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Axis Powers Hetalia (also referred to as Hetalia: Axis Powers) is a webmanga by Hidekaz Himaruya, that began as a oneshot in 2006 on his website Kitayume. It was spun off into a full webcomic in late 2006 and has been adapted into print form, several drama CDs, and an anime series.
The series involves anthropomorphic representations of the world's nations, with the main storyline taking place in WWI and WWII, though there are stories set in earlier and more modern eras. The series is named for the main character Italy, with "Hetalia" being a portmanteau of the words hetare (useless) and Italia.
During WWI, Germany, in search of the heir to the empire of Ancient Rome, finds Italy hiding in a crate and takes him as a captive. After living with him to the start of WWII, Italy takes it upon himself to become Germany's ally. The two are soon joined by Japan, though the three wind up having to deal with the arrival of the Allied Forces: America, England, France, China, and Russia.
Main article: List of Axis Powers Hetalia characters
The Hetalia series is notable for its large, colorful cast of characters. Each of the characters represents a nation, complete with the stereotypes attributed to it. The original webcomic initially focused on the nations of the Axis Powers vs. the Allied Forces, with the cast quickly expanding to include others.
Most of the earlier cast members have a "human name" in addition to their nation name, though they were never used in the actual series or profiles. They were first given to the characters by Himaruya when a fan requested alternate names to refer to the characters by, out of curisosity as to what their "normal" names would be. It is rumored that this question was asked due to Japanese fans' worries of controversy over pairing the characters with their nation names, but the true motive remains a source of debate.
Despite never being used in canon (aside from select characters' names getting brief mentions in the April Fools' 2008 summary and America's name "Alfred" being mentioned in a throwaway line in one strip), the alternate human names stuck with the characters until early 2008, when Himaruya deleted his old update logs from the previous year. Characters created after 2007, later in that year, or that were not mentioned in the original name listing, do not have any sort of official human name to refer to them by and are only known by their nation names. It remains to be seen if Himaruya will ever do an updated version of the name list.
Himaruya also gave most of the characters "human ages", as a fan asked how old the characters were supposed to look, but this detail was mostly dropped as well. However, some later-personified nations (such as Iceland) do have an age listed for them in their character designs.
Original Web Version
Main article: List of Axis Powers Hetalia chapters (webcomic)
The entire series so far includes five chapters of the main storyline, a bonus story (Chibitalia), and several side stories and "comic diary" strips by Himaruya. The main storyline takes place in the eras of WWI and WWII, with the Chibitalia storyline and some of the side-stories focusing on eras outside of that time.
The "Lost" Strips
Main Article: Lost strips of Axis Powers Hetalia
There are also strips of the original webcomic that no longer exist on the main Kitayume site or any other place, outside of fans having saved the artwork while it was still up. However, a good deal of the artwork was not permanently deleted, but simply hidden in the site files.
One notable series of lost strips happen to be pages of a sequel to the fanservice-themed "Christmas Rampage 2007", which wound up salvaged and scanlated. In the sequel, a crossover with two other Himaruya-created series occurs as the nations continue to celebrate Christmas.
An unfinished dating sim project by Himaruya, it takes place in an alternate universe where the cast members are all in their teens and attend the multicultural World Academy W. A short demo was released in January 2007, but the game was never actually completed in its online form.
The game featured the first appearance of Seychelles, as a new transfer student at the school. Italy, China, Japan, France, and England also appeared in the demo, while other characters appeared in concept images for the game (which were later removed from the site).
A commercial PSP version of the game is slated for release in late 2010. The commercial version has considerable differences in plot and characters from the original game, though Seychelles is still the player character.
Main article: List of Hetalia: Axis Powers chapters (published manga)
A print version of the manga by Gentosha Comics was released in 2008, and has been collected into six volumes so far. The published version differs somewhat from the original online strips, with several events being retold or redrawn for better quality. New strips exclusive to the volumes were also included. Some scenes have also been cut or edited from the originals for content (i.e.: Holy Roman Empire kissing Chibitalia in the "Chibitalia" arc).
