I think I did enough head scratching when I worked on “Hetalia: Axis Powers” to bore a hole in my skull. No capsule review is going to do justice to the utter weirdness of this TOKYOPOP manga. The title, a blending of the words “coward” (hetare) and “Italy,” gives you a taste of what creator Hidekaz Himaruya is angling for. The series chronicles personified forms of nations as they live out sulky melodramas set in the period of, and between, the World Wars (with intermittent references that cover everything from ancient history to modernity). Rather than heady political allegory, “Hetalia” offers two-fisted historical comedy that’s more Bishonen slapstick than “Animal Farm.” I’ve seen some critics call out “Hetalia” for its lunacy and lack of historical rigor but its that free play of historical reference and the manic possibilities of manga that delight me. The series never bends to expectations of one mode or style. The first issue will give you a good sense of this versatility. We’ve got allusions to the Congress of Vienna and a story with Italy trying to disguise itself as a “tomato crate fairy.” While these examples speak to the scope and silliness of “Hetalia,” there is a disarming sincerity in its quieter moments; perhaps a reason why “Hetalia” has built up such a devoted fan base.
History buffs, maniacs, soap opera fans. Have I got a series for you.
Tagged: Hetalia · reviews · TOKYOPOP
No Comments »