One can find a lot of things on Tumblr. Last summer, I was scrolling through my dashboard and I saw fanart and gifsets of an anime called Hetalia. After a while, I eventually checked out the anime. The episodes are around five minutes in length, but it still grabbed my attention even though some of the episodes were a little bizarre. Let’s just say that in a couple of days, I went through its first two seasons.
Hetalia, originally a web comic by Hidekaz Himaruya, is about anthropomorphic versions of different countries. It mainly focuses on World War II history while touching other moments of history including and not limited to the American Revolution, World War I, and the Hundred Years War. However there are moments in the show that don’t touch on history at all-sometimes the show depicts the countries hanging out together for the sake of hanging out. Although Italy and Japan became quick favorites of mine, another character that eventually became my favorite from the series is America.
Some might question why an American will have America as one of their favorite characters. Throughout the series, he’s obsessed with being the hero in any situation. An example of this is during the film Paint It White, where he assigns “sidekick” to most of his fellow allies, all while claiming the title “hero”. He also has a habit of watching horror films despite the fact that they scare him to death. Getting easily scared by these might be odd and confusing for new viewers because he has an alien named Tony living in his house. Also, he has a love for hamburgers. This is evident in America’s character song.
Interestingly, the series takes account on all of the countries’ faults to reflect how the country’s government is. The show sometimes relies on the stereotypes of each country too. Italy, the protagonist the show is named after, is depicted as being quick to surrender to the enemy and has a love for pasta. Japan, the home country of the creator of the series, is passive and reclusive at times; when introducing himself he adds “My hobbies include sensing the mood and refraining from speaking.” The series even talks about some dark moments in the countries’ histories. Due to the subject matter, it’s easy to see how the show sometimes garners controversy.
Thankfully, America like the rest of the other countries has good points as well. There are moments in the series where he genuinely wants to befriend other countries. This is shown with the relationship between him and Japan. Sometimes he visit Japan and they hang out in Japan’s home or going out to eat. Although he fights with England sometimes, he sometimes shows that he genuinely cares for him. This is especially nice considering America’s history with England. Even though he’s easily scared by horror movies, he does have many scenes that show him being brave. As a result of Spain also raising him, he’s very optimistic.
Watching this series, I can see why it has a huge fan base. It has really good jokes in it and inside jokes that people from that particular country can get. It’s no surprise that fans of the show can see themselves in some of the characters because the characters have traits and quirks that a lot of people can relate to. The human representations of the countries are also a nice commentary on the world: each country has flaws and have been known to get into fights with others. At the end of the day though, they do have good points and we can get along with each other.
Janelle Smith is a TV & Film Writer at Girls in Capes. She is a rising senior at Ohio State University majoring in film studies and minoring in studio art.