I will invade your country… wait, I surrender!
Do you have pasta?
Hetalia: Axis Powers was another anime that I kept hearing good things about, so I finally checked it out. The basic story is a history lesson on the varied countries of the world, particularly during World War I and World War II. Oh, and the countries aren’t countries but rather cute boys (with a few cute girls throw in for good measure).
Even so, how do you make that into a comedy? By utilizing every cultural stereotype since the dawn of creation, that’s how. The countries bicker amongst each other and yell out petty names better than any middle school kids could ever dream of. (Poor Italy, he gets picked on the most! But at least he doesn’t seem to mind too terribly much.) Italy, Japan, and Germany are the main protagonists, but all sorts of countries show up to play. The series began as a webcomic by Hidekazu Himaruya and blossomed into a manga and anime from there. Each episode is only five minutes long, and since there are only twenty-six episodes in season one, you can watch both discs in less time than it takes to watch just one film from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I enjoyed this anime and could see what all the fuss was about. You don’t have to be terribly familiar with world history to find this anime hilarious, but the more you know, the funnier this series is. You also have to be able to laugh at yourself, as no country is safe from the comical cultural critique. Personally I couldn’t get enough, and I wanted to see even more of America scarfing down hamburgers and playing the pompous hero.
On a technical level, I had some difficulty understanding the various thick accents during the first few episodes, but eventually I got used to discerning what was being said. I’m also not the most knowledgable when it comes to world history, but I was able to follow the events clearly once I let myself get absorbed by the ridiculous nature of it all. There’s also a wise narrator that offers bits of information as needed. In fact, if it weren’t for the negative stereotypes and adult language, this anime would be a pretty good teaching tool. But then, the negative stereotypes and adult language are part of what makes this series so enjoyable.
If you know any history buffs or happen to be one yourself, you really shouldn’t miss Hetalia: Axis Powers. This anime is pure comedy, and even though the episodes are amazingly short, you can’t help but get sucked in. I found myself laughing out loud more than once, and I can’t wait to share this series with my history-major friends. Once I got used to the format I thoroughly enjoyed this witty satire, and I look forward to checking out season two.