Hetalia: Axis Powers is such a strange and addiction show. A short while ago I had the opportunity to check out the first season and to be perfectly honest, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a unique concept full of hilarious dialogue, zany antics, and loads of personality. I was won over and couldn't wait for the second season to come my way. That day has arrived, and I'm pleased say that the wait was worth it!
In case you missed out on my review of the first season, or just don't know what Hetalia is all about, let's catch you up to speed. The basic concept in this show revolves around the timeframe of World War II. Hetalia takes each of the nations of the world and presents them in the form of a singular person. For instance, Germany is a staunch militaristic guy, Italy is a goofy pasta loving nut, America is full of himself, England is pompous, France is fruity, and Canada, well...nobody cares about Canada anyway. With this in mind the show crafts a unique series of events together as the creators utilize their characters to examine history, as if reenacted by a group of guys.
In addition to the focus on World War II and events revolving around the Axis and Allied powers, Hetalia also broke off into a sub animation called Chibitalia. This featured some of Italy's history with Austria and the Roman Empire. It embodied the same concept, but featured chibi (small, disfigured) characters instead. The first season was also presented entirely on one disc, since each episode is only a few minutes in length. That same presentation and concept is running full force with the second season, and once again we receive a two disc set with all episodes on one disc, and bonus features on the other.
What's in store for the second season? Really it's more of the same. Germany and Italy are still working together with Japan, and the Allies are as dysfunctional as ever. What I'll say for this second installment is that the Allied forces really come into focus and receive the most attention, which was nice. Germany and Italy are still around, but they aren't anywhere near as prevalent as they were in the first season. They are a charming duo for sure, but I always enjoyed the series more when we get to see America and England bickering, France flaunting himself, and Canada being ignored.
As far as specific happenings this time around we get some Christmas time tossed into the mix, Italy's war diary comes to light, and we get to see some history for some of the nations, such as France and England. Japan and America spend some time together as well, and of course there's plenty of Chibitalia to go around. I don't want to spoil too much since this is a show that relies on gags to get its point across.
The bottom line is if you enjoyed the first season, you'll love what's available here. It's smart, funny, and addicting as anything. Oh, and this season also introduces some more female characters into the fold, which was a nice change of pace for the series. Consider it highly recommended!
Hetalia is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and an anamorphic presentation. The show is bright with vibrant colors and a style that's sloppy, yet refined. There's almost a watercolor-like nature to the show at times and it's a series that constantly changes its look. As far as the technical quality is concerned the show is presented well on DVD with little in the way of flaws. There's some light ghosting at times, though I can't quite tell if it's a matter of the way the show was animated or a byproduct of the transfer.
The audio here is solid as well with English and Japanese languages. Both dubs have something to offer, though really the Japanese dub with subtitles is almost too fast for its own good at times. Have fun trying to read some of the lines as Italy goes on a rant as fast as he cant. The English fairs a little better in that sense but it's a bit of give and take as the nations are given goofy accents. Both are worth listening to, however.
Once again the bonus features are presented on disc two. Included here are clean animations, trailers for other FUNimation releases, and audio commentaries for four episodes. The English cast is fun to listen to and they provide some additional laughs to the original material. On the Japanese side of things there is a discussion about the Hetalia movie, which was released in Japan in June, and three features that offer some dialogue between the direct and original voice actors. Specially marked retail packages also come with a limited edition bandana.
Hetalia: Axis Powers is a blast. The show brings a fresh concept, great wit, charming animation, and loads of personality to the table. The rapid fire rate of the episodes does grow a little tiresome (how many times do we have to see the opening and ending animation on a single disc?!?), but the payoff is totally worth the effort. You've never seen a show like this before and it's about as endearing as you can get. Hetalia is highly recommended in every way, and if you enjoyed the first season you probably didn't need me to tell you that.
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