22 CommentsAnime Analysis, Hetalia Axis Powers, Twelve Days, Ye Olde Days / By Scamp /

12 Moments in Anime #7: Hetalia brings the online community a little closer to world peace

This time I’m going combine my 12 days of anime with my special Hetalia posts I plan to have started by this stage (I’m writing this on the 1st of December. If this is the first you’ve heard of this mini-project Hetalia fangirls then go ahead and berate me in the comments to get moving). This time I’m going to look at one of the most remarkable and one of the most unexpected occurences of the Hetalia anime (although in retrospect it should have been obvious). The international discussions that arise in Hetalia fandom.

Hetalia is a mans show and don't you forget that!

Yet again this is a story that begins right at the start of the year with the Koreans protesting at this terribly dangerous anime. Being portrayed as an over-reactor and getting easily offended did not please the Koreans so they, in true Korean fashion, over-reacted and got the show taken off the air (yes I know, not all Koreans are like that blah de blah). Unsurprisingly this had the opposite effect and garnered the show even more interest. Many people looked at it and thought ‘well this is totally harmless’ and never gave the show another thought. However there were many others that actually believed Hetalia was *gasp* dangerous! People would take these racial stereotypes to heart, automatically assume those previously ignorant to Italian culture would assume they were all pasta-loving wimps. If you were one of these people then this post is directed at you.

What has actually happened is a huge increase in discussion of different cultures in Hetalia fandom. The internet being the wonderful international place that it is (and I’m only being half-sarcastic there) means that there’s nearly always someone from the country being referenced to explain a bit about the history or culture of that country, even *gasp* Korea! To take a random example, here’s a comment from an older Hetalia post:

I’m Italian so a little info about Italy-Russia here: those two countries are close now, but it’s a pretty recent event caused by the fact that Berlusconi and Putin are both populists controllers of the media (Berlusconi owns or controls 5 channels out of 6) so they get along really fine XD but it’s more of “our prime ministers are friends” than “Italy and Russia are close”. The reaction of italians is similar to Italy and Romano’s ones , so it’s spot on XD

I’ve always looked at the historical and cultural references in Hetalia and quite often found myself trawling Wikipedia after an episode. This blog is only a tiny part of the Hetalia community. I’ve looked across all sorts of forums and Livejournal sites to find people discussing their own history or culture. OK, it’s mainly just fangirling but it still brings to light many things that these fangirls didn’t previously know. They aren’t taking the historical facts in Hetalia for granted (although for the most part Hetalia has been spot on), they’re actually learning about other cultures, the total opposite to what the haters thought would happen.

Hetalia actually has a vibrant male fanbase. I wonder why?

Tying world peace and Hetalia together is a bit of a big statement but I’m going to stand by that. What other anime has done more for building bridges between cultures? You could argue Pokemon is large enough to have people from anywhere and everywhere but the important difference here is that Pokemon fans join together to discuss Pokemon. Hetalia encourages discussion about different nationalities. The only people who may be enlightened are a bunch of internet savvy fangirls but can any other anime claim that title?

So what is my ‘moment’ that this post refers to…I’m not really sure. Maybe the time on some random Gaia forum where my blog was linked to with some people saying ‘oh yeah I love that blog! He always explains the history behind the jokes’. And that folks, is my part I’ve done for world peace this year.

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22 Comments

  1. ATEOS
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Que tal, como vez hablo español, primera vez posteando pero e estado siguiendo tus post desde hace un buen tiempo, excellent work Scamp, “Paz mundial” por ahora lo defino como anime original comico y muy muy cultural.No habia aprendido tanto en la clase de historia como aqui.

    por cierto soy de Peru

  2. luffyluffy
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    …… Sick opener of Germany XDD

  3. Posted December 20, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Brilliant post Scamp ^_^
    Hetalia had taught me few things e.g. the origin of Nikujaga,Swiss & Liechtenstein dynamic relationship & Russia army jumping out of plane without parachute incident XD
    It’s fun to watch Hetalia with the comedy & some insight of each nation stereotypes (being a guy who like History,this is pretty amazing for me).By the way Scamp,can I keep sexy Belgium pic on my pc please…

  4. Posted December 20, 2009 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    @Scamp

    Agree – Hetalia has done more good than harm in terms of bringing people together. :)

    @luffyluffy

    AGREE. That drawing of Germany is… uh… :0!

