Hetalia Axis Powers: As Batsh*t as a Belfry after a Buffet
(This is the opening for the first episode. Make of it what you will. I almost went out to buy it that day until I saw the credits roll a few minutes later.)
Hetalia is just weird as hell.
I said it. I would say it again, if I had to.
Don’t let that put you off though, that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It’s brilliantly funny in many ways, it’s just that the length of each episode is laughably short leading to a blisteringly fast delivery method of audio. That is to say that characters talk SO DAMN FAST and then the episode ends resolving nothing. Not that anything of consequence is really set up in the first place…
Let’s talk as a world populated by boys tries to settle issues of war, international friendships and… Pasta. All this AND MORE after the cut!
Hetalia is basically a peculiar reinterpretation of our world at war using teenage boys that mostly look like girls representing the nations of the globe, retelling historic details via sketch comedy. Mind you, it’s all done for the sake of sugary humor so its as soft a reenactment as one could hope for. I mean, SUPER soft. It doesn’t deny things per se, but it fails to approach serious matters like… oh… THE HOLOCAUST, or anything. I get it though, it can’t touch on genuine matters of war crimes without getting serious and losing its comedic momentum.
Though there is the weird obsession with Italy being the butt of most gags and the center of its side-series, which given the lack of time the show has to get its primary premise off the ground seems superfluous. Basically, the “Chibi-Hetalia” side series appears seemingly at random making an already weird series 100% weirder every time it appears like they threw the Muppet Babies into inappropriate moments of Knight Rider. Just weird.
During this series cultural hilarity is sprung forth, national quirks are addressed and confusion is layered like thick carpet across your brain. I heard folks compare this to Excel Saga, which isn’t entirely untrue, but mostly the hyper-blathering is solely from the mouth of Excel Excel, the titular protagonist, as she spouts mostly random bullshit before someone takes a shot at her with artillery fire, debris or trap doors. Speed talking is all Hetalia has and since each episode is about five minutes, there’s no real depth and only gags to tie to other gags.
I will say that the dub is a grand effort. I know folks will disagree with me, I preferred the dub immensely to the original subtitled series. It’s just that to fully appreciate the cultural gags, it’s an important method of conveyance to hear a guy doing a German accent speaking a language I fully understand rather than super-fast Japanese.
Everyone kind of gets poked fun at so its generally in pretty good humor. Even Americans. Apparently, we’re bossy burger eaters with a hero complex who have a creepy love/hate thing with England. It’s still better than being Italy…
I really enjoyed Hetalia despite its stupidly short run-times for each episode and the dub made a lot of things easier to absorb. The worst part is that you might actually learn something while watching this. Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s bonkers as all hell, but there are moments that are explained via text for historical accuracy and then thrown out for complete and utter bastardization.
It’s delicious. Although it is absolutely batshit.
I highly recommend giving it a shot. It’s funny as hell and you grow accustomed to the fast talking after awhile. Give the first episode a whirl as Funimation has it up for consumption on YouTube HERE. If you really dig it, the series is currently on Netflix’s instant watch program or you can jump in and buy the arguably overpriced whole set. If the episodes were longer than five minutes I could bend on the price, but they’re five fuckin’ minutes so use your own discretion on an actual purchase.
It is absolutely worth a rental though. Rent the hell out of it.