I love this new blog feature on Wikia. Especially since it's a better way to air out random Hetalia or anime thoughts without pissing off a good chunk of my watchers or random people who "lose respect" for anyone who likes the series in any way.
One thing I love about the fandom is the "headcanon", in where individual fans can delve deep into what they think makes the characters tick, be it crack or serious with some historical backing or what would make sense to them for the characters. How nations live and die off, how human or inhuman they can be, whether they can reproduce or split off in any way, etc.
Then there is speculation as to what human issues would bug them, since they do have some indeterminate degree of humanity. To me, Italy Romano comes off very insecure deep down, even into his adulthood (though half of the time, he would be pissy and all "So what?" and the other half he'd be dwelling over it in anger). Even without slash or shipper goggling, he comes off as a character that you could read into as being quite...insecure around his own gender, with or without some "closeted" undertones in there. The headcanon about him being a "strong Catholic" insecure and at odds with himself and all the different beliefs kind of makes sense to me...well, if you want to read into him that deeply. He's not a happy and secure one, for sure.
Some Italy-haters will peg Italy Veneziano as "retarded" in their diatribes, but to me? He's "immature". Both of the Italies are, and they both have some degree of naivety to them. It's just that Romano is more of a cynic and closed up (yet also somewhat "open" in that insecurity XD), and Veneziano is the idealist and one who doesn't want to see the dark and just plain can't read the atmosphere. Both of them also seemed to hit puberty relatively late, and it doesn't help that they were stuck in their "child" bodies for so many centuries. If you look at how fast the others seemed to evolve, these guys definitely are stunted in comparison to their European neighbors. The unification wasn't a happy ending for them either, especially if you look into how the South suffered even afterwards (and continues to be less well-off than the Northern part to this day). The two probably do have a degree of inner maturity and self-awareness, we can see some of the latter in Romano as a child, but they don't use their brains when it comes to things like training or things that would be too much mental or physical exertion. As for the "gay" question...I think sexuality is one of those things that is complex as it is in real life, so if you even tried to wonder what it would be like for fictional nation-people, I think it would be a lot harder.
It's been a long source of debate if Veneziano likes Germany, or if he's just an over-affectionate bubblehead. I think it might be a bit of both, more in the latter, though Veneziano probably doesn't grasp all the different meanings of "love". So if we were talking the early WWII days when the GerIta dynamic seems to be at its peak, Italy would probably be "Ve~, of course I love Germany, what do you mean?" but not really have the same exact type of feeling for Germany. He's a lover at heart, yet he's got that naivety about him and just can't tell how Germany feels about him. I mean, look at "Buon San Valentino". That there pretty much shows what happens with the mixed messages and confusion the two have with each other (and Himaruya has teased us with the prospect of a continuation with that cliffhanger and unclickable "Next" button). If we go by Hetalia-canon, Ludwig didn't really have any friends or real feelings of happiness before then. And Feliciano is pretty much useless, so they kind of naturally fit together...well, so it would've seemed. But we all know how it ends, it's just a matter of how and when Himaruya will choose to show that bust-up (it's pretty telling that none of the "big" storylines have been updated since '07, and BSV was a '08 story as far as I know). Headcanon-wise, I'd say that if Veneziano wasn't cracked enough already from the strain of the wars, WWII is what pretty much devastates him by the end and leaves him a mess (along with most other nations). And then there is that decades-long gap in which Germany and Italy historically had no political relation at all (the European Coal and Steel Union isn't really counted as one). Others will use that to show how ridiculous it is to consider the two as being close in contemporary strips, though I think there's a little bit of a divide between Hetalia-canon and history at points to where it can go either way for fans. If anything though, the fact that Germany and Italy get shown together a bit in the contemporary strips is at least an indication that the characters are close as friends. Personally, I'd like to see the darker side and the bust-up explored in fanworks more, because it's an area that shippers don't seem to want to tread into...but I think that makes it all the more interesting. It's something that you have to handle carefully though, like with all the rest of WWII or any sort of dark part of history. There's the debate as to if Italy would forgive easily or not too. In my opinion, I don't see him being in a decades-long depression over it, though he would have that uneasiness as time passes and he's moving on in the world. In the contemporary strips, I think they've since made up, though I like it being up in the air and for fans to interpret how their dynamic is. Why explore it in only one way? It's kind of interesting that there haven't been any post-WWII era strips set before the '90s-00s ones with either character too. I'd love to see the Elysee Treaty portrayed, when it comes to Germany's side of the whole "Cold War" era. The WWI era is something that could have been explored a little more too for the European characters, but back then the series was only scripted as a oneshot. Perhaps Himaruya will eventually revisit that time period.
