Think of it like WWII, except every country is a pretty boy instead. A hilariously stereotypical pretty boy. America loves burgers, Russia is into the vodka, and China has pandas and a wok. It is centered mostly around Italy, who has both a North and South character. The Hetaria portion of the name is probably mocking Italy, as Hetare means useless.
The first volume of Hetalia Axis Powers was published by Gentosha Comics on March 28, 2008. Six volumes were printed in total, with the last one being printed on October 31, 2013. All six volumes were later published in English by Tokyopop from September 21, 2010 to June 16, 2014.
Since the anime is coming out soon I felt the manga deserves a review of some sort, I will put aside my fan girl heart and attempt to give my unbias impressions of this series.
Story: The story essentially follows the history of the world... I'm afraid to say that if you've ever picked up a history book the series is already spoiled for youxD Ok... Not exactly. There are actually alot of Historical elements as the back bone of the story, Primarily the early 1900's during WWI and later, but for the most part the real "story" lies in the character interaction like a slice
of life/comedy anime... Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, Seto no Hanayome give off similar feelings. The story isn't really the main focus of the series rather than just random gags... Most of Hetalia is written in 4 panel (give or take a few) strips.
Character: The main interest of the series is the characters and the relationships they have with each otherxD Each character is an extreme Stereotype of the country they represent... making characters like France a big pervert, England "Tsundere," And America an egotistical Idiotic "HERO." There are TONS of characters in this series... Over 20 at least... so It can be a bit difficult to remember them all, but I actually think this series would be very useful as an educational tool... Putting a face and personality behind each country makes them alot easier to remember on Geography testsxD The only point I took off is because there's so many characters a few of their personalities don't see that original, But the Primary characters are very entertaining. My favorite part is the relationships between them, how they beat the crap out of each other during warsxD But sleep with them when they're allies...
Art: To be COMPLETELY fair and honest... the artwork for this series is far from top notch. Some of the chapters look like scribbles on a napkin or something. There are some REALLY nice looking chapters as well, but the quality is not consistent. Because there are so many characters it frequently becomes difficult to tell them apart because of the quality of the work. You eventually become "used to it," and may find the scribbles cute, especially if its a "chibi" character they're focusing on, but I can't help but feel that it is lacking is some aspects.
I LOVE this series... This is mostly a gag manga... but the character relationships and past can get pretty deep. The comedy and randomness of other moments had me on the verge of tears. If anything this is just a series that puts a smile on your face.
I have heard some complaints about the Country stereotypes... and how they find them offensive, but this series isn't supposed to be taken to heart. It COULD be very dark because of history... but that Author for the most part keeps the story very soft... The only slightly disturbing parts I've found are Russia's relationship with the Baltic countries, but I can overlook to some extent.
Others might be turned off to their constant references to Rape (*cough FRANCE), and Random guys running all over Europe Naked... but personally I found this to be one of the best aspect of the seriesxD And I think this a series that girls/guys can equally enjoy.
Overall if You want a good laugh and don't mind senseless randomness this is a good series for you^.^
Axis Powers Hetalia is the ongoing project of Japanese web-comic artist Kitayume. The gag manga features the antics of anthropomorphic countries in bishonen and bishoujo form. Italy (after whom the manga is named), Germany, and Japan - the "Axis Powers" - are the primary protagonists, followed by the US, UK, France, Russia, and China - the "Allied Forces." Other characters include N. and E. European and a handful of Asian/Mediterranean countries.
Kitayume follows a routine of briefly introducing country-characters' historical backgrounds before situating them in comical and often ecchi interactions with other powers, ie. Lithuania as US's housekeeper, China as an emo drunk, Hungary as
a fujoshi, Russia mistaking Canada for a couch, France (& Korea) hitting on everyone, etc.
This reviewer acknowledges that APH does, on occasion, wander across the fine line of political insensitivity, not only in its racial profiling, but also in the absence of historically incriminating subjects. In its defense, however, Hetalia is intended to be light political satire (or straight comedy), and darker themes would, in fact, undermine its purpose.
The scanlated manga (LJ, found here: http://nisecal.googlepages.com) consists of 4 chapters and a good number of side comics. Despite the initial description that APH concerns WWII, the storyline spans ancient history to present-day, and is mostly achronological. There is NO coherent plot, and only highly specific, free-standing references to historical events.
However, you will find personified nations (mostly male, hence the BL), GROPING EACH OTHER.
Crude, sometimes inconsistent, but stylish. New readers might have some difficulty distinguishing between countries (particularly Northern European), but all characters have physical idiosyncrasies (when in doubt, refer to their ahoges and pets) that facilitate their identification.
The horsepower behind Hetalia's appeal. All nation-characters personify the behavioral quirks (true or not) generally attached to its people: America is blindly heroic (and often obnoxious), Japan is a suicidal otaku, the UK has a terrible crush on the US (and a terrible grudge against France), China wears panda-print boxers, etc.
And Russia. Armed with a bloody water-pipe and spontaneously-appearing vodka bottles. Stalking people. See for yourself.
Excellent as a daily dose of political incorrectness. The fanfiction/fanart potential for BL enthusiasts is also fantastic (and made all the more titillating by the fact that, yes, interactions between countries can, indeed, be yaoi-licious).
Brilliance all around! The first few words that caught my eye made me chuckle! What an absolutely delightful manga! I couldn't stop my self from laughing, with every turn of the page!
With the combination of some quirky but true political facts, mixed together with chibi-like characters you've found a combination for the win! It lightheartedly pokes fun at the countries and how they relate to each other in a childish way. Which is completely true and hilarious, all at once!
If you are a history buff or travel buff or you just enjoy REALLY FUNNY manga, you will enjoy this. I am from the States and I travel a lot so it's interesting to me to see how people perceive us Americans. It's also interesting because during my travels, I tend to develop stereotypes of each country in my head. Don't get me wrong, I definitely do not mean this in a bad or malicious way, but rather in the playful way that Hetalia seems to capitalize on.
Honestly, a lot of the stereotypes are really spot on a kind of
lovable... like America being really boastful and talking with his mouth full, Britain's uppity demeanor and the love/hate relationship with America, Russia and his violent tendencies, Japan and his politeness and need to apologize before speaking, Italy and his "I'll tell you everything just don't hit me", Austria and his disdain for everything, Canada being ignored, Korea and his obsession with k-dramas, etc. HAHAHAHA! The first time I read volume 1, I was literally in tears thinking about how spot on all the stereotypes were. All the characters are so cutely drawn too. Just adorable.
Hetalia also takes an interesting look at history! I have certainly learned a few things from this manga and it has also interested me enough that I look up stuff. And I was never even a big history buff in school.
Fun, educational, and adorable; what more could I ask for!
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