The first volume was released on March 17, 2008, with the second volume being released on December 10, 2008. While only one version of the first volume was released, the second came in both a standard and a deluxe edition. The deluxe edition came with a special booklet containing various sketches of the characters, including preliminary designs for them, and was released on December 12, 2008. A third volume was released on May 21, 2010, during Japan's Golden Week holiday. The fourth volume (in two versions) was released in Japan on June 30, 2011, the fifth volume on July 31, 2012, and the sixth on October 31, 2013.
The published version of the manga uses a slightly different order for the title, instead referring to the series as Hetalia: Axis Powers (a change which carried over to the anime and some of the related merchandise). Since the release of the first volume, all volumes have been released in two editions: the standard edition and a special edition.
- The Polish-language release of the manga by Studio JG retains the original APH order for the title. The first volume of the published manga was released on November 13, 2009, second volume in late-May 2010, and the third volume is expected to be released in the fall.
- This translation is notable for changing Poland's birthdate from July 22nd (the date of foundation of the communist People's Republic Of Poland ) to November 11th (the date that Poland regained independence after WWI).
- Hungarian editions of volume 1 followed on May 22, 2010, with the Czech editions in early-mid 2010
- Volume 1 of the English edition (via Tokyopop) is set to release on September 28, 2010.
- Licensed by d/visual taipei, the first international releases of volumes 1 and 2 happened for China and Taiwan, though the Chinese edition of volume 2 is controversial for some changes to the text, such as giving China the birthday of October 1 (foundation of the People's Republic), while changing Taiwan's profile to describe her as a "part of China".
There have been seven drama CDs released for the series so far:
- Hetalia Drama CD: Prologue, released as a Comic Market 74 exclusive on August 15, 2008.
- Hetalia Drama CD: Volume 1, released on October 24, 2008.
- Hetalia Drama CD: Prologue 2, released as a Comic Market 75 exclusive on December 29, 2008.
- Hetalia Drama CD: Volume 2, released on June 3, 2009.
- Hetalia Drama CD Interval Vol.1: The CD Of The Awesome Me, released as a Comic Market 76 exclusive on August 15, 2009.
- Hetalia Fantasia, released on August 27, 2009 (as a special mail-order gift to subscribers of Comic Birz).
- Hetalia Drama CD Interval Vol.2: Boss CD, released on July 7, 2010(delayed).
The first two CDs feature the Axis Powers, Austria, and the Allied Forces, with the absence of China, who wasn't cast at the time. Instead, Lithuania is included in the main cast. China however, did make his debut in Prologue 2 along with Hungary.
Axis Powers Hetalia: The CD
Main article: Axis Powers Hetalia: The CD
An earlier, independently-produced drama CD is known to have been in existence, though details on it remain somewhat sketchy. It is said to have been produced sometime in 2007, during the same time as Gakuen Hetalia, and was distributed in limited quantities the following year, by mail-order and at a doujinshi event in Osaka.
A select amount of characters made appearances on the CD, including:
- North Italy/Italy (Veneziano)
- South Italy/Romano (Lovino)
- Ancient Rome
The CD also marked the debut of two new characters: Cyprus and his younger brother, the Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus. Germania is also mentioned for the first time in the CD, identified as "Germany's father". The seiyū for England and France, who did not reprise their roles in the commercial CD adaptations, had previously voiced the characters in Gakuen.
Main article: Hetalia: Axis Powers (anime)
An anime adaptation of Axis Powers Hetalia (using the Hetalia: Axis Powers title) was announced in July 2008, and premiered on January 24, 2009 on Animate.TV. It was originally scheduled to air on Kids Station, but was pulled from the lineup due to "various circumstances". The first season ran 26 episodes.
On April 15, 2009, it was announced that a second season of the Hetalia anime was in production, to be released in the summer. Season 2 also ran 26 episodes, and immediately began airing on Animate.TV following the completion of the previous season. A third season was announced on December 10, 2009, and is set to premiere in March 2010.
Though they had previously passed on licensing the series during the first season, FUNimation Entertainment announced their acquisition of the Hetalia anime on January 8, 2010.
Main article: Hetalia: Axis Powers: Paint it, White
On September 24, 2009, a movie adaptation of the anime (entitled Paint it, White) was announced on Gentosha Comics' site. It remains to be seen what the movie will cover, though it was stated that it would be an original story featuring the Axis and Allies, along with Sealand, Iceland, Prussia, and other characters. It is 70 minutes long and was released on June 5, 2010.