Hetalia: Axis Powers

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Fandom
Name: Hetalia: Axis Powers
Abbreviation(s): Hetalia, APH
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
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

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 World War II 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. 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.

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.

An important point of access for entering the fandom is that the Nations all have "human" names to match their vaguely defined human personas.[2] Some of these come as Word of God, but others are fanon.

Fandom

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] At it's height, the community had 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.

On FanFiction.net, as of June 22, 2016, Hetalia became the second most popular Anime/Manga fandom, replacing Inuyasha. On Archive of Our Own, Hetalia become one of the top 5 most tagged fandoms in the Anime & Manga in April 2012 when it reached over 1,300 works. In February 2014 it surpassed Naruto to become the most popular in the category when it reached over 6,800 works. In March 2014 it was surpassed by Attack on Titan reaching over 7,200 works. Hetalia dropped out of the top 5 around August 2018, with over 28,000 works.

Hetalia Day

In 2009, Hetalia fans on LiveJournal created Hetalia Day. Hetalia Day meetups were and are held on October 24th, or as close to it as possible. At the fandom's peak, there were meetups in over 30 countries, with most of the meetups occurring in the United States.[3] In recent years, with the decline of the fandom, there have been fewer meetups, though as of 2018 Hetalia Day was celebrated in 8 countries and 9 states within the U.S. Meetups typically included cosplay, dancing, and games. Each group is supposed to take a photo with the state or national flag of where the meetup takes place. Hetalia Day New York City also raises funds for UNICEF.

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. During the series peak of popularity, shipping wars were prevalent and it wasn't uncommon for fans of rival pairings to bash each other. Nowadays, things have calmed down and there is not nearly as much animosity between shippers.

Character Designs

Earlier mentioned is the Chibitalia designs, but Himaruya also drew some other alternate designs for the characters in 2011 and the fandom has since designated these as "alternate universe" or "alternate personality" versions.[3] 2P Hetalia fanworks are very common. Similarly, although less common in the fandom, Himuraya designed genderswapped versions of all the characters, in verse called Nyotalia.

Fan Communities

Hetalia has an active presence on Fanfiction.net, with over 120,000 works as of 15 February, 2019.

A fairly large Hetalia Discord community (with over 1300 members) is seen in the Hetalia Discord "The Vital Region 2.0."

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:

Criticism & Controversy

Hetalia has come under criticism for having a light-hearted approach to serious historical events of World War II, such as an offhand comment by Germany about Jews in the English Dub, referencing the Holocaust. An extreme example of this was when someone requested the Rape of Nanking in a kink meme [4], though fandom does not usually go that far. Still, fans will occasionally get criticisms on fanworks for allegedly trivializing tragic events or being disrespectful.

Disrespect for the Holocaust has occured offline as well, in what became known as "The Anime Boston Incident". During a photoshoot at Anime Boston 2010, some Germany and Prussia cosplayers did Nazi Salutes for photos, which were then uploaded to the Hetalia Livejournal community. The organiser apologised after criticism.[5]

Another criticism of Hetalia is that it applies exaggerated ethnic stereotypes to the characters, in a way that can potentially be seen as racist. The show's depiction of the nation of Korea has especially come under fire, given Japan's violent history as an imperializing force in Korea, and the show was banned in South Korea.

Despite these criticisms, and considering Hetalia's subject matter and the massive activity of its fandom, wank is relatively uncommon. This is possibly because many fans choose to vent their frustrations in a separate anonymous meme[6], 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.

There, however, 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."

Notable Fanworks

References

  1. ^ Hetalia had 20,050 members when retrieved 2009 September 29.
  2. ^ 26,587 members as of 2010 March 14.
  3. ^ 2P!Hetalia: What it Is, dA journal entry by Firestixian, Jan 15 2012
  4. ^ Hetalia kink meme fic index by amy_elysian, accessed April 6, 2010
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ http://aphanon-meme.livejournal.com/