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Hetalia Axis Powers – Season One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

October 26, 2010 by  



Quirky, fun and definitely crazy!  “Hetalia Axis Powers” features 26 five minute episodes.  Definitely not a series you want to watch all in one sitting but for its overall presentation, you also get a good amount of special features included with this DVD release.  Definitely worth giving a try!

Image courtesy of © 2008 Hidekaz Himaruya, Gentosha Comics/Italia Project. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Hetalia Axis Powers – Season One

TV EPISODE RELEASE: 2008-2009

DURATION: Episodes 1-26 (130 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: 13 and Up

RELEASED: September 28, 2010

Directed by Bob Shirohata

Series Composition by Takuya Hiramitsu

Original Creator: Hidekaz Himaruya

Character Design by Masaaki Kannan

Animation Producer: Keiichi Matsuda

Anime Production: Studio DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Namikawa/Todd Haberkorn as Italy

Hiroki Takahashi/Christopher Bevins as Japan

Hiroki Yasumoto/Patrick Seitz as Germany

Katsuyuki Konishi/Eric Vale as America

Masaya Onosaka/J. Michael Tatum as France

Noriaki Sugiyama/Scott Freeman as United Kingdom

Yasuhiro Takato/Jerry Jewell as Russia

Yuki Kaida/Clarine Harp as China

Scott Freeman as Britain (England)

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!

Have you been looking for a unique and hilarious anime series?  If so, “Hetalia Axis Powers” may be the series you are looking for.

Based on a comic and later adapted to a manga and anime series by Hidekaz Himaruya, “Hetalia Axis Powers” is an web-based anime series in which each episode is five minutes long.  It also happens to be an allegorical interpretation of political and historical events during World War II.  But instead of focusing on military leaders and watching countries at war, the series focuses on single men who represent their countries.  The term Hetalia is a portmanteau combining the words “hetare” (Japanese for “incompetent”) and “Italia” (Italy) and is meant to make light of Italy’s cowardice during World War II.

The series is 52-episodes long and is directed by Bob Shirohata (“Gravitation”, “Let’s Dance with Papa”, “Diamond Daydreams”), series composition by Takuya Hiramitsu (“Hunter x Hunter”, “The Prince of Tennis”, “Read or Die”) and character designs by Masaaki Kannan (“Initial D: Third Stage, “Oishinbo”, “Urusei Yatsura”).  Anime Production is by Studio DEEN (“07-Ghost”, “DNA^2”, “Ranma 1/2”, “Rurouni Kenshin”).

The series revolves around a group of characters that represent a nation which belongs to the Axis Powers or the Allied Forces and for the most part, a series that makes light on a country and focuses on The Axis Powers (N. Italy, Germany and Japan) who are the protagonists of the series:

N. Italy – A nation who is naive and always cheerful to the point that he annoys the others.  He loves Italian culture and because he is always cute, the women love him.  He represents the North while his brother represents the South (and he’s more of a jerk).  Many of the episodes revolves around Italy.  Also, very addicted to pasta and Italian food.

Germany – The serious nation who feels he is strong and not good with relationships but he is a by-the-book man who wants to make sure he trains Italy and Japan well because he has discovered friendship.

Japan – The hardworking, technology driven and business-like nation. Not used to being around with Westerners.  He is not sure why these countries want to be buddy buddy and give him hugs.  He doesn’t like hugs all that much.  Also, eating food that is not Japanese.

In this anime series, the antagonists are the Allied Forces which include:

America – The hero who is full of energy and strength.  He was raised by England but wants independence from him and also has a brother named Canada who is always silent.  Also, lives with a gray alien.

England (Britain) – Irritable, can’t cook and foul mouth.  Also, has the ability to see supernatural things.  He can’t stand France and has a rivalry with America.

France – The romantic and likes to flirt with everyone.  His older brother is Spain.

China – Distrusts Russia and loves Hello Kitty.  He is also an immortal and always with pandas.

Russia – The tallest of the nations and can be innocent and cruel.  Many nations are terrified of him.

“Hetalia Axis Powers” features a total of 26 episodes on one DVD (special features are included on the second disc).  Here is a basic summary of each episode:

  1. EPISODE 1 – All nations come together and each nation have problems with one another.
  2. EPISODE 2 – What happens when Germany finds an abandoned crate of tomatoes.
  3. EPISODE 3 – Germany wants to ditch Italy.
  4. EPISODE 4 – Germany and Italy find a new ally named Japan.
  5. EPISODE 5 – Germany, Italy and Japan are stranded on a beach.
  6. EPISODE 6 – The Axis Powers are unaware that someone is watching them.
  7. EPISODE 7 – Italy introduces his older brother Romano.
  8. EPISODE 8 – Italy is tricked and kidnapped by the Allied Forces.
  9. EPISODE 9 – The Allied Forces discuss working together to take on the Axis Powers
  10. EPISODE 10 – France reminisces of his past glories and accomplishments.
  11. EPISODE 11 – Holy Roman Empire gives Italy an ultimatum.
  12. EPISODE 12 – France proposes to England.
  13. EPISODE 13 – England frustrated after losing to Germany, wants revenge.
  14. EPISODE 14 – The Germans train the Italian army.
  15. EPISODE 15 – Japan struggles to fit in with Germany and Italy.
  16. EPISODE 16 – a young China meets Japan.
  17. EPISODE 17 – America finds something mysterious in his storage room.
  18. EPISODE 18 – Allied Forces vs. the Axis.
  19. EPISODE 19 – The allied forces find out they have a surprise guest in their room.
  20. EPISODE 20 – America thinks back to a memory in its past.
  21. EPISODE 21 – Sealand, the smallest nation wants to join the world conference.
  22. EPISODE 22 – Holy Roman Empire gets ready for war but Chibalia won’t leave him.
  23. EPISODE 23 – Liechtenstein adjusts to new life with brother Switzerland.
  24. EPISODE 24 -Switzerland and Liechtenstein run into Austria while shopping.
  25. EPISODE 25 – A past story back when England raises a young America.
  26. EPISODE 26 – America unveils something new.

