Hetalia: Axis Powers: Season 1
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Forget everything you learned in history class, and imagine all the nations of the world as cute guys hanging out on a wildly inappropriate reality show. Now, toss in every stereotype ever and prepare to pledge allegiance to your favorite superpower in Hetalia Axis Powers!
Maybe you’ll surrender to Italy’s charms. He’s a sweetie who’s always got a noodle in his mouth and he’s bff with blue-eyed Germany and shy Japan. Sounds nice, right? Of course, their friendship sort of causes world war II, but is that really such a big deal? Not if it means those adorable allies France, America, and England will be stormin’ the beach! No matter who comes out on top, victory is yours! Now ditch your textbooks and try to keep up, because history happens fast in Hetalia Axis Powers!
Hetalia: Axis Powers (2009) began as a web comic by Hidekazu Himaruya that was adapted first to a manga, then to an animated series. Hetalia depicts 20th-century history, mostly events between World War I and the end of World War II, as a series of misadventures enacted by adolescent caricatures of various countries. Italy is a coward who yells about cooking pasta; Germany demands order and insists on discipline; America talks while eating hamburgers. The ethnic humor grows thin when Italy joins forces with Germany, announcing, "You can order me around and I'll disappoint you," and Japan suggests "Axis" as "our team name." The last vestiges of taste fall by the wayside when Romano (Northern Italy) announces, "I've got a little surprise for you!" and Germany replies, "What is it, another Jew?" Apparently some people find this ethnic humor funny, but the series was cancelled in Japan when Korean protesters complained about the depiction of the Korea character in the print version. Twenty-six five-minute episodes of Hetalia fit on one disc; the second offers commentaries by director Bob Shirohata. But the material is too slight to warrant these lengthy analyses, and the results feel like an annotated biography of a mayfly. Next to Hetalia, Nerima Daikon Brothers plays like The Critique of Pure Reason. (Rated TV MA: ethnic stereotypes, profanity, cartoon violence) --Charles Solomon
Episode 9 commentary (U.S.A. & Russia) - “The Cold War”
Episode 12 commentary (France & U.K.) - “Nice Dover”
Episode 16 commentary (Japan & China) - “Far East Brothers”
Commentary by director Bob Shirahata, Part 1
Commentary by director Bob Shirahata, Part 2
Commentary by director Bob Shirahata, Part 3
Director Bob Shirahata’s ED Sequence comments
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First off, this is an amazing dub! Most of the voices are very good, and the accents add a nice, unique touch. I especially like the voices of Austria, Japan, Germany, Spain, both Italys, and Chibi-Italy. The dialogue has changed to make things more offensive/funnier, which I love. I can confidently say I prefer the English dub's jokes to the original. For those who do not like that, they still include the Japanese voices along with the unedited English subs.
The dialogue has changed drastically in the English dub, partially because there are some not-so-obvious cultural reference jokes that Americans won't get. For instance, Italy hugs Japan, and in the English version, it's because it's an invasion of personal space. But in the Japanese version, Japan tells Italy it's his "first time" and that he hopes Italy takes responsibility for it. I'm not Japanese, so I didn't catch the joke here. There isn't enough time to add a cultural footnote for people to read either. After some googling, I found out that if you hug/kiss a Japanese person back then, that means you're proposing marriage.
Funimation tries really hard to make Hetalia funnier and more culture-friendly for Americans, and I think they succeeded without butchering the anime. They made some parts more offensive and added on to the gay jokes.
The extra disc includes more explanations on the history behind Hetalia. This is invaluable to me, since I couldn't stand history (before I discovered this, anyway).
- CONS ----
However, sometimes the accents make the characters hard to understand, and this DVD does NOT include the English subtitles for the English track. It only has the English subtitles for the Japanese track. So if you try to watch the English dub with the subtitles, you'll realize the subtitles do not match up with what the characters are saying (since they were meant for the Japanese dub, not the English one). Sometimes I can't catch what Italy is saying because he speaks so fast and with an accent (like when he was in the tomato box)--don't get me wrong, he sounds great, but sometimes he speaks too fast. In the Japanese subtitled version, I have to pause when he starts begging for his life, because he speaks too fast and the subtitles go by too fast. But I can't do that in the English version because they didn't include separate subtitles for the English dub.
Fortunately, I can still understand everybody about 85% of the time, so it's not too bad. But for those of you who have a hard time understanding people with accents, the English dub might not be for you -- in that case, you may want to stick with the Japanese subs.
As mentioned above, most of the voices are good. I don't really like China's voice b/c it doesn't sound like a Chinese accent or even a fake Chinese accent. It sounds more like somebody doing a random accent. This could just be me though, since I'm Chinese and have been hearing the fobby accent for quite a while. I mean, why couldn't China have sounded as cool as Japan? China's voice does get better in the later episodes though.
England doesn't have a British accent, but he does sound like Stewey from Family Guy, so it's cool.
Overall, I think it's a great dub. The English dub is so much funnier and includes more historical references.
The Japanese Dub feels more like an actual anime while the English tends to sound like an absolute and only an extreme parody of everything that does not always make coherent sense for the sake of the audience.
The English Dub does try to go as far as they can without being completely inconsiderate, and it is still purely for comedy intentions (like Ted or some of those other movies). Do not think it is meant to down talk your country or race. You cannot take this show personally at all! It isn't meant to be and every country is made fun of. Even Himaruya, who is Japanese and created the original comic series, added stereotypes of his own country, which is ways may be seen as "silly or misunderstood behaviors."
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: For any interested in watching this show PLEASE, do not interpret the show solely by what the fandom or fan art depict and say. No, Germany is not a black suit Nazi or seen as Jew murdering Nazi at all. Never in the comics is he ever shown that. Himaruya did not go there, and neither did the show for obvious reasons. You even forget that Germany is Germany sometimes despite the time period that is often used as context in the episodes. This is the same with the rest of the characters. There are a lot of moments where it is a parody of events in history(excluding the Holocaust), but there are also several moments where the characters are just themselves without the country part. Not everything they do and say is based off of a stereotype and not everything they say references to a historical date, event or happening.
That is all. Otherwise, please take the time with an open mind to take in what this world comedy has to provide and teach, both English and Japanese wise (but more Japanese on the history lessons.)
While some people say that "How this show portrays history is inaccurate," it actually follows most of the textbooks pretty well. They add stereotypes, and it's not meant to be taken completely seriously, but otherwise, it's not as bad as people think.
The fanservice is respectfully lowered to a minimum. While the Germany x Italy and HRE x ChibItalia is pretty canon, it's not overly glossed, and they have more cute buddy-buddy moments than they do romantic ones. Other girls might not see that in the same way I do, of course, but when Germany says "I love you" and kisses Italy on his cheeks, to me, that's more of a sign of affectionate brotherly love than actual romance.
Personally, I like the anime for it's character, originality, and humor. It's definitely more of a comedy than it is anything else. I recommend it to anyone who's interested in something funny. ^_^