselves as a Confederation with four provinces in 1867 with the /British/ North America Act as our pseudo-Constitution, in 1914, we were still fairly British in our way of doing things, even if we technically weren't a British colony anymore, though in practice we still were. Most people identified the United States as the isolationist nation, but gave Canada only a brief glance to determine it was 'like America, but still British.'

In 1931, we got the Statute of Westminster from Britain, which basically granted us and all other countries under the Commonwealth our independence. Come 1939, Britain declares war on Germany in early September, and exactly a week later, Canada declares war on Germany. My teacher - a proud Canadian - described it as 'Canada wanted to show that Britain wasn't forcing it into war anymore, wanted to show that it was independent...but in the end, Canada still followed Britain a week later.' It's heavily hinted that Canada was still following the Brits at that time, because we really didn't know how to be independent. Unlike the Americans, who'd always had a certain amount of freedom even under British rule, the Canadians had always been controlled - first by the French, then by the British. We were following the Brits because we really didn't know what else to do now that they'd given us independence - there again, 'America but more British.'

Technically, we were only really independent by our own rules in 1982, when Prime Minister Trudeau repatriated our constitution. That's what really made us /Canada/, not 'America but more British.' So, by that logic, in both WWI and WWII, though Canada was an active participant in the Allied Forces, it was regarded by everyone as 'America but more British,' and even then, sometimes not that much. My Italian grandmother, whose house was Nazi-occupied in WWII, credits the Americans for freeing her from that. However, we learned in school that it was the Canadian armed forces who rescued Italians in my grandmother's area - she just never identified a difference, also lending to the stereotype in Hetalia that Canada is often mistaken for America.

Sorry for that random lesson in Canadian history, I just wanted to bring up as a proud Canadian that, even though we're incredibly proud of all we did in WWI and WWII, we understand that, at the time, many countries didn't really care to differentiate us and the USA. So I understand where Himaruya is coming from, and it's actually a historically accurate representation of Canada at the time.
  • Czeslaw
  • 29th Mar 11
Italy, Germany, England.. None of them are really bad guys or good guys. Germany isn't Hitler, he's a personification of the German people working under Hitler's rule. He doesn't appear overly pleased to follow the orders of his Boss, for example when he's ordered to annex Austria. There are a lot of times in the show where the personified nations don't seem to want to follow the orders of their respective bosses. I don't particularly think it's cool to try to paint over history, and sterilize it, but I don't think that's what they're doing. I don't see why they have a 'duty' to portray the ugliness of the holocaust or the rape of Nanking. They're not pretending to be a comprehensive source of history. What they're trying to do is be entertaining, and in my opinion, they do a fine job. Bottom line (tl;dr): It's not a history book, it has no duty to be anything but entertaining.
  • reynard82
  • 21st Jun 11
It is ironic that despite the "offensive" nature of this show, APH actually generated a small but significant interest in REAL history. Some fan strips has clearly indicated this result.

Besides, rather than naming real institutions, persons, etc, it will clearly be easier to swallow if you form the stereotypes into anthromorphic personification. It is not the first "national personification" in history. Check out Britannia and/or Marianne (French) in the other wiki...
  • KachinoOkimane
  • 5th Jul 11
I just read this whole disscusion and I have 1 thing to say.

I am a 19 year old female. I just got into Hetalia this year. While I am offended by some jokes, maybe because my grandma is german and was born right at the end of WW 2, I realize it's just a show, and I never stay mad for too long.

I also dislike Yaoi. Some of the Yaoi moments are cute in this series, but it's not what I like about it,and I could do with a little less. In any anime I watch, I only ship straight pairings.(Not that I don't support Gays in real life.I love my gay friends) I am tired of getting flamed when ever I say I dilike yaoi, though... I'm not kidding when I say I ususally get verbally abused and cussed at by girls younger than me every time I say something...

Also, some of the sentimental tearjerker moments balance out the rest of the show perfectly. Not too cute, but just sad and serious enough to know it's important to the overall plot(when there is one...)

I looked up quite a few things in history after getting into the show, and I am amazed by what I learned. Like Bloody Sunday 1905, and plenty of other things people should know about.
  • PatchGipper
  • 16th Aug 11
I'm almost certain I've posted this before, but as I can't seem to find it (or possiblly posted it on another review) I'll do it again.

America represents the people, not the state. The Government wanted to stay out of it, but the people wanted to get out there and kick@$$. If shown in canon, it would probably be America and his boss arguing over whether or not he could get out and fight. And because he represents ALL his people, he's not racist, since people of color were still part of the population even then, whether racists liked it or not.

You can't really criticise the fandom if you haven't perused it, which I assume you haven't done since you wrote "I've heard.". Truth is, like South Park, the fandom is suprisingly serious. It's filled with dark fics about wars, countries falling, annexation, and forced truces (And stuff where Russia kills people). On the lighter side, truce fics that are by choice, training fics, well written slash (Although you may not care about that.), and the occasional fic that's so close to canon, you have to make sure it wasn't an episode.
  • SantosLHalper
  • 27th Aug 11
I really don't see how Japan stabbing China in the back is supposed to be offensive representation of the Sino-Japanese War; not only since we saw China raise Japan from childhood, but we also see China's subsequent trauma as a result of being betrayed by his adopted brother AND a song about China's thoughts after the betrayal. It's all played quite seriously.
  • animenutcase
  • 12th Feb 12
I have to agree with 217. Having issues with how your country is portrayed is one thing, but insisting that America was this horrible, racist country while Canada was this oh so wonderful paragon of virtue is just as inaccurate as the America Wins The War trope. Canada has its ugly history, too. Every country does.
  • RandyButternubs
  • 2nd May 12

  • ThePaganSun
  • 27th Nov 12
Ummm...this might sound harsh but I agree with a previous review that said WWII doesn't get special treatment. If people were fine with the anti-Muslim video and wondered why Muslims got pissed, if people were (and still ARE mind you) fine with dressing up like Native Americans at American football/baseball games and Halloween even though they're unitentioanlly disrespecting that culture and given that it was the white A Mericans that drove out and killed the Native Americans brings their dressing up in Native American "costumes" that much more horriffic. And yet no one or very few people complain of these why does WWII get special treatment?! Either you need to back off ALL sensitive subjects (nearly impossible to do) or everything's fair game. Someone, somewhere will get insulted at something and I know we're all usually touchy only at those things that concerned us or our family but in the bigger pictures almost EVERY family suffered in SOME war, disaster, tragic event, and WWII is just ONE of them but it's by no means "more important" than any other tragedy.

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