Anime Vice News

HETALIA: AXIS POWERS - - Watch & Learn

A cartoon showing us what the Axis Powers (yes, including Nazi Germany) would be like as cute boys. Just as gross as it sounds.

I’ll try not to get hyperbolic about this. At the end of the day, it’s just a TV show. If I find it offensive, I can just ignore it and go ahead on my merry way. That’s what I’ve been able to do, so far, outside of the occasional run-in with a rally of pseudo-Nazi cosplayers at conventions. However, I was sent a bunch of HETALIA discs for review, so I’m obligated to comment on this show, at least once.

My comment: this is one of the grossest things I’ve ever watched. A show in the worst taste conceivable. Just the nadir.

If that’s the kind of reaction the creators wanted then, bravo, the joke must be on me. It’d be doubly-fitting because walking by the aforementioned rallies (or group photo sessions) felt like wandering into a really bad joke - - a live performance art piece to parody just how weird otakus can get. Actually watching this show feels like being on the butt end of some really morbid satire that its fans aren’t even in on. It's like SOUTH PARK's targeting anime again this week by coming up with the creepiest premise possible to have otakus getting fanatical about.

Seriously, tell your friends and your family that there’s a show with this (actually advertised) logline - - “Imagine the Axis powers of World War II as a bunch of cute boys.” Then tell them this show actually went ahead and cooked up some screwball jokes about Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany - - I'm sorry, I mean the "cute boys" - - rounding up Jews. Reactions aren’t likely to run the same as those times they shake their heads over HAMTARO. If you want to downplay how real history can still very touchy for very many people, think about a show that gives the same "cute boy" makeover to, oh say... the Ku Klux Klan.

Maybe the show would dodge the issue by asserting itself as satire, but this ain't exactly ANIMAL FARM here. It’s not really criticizing these aggressor regimes, nor even aiming to make much of a point. The creative impulse seems to be about the same as the one that produces slash fan art of Hiei and Kurama; a impish fascination with these big, bad men that sorts itself out by playing with them like Barbie dolls.

I watched about eight or ten micro-episodes (I lost track) because the show’s parceled out in micro installments that sort-of, kind-of evoke "edu-tainment" like SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK that rush through lesson plans as hurriedly as kids' short attention spans can stay along for. This means that the graphic-heavy intro and the outro (where the cute boys do, in fact, goosestep to fanfare) run on screen so many times that you get a taste of what it must have been like to be in the audience of a propagandist brainwashing screening. You know, kind-of like the ones that were typical in the eras these cute boys are supposed to evoke.

The repetition made me feel a little dizzy. Enough to make me finally follow through on an urge to puke that I'd had from the moment I started watching this horseshit. What a terrible, tone-deaf joke.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

sickVisionz moderator on Feb. 20, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.
Legions of fangirls are crying their hearts out right now. I figured this show would avoid jokes about sending jews to the camps but I guess I was wrong. Not too surprising though. When your country is like 90% one race I think it's easy to not have any grasp on what would be unacceptably offensive to other
metalsnakezeroon Feb. 20, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.

While I understand your feelings, the show doesn't really go in to real Axis powers ideals and what bad things they done. You're probably taking this show too seriously if you expecting real breaking WW2 facts when its a comedy of the past countries being guys.

metalsnakezeroon Feb. 20, 2012 at 3:37 p.m.

@sickVisionz: I'm pretty such the jokes didn't go that far. It was mainly jokes about the country's personalities.

Bensonon Feb. 20, 2012 at 3:41 p.m.

@metalsnakezero said:

While I understand your feelings, the show doesn't really go in to real Axis powers ideals and what bad things they done. You're probably taking this show too seriously if you expecting real breaking WW2 facts when its a comedy of the past countries being guys.

So what part of the Holocaust, Unit 731, the bombing of Hiroshima, the rape of Nanking, do you find comedic? Hetalia is a toxic show precisely because it chooses to ignore history and replace it with "LOL YOU GUYZ ITALIA IS EATING PASTA ISN'T HE CUTE? :)"

MrASSH0LEon Feb. 20, 2012 at 4:11 p.m.

@Benson said:

So what part of the Holocaust, Unit 731, the bombing of Hiroshima, the rape of Nanking, do you find comedic? Hetalia is a toxic show precisely because it chooses to ignore history and replace it with "LOL YOU GUYZ ITALIA IS EATING PASTA ISN'T HE CUTE? :)"

couldn't of said it better.

Animastaon Feb. 20, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.

I seem to recall there was a show... it was either this or similar to this that showed finland and sweden and sweden was gay because that's the stereotype about sweden or something. Can't remember if this was it or what, but it sounds pretty heinous.

Haofan123on Feb. 20, 2012 at 5:45 p.m.

I personally love this show. Its supposed to be funny and isnt meant to be taken seriously. I dont really understand why its recieving so much hate here, it but everyone to their own i guess

sickVisionz moderator on Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.

@metalsnakezero said:

@sickVisionz: I'm pretty such the jokes didn't go that far. It was mainly jokes about the country's personalities.

Seems like they do...

Then tell them this show actually went ahead and cooked up some screwball jokes about Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany - -I'm sorry, I mean the "cute boys" - - rounding up Jews.
ZombiePieon Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.

I saw the show and felt like it was a lazy parody of historical events. It just makes a bunch of cultural references and plays on stereotypes without doing anything more than the Family Guy attempt at humor, and for that I despise the show. You know Monty Python proved you could take something like the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, as touchy as a subject as it may seem, and make it an intelligent parody of religions as a whole and something with a cohesive story. There's no thought to any of the jokes in Hetalia and as a result it seems lifeless and without any merit.

