Stringed here again, this time with a rant for an update. Anyone that knows me very well at all knows that I am a huge fan of Axis Powers Hetalia. This series, which is basically a retelling of history with the countries involved depicted as anthropomorphized human characters, has sparked a lot of controversy since it first started getting popular.
If you are unfamiliar with Axis Powers Hetalia, these links give some more information:
Axis Powers Hetalia anime – ANN
Axis Powers Hetalia manga – ANN
Hetalia LiveJournal community <– the main hub of Hetalia fandom. This is where all of the scanlations are located, etc.
Hetalia Wikipedia article
Hetalia scanlation index
Now, what is the big deal with Axis Powers Hetalia? Why is there such a huge controversy? A big issue that a lot of the people who are anti-Hetalia have with the series is that its main subject matter is WWII, and it’s told with the main characters being the Axis Powers, as if that isn’t a bit obvious from the title. They feel that this series is making light of one of the most horrible events in world history, and is thus disrespectful, etc. They argue that the atrocities committed during WWII should not be made into a joke.
I have several arguments against this viewpoint. The primary argument I have is that a lot of the people claiming Hetalia is offensive, insulting, and whatever else they state is wrong with it have never actually sat down and read a single chapter of the manga or watched a single episode of the anime. They simply read a summary or hear someone else complaining and instantly jump up and raise a call to arms against a cartoon, without ever bothering to see if it’s really as bad as they think it is.
Also, the argument about war crimes and atrocities really is not reasonable. Hetalia does not go into things such as the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking. This is not because Hidekaz Himaruya (Hetalia’s creator) is trying to “gloss over” these things. It’s because Hetalia is a comedy, and Himaruya agrees with the people that are so offended by his work in the fact that there is nothing funny about those events.
Those against Hetalia also like to complain about the fact that the Axis Powers are not portrayed as wicked and evil people. “How can Nazi Germany be a nice guy and a bishounen?!” they say. The problem with this argument? Ludwig, the character for Germany in Hetalia, is NOT Nazi Germany. Ludwig is Germany from the birth of the country all the way up to modern day. Also, he is not the German government; he is Germany overall. Before and after WWII, Germany was not evil. Even during WWII, Germany was not evil. Hitler and the Nazis, perhaps, but not Germany itself. Thus, Ludwig is meant to portray Germany as a whole, not just Nazis.
People that have a problem with it ‘focusing’ on the Axis Powers, or it being written by a Japanese person need to step back and realize that the focus on the Axis Powers does not mean that they are being portrayed as the “good guys”. Hetalia portrays every single country as a decent person deep down, though they all also have negative things about them. There are no “villains” in Hetalia. They’re all neither completely good nor completely bad, which is really how it is, isn’t it? As for Himaruya being Japanese, it’s hardly fair to say that he can’t poke fun at history just because his country was on the “bad” side. Himaruya wasn’t even alive during WWII. Why should a mistake that his country’s government made in the past dictate whether he should be allowed to write a satire or not? In my opinion, it’s a bit racist to say that he shouldn’t be allowed to write WWII satire because he’s Japanese. Being Japanese does not mean that he wishes the Axis had won or anything like that. Honestly, people.
Finally, if Hetalia is so offensive to people, why aren’t other things of a similar nature considered the same? Hellsing, for example, is a Japanese series that has Nazis in it. Actual Nazis. But you don’t hear anyone complaining. The Great Dictator is an incredible Charlie Chaplain movie that makes fun of Hitler. No one complains about it, even though a Jewish main character gets sent to a concentration camp and escapes in a ridiculous way, which brings it much closer to making light of the atrocities that happened. Mecha Musume and Afghanis-tan are very similar to Hetalia, except for the fact that most of the characters are female. They don’t get hated on so hard. So really, what makes Hetalia so awful?
So if you’re reading this and haven’t actually seen or read any of Hetalia, I’d like to ask you to read some of the manga and/or watch some of the anime before making a decision on whether or not it’s offensive, and whether or not you enjoy it. If you actually give it a shot and it still bothers you, fine, but don’t try to say fans of it are immoral just because they’re not offended by something that offends you. That’s just obnoxious, honestly. Also, this post only covers one sort of argument against Hetalia. The stuff about fans only liking it for BL and bishonen because they didn’t see the comedy is too ridiculous for me to even comment on.
In closing, here’s a MAD for Hetalia that always makes me smile: