When Good Fandoms Go Bad

To start this off, I owe everyone an apology. I promise my Le Chevalier D’Eon review is coming. I haven’t forgotten! I just…haven’t…actually finished Le Chevalier D’Eon yet. I have no excuse, and I’m sorry. I’ll do my best to make it a really good review when I do get it done, though. This is also why I haven’t updated in a few months. I’ve felt bad about not having that review around and thus kind of hid out for a while. But some recent news has pulled me out of hiding.

I’m sure by now most of the anime community has heard about the Anime Boston 2010 scandal. In case you haven’t, basically what happened was that some people who were cosplaying Germany and Prussia from Axis Powers Hetalia decided it would be a good idea to sieg heil while posing for a photo. The brouhaha this caused both within and outside of the fandom was far more than anyone involved had imagined, judging by their response to this. At this point, a lot of the fandom would prefer to just stop talking about this and pretend it didn’t happen, but by now most people have heard, and I for one don’t think trying to sweep it under the rug will do any good at this point. In fact, that will probably do even more damage.

The first question is where do I stand on this issue? I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a Hetalia fan by now. I was completely horrified when I saw the post on the Hetalia Livejournal community about this. Most of you probably aren’t aware that I love Germany (the actual, real country) to the point of wanting to live there at least temporarily. Having people doing something like this is in bad taste regardless of the other details, and them being associated with my fandom while doing it made it even worse.

That said, I believe in forgiveness. At least one of the people involved has, in fact, apologized. These people were not Neo Nazis. They were not intending to disrespect. They just got caught up in the atmosphere of the con and did something stupid, which they now regret. At this point, we should accept their apology.

Unfortunately, people who hate Hetalia are now using this incident as ammo against the entire fandom. I know I have or at least have had readers that don’t like Hetalia. Please take this message to heart; we’re not all like this. We don’t all lose our heads at cons and do things like this. The people involved weren’t ignorant racist history revisionist Nazis in the first place, so please stop hurling these insults at the entire fanbase. Don’t start, either. Hetalia fans aren’t immoral people solely for liking a webcomic/anime.

On a more general note, all fandoms get to the point where they have total idiots in them. Hetalia fandom started off refreshing. When I first started reading it, there really weren’t any ship wars or internal fighting. The drama was mostly conflict between fans and non-fans. This isn’t the case anymore. Now we have ship wars, arguments about silly details, fans that are only into the series for slash fodder, etc. Sadly, all fandoms do this to some extent. I’ve seen Haibane Renmei fans with similar behavior, believe it or not. Don’t let the fanbase scare you away from any series. It’s hard, I know. I’ve been avoiding Durarara!! for a while now because of the fujoshi, but I’ve realized that’s silly and now I’m just waiting for a batch torrent.

If you’ve stayed with me this long, you deserve some sort of reward. That was some inane rambling there. This is a pathetic excuse for a reward, but here you go. I’ve gotten myself a formspring account. If you’ve got a question, ask it here.

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In Defense of Axis Powers Hetalia

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: