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March 26, 2012

Axis Hetalia romance
Posted by Teresa at 01:00 PM * 53 comments

I had no luck this weekend searching Netflix for “Hetzer,” but a listing popped up for the first season of Axis: Hetalia. I’d seen it mentioned on Scandinavia and the World, and gathered that it’s an animated Japanese series of greater-than-usual weirdness in which the characters are all personifications of nation states. What the hell. I clicked over to take a closer look.

Below are the actual episode notes from Netflix. I will never, ever watch this show. It couldn’t possibly measure up.

Hetalia: Axis Powers
Season One

1. When the nations gather to solve the world’s problems, U.S.A. presents his solution to global warming — and it’s a pretty stupid one. Then everyone argues for a while, just before a flashback to WWI.

2. Germany is prowling the woods of WWI in search of the enemy, when he happens upon a crate of tomatoes. Just as he opens the wooden box, Italy attacks! I’m only kidding. Italy mostly just lays around.

3. WWI is over, but Italy won’t quit pestering Germany. In fact, with WWII right around the corner, Italy pledges his undying devotion to his gruff friend, and a delightful Axis of Bromance is born.

4. Italy and Germany have a new BFF: Japan. After a “getting acquainted” soak in the hot springs, Japan shows the guys his value as an ally by — actually, he doesn’t really do much. But he seems very polite.

5. Germany, Japan, and Italy are on a deserted island, and they’re making the most of such a pleasant environment. Especially Italy, who uses the free time make white flags and sand sculptures of pasta.

6. Japan, Germany, and Italy roast marshmallows on the beach. The three guys may feel like the night belongs to them, but they are far from alone. Actually, marshmallows sound pretty good right now. BRB.

7. U.S.A. takes a break from stuffing hamburgers into his face just long enough (barely) to reveal his plans for attacking the Axis. Meanwhile, much to Germany’s delight, Italy’s got an obnoxious brother.

8. Since Italy’s kind of a moron, he keeps getting captured by the Allies. But since he’s kind of annoying, he keeps getting sent back to the Axis. And in a shocking turn of events, Japan answers a telephone!

9. The Allies get together to split up their responsibilities for the coming war, which really just means: U.S.A. decides he’ll be the hero and everyone else will act as his support. Meanwhile, isn’t France dreamy?

10. France is devastated upon learning he wasn’t invited to the second meeting of the Allies, and as he reflects on the — I’m sorry, can you excuse me for a second? It seems chibi Italy is wearing Hungary’s dress.

11. The moment of truth arrives in Chibitalia: will Italy accept the adorable Holy Roman Empire’s offer? And while the Allies prepare for WWII, U.K. totally hangs out with a unicorn.

12. First, a scene from after the war: France asks U.K. to marry him. It has something to do with the Suez Canal. Next, a scene set before the war shows the Axis prepping to take on U.K.

13. U.K. is aggravated after losing to Germany, so the lad uses the dark arts to get his revenge. In a scary room, he chants a summoning spell and unleashes — Russia, the weirdest of all world powers!

14. Germany goes to the supermarket to buy sausages. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be exciting, but during this trip he manages to encounter every mildly offensive stereotype ever associated with every nation ever.

15. Italy and Germany enjoy soaking in the rays of the sun, but Japan isn’t thrilled about the prospect of exposing himself. Of course, a quick glimpse at his library proves he’s not totally against nudity.

16. A walk down memory lane reveals the moment when China found tiny, young Japan sitting all alone in the woods.

17. U.S.A. is ready to clean out his cluttered storage room, but he may not have what it takes to let go of so many memories. Actually, he may need to worry more about letting go of some hamburgers.

18. The Allied assault on the Axis begins! And ends! And then it begins again! And ends again! What’s with all the false starts and sudden stops? It’s kind of hard to explain. Just watch the episode.

19. The Allied forces gather for a meeting. Here’s a list of the three most interesting things that happen: 1) China shows up late. 2) Canada has a bear in his lap. 3) OMG, AXIS SPY.

