16 Mar 2014

The Japanese: Nuked Too Much or Not Enough?

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Lithuania is the brunette; Poland the blonde female bishōnen.

So I was looking for an image of Poland-Lithuania to use with the previous posting, and searching images with Google I found countless examples featuring two cute adolescent anime-type girls, often depicted making out with one another. What in hell is that? say I, and I inevitably delve deeper.

With only a little research, I discover Hetalia: Axis Powers, a web comic later adapted into a manga and then an anime series by Himaruya Hidekazu.

The series consists of an over-the-top allegory of historical events with countries depicted as bishōnen characters exemplifying both positive and negative national stereotypes. The main cast is made up of the principal Axis and Allied Powers of WWII.

Wikipedia describes some examples:

Japan is a reclusive, painfully polite, and hard-working character. When he introduces himself to Italy, he says that his hobby “is to read the atmosphere of a conversation and answer in the least offensive way possible.” He has a habit of answering difficult demands with vague replies, such as “Perhaps next time”, “I’ll think about it”, and “I will try my best”. The answer for all of these means “No”. He seems to have a problem with others being in his personal space, for he gets uncomfortable if anyone touches him or gets too close. In the series, he is shown to be inexperienced with the Western world, and prone to culture shock. Having stayed in isolation for almost 300 years, he is also depicted as a “hikikomori”, and is shown to have holed himself in his room, under blankets for so long, that when Holland comes to warn him of America’s Perry coming, he states that he will “melt in the sunlight”. He looks young, but claims he is very old, he is in need of a mirror, and his character design features dark brown eyes and jet black hair. He often tries to adopt the cultures of other countries he meets such as France, but ends up secretly shocked or awkwardly confused in the end. …

America… is very hyper and headstrong but also an incredibly powerful and adventurous character who has a very strong and fixed sense of justice. As a child, he was found by Sweden and Finland. He is known to have Matthew Williams, known as Canada, as an adoptive brother. He is the ‘leader’ of the ‘Allies’ (much to the other Allied countries’ discontent), which consists of him, England, France, Russia and China. America’s catchphrase is “I’m the hero!”. His ideas for solving international problems are often absurd, but he is usually oblivious to the opinions of others. … America is a hamburger maniac, trying to eat burgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also seems to love milkshakes and drinks them frequently.

I had no trouble finding the manga and the television anime series on DVD at Amazon.

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