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Axis Powers Hetalia, Hetalia: Axis Powers, APH, or simply Hetalia is a comedy webcomic and anime created by Hidekaz Himaruya. Hetalia features anthromorphised versions of various countries, mainly those of the Axis Powers and Allied Forces of World War II, as well as other western European nations. The series shows allegorical interpretations of events in history in a humourous way using these characters, paticularily those occuring around the time of the 2nd World War. The series has a significant fanbase on the internet, in both the Eastern and Western worlds.
So far, over 40 countries have been personified as human characters. In Hetalia, these characters are normally referred to by their country’s name. Other places that are not necessarily countries have also appeared as characters, including ancient empires such as the Roman Empire, Germania and micronations such as Sealand.
Hidekaz Himaruya originally created Hetalia as an online webcomic. So far four tankōbon have been published by Gentosha Comics, the first on March 28, 2008, the second on December 10, 2008, the third on May 20, 2010 and the fourth on June 30, 2011.
An anime adaptation of Hetalia: Axis Powers was announced on July 24, 2008. The anime first began on January 24, 2009 and was slated for only 26 episodes. On April 15, 2009, it was announced that the series would get a second season that would produce another 26 episodes, bringing the number to 52.
A third season was announced on December 10, 2009, but was later retitled Hetalia: World Series and was treated as a separate entity from the first two seasons. On July 30, 2010, a second season of World Series (fourth season overall) of 24 episodes was announced.
FUNimation has released dubs of both the first and second season, and has announced the winter 2011 release of the third season. They have also dubbed the Hetalia movie, Ginmaku Hetalia: Hetalia, Paint it White!, which was released on November 22 of this year.
There has definitely been some controversy about the show and comic due to it making light of many of the events surrounding WWII. People have also voiced their displeasure on the stereotypes portrayed by the countries as some have found them offensive. (examples: “America” is annoying and often shown eating hamburgers, Italy is portrayed as a pasta-loving weakling)
Dance Dance World Revolution
Dance Dance World Revolution is an avatar dance meme featuring anime characters dressed in the color schemes of different country flags dancing to a looped version of the number “Positive Vibe” by Newgrounds member NIGHTkilla. It started with a video of the character America, but spread out to other countries and series as well. The characters representing the countries commonly use the character models of the Hetalia cast, but fan made characters are also used.
Marukaite Chikyuu (Draw a circle, that’s the Earth) is a meme that originated from the ending theme for the first and second seasons of Hetalia. The original version was sung by the character North Italy (voiced by Daisuke Namikawa), but it spread out to other members of the Hetalia cast as well. This inspired fans to create their own versions of the song with even more characters from the series.
Become One With Russia
Become One With Russia is a meme using the character Russia. The meme encompasses many mediums, all of which bear the same question “Become One With Russia?”. The original line was said by Russia’s sister Belarus, who is obsessed with her brother and stalks him constantly. Eventually, fans took this one creepy phrase and turned it inside out, twisting the meaning so that Russia is the one who asks others to ‘become one’ with him.
Many Hetalia characters have noticeable taglines, such as China constantly saying “aru,” Russia letting out a “kolkolkol” when he is displeased, or Romano shouting “chigi!” Other phrases, such as “I’m the hero!” (America) or “I’m awesome!” (Prussia) have become memes within themselves. Perhaps the most recognizable line is Italy’s “pastaaa~!” from the first episode.
Canada…? Who’s That?
Another popular meme within the Hetalia fandom is asking “who?” whenever Canada is mentioned. This is due to the Character Canada constantly being ignored by the other characters, and he is even shown to be somewhat translucent at times.
What’s an Ahoge?
A very distinct feature that many APH characters have is an ahoge, or piece of hair that sticks out from their head. Examples include America, Canada, the Italy brothers, South Korea, Taiwan, Austria etc. In some cases (the Italies), the ahoge is said to be an “erogenous zone.” Austria, however, just seems to be annoyed when his ahoge is tugged.
Nekotalia, Nyotalia, and Mochitalia
While both Nekotalia (Catalia) and Nyotalia were created by Himaruya, the fandom has really taken their liberties with them. Nekotalia, featuring cats with the same personalities as the different nations, has appeared in the anime and has sparked countless pieces of fanart.
Nyotalia, which features gender-swapped versions of the nations, has taken on a life of its own in the fandom. Though Himaruya has given official designs and in some cases personalities for these characters, the fandom has decided upon some popular names for the girls (and guys). Some artists have even designed their own Nyotalia versions of the characters.
Himaruya has also drawn mochi versions of many of the characters. These mochis are under the custody of Estonia.
Prussia’s Five Meters
This meme started when a fan was creating a list of the different penis sizes of the characters. As a joke, it was said that Prussia’s was five meters long. This has turned into a popular meme in the fandom.
HetaOni, RomaHeta, etc.
These videos, which can be found on YouTube, are playthroughs of video games games that have been edited to involve Hetalia characters. They have become very popular within the fandom, spawning a ton of fanart and even fanfictions.
The Hetalia fandom is known for the massive events that Hidekaz Himaruya puts together on different holidays, such as Hetaween and Bloodbath 2010 (and this year, 2011). The fandom gets together, whether on LiveJournal or tumblr, and enjoys the events together. These events even have their own tvtropes pages. The Hetalia community on LiveJournal has a total of 42,172 members as of the 11th of January, while the much newer Hetalia Events community has 568 members.
A popular trend in the Hetalia fandom is to take art produced by Studio Deen and swap the faces of the characters. This is in part because Deen art for the show is typically considered awkward and sometimes downright hilarious. Along the same lines, the fandom has also been known to take pictures from different amusement park attractions and edit them to look like characters from Hetalia.
Search interest for Hetalia starts in June 2008, a few months after the first tankōbon was released.