20. A tale of two weapons: First of all, Italy shouldn’t be messing around with hand grenades. Can we all agree on that? Next, U.S.A. takes a trip down memory lane when he finds an old musket in his storage room.

21. Sealand has a lot of heart, but as the teeny-tiniest nation in the world, he’s having a tough time getting the other countries to recognize that he even exists.

22. As Holy Roman Empire prepares to leave for war, little Italy gets emotional and gives the departing nation a meaningful gift. Well, really, I’m just assuming it’s meaningful. Because, otherwise, it’s just silly.

23. Switzerland questions why his sis, Liechtenstein, cut her hair. Everyone else questions if she’s actually a little boy. Later, Germany is confused when he overhears an awkward situation involving Italy and a bed.

24. Tension arises when Switzerland and Liechtenstein encounter Austria at the grocery store. Meanwhile, the Axis boys discover that their deserted island isn’t actually all that deserted.

25. A flashback into the past reveals the reasons why U.S.A. might sometimes appear to be lacking in good taste. Also, the long and winding tale of Liechtenstein and Switzerland comes to an end.

26. U.K. unveils the secret weapon he plans to use in order to claim revenge against U.S.A. — a chair! An EVIL chair! An EVIL chair that Russia keeps sitting in at all the wrong moments!

27. The Allies get their hands on a valuable source of information that could reveal the inner workings of the Axis gang: Germany’s diary! And it’s all about Italy. Seriously, like every page.

28. The Axis falls under Allied attack once again! But then something strange happens — a jolly visitor arrives bearing gifts, allowing enemies to put aside their differences if only for one night.

29. Russia knows no fear, as evidenced by his willingness to jump out of an airplane without a parachute. The Baltics, however, seem to be more than a little uneasy around Russia.

I predict that in the future, many high school graduates will score higher on quizzes about Axis: Hetalia than on quizzes about the causes of WWI and WWII.
Comments on Axis Hetalia romance:
#1 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 01:26 PM:

Is it even possible to read that without picturing it as part of SATW?

#2 ::: Peter S ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 01:43 PM:

Actually, those notes describe the episodes pretty well ...

#3 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 01:44 PM:

Warum Hetzer?

Just because it's a TNH?

#4 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 02:20 PM:

TNH @ OP:

I predict that in the future, many high school graduates will score higher on quizzes about Axis: Hetalia than on quizzes about the causes of WWI and WWII.

Sucker bet. The sad truth is that that is true for many of them now.

#5 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 02:21 PM:

I take it you're not curious about the doujinshi, then.

#6 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 02:40 PM:

Feh. Hetalia's weirdness pales in comparison to the gloriousness that is Hatoful Boyfriend. It is a dating game where you play as a human girl attending a school where all of the other students and staff are hot boy birds.

And the truly frightening thing is that the entire "Hatoful Boyfriend" experience has some of the best writing, pacing, and plotting I've seen in years. Hell, even the linked playthrough(s -- the initial one was for the demo; there's a further link at the end to the a playthrough of the full version) can be a hell of an emotional ride. Or as they say on Tumblr, SO MANY FEELS.

#7 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 02:59 PM:

Funimation has it available streaming both subbed and dubbed, for free, through Hulu. You can also subscribe....

I just watched the first episode with subtitles, and it's as odd as one might think from the descriptions. And for the first one: accurate as far as it goes, but it is just a summary.

#8 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 02:59 PM:

You aren't going to watch it? But what about the dinosaurs and [implied] sodomy?*

*sorry, no actual dinosaurs, but lots of implied sodomy!

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:07 PM:

Madeleine, Kimiko, I've looked at further lists of episode. Please just reassure me that the War of the Austrian Succession is a flashback.

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Jim, while it's true that I share my initials with Hetzers, you can't deny that they're just plain cute; also compact, self-propelled, armored, highly adaptable, and capable of functioning as flamethrowers. What's not to like?

You know how these things go -- when you keep finding yourself in the same search results, feelings can develop.