  5. Posted December 20, 2009 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    Haha, yeah, reading Hetalia has gotten me really into history. Because of it I took a Russian history class and now I’m seriously considering minoring in Russian History. It’s incredibly interesting, I’m telling you!

    The fandom is amazing. Because of it I’ve made two friends from Canada, two from Denmark, three from Germany, one from England, and one from Indonesia! And I’m quite sure that I’m forgetting a few.

    And, of course, thank you for all your wonderful posts, Scamp! (Though that picture of Germany terrifies me in some deep part of my soul… At least that adorable one of Belgium makes up for it…)

    Great work!

  6. Posted December 20, 2009 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum of the Hetalia argument. One side says “this series is reinforcing stereotypes!” or even getting upset over their country being paired with another in fandom (for example, I just found a Russian girl expressing huge upset over being paired with “that Nazi ass”, meaning Prussia). Some Hetalia haters just do so because they feel it’s a threat to ‘real history’. I can respect the opinion that history should be taken seriously and not “dumbed down for fangirls”.

    But honestly, I know people who have started having more of an interest in history thanks to Hetalia and some who are vice-versa (having a deeper love for Hetalia because of their historical/cultural knowledge). I love it because I have a great fascination for other cultures/histories and I love that Hetalia brings it to people in a way that is entertaining and easy to pick up on. It’s gotten people genuinely interested in topics they wouldn’t have before! But mostly I love the characters. They’re silly and in canon certainly could be considered quite shallow but they’re adorable and fun and loveable. Whether or not you think your country is portrayed as stupid or as an asshole, you have to admit, you’ve never seen so much love for your country before Hetalia, have you?

    I can respect both sides of the argument but I want to make one thing very clear:
    I have made so many friends thanks to this series, this fandom. Like Siri’s comment above, many of them are international. This silly little webseries turned anime has brought so many of us together to laugh at ourselves. I see that as a good enough reason to keep liking it, don’t you?

  7. fmaestri90
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Translating “ATEOS” post:

    What’s up, as you can see i speak spanish, it’s my first time posting here, but I’ve been following your posts since a long time, excellent work Scamp, “World Peace” for now I define it as original comic anime and very very cultural. I hadn’t learn so much in history class as i have here.

    By the way, I’m forom Perú

    End.

    I’m also half peruvian, born in Venezuela. Saludos

  8. Posted December 20, 2009 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    @ATEOS

    Hola, hablo un poco espanol pero me prefiero hablar en ingles. Ehehe, sorry, never been any good at speaking other languages. You’re not the only south american reader, which is a bit surprising considering no South American country appears in Hetalia…

    @Kagura89

    That Belgium pic was aimed specifically at male readers such as yourself. What I want to know is why she hasn’t appeared in the anime yet!

    @Siri

    I knew there would be a few people who took history courses thanks to Hetalia. I remember when I was a kid, my interest in history shot up thanks to those ‘horrible history’ books, something Hetalia managed to spark up yet again. I didn’t end up taking a history course, although it was a close thing.

    @Moogie

    You should show that Russian girl that above picture of Germany and to take a proper look at that ‘Nazi Ass’.

    (sorry. Your comment is fantabulous and the best reply I could come up with is a joke about Germany’s rear end. I totally agree with you in every way, which has left me with very little to say in reply)

    @fmaestri90

    Thanks for that. I can read a little bit of spanish myself but languages have just never been my strong point

  9. Rar
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    They see me lurking… They starin’…
    What a nice, warm feeling this is generating. Enough to make me post for the first time. Ah, my Korean brothers and sisters, thanks for making this anime more popular, lol! It’s funny, if it weren’t for their protesting, I wouldn’t have found out about Hetalia. It’s definitely made me more aware of international events. I’m also a history nut, so yeah… I don’t think I can add to all this cultural togetherness people are talking about, so, uh, Scamp-dude, your blog is awesome. *lame*

    Horrible History? Awesome Egyptians?!

