While this site is dedicated to the realms of film and video game criticism, my collegiate pursuits do lie elsewhere. After all, I do have a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies and plan to obtain my Master’s within the next two years in Political Science. So naturally, I am a bit of a buff when it comes to the realms of history and international politics. That being said, it is hard to find a show that ties all of my passions and professional pursuits in one pretty package the way that Hetalia: Axis Powers does. A satirical anime that turned the all the countries of the world into a singular walking caricature of a character and then walked through major world struggles and complex geopolitical issues as if it were a laugh out lout sitcom. This is certainly a series that would appeal to someone such as myself.
The story of Hetalia: Axis Powers focuses on the countries of the world that have been reduced to a single character. It primarily revolves around Italy. He is little, whimpy, and just wants to play and eat pasta all day while his ‘allies’ Germany and Japan have to fight off the allied powers in World War II. The story does give a lot of satire to the pre-war to post war world during World War II, but also explores the realms of current events and satires times from World War II to present day, featuring the major world leaders as the main characters like Italy, Germany, USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, and so forth with smaller countries like Ukraine, Liechtenstein, the Baltic States, and so forth being recurring characters.
Without a doubt, Hetalia: Axis Powers ranks as one of the best satires that I have ever seen. The show is absolutely unapologetic about its jokes and there is no country that is sacred to its humor. It tactfully attacks each of the stereotypes and cultures attached to each given country. While certain countries (i.e. Italy) get a little bit heavier on the satire than others just about every country is picked apart by the television show.
This show is actually really and I mean REALLY informative when it comes to the areas of diplomacy and geopolitical issues. I have spent four years working towards my degree and will spend the next two to three years working on my master’s and I can say that this show can give you more information on the dealings on the international stage than most news stations could even hope to achieve.
Take the recent Euromaiden protests, Ukrainian Revolution, and subsequent Crimea situation. If you want to know the relationship between Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine without worrying about the biased opinions of sensationalist news outlets, just watch the episode of Hetalia Axis Powers to truly understand how the situation came to be and where it might lead to. You learn more about relationships such as the ones between Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria as well as the tenuous and forced relationships between the Baltic States. You can even see the relationships between countries like Japan and the USA post World War II and how our cultures have influenced one another over the past couple of decades.
If you would like a crash course in International politics without going through the several years of academia, just give Hetalia: Axis Powers a watch. It won’t be near enough information but it will at least give you more information than news stations like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News could ever hope to achieve.
They Are Short!
Biggest complaint of this show is very minor to say the least, but generally each of the episodes is only 5-10 minutes long. Maybe it is because I am so used to a 20+ minute long run time for a television show that the concept of a small one such as this bugs me, but I say this because I do want more out of the series. I love each of the episodes but can breeze past seasons like it is nothing with each episode leaving me craving for more material and more satire.
This show is amazing. It is smart, informative, and can teach you more about International Affairs than most college professors could hope to achieve. The shows are a little short yes, but when the biggest complaint about a show is the fact that they are not giving you more, that is almost a compliment in and of itself. The characters are excellent representatives of each of their given countries and the satire is one that everyone gets targeted in an honest and respectful manner. This is one show that I cannot get enough of and recommend others to seek it out and give it a watch.
Final Score 4.5/5
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