VIDEO:

“Hetalia Axis Powers” is presented in 4:3.  Character designs are good but it’s a series that is driven by its characters and not surroundings.  Because it’s a web-based series, it’s not an anime series where you are going to see a lot of significant time for the painted artistic backgrounds.  If anything, the focus of the series is primarily on its characters (the nations) and the expressions they give towards each others.  More or less, focusing on the relationship of the nations.

There are some scenes that do show 3D such as water effects, some nicely detailed scenes when showing weapons and closeups on the weapons and there are some nicely painted watercolor like scenes during the Chibitalia scenes as well.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Hetalia Axis Powers” is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Japanese Stereo 2.0.  It’s important to note that the series is not action driven but is primarily dialogue driven and is quite clear through the front and center channels.  There are a few scenes that uses sound on the surround channels but these scenes are very few in entire 26-episodes.

As for the English and Japanese vocal tracks, if there is one major difference is how the dialogue is handled.  The English dub utilizes profanity and takes liberty with some of the dialogue and story to make it more humorous for the American viewer.   The English dub is quite hilarious!

A few key things I do want to note that the accents worked for this series. By no means are the accents perfect or right spot on but within the context of comedy, it works.  Also, the use of the name “Britain” instead of “England” in the US dub was a request made by the Japanese studio.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hetalia Axis Powers – Season One” includes the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Episode 2 – “The Flower Apron” Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Patrick Seitz (Germany) and Todd Haberkorn (Italy).
  • Episode 9 – “The Cold War” Audio Commentary– Audio commentary by Eric Vale (America) and Jerry Jewell (Russia).
  • Episode 12 – “Nice Dover” Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by J. Michael Tatum (France) and Scott Freeman (England).
  • Episode 16 – “Far East Brothers” Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Clarine Harp (China) and Christopher Bevins (Japan).
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

DISC 2:

  • The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia – A text based section that explains the relation of the episodes to what really happened back then between various countries.
  • Show Comments by Director Bob Shirahata, Part 1 – (10:05) Director Bob Shirahata talks about the episodes (8-13) and creating the storyboards for the episodes and his first impression of reading the original manga.
  • Show Comments by Director Bob Shirahata, Part 2 – (13:35) Director Bob Shirahata talks about the episodes featured in the Japanese DVD Volume 3 release (episodes 14-19) and the storyboards for those episodes.
  • Show Comments by Director Bob Shirahata, Part 3 – (10:25) Director Bob Shirahata talks about episodes (20-26, Japanese DVD Volume 4) and shows us the storyboards to those episodes.
  • Director Bob Shirahata’s Ed Sequence Comments – (7:12) Director Bob Shirahata talks about the Volume 1 DVD release in Japan (episodes 1-7), the concept of the series and the theme song.
  • Textless Closing Song – (:32) The textless ending theme song.

“Hetalia Axis Powers” is one of those series is fun, hilarious and quite crazy and it’s important to note that it does mock a lot of the things that happened during World War II and also the customs of certain countries in the characters (nations) as portrayed.  Definitely not politically correct, not historically accurate and if anything, it’s more or less making light of how countries were towards each other but using a character to embody that nation.

If anything, for me, I just found the series quite interesting to see how it would reinterpret certain situations from World War II within the characters and to see how wacky things would get.  But most of all, It was also easy to watch since it’s only five minutes long.  By saying that, it’s also a series that I wasn’t able to watch in a full sitting, it’s one of those series that you may want to watch a few episodes at a time but not at one sitting because in my case, I felt the antics were getting quite old and repetitive.  So, I didn’t want to get burned out.

Also, because this is a shorter anime series at five minutes per episode, you’re not going to see a lot of artistic backgrounds, a variety of characters especially female.  It’s interesting enough that during Chibitalia’s scenes, they treat him more like a female character and of course how they portray France as loving anything man or woman.

I noticed with some friends (who are female) who loved the series, the first thing they always talk about is how cute the characters are especially with Italy.  But being a guy, I didn’t really watch this series for its cuteness but for its storyline and as mentioned, I was laughing at first but then as the series progressed, I was laughing less and I figured, I’ll watch it again later as probably these episodes were never meant to be watched in one full sitting.  And I felt I was right by doing that because I appreciated the series more as I watched like three or four episodes per sitting.

Overall, “Hetalia Axis Powers” is a unique, bizarre, quirky anime series.   I liked how FUNimation Entertainment worked it’s “Crayon Shin-Chan” like humor into the development of the dialogue but because Hetalia does deal with how nations are with each other and its quirky interpretation of war and history (while Crayon Shin Chan dealt with pervertedness and modern pop culture), I felt it was good but it also grows old.  I suppose it depends on your interest in World War II and how nations were towards each other, which does interest me, but for others, it may not and some may feel it’s stereotyping of nations to be insensitive.

As for the DVD, all episodes are on one DVD but you do get audio commentary and also four cool featurettes by director Bob Shirahata, for those interested in learning about the episodes especially wanting to know more about the storyboard and animation comparisons.  So, you do get more on DVD.

Overall, if you have an open mind, are not politically correct, then “Hetalia Axis Powers” may be to your liking.  Definitely worth checking out!






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