Attention all history students. Don’t try and use Hetalia for revision. It’ll all end in tears, says Matt Kamen
Ah, Hetalia Axis Powers! We love you, we really do. We just hope those of you in the midst of History courses aren’t planning on using Hetalia as reference material, since it’s not exactly the most accurate of records. Here are just a few reasons you’re better off hitting the books than the anime.
Sweet, Sweet Revenge!
In Hetalia: England, seeking revenge on Germany, attempts to summon a horde of demons to bring down the Teutonic warmonger – only to accidentally summon Russia instead.
In reality: After World War II, Germany was forced to pay reparations to the UK, France and Soviet Union. Largely, this took the form of coal, forced labour and physical assets such as factories. The Allied Powers also raided the German brain trust, seizing all patents, technological developments and many of the country’s scientists. Overall, a touch more effective than resorting to dark magic.
Jingle Bells, Finland Smells
In Hetalia: In the middle of a beach ambush, Allies and Axis alike are visited by Santa (actually a poorly disguised Finland!) who delivers presents to everyone – favourite foods for Japan, a giant plushie for China and porn for America!
In reality: The best known example of a Yuletide truce was actually in the midst of World War One. In 1914, British and German troops stationed along the Western Front – or Belgium, approximately – entered into an unofficial ceasefire over the Christmas period, exchanging gifts and even playing a few games of football against each other. Santa was nowhere to be found!
Our Friends in Japan
In Hetalia: The 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance is marked by England visiting Japan’s house and experiencing the strangeness of open air bathing and Japanese cuisine. Also, he befriends a Kappa, sad that Japanese people don’t see him anymore.
In reality: The Alliance was a real agreement, signed in London by the British Foreign secretary of the day, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice and Tadasu Hayashi , a Japanese minister based in London. While Petty-Fitzmaurice made no mention of lonely monsters from Japan’s myths, Hayashi did get a promotion to Viscount that same year. Sadly, the alliance terminated in 1923.
Super Robot U-Boat Titan!
In Hetalia: 1940’s Tripartite Pact, an official three-way declaration of support between Italy, Germany and Japan, is marked by Japan upgrading Germany’s plans for their U-Boats. Of course, this entails releasing them in a variety of collector-friendly colours, with new models available each season, all advertised by a popular voice actress. Unsurprisingly, it transforms into a giant robot, too.
In reality: We kind of wish it had been anywhere near as cool as that, even if transforming submarines would have probably meant an unfavourable shift in power during WWII. The actual Tripartite Pact was a fairly boring piece of propaganda documentation, one that essentially declared the three countries to be BFFs.
That Time of the War
In Hetalia: By far the most outlandish war-time plan conceived by the Allies, Operation: Red Fuji involved dropping enough red paint on top of the iconic Japanese mountain to dye the crest of it. The idea is to dispirit Japan by defacing a beloved national monument, and poor Japan gets really worried by it.
In reality: The elaborate scheme might not be more than an urban legend. The idea was reportedly discussed in planning sessions, but dismissed outright for being, well, a bit silly. Calculating the cost of enough paint to cover the top of en entire mountain, plus the air fuel to get it there, just on the off-chance the Japanese got some hurt feelings over it (and hey, lead-based paints were big in the ‘40s, so there might have been some health problems caused by run-off water too!) the whole plan was written off as a massive waste of time and resources.
So, while Hetalia: Axis Powers makes for great entertainment, please don’t blame us if you fail your History exams this summer. Now go to the library!
Hetalia Axis Powers 2 is out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment. Finland doesn’t actually smell.
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