Italy definitely loves his pretty ladies, and probably got inspired a little by France (and his grandpa) in the admiration of beautiful things. I think it would be hard for him to seriously fall in love with anyone though, if we take the entire HRE/Chibitalia thing into account. The demise of HRE probably played more of a part in him cracking, and if we add in the "HRE=Germany" theory, it's just all the more troubling in the end (especially if Italy finds out in any possible BSV continuation. It seems to be early in WWII, so...). Hetalia is mainly a gag comic overall, so I wouldn't be surprised if not a lot comes in the continuation or if Himaruya decides to leave fans hanging with even more questions. It's true that it would be silly for Italy to still be pining after HRE after all that time, but I think it wouldn't be so much "pining" as it would be Italy not wanting to be hurt again with a serious attachment. I do want to see what kind of "happy ending" Himaruya has alluded to for Chibitalia and HRE though, it' s something that intrigues me.
As for Romano...sheesh, he's got the obvious issues. In reality, people with issues aren't usually gag-material or something to find so intriguing, since there are some folks that just...can't be reached (and certain "issues" are truly troubling). The abandonment complex-theory fits him well, especially if you want to even get historical and look around at how many hands that Southern Italy passed through. He never could get attached to anyone, and didn't want to. He probably deeply resented that his grandfather chose his brother to go on that trip, and it's canon that he felt inferior and unworthy due to his lack of natural talents. Then Rome fell soon after, and Germania sacked the place. Then with the "Italian Wars", both Italies were pretty much defeated and said to be left in a bloodbath as they raged on (all while physically small children D: ). He gets taken by Spain, and we all know how THAT goes. His teenage years are a mystery in the series so far, since we've only seen him as a teenager once in a back view. Fic idea-wise, history says that Spain lost South Italy in the "War Of Spanish Succession", and it wound up passed through Austria and then France (...no wonder Romano fears him). Unification wasn't easy, and then there's the fact that the South has suffered quite the natural disasters over time (earthquakes). The Southern Italian diaspora could be another factor to work with in fanworks too: Does he go to America for a while to check up on those people (as Lithuania did to represent the 1/3rd of Lithuanian immigrants after WWI), only to wind up having to return to his homeland out of the necessity? Or does he remain behind all that time?
We do know he likes the pretty girls too, but isn't successful at getting any (again, another factor that could play into that inferiority complex and temper he's got). Then there is Spain...and pairing-wise, it's a dysfunctional one on BOTH ends XD. Part of what makes it fun, yet also frustrating when fans simplify them down to Spain being just a "clueless idiot" and Romano being a "whiny needy uke" (ugh). Romano's loathing of Germans in general probably has to do with the fact that Germania killed his grandfather to start with, as well as finding them creepy. Then there's the "Protestant Reformation" . And in one strip for the canon side, it's shown that he thinks of Germans as all having bad physiology and thinks of them as stupid "bumpkins". Then there is the WWII side, where...yeah. The South didn't really like Germany, and it was the South that was pretty much the resistance movement by the end. I see Veneziano as the Salo Republic during the armistice period, if only because it just fits: He gets invaded and captured/taken prisoner and punished for it, and held hostage under German rule (it was the North that was this republic). He's eventually liberated...but by then he's in a wasteland and broken. Or maybe he had Stockholm Syndrome during the occupation and kept convincing himself that they would win and all would be fine again. Romano seems like he'd be the one to join the Allies too, as a way of trying to save his own ass without really doing anything on his own (and his brother's, though he wouldn't be that up-front) and as a way of sticking it to the "potato freak"...though it succeeds and backfires at the same time. I can see the theory that Romano was jealous of his brother for having someone to rely on, though that someone happened to be a person he hated and one that wound up causing more trouble for the both of them in the end. Romano would probably still feel like a failure to his grandfather, and undeserving of being named after him and being the one who lacks talent and luck.
One disturbing thing that I have seen Italy-haters use in their mostly shallow and idiotic arguments as a "reason" to hate him, though: The Italian war crimes in Africa. But if you're going to use THAT as a reason to hate a character, well...you might as well hate Germany for the obvious reasons, as well as Japan for what it did in history (though some fans already do). And the Allied nations don't really have clean records either, history-wise. I don't see Veneziano as being a pure innocent (or Romano for that matter), but none of the characters really would be, if you want to even go there. Europe was pretty bad to Africa before then, especially when it comes to the colonization and the "Scramble for Africa". The Belgian Congo? Yeeeahh. And Britain and France were also pretty notorious, to the point where some wank erupted on fandom_secrets about Hetalia over an England/UK character existing in the series, because "Britain raped Africa" and so they hated that a character existed for that nation.