  10. luffyluffy
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    …. *SPANKS THE NAZI ASS*

    <:3

  11. Rodienne
    Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Obviously there will be some controversy around Hetalia, but I’ve personally learnt a lot from it, and especially from the fandom – not just about history but about cultures and languages, too. As an ignorant Brit, I knew very little about any of those, but it’s really changed my perspectives on foreign countries and history and I know I’m not the only one. Anything that encourages so much interest about important subjects is, in my opinion, very special, even if that interest is just from fangirls like myself. ^^

  12. Posted December 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    @Rar

    Hurrah for moar commenters! The first horrible history I read was Groovy Greeks but my favourite was the ‘special edition’ Rowdy Revolutionaries. Probably because it had the most violence in.

    @Rodienne

    The amount of stuff I’ve learned from Hetalia is phenomenal. I don’t get involved with the Hetalia community that much (not being a fangirl and everything) but even from this blog alone I’ve learned a huge amount.

  13. Posted December 21, 2009 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Yays for Hetalia! ^^

    I admit that I watch Hetalia, read Hetalia, and look at far too much Hetalia art on my computer for the sake of my inner fangirl (who has actually been taking over my mind lately, though I don’t know why…maybe something to do with that picture of Germany at the top of this post…)I also totally love the history side of it!

    …so i’m a nerd. *.* BUT YOU CANNOT DENY THAT EVEN WITHOUT A HETALIA SPIN, HISTORY IS WONDERFUL!!! *scrolls back up to Germany* Heh heh…history…

    Plus, I find that I’ve been taking a much closer intrest in current events lately, if just to mentally fangirl over the phrase ‘foreign relations’. XD

  14. gw_kimmy
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    i think the reason why there arent any south american countries in hetalia is because not many were really prominent in WWI or WWII? from what my mom tells me (i’m peruvian, though i was born in the states), peru only sent, like, maybe a tiny fleet, but that’s about it. from what i can get off wikipedia, only brazil did anything remotely significant while the rest of south america had bigger fish to fry, like overthrowing their leaders and worrying about what the americans would think.

    but i also love the discussions that hetalia has sparked. i’ve already had lots of international friends, and after watching hetalia it’s prompted me to ask my friends more questions about their country’s history and culture. i’m not sure if there’s an australian character in the manga, but i do think it would be a genius addition to the anime since australia is so often parodized anyways and it did have a significant role (it seems. wow, ignorant american here lol) in the war.

    i dont think people should take the jokes made in hetalia so seriously. it’s not trying to make light of serious things like the holocaust or the atomic bombings (hetalia should NEVER talk about those things), but it is trying to lighten up some aspects of international relations between countries. especially in these times where some tensions have been built and some have been building over time, we need to take a step back and have a good laugh at ourselves instead of assuming that the world might be out to get us. this need not apply to countries alone, but also between different races and cultures existing in the same countries.

    ok, getting off my nerd soapbox. bottom line: we’re all a little ridiculous in some way, whether it be the same as our depicted country or not. and it’s good to laugh at that ridiculousness.

  15. Humanity_Cat
    Posted December 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Like the others have said, I have made many international friends from Hetalia. Plus I’ve learned a crapload from it. (Ahh, if only 8th grade was World History instead of American…*sigh* )I think that you can be a huge fangirl and a realist (is that a word?) as long as you keep a sane head about it. I mean, obviously not all American’s crave a McDonalds’ hamburger at least ten times a day, or the Polish crossdress and are bestest friends with the Lithuanians. Obviously Italians aren’t pasta-loving-freaks who are completely useless except to white-flag making.
    If you think about it realistically, you can sort out the real history and the exaggerated stuff in each strip/episode.

