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World War Countries Recast as Manga Pretty Boys in ‘Hetalia: Axis Powers’

The word for “Hetalia: Axis Powers” is “absurd.” In the popular webcomic series turned print manga by Hidekaz Himaruya, World War I and II-era countries are personified as generally dim-witted pretty boys (and a few girls), with personalities based on modern stereotypes of those countries.

So, America spends all his time eating cheeseburgers, Japan loves models and robots, and Italy loves, er, pasta. “Hetalia” is a heinously, or maybe hilariously, politically incorrect gag strip with a tremendous fan following, a comic that takes the events of the two World Wars and warps them through a funhouse mirror. “Hetalia” was just recently released simultaneously on ComiXology’s digital comics software and in stores nationwide, and to give you a taste of the complete weirdness of the series, we’ve assembled 8 of the most absurd moments from the first volume of “Hetalia.”Japan has been pumping out cute personifications of everything under the sun for years now, like OS-tans — cute versions of every operating system from Linux to Windows XP — and Afghanis-tan, which turned Afghanistan, Pakistan, and their neighboring countries into personified characters for a more or less factual version of the conflicts in those areas over the years.

Now “Hetalia” has decided to tackle World War I and World War II in a similar vein, and while irreverent takes on World War II are no big deal — “Hogan’s Heroes” just recently had its 45th anniversary, after all — something about “Hetalia” is weirder than most. Maybe it’s the way the screwball comedy plays out, the often rough art, or the way it kind of loosely adheres to history, but there’s definitely something strange about “Hetalia.”

1. Breaking News: Italy Loves Pasta

Hetalia Axis Powers

That’s it, honestly. He likes pasta.

2. Russia Is Totally Heartless

At a meeting of world nations, Russia’s heart actually plops onto the table in front of everybody. The others react with horror. I mean, seriously — a heart? What is THAT about? For Russia, it’s no big deal. These things happen, I guess.

3. America Is Really Petty About Marshmellows

When England and America come upon the Axis countries hanging out at a campfire, they lean in to spy on them. Rather than discussing war or expansion plans, Italy, Germany, and Japan are busy making roasted marshmallows and chit-chatting. America, of course, is sent into a blind rage by this. The Axis countries are clearly taunting England and America, and the only thing to do is to… make roasted marshmallows of your own?

4. Japan: World Leader in the Field of Giant Robots

No jokes here–this one is awesome. A giant robot U-Boat is fantastic.

5. Nobody Cares About Canada

At the meeting of nations, America, France, England, China, and Russia feel a strange presence. Is it a ghost? No, it was just Canada, eager to be acknowledged.

6. Living in Japan is Pretty Much Like Playing “Final Fantasy”

Have you ever been to Tokyo? I went a couple years ago, and let me tell you, the constant pop-ups showing your new stats after gaining a level went from awesome to annoying in a flash.

7. Italy Is Stupid. Both of Them.

Italy Veneziano is the representation of Northern Italy and a member of the Axis powers. He’s loud, dumb, clumsy, pasta-obsessed, a coward, and an all around pain in the neck to his partner Germany. South Italy, also known as Italy Romano, is tougher, at least on the surface, but equally as dumb. He hates Germany, at least until Germany is needed for protection.

8. America Is Confused About Geography (And Google Maps)

Back in the olden days of 2007, there was an Easter Egg in Google Maps. If you were to chart a path from, say, the United States to Germany, Google would give you very reasonable directions to the coast of America and then tell you to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Now it has been immortalized forever in the pages of “Hetalia.”

If you want a concentrated dose of “Hetalia” to see what we mean, you can download the teaser app for your iPhone or iPad or visit Youtube to check out one of the fifty-six legally streaming episodes of “Hetalia: Axis Powers.”

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