#11 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:20 PM:

Jim MacDonald @3

88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:21 PM:

Antonia, is that a treadmark?

#13 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Abi @1: Not after you read the part about Canada and the bear.

#14 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:29 PM:

(And the episodes are very short -- about 5 minutes each. Oh go on, T, try just one....)

#15 ::: Tom Negrino ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 03:46 PM:

My nephew, Christopher Bevins, is an ADR Director, writer, and voice actor for FUNimation. He played the part of Japan in the English dub of Hetalia. I've invited him to comment here. I assured him the ML community plays nice.

#16 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 04:00 PM:

TNH #10

You'll be happy to know that the Hetzer at the Aberdeen Proving Ground armor museum, after forty years of neglect outdoors with one of its sides missing, has been restored, repaired, refurbished, repainted, and moved indoors to its own spiffy static display.

Wanna go visit? (You'll love the cammie pattern.)

#17 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 04:06 PM:

I don't suppose I should mention the Axis Hetalis Choose Your Own Manventure game....

#18 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 04:23 PM:

The series is hilariously inappropriate, but weirdly educational sometimes.

I have to say that the "German Simulator" that uses the metaphor of a grocery store to show what it is like to be a German in Europe was good background to have while reading about the current financial crisis - if only to have access to the default broad stereotypes.

Original version, English Dub.

#19 ::: Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 04:46 PM:

They are ridiculous, but usually are at least as based in fact as the American School versions of the same events (about as detailed a lot of times, too).

I mean, awful atrocities are presented as young boys hanging out...but at least they don't mysteriously exclude Russia and China from the party.

Its the sort of series that I'd hope a high school kid would pick up on, because they'd end up wanting more and getting info not in the standard syllabus.

#20 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 04:55 PM:

On the plus side, the episodes are only five minutes long (and, I will admit, sometimes quite clever). On the minus side, this means that if, say, your spouse is watching the series in the next room while you try to get some work done, you only get a four-minute break between repetitions of the head-splittingly irritating theme song.

#21 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 07:14 PM:

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!! The mind cannot imagine if it has not seen, and once it has seen it cannot forget. At least it's better than Strike Witches. Or Queen's Blade.

Anime's been terrible lately, hasn't it.

#22 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 09:20 PM:

Teresa, #12: I suspect that it's a handful of peanuts being thrown at a punster.

#23 ::: Peter S ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 10:36 PM:

BSD #21, the truth is, television anime has taken a step up in quality. You're always going to get shows like Queen's Blade or Strike Witches, but then you're ignoring shows like Puella Magi Madoka Magika, Steins;Gate, Mawaru Penguindrum, Hanasaku Iroha, Tiger and Bunny, Chihayafuru, Natsume's Book of Friends, etc etc., all of which came out in 2011.

#24 ::: Shane ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 05:41 AM:

An episode guide which ends in "It’s kind of hard to explain. Just watch the episode." I love it.

#25 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 07:27 AM:

Peter #23: Yes, you're right of course. And I could add more to your list. It's just that the moe nightmare fuel and the shameless fujoshi-bait has gotten so much worse. So, so much worse.

To use a metaphor suited to the room, it's like if suddenly SF/F publishing was reduced to Gor and [insert what you consider to be the best SF/F published in last decade].

#26 ::: Amy Sakurai ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 08:04 AM:

Peter @23:

Making Light is the coolest melting pot of eclectic interests and backgrounds... so, hmmmm... intelligent and literate Making Light reader of (nearly) my age who tracks the best in current anime... your homepage has been bookmarked, good sir!

#27 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 08:06 AM:

Lee #22: While I suspect Teresa knows that perfectly well and was riffing off Jim's pun -- it seems a Hetzer is a kind of German tank.

#28 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 08:15 AM:

BSD @25...

Googles "fujoshi"...

Oh dear. Not at all like any of the fans that I know, no sir! (But I am not going to even try to explain the intensely sexual Highlander/Mary-Sue fanfics which somebody pointed me at.)