    By the way, Scamp, Belgium has appeared in the anime….to slap Italy with a stick. Actually, scratch that. I think that might have been Bulgaria. Yeah, Belgium hasn’t appeared yet.

    And damn that’s a sexy ass, Germany. [insert perverted smile here]

  16. ATEOS
    Posted December 22, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    well belgium make a cameo in ep 1, if remember correctly

  17. blogger
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    I got interested in Hetalia when I was reading something on Naruto or Bleach, and I decided to look it up on youtube after wikipedia-ing it, and I found that I enjoyed it, because the ideas were clever, the gags were funny, and it wasn’t that serious. It’s got me a lot more interested in History- especially European and Russian history as well. I learnt a lot of random facts, and I also picked up on a lot of stuff that I hadn’t known about before. I understand that Hetalia canbe found offensive: I think there was one moment where I just looked back, and thought, why am I finding this fun to watch if it makes fun of countries? Then I mentally slapped myself, because really, it’s a good way of letting people into history, and it helps you in some ways. I can say that it’s taken over my life to some extent- I can never look at any item before thinking what it’s associated with, and while some people complain about stereotyping, Poland is exactly the opposite of that, I think to an extent. Apparently people look down on crossdressing in Poland, and their relations aren’t very good with Lithuania despite the webcomic making it seem like they’re best friends (although Poland still regards Lithuania as a tool), but apart from that, I think that some of the people complaining are too politically correct; though my friend just doesn’t like the stereotypes and has been trying to get me to stop watching it- she also finds it childish because “it’s just a cartoon.” Hetalia is a great way of meeting and learning more about a country’s culture, and personally I find it interesting when I’m on fanfiction to receive reviews from people around the world, and even more interesting to find that around fifteen countries have decided to take a look at your story when you look at the traffic. Hetalia really is a great way of bringing people across the world to talk together about things.

    @ ATEOS: yes, Belgium makes a cameo in episode 1. She gets about one second before she disappears and is replaced by another cameo of Spain.

  18. Apollo Pompano
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how to start this comment off, so.

    Thank-you for writing about this. I always love reading about how Hetalia ends up affecting fans, because I have pretty strong beliefs on what it ends up doing.

    I first discovered APH when I took history in summer school in July. I fell in love with it instantly, and I couldn’t help but smile every time a countries’ name was mentioned. It ended up helping me too, as it’s easier to picture two people as best friends rather then two large land masses.

    But, I’ve seen a bit of what happens to some people who have become fans. Some have plainly stated that they hated history before APH, and now they’re addicted to learning about it.

    Hetalia always puts a smile on my face, because it makes you WANT to learn. You need to know some history to get the jokes, and if you don’t, you feel compelled to find out what was supposed to be so funny by looking up the history.

    Not many shows these days (even less so in anime) give the audience that sort of response. Kids WANTING to learn?
    XD

    The other thing I find Hetalia brings us is indeed ‘world peace’. I find it’s the ‘bringing the world together by making fun of them’ sort of thing. By laughing at ourselves, it’s like any racial or cultural tension disappears. It’s a really wonderful feeling.

    Maybe if everyone learned to laugh at themselves every once in a while, we could all get a long more.

  19. Posted December 23, 2009 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    @Everyone

    Damnit, this sometimes happens when I write editorials. The comments are too well written for me to really add anything to them. All I can say is thanks for commenting, it’s been fascinating reading how everyone else has gotten into this show.

  20. luffyluffy
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    …And you thought it was gunna be like Ouran XD

  21. heyheyho
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    @ATEOS

    Hey siempre posteo aquí y también soy de Perú!
    *high five*

    Ah, the internet is so small…

  22. heyheyho
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    *reads all the posts*

    AHH
    WHY ARE SO MANY FROM PERU WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL THIS TIME YOU GUYS

    …Why do I feel so happy lol

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