In context of the series: No, I can't see the Italies maniacally gunning down people or mustard-gassing them all giddily and without care. It doesn't work that way for the comic, and if you think the controversy over the comic even existing is bad enough...WELL. It is even hard to picture that in fanfiction, with their given personalities (and there is already much debate on how Germany would or should be characterized in that era, when it comes to his "boss"). There is the possibility that they would be like the civilians who were ignorant of what was going on, or that Veneziano didn't bother to care as he was still all "As long as I win, I'll be happy and we can be a new Roman Empire if we win~" and not thinking of the full atrocities he was taking part in or watching (or not wanting to think about it). Yandere!Italy works for some types of fanart and story depending on the scenario, but it's hard to see Italy as a full-blooded yandere type. Hot-blooded and raging Romano works somewhat, but there's also the fact of him too being weak and cowardly to keep in mind. Mafia Romano would more than likely go for the "easy" hits like poisoning or drowning, or perhaps back-stabbing as long as it's quick, sharp, and he averts thy eyes (or has someone do it for him). Romano seems to be pretty aggravated by his own mafia too, since they order HIM around. They aren't too good for his economy either, but since he represents his people and they are his people too, I figure he'd have begrudgingly taken part in some of their dealings.
Another topic I've seen come up in debates: Do they really care for each other? From what we can see in-series, Veneziano can't really praise his brother and doesn't seem particularly close to him, and Romano has the combo of not wanting to acknowledge his brother yet being overprotective and jealous of him too. Some fans feel that their personalities were switched in-series, as Southern Italians are generally stereotyped as being the more lax and nicer ones, while the Northern Italians are stereotyped as being uptight and serious-minded (and good in business). Aside from the "laid-back vs. uptight" bit, I think the Italies do reflect at least part of their stereotypes: Romano is comparatively poor, he "lost his motivation to do anything", and doesn't really work from what we see (just sits about and eats), and Veneziano is the one who is good at trade and working. There is the debate as to if Veneziano despises his brother for being "inferior"-blooded and poor and holding him back, due to there being some anti-Southern sentiment in the north (prevalent in supremacy parties like Lega Nord). Is it that they only put on a face of being brothers, yet are actually unreachable? One interpretation is that they don't particularly care for each other at all, yet have to stick together and have to act as brothers as they would be completely useless on their own and unable to function. It's interesting to read the different takes.
Although the twins idea is a cute one and a common misconception that I had as well, I can't really see the two as being any sort of identical twin pair. It's said that the Japanese put higher priorities on "older" and "younger" brothers though, so that they could be some sort of twins. But even then, it's kind of hard to see. If anything, they'd fall into the fraternal twin category. Their differences are even more glaring in their original designs: Romano was taller, tanner, and had green eyes. Veneziano was the shorter one, lighter-skinned, and had gray eyes (that quickly turned brown). The amusing thing is that their original coloring plays into the North and South phenotypes: Southern Italians are generally the tanner ones and green eyes have a higher occurrence in the South, while Northern Italians tend to be lighter-skinned. Of course, this doesn't apply to all of them. But apparently it is the Southern ones who are shorter in height. The twin imagery-thing is cute, but I liked them having their own individuality in coloring and design. At least it seems like Himaruya is actually drawing Romano a little taller again, it looked like he was shrinking and de-aging in the "new look" strips. Little Romano seems to have permanently shrunk when it comes to the manga, as he used to be quite taller. It makes sense that Romano would be the older of the two, since Italia first started in the south of the peninsula and spread north. Their birthyear is another thing that's boggled over in fanon: Some set it as 285 AD when the Roman Empire first split, some set it as 395 AD (a more official split). But Italia existed as far back as the BC era, so would Romano have been around then too? Their birthday celebration corresponds with the unification of the Kingdom in 1861, though I have seen it suggested that perhaps the date for the Republic would be a better birthday, especially since Himaruya used the modern "Repubblica Italiana" in their profiles, including the old ones with the Kingdom flag.
Another thing that's forgotten when it comes to writings dealing with later WWII, is that Japan was pretty infuriated with the Italian armistice. So Italy's worst nightmare would actually wind up coming true, and it's thought that the nightmare sequence in "Pact Of Steel" was meant to be a sort of foreshadowing or reference to the eventual Axis split (though played a lot lighter and as a gag with chibi Italy fading away and being invisible to the other two, who see him as useless). Even though the nations did make up to an extent eventually, they never really signed a formal peace treaty, IIRC. So Hetalia-wise, I could see Japan as being kind of wary of Italy in the post-WWII years.
I do find both pairings of Germany/Italy and Spain/Romano fascinating in their own ways, not really for any smut factor but mainly because of these periods of history. I do subscribe to the "Germany is Holy Roman Empire" theory for the series, even if it's been pointed out that it wouldn't really be that way historically. Honestly though, the entire HRE ordeal is pretty complex. There were nations that existed on their own BEFORE being a part of it, so it's not like they just formed up out of nowhere after it dissolved. And with Belgium, it was also under control of Spain as the "Spanish Netherlands" and then under the control of Austria for a time. Maybe the reason why Himaruya has not tackled German history in such detail yet is due to that sheer complexity of the Empire, and all the little German states and kingdoms that merged with and succeeded each other over time. The Austro-Prussian War is a good example of "SO MANY GERMANICS". And then there is the renaming and rebordering of the Eastern states that happened with the GDR, but that's another topic for another time.
...I typed all this with quite the headache and some nausea going on. Egh.