Also did anyone tell you that there's a similar manga series but about the history of Afghanistan and depicts Afghanistan as a little moeblob girl called "Afghanis-tan"? Did you ever want to see the Soviet Invasion or the American War on Terror chibified?

Anyone?

Bensonon Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:18 p.m.

@Haofan123 said:

I personally love this show. Its supposed to be funny and isnt meant to be taken seriously. I dont really understand why its recieving so much hate here, it but everyone to their own i guess

The fact that it's supposed to be funny doesn't excuse anything. Minstrel shows were designed to be humorous but they're still the hateful product of a racist society and helped perpetuate it. Similarly, Hetalia being "just a fun show" doesn't change that it's also a poorly made revisionist history show that deliberaltly makes fascism look nice and charming.

Haofan123on Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:27 p.m.

@Benson said:

it's also a poorly made revisionist history show that deliberaltly makes fascism look nice and charming.

After watching all 103 episodes and the movie, nothing coud be further from the truth. They never reference things such as the holocaust or hiroshima. The one time they did was due to funimation trying to spice up the dialouge and that was all and it wasnt even in the original japanese dub let alone the webcomic it was based on

metalsnakezeroon Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:36 p.m.

Whether the problem with the show comes from ignoring its historical roots is debatable. What is true is the jokes are indeed simple but weak and it pretty hard to see it holding up after so many episodes.

Bensonon Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:38 p.m.

@Haofan123 said:

@Benson said:

it's also a poorly made revisionist history show that deliberaltly makes fascism look nice and charming.

After watching all 103 episodes and the movie, nothing coud be further from the truth. They never reference things such as the holocaust or hiroshima. The one time they did was due to funimation trying to spice up the dialouge and that was all and it wasnt even in the original japanese dub let alone the webcomic it was based on

So they don't adress historical events in a show about prettyboys incarnating nations during WW2? Yup, it's still revisionism and making fascism look nice, and their intent still doesn't matter.

Haofan123on Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:43 p.m.

@Benson said:

@Haofan123 said:

@Benson said:

it's also a poorly made revisionist history show that deliberaltly makes fascism look nice and charming.

After watching all 103 episodes and the movie, nothing coud be further from the truth. They never reference things such as the holocaust or hiroshima. The one time they did was due to funimation trying to spice up the dialouge and that was all and it wasnt even in the original japanese dub let alone the webcomic it was based on

So they don't adress historical events in a show about prettyboys incarnating nations during WW2? Yup, it's still revisionism and making fascism look nice, and their intent still doesn't matter.

It doesnt make fascism look nice at all. All it is is various countries personified as human beings for the sake of humor. Its weird that people can look at shows like south park, which, despite its lowbrow humor, addresses real world events, but scoff at a show like hetalia

Bensonon Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.

@Haofan123 said:

it doesnt make fascism look nice at all.

Look at the picture at the top of the article. Seriously look at it.

Haofan123on Feb. 20, 2012 at 6:56 p.m.

@Haofan123 said:

it doesnt make fascism look nice at all.

Look at the picture at the top of the article. Seriously look at it.

I see countries as people, not dictatorships and the jewish population being led into gas chambers. If that was the case, id be on your side right now

Bensonon Feb. 20, 2012 at 7:55 p.m.

@Haofan123 said:

I see countries as people

Wich countries? What is the time period? What type of clothes are they wearing? Would you say that they are represented in a positive, sympathetic way?

Darokion Feb. 20, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.

Can we do a Watch and Learn of Wandering Son now that we've found something far more sensitive than transgender issues?

Haofan123on Feb. 20, 2012 at 8:05 p.m.

@Benson said:

@Haofan123 said:

I see countries as people

Wich countries? What is the time period? What type of clothes are they wearing? Would you say that they are represented in a positive, sympathetic way?

The axis powes, its supposed to be based in ww2 but the time period varies greatly, they cange clothes regularly, and yes and no. Te basis of your arguement seems to be that by creating personified countires that serve more as fangirl bait than histroically acurate portrayals, the creators supposedly fully support an unethical political ideology. I have noting against people hating hetalia, but just dont jump to conclusions, especially since the second series virtually ignores WW2 altogether

Darokion Feb. 20, 2012 at 8:28 p.m.

@Haofan123 said:

@Benson said:

@Haofan123 said:

I see countries as people

Wich countries? What is the time period? What type of clothes are they wearing? Would you say that they are represented in a positive, sympathetic way?

The axis powes, its supposed to be based in ww2 but the time period varies greatly, they cange clothes regularly, and yes and no. Te basis of your arguement seems to be that by creating personified countires that serve more as fangirl bait than histroically acurate portrayals, the creators supposedly fully support an unethical political ideology. I have noting against people hating hetalia, but just dont jump to conclusions, especially since the second series virtually ignores WW2 altogether

Haofan123, the problem is that they're creating fangirl bait out of personifications of countries who at the time of the show's initial time period, you know, when they were "Axis Powers", led to millions of people murdered in concentration camps, brutal trench warfare, and ultimately even atomic warfare. The very CONCEPT of making cute personifications of countries who fought for the cause of fascism and racial purity is offputting to a lot of people. Maybe you think people attacking the concept of Hetalia are taking it too seriously, but most would think that someone defending it as you are might be taking the real toll of that era too lightly.

I can see why Tom would react in such violent opposition to something like this, and I felt much the same way after wanting to see what this whole Hetalia thing was being based off of (especially having a 14 year old daughter who seems to be the target demographic of this show). I'd rather she watch Ouran Host Club or Prince no Uta Sama 1000% than this if cute boys doing cute things is what she'd rather watch.

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