Cute, Educational, and a Little Bit of Weird: The World of the Hetalia Anime

I have always found history fascinating.  I minored in European history at University.  A friend of mine showed me this website called Kitayume.  Click on that link to go to it.  It’s in Japanese so, unless you know Japanese you won’t be able to do much.  It sure is cute though.  Himaruya Hidekazu is the guy behind it and boy did he create something wonderful.  When I started reading the Hetalia it was in the fall of 2006.  The whole basis of the show is that each country is represented by a person and they interact with the other countries and their bosses.  The bosses being the ruler of the country at a given time.  The comics strips are set during various events throughout history.  As such, some characters may represent a variety of “countries” depending on the time that the comic is set.  For example, the character of Germany not only represents present day Germany, but he also represented Nazi Germany in the comics set during that time period.  It is also suspected that he may have represented the Holy Roman Empire since the child character looks like Germany.  With the rise in the comic’s popularity came the delightful anime series that is the topic of this article.

The anime has run for five seasons at the moment and has a movie that goes along with it.  It’s great!  While Studio Deen is the animation studio in charge of the anime adaptation, the show has two very distinct art styles.  Both are wonderful, but there are some differences.  The first four seasons, which encompass Hetalia: Axis Powers and Hetalia: World Series, have the traditional anime style of art work.  Then came Hetalia: The Beautiful World.  Oh  boy!  This animation is beautiful!  Of course, this animation is very close to Himaruya’s animation style.  I love it.  Here are two images to compare the two animation styles.  This is the character of the United States of America.  These images came from the Hetalia Archives Wiki.  The image on the left is from the first four seasons and the image on the right is from the fifth.  Each episode it fairly short.  By that I mean that each episode is only about five to six minutes long.  There are some longer ones, but those are specials.  It does make it easy to watch and then get up to go get stuff done though.  Kudos for that.

In terms of accuracy of historical events, for what it is, it’s pretty accurate.  I does make learning historical events fun and I did learn quite a bit from it.  It made me want to go study the events that the episodes and comics are based on.  That being said, it isn’t really for children.  In fact, though you can watch most of the episodes on YouTube, you have to sign in and verify your age.  The reason for this is that, I mean do I really need to explain this?  Some of the history of the world is a bit more graphic than what is taught to little kids.  They learn about WWII, but they don’t really learn about WWII until post secondary education levels.  Also, there is some swearing in it and some adult humor in it.  I actually wrote an entire essay for my Philosophy of Fiction class on this series.  That paper was on the morality of humor.  Yes, it is funny in that it the show’s characters more often than not will exhibit some slightly offensive stereotypes of the peoples they represent.  Does that make it bad?  Not really.  I mean yes, it is offensive at times, but it offends everyone.  I’m American and I’m not all bent out of shape because of how that character is portrayed.  I’m also of Prussian decent…Yes, we are all that awesome, but no, we don’t all drink that much beer.

The music for this show is ridiculously cute!  Each character has its own set of songs that the original Japanese voice actors sing in the characters’ voices.  It’s fantastic.  There are also different versions of the ending song for the different characters.  This one is my favorite.

That song is called “Mawaru Chikyuu Rondo” and is the main version sung by the character of Italy.  It was the ending for Hetalia: The Beautiful World.  It’s so upbeat and happy!  Germany’s version is also fun.  Here is that version.

The Hetalia series is fun and it keeps learning as you get older fun as well.  I highly recommend it to everyone even if you aren’t particularly interested in world history.  The episodes are short and you can watch one while you are fixing breakfast.  It puts world events of the past and present in a different perspective and throws in some humour to make it entertaining and not bland.  While the show and comics are Japanese originally, the English translation of the manga is great.  The dub of the show is also done beautifully and they have a lot of amazing voice actors that are involved in other big shows.  Watch it and see if you can figure out the voice actors!  While I normally am not too fond of the dubs, this is one where I make an exception.  This is great!  Go watch it or read the comics if that is what you are in to.  I like both.