#29 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 08:37 AM:

Jagdpanzer 38(t) was small, cramped, and something of a deathtrap if hit. See here, for a description of the problems.

#30 ::: Leah ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 09:33 AM:

Tiger & Bunny is faboo with a side of awesomesauce. It restored my faith in anime, which was no mean feat.

My partner and I watched all of Hetalia, in dub, to see what the deal was. It is a source of much contention in anime fandom, particularly among those who like to borrow things to be Greatly Offended About.

Most of the time we just kept wondering when something was going to happen, something to justify the piles of fanfic and some of--quite honestly--the best fanart I've ever seen, but nothing ever did happen. We got to the end as bewildered as we began. Not that there weren't quite a few laughs on the way, because there were! Usually ones that caused us to clap our hands over our mouths and look around sheepishly as though we might get caught.

Is the show terribly non-pc compliant? Yes.
Does it make light of major tragic events in history? Yes.
Is it funny? Yes.
Did it get a huge passel of teenage girls to attend the "Hetalia and History" panel at Katsucon this year, girls who up to that point would have thought Franz Ferdinand was just a funny name for a band? Yes.

#31 ::: Peter S ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 09:33 AM:

BSD #25, I don't know if the pandering has gotten any worse recently, but much of that stuff swoops right past me now, unless it's really bad, like High School DxD.

Amy Sakurai #29, Happy to make your acquaintance!

#32 ::: Phil Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 10:22 AM:

BSD #25, I'd say the SF/Fantasy publishing metaphor for contemporary anime is more like if half the industry decided that, since Time Enough For Love sold well, they'd exclusively publish risque novels about Lapis Lazuli and Lorelei Lee. Thanks, moe. Thanks a lot.

Fortunately there is hope for the future; any day now Shinichiro "Anime Jesus" Watanabe is returning to the small screen with Sakamichi no Apollon, a show about high school kids obsessed with jazz in the 1960s. Okay, so it's not quite Cowboy Bebop, but I'll take what I can get.

#33 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Teresa, it does indeed appear to have been a flashback.

I second the recommendation for Madoka. I've also heard good things about Mouretsu Pirates, but I just wasn't able to get into it. Ditto Brave 10, which I felt like I'd seen a million times before. I also just tried Tatami Galaxy, which I recommend if you're in the mood for something different and experimental set in the mid-to-late 1960s. Upcoming soon is the sequel to Eureka 7, and I think I'll give that a shot. But really, Madoka is so good I blogged about it at my own place.

#34 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 07:07 PM:

@Phil Lee @32: Your sentiment is spot on. When I read about Apollon my first thought was "He's come again in glory to judge the moe and the shounen! And his jazz beats will have no end!"

But seriously. It feels like Watanabe left long enough to realize how desperately he was needed, and then returned to redeem the industry. That said, I need to watch me some Tiger & Bunny. It was on as I was writing my M.Des. and editing my novel, so I had to stay away. Grr. Aargh.

#35 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 06:11 AM:

While Watanabe's great, the real anime return of this era was, for me, Ikuhara's. I still have Good Feelings about the Utena corpus, and Penguindrum knocked it out of the park.


and Dave @28: Not to criticize fujoshi for being fujoshi! Easily a third of my close friends are arguably fujoshi. Some close friends are also moe-watchers. It's just that when a show really panders to either of them it rarely bothers to do anything else interesting.

#36 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 02:47 PM:

I've been looking around for a good stream of Penguindrum, but haven't found one. (If anybody's got some tips, let me know.) Right now I'm trying out Another via Crunchyroll, and really enjoying it. It's got a meditative Twin Peaks kind of creepiness that I really respond to. I'm hoping it stays this good.

Also last night we tested out Mushi-shi via Netflix, having bumped up the quality of the stream. It still looks just as gorgeous as it always did. I'm half-tempted to watch a bunch of it over again, just to see it on a bigger screen.

#37 ::: Cat Amadeus ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 07:35 PM:

I'm related to C. Wingate and he sent this to me today because I'm a bit of a Hetalia fan(admittedly, a bit of an old cranky one who's been into it since 2008 and is anal about history, ), so I felt compelled to give some input.

