Hetalia: Axis Powers

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Fandom
Name: Hetalia: Axis Powers
Abbreviation(s): Hetalia
Creator: Hidekaz Himaruya
Date(s): 2003 – ongoing
Medium: Webcomic, Anime, Manga
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links: Kitayume (official website)
Hetalia Archives (Fan-wiki)
Hetalia LJ Community Masterlist
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Contents

Hetalia: Axis Powers was first an original doujinshi webcomic, which was later released as a manga, and then a short-episode anime (none any more than 5 minutes). It depicts countries as anthropomorphic characters with the bulk of the story happening during or around WWII and, for the most part, focusing on the Axis Powers - Germany, North Italy and Japan. The major arcs that aren't set during this time are the 'Chibitalia' (Little Italy) arc, which contained the Italian Renaissance and largely Italy's 'friendship' with the Holy Roman Empire, and 'America's Storage Cleaning' arc, which showed colonial America being raised as a child by England/Britain and the subsequent American Revolution.

The more recent Hetalia: World Series (seasons 3&4) and Hetalia: The Beautiful World (season 5) move largely away from the world wars and into various other timelines. 'Modern day' strips have become more popular and various strips giving snapshots into the childhoods of various characters (like England/Britain, Russia and Japan) and, like with the Chibitalia segment, some are expanded upon, 'Boss Spain and Chibi Romano [South Italy]' being the most notable. Also, it looks at various wars in the Hetalia style, like the War of Austrian Succession and Seven Years War.

Season 5 had a dramatic art change, making the colours smoother and adjusting to keep up with the original artist's developing art style. However, fannish opinions differ on whether the change is good or not; many of the characters appear more bishi-fied than before the change.

Hetalia is a made-up word, composed of hetare (へタレ meaning useless) and Itaria/Italia (イタリア meaning Italy). The series pokes fun at North Italy's apparent cowardice during WWII.

Fandom Size

English-speaking fandom for Hetalia quickly exploded; in its first year the LiveJournal community Hetalia reached over 10,000 members. It reached 20,000 members before it's first 17 months,[1] and is currently over 26,500 members.[2] The community gets around 50-60 posts each day.

In Japanese-speaking doujin fandom, Hetalia is wildly popular. Doujinshi based on the original doujinshi are so numerous that the fandom has its own genre code at Comiket.

Pairings

Yaoi is extremely prevalent in this fandom; all of the main characters and most of the cast are male. Het is also around though it is not as popular since there are very few female characters to work with.

There are so many popularly shipped pairings that the Hetalia community, which has extensive tags list, doesn't even try to keep tags for them. The whole cast is ship-able, and fandom ships it. Unlike in other fandoms where fans of one ship will clash with fans of a rival ship, shippers in Hetalia fandom are mostly chill about it.

Fannish Spaces

LiveJournal

Hetalia has an immense and incredibly active presence on LiveJournal. The largest resource is the Hetalia LJ Community Masterlist. Some of the largest communities (with over 1,000 members) include:

FF.net

Hetalia also has an active presence on Fanfiction.net, with over 66,000 fics as of 9 March 2013.

Criticisms

Hetalia has come under criticism for having a light-hearted approach to serious events in history, such as an offhand comment by Germany about Jews in the English Dub, referenceing the holocaust. An extreme example of this was when someone requested the Rape of Nanking in a kink meme [3], though fandom does not usually go that far. Still, fans will occasionally get criticisms on fanworks for allegedly trivializing tragic events or being disrespectful.

Another criticism of Hetalia is that it applies exaggerated ethnic stereotypes to the characters, in a way that can potentially be seen as racist.

Despite these criticisms, and considering Hetalia's subject matter and the massive activity of its fandom, wank is relatively uncommon. [4] Possibly because many fans choose to vent their frustrations in a separate anonymous meme[5], where they are allowed to rant and discuss anything, Hetalia or otherwise. Fans of the show tend to address criticisms gently, maturely, and with understanding. The most drama the community gets usually involves conflicts with the maintainers.

References

  1. Hetalia had 20,050 members when retrieved 2009 September 29.
  2. 26,587 members as of 2010 March 14.
  3. amy_elysian Hetalia kink meme fic index, accessed April 6, 2010
  4. There is a general perception that Hetalia is a wanky fandom by outside observers. See, for instance, inkstone's post about the Hetalia cosplayers doing a Nazi salute at Anime Boston: "It's funny that all these people are coming out and saying, "I'm not surprised about the Hetalia fail!" Not because they're failing, but because I really have no explanation for why I have such a negative impression of the fandom despite pretty much never having been in it or interacting with it." (Accessed April 9, 2010)
  5. http://aphanon-meme.livejournal.com/
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