Hetalia Axis Powers: Season Two (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
November 3, 2010 by Dennis Amith
Quirky, fun and definitely crazy! “Hetalia Axis Powers: Season Two” features 26 five minute episodes (Episodes 27-52). 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 Two
TV EPISODE RELEASE: 2009-2010
DURATION: Episodes 27-52 (130 minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: 13 and Up
RELEASED: October 26, 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 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:
- EPISODE 27 – The Allied Force prepares to take on the Axis Powers.
- EPISODE 28 – The Axis are ambushed by the Allied Forces.
- EPISODE 29 – Russia jumps out of a plane without a parachute. Meanwhile, America is injured.
- EPISODE 30 – Britain visits Japan’s home.
- EPISODE 31 – Three students of the Academy of the World observe how others celebrate the Winter holiday.
- EPISODE 32 – Germany meets Italy’s grandfather, the Roman Empire.
- EPISODE 33 – Germany and Italy wish upon a star. Will their wish come true?
- EPISODE 34 – Italy shows Japan his combat record book.
- EPISODE 35 – Canada arrives late to the G8 meeting but no one seems to care.
- EPISODE 36 – America and Japan prepare for the New Year.
- EPISODE 37 – Russia and Germany form an alliance. Italy fears his friends may abandon him.
- EPISODE 38 – Continuation of the Pact of Steel.
- EPISODE 39 – A baby America is discovered in the “New World”.
- EPISODE 40 – Britain and France fight over young America.
- EPISODE 41 – A story about France.
- EPISODE 42 – Russia tells the story about his sisters Ukraine and Belarus.
- EPISODE 43 – Part two of Russia’s two sisters.
- EPISODE 44 – Switzerland teaches Liechtenstein self-defense. Canada tries to tell America off.
- EPISODE 45 – The origin of Liechtenstein.
- EPISODE 46 – A story of how France treated Britain a long time ago.
- EPISODE 47 – Britain and France visit Poland.
- EPISODE 48 – Britain has a secret weapon.
- EPISODE 49 – A story about Japan.
- EPISODE 50 – Continuing the story about Japan.
- EPISODE 51 – America’s situation with ghosts.
- EPISODE 52 – Holy Roman Empire’s playtime in the river.
“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.
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.
“Hetalia Axis Powers – Season Two” includes the following special features:
- Episode 31 – “The Bo-Ber-To Jig” Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Christopher Bevins (Japan), Patrick Seitz (Germany) and Todd Haberkorn (Italy).
- Episode 36 – “East Meets West” Audio Commentary– Audio commentary by Eric Vale (America) and Christopher Bevins (Japan).
- Episode 42 – “Vodka Pleasure Smile” Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Scott Sager (director) and Jerry Jewell (Russia).
- Episode 46 – “Golden Caterpillar on the Rose” Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by J. Michael Tatum (France) and Scott Freeman (Britain).
- TRAILERS – FUNimation Entertainment Trailers
- Director Bob Shirahata and Atsushi Kosaka (Prussia) Talk – (13:15) A hilarious conversation between director Bob Shirahata and Prussia voice actor Atsushi Kosaka.
- Atsushi Kousaka (Prussia) Commemorates the Announcement of the Hetalia Movie – (6:15) Prussia voice actor Atsushi Kosaka announces the Hetalia movie.
- Director Bob Shirahata and Aki Kanada (Chiby Italy) Talk – (9:26) Director Bob Shirahata and Chiby Italy voice actress Aki Kanada talk about working with each other and talk about the first and second season of “Hetalia”.
- Director Bob Shirahata and Daisuke Namikawa (Italy) Talk – (10:11) Director Bob Shirahata and voice actor Daisuke Namikawa discuss the first and second season and look back at episodes regarding the character of Italy.
- 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.
The second season still focuses on the Axis and the Allied Forces against each other but unlike the first half of the series which focused primarily on Germany, Italy and Japan with a big emphasis on Germany and Italy, this second season focuses a lot on Britain, America, Japan and Russia and a little on Italy, Roman Empire, Germany and Canada. But with so many of these smaller episodes, the creators have more of a chance to focus on other countries and provide a satire of their involvement during World War II. Also, in this second volume, we see female nations being featured instead of all men.
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.
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 perverseness 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, you get episodes 27-56 on one DVD and you do get audio commentary and also three cool featurettes by director Bob Shirahata and another by Prussia voice actor Atsushi Kosaka. While the last volume featured more of the storyboard sketches, this time around we get to meet some of the Japanese voice actors as they have a conversation with the director.
Overall, if you have an open mind, are not politically correct, have a pretty good sense of humor, then “Hetalia Axis Powers” may be for you. Definitely worth checking out!
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