I think I've always preferred the concept of Hetalia to reality -- some of the comics like the 'German Simulation' one and a lot of the other little extra ones are great, but parts of it didn't work so well when it wasn't just some silly drawings on the web.
I'm still active in that I cosplay it and do roleplay on Facebook, but it's an aggravating thing to be part of a community of(Though less so than Homestuck, that's a scary fandom).

I think the thing about Hetalia is to be a big fan of it you either end up being obnoxious and disrepectful[like the seminfamous 'Anime Boston seig heil' incident] or you get to a point where you enjoy it primarily for the fandom, the gorgeous fanart and fanfiction and the like, where I have reached and will probably stay for a good while.

It's still a fun show, but for a lot of people you end up going history and culture-berserk when you stay too long and yelling at people who drag their flags in costume.

@30 Leah : I kept meaning to catch that panel, a friend and I have been trying unsuccessfully to get a panel about Hetalia and history/cutlure since AUSA. Hope we can for Otakon.

#38 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2012, 10:07 PM:

I retain "the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces" that NONE of this will ever be as strange as Patalliro!

#39 ::: Arete ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 02:50 PM:

@37 Cat Amadeus: As a member of the Homestuck fandom, I should be insulted that my fandom is so slighted. Instead, I'm just going to nod wearily; being twice as old as most of the younger group of fans leads to a lot of incredulous head-shaking - and I speak as a 15 year veteran of online fandom.

That said, as a story? I love Homestuck, and will stick it out, regardless of the fandom shenanigans. Wish me luck?

#40 ::: Cat Amadeus ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 07:32 PM:

@39 Arete: I'm a fan too, but it's easily the most tiresome and stressful, short-fused fandom for me. Hetalia had some very low points and still has bad fans, but a lot of those are the same people who muck up Homestuck. It's just generally way to over the top with everything -- People in it that I know regard it as the mature fandom, and I want in on their club. Something about tumblr doesn't help fandoms either, and that's where it mainly is.

I wish you best of luck, let's see if we can just grin and bear them.

#41 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2012, 10:20 PM:

If looks could kill, they probably will, in games without frontiers...

#42 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 11:57 AM:

The ANN spotlight on Watanabe's new series.

This thing can't start soon enough, as far as I'm concerned.

#43 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 03:38 PM:

This is not Hetalia, nor even anime or manga, but you really want to read Angus McLeod's simplified cartoon history of the first world war (with anthropomorphized countries beating the crap out of each other).

No, seriously. Go there. It had me in stitches.

#44 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 11:50 PM:

Charlie Stross @ #43:

Thanks!

I'd seen bits of that before, but I didn't no where to find the whole thing.

(The sequels are good, too. I particularly like the USSR's attempt to invade Finland, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

#45 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2012, 11:51 PM:

*know

(Why is it that when you notice the glaring error just in time to correct it, that always means there's another more glaring error you won't notice until it's too late?)

#46 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2012, 11:40 AM:

Charlie Stross @43: What can I say? Charlie's right.

#47 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2012, 12:07 AM:

Poor Poland. It should be "I'm back!" at the end of WWI, with one of those "FFFFFFFFFFF" panels at the end of WWII.

#48 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 01:57 PM:

My daughter just asked me why I love Making Light so much. Part of the answer (a small part, but a very real one) is: because if it wasn't for Making Light I wouldn't have had a clue about what Hetalia was when you were talking to me about it last night.

#49 ::: Xopher Halftongue sees blatant spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2013, 11:21 PM:

spam

#50 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2013, 11:22 PM:

Curses! Beaten to the punch!

#51 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2013, 11:54 PM:

Usually I'm late to the spambot party.

#52 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2013, 12:30 AM:

Well, you vanquished me this time! But I'll get my revenge! You wait!

I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids.

#53 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2013, 11:24 AM:

Is that why us old fogeys like to keep kids off our lawns? Because otherwise they'd meddle?

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