Matt Kamen on just how far Hetalia pushes its luck
Hetalia returns for its third season this month, and aside from a title change – goodbye, Axis Powers; welcome to the World Series – it’s business as usual for the cast of Hidekazu Himaruya’s comedy manga turned rapid-fire series of anime shorts. But portraying entire nations as human characters based on their country’s most common stereotypes leads to some edgy and decidedly politically incorrect humour– and here’s our pick of the best of the worst!
Triple Filtered Vodka and Violence! Russians love vodka. How much? The late president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin – famously a fan of the hard liquor himself – had to crack down on illegal home brew variations by doubling tax on it, such was the people’s thirst for the drink. In Hetalia, Russia considers Vodka his fuel, shutting down without a steady supply and frequently drinking others under the table. However, just like the real country has shady chapters in its history, particularly during the Cold War, so too are Russia’s surrounding nations terrified of his darker tempers and penchant for cruelty. A drunken, violent giant – we wouldn’t cross him either!
Everyone Ignores Canada! Although he’s one of the G8 nations and in many of the world council meetings in Hetalia, most of the other countries ignore him, even though his ideas are usually the most sensible. He’s constantly overshadowed by America’s loud and boisterous nature, to the point that England and France – Canada’s parents, after a fashion – forget about him. Of course, this mirrors the real world where, despite Canada’s significantly higher standard of living for its citizens and more peaceable global outlook, the USA is the more vocal and feared North American nation. So spare a thought for Canada – nobody else will!
England Can’t Cook! National pride comes into play here, as Hetalia comes up with the spurious insinuation that British cooking isn’t up to scratch! Every time England cooks for his friends and allies, the end result is some disgusting culinary nightmare, food poisoning, or worse. Sure, we have some strange entries on our collective menu – black pudding being just one of the oddities – but clearly, the fault is on the rest of the world for having such overly sensitive palates, not on England for preparing sub-par food!
Japan is Shy! World Powers introduces a burgeoning friendship between Greece and Japan. When the duo go sightseeing together, Greece shows off his illustrious past, his pantheon of gods, his.... naked Spartan training sessions. Poor Japan is a bit taken aback and becomes very shy as a result, not wanting to discuss nudity or sex. Despite the real-world western perception of Japan as being home to bizarre sexual proclivities and weird, hyper-fetishised pornography, the country has a declining birth rate and over a third of marriages are statistically sexless. It’s nice to see that, along with mocking the rest of the world, Hetalia’s clearly not above teasing its home country’s own prudish behaviour – and for added insult, the English dub gives Japan a thick ‘Engrish’ accent!
Hetalia’s off-colour sense of humour has something to amuse or offend just about everyone – see how raucous it can get in the complete third season, on sale now!