Plot Summary:Italy, once home of the strongest empire in the world, has changed. This is the story of Italy, now a cowardly pasta-loving fool, and his friends (other personified countries of the world) as they live through strange moments in world history. -Anime News Network
Once again, I can't elaborate on extras since I streamed this series, both on my PC and my phone, but I can tell you that it is quite possible to watch an entire twenty six episode season in just under an hour. That's right, each episode is just over five minutes long.
Hetalia: Axis Powers (or APH) is another one of those I've wondered what all the hype was about. So one day when I was under the weather, I logged onto Netflix and started watching. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed after watching the first six episodes, and almost moved onto something else. However, I decided to watch just one more episode and I am so glad I did.
So, for some reason APH is classified as a historical anime. In reality the events in this series are largely random, and consist mainly of the Axis Powers (Italy, Germany, and Japan) interacting with each other, and the Allies (America, Britain, Russia, China, France, and Canada).
Italy is a total airhead who obsesses frequently over pasta, and is quick to wave the white flag at the drop of a hat while wearing the expression of =D ninety nine percent of the time. Germany is a tough guy who tries (and fails to) teach Italy how to fight. However, Germany also has a soft side and pretty much ends up babysitting Italy. Then there's Japan who is, well, Japan. He's shy, soft spoken, and tends to be baffled by cultures outside of his own, especially that of America.
Okay. Now for the Allies. America is very self confident, self righteous at times, but otherwise sociable and caring. In season two, America has a pet alien. I'm guessing it's a direct reference to Roswell. Canada is portrayed as America's twin who, at his first appearance is portrayed as a ghost that no one can see, but can feel a presence in the room nevertheless. Canada has a pet polar bear that he talks to (since normally no one can see or hear Candida), except even the pet polar bear asks more than once "Who are you?" Britain is always well dressed, well mannered, and for some reason has funny looking eyebrows. The other countries frequently make reference to how awful and bland British food is, to which he obviously takes offense saying that it is better tan any other country's food. Oh and, Britain also acts as America's father figure, having raised America from a very young age.
Russia is a quiet, unassuming, and generally nice guy, until he starts talking about world domination (in a very nonchalant manner) which scares the hell out of France. And speaking of France, he makes a point to tell everyone else that he's better than they are because he's all about the good things in life, mainly art, wine, food, and of course women (or men if you take into account some episodes). In one episode, France happens upon Greece, who is digging through the rubble of, I believe, ancient Athens. Greece starts telling France that back in the day, participants in the Olympics did so completely naked. So France thinks this is a fantastic idea, and the next thing you know he is seen in his birthday suit in the middle of an arena. Britain happens upon this, much to his mortification mind you, and is immediately accosted by France who tries to get him to strip as well. After some struggle, and screaming from Britain, France gets hauled off to jail. :D Now about China. China has all sorts of resources. If he goes somewhere and wants to transform the area to something more to his liking, he has an army of cheap labor at his disposal, and they can build an entire city in seconds. This of course leaves the other countries bewildered whenever this happens. In fact, Germany, Italy, and Japan spend quite a few, non consecutive episodes on what they think is an isolated tropical island with no inhabitants...until Italy shows up eating pot stickers. Naturally Germany and Japan ask where in the world he got them, so Italy takes them for a short walk through the forest where they find China who tells them the island is his vacation home.
And those are just the main characters. There are others too, such as Austria, Belarus (Russia's younger sister who is intent on marrying her older brother), Ukraine (Russia's older, poverty stricken sister who never has money for the gas bill and is always apologizing-and who has enormous...assets) just to name a few.
It's hard to properly convey how comical APH really is in words. The majority of the comedy is very slapstick, focusing on facial expressions, various dialect stereotypes (for instance Japan not being able to pronounce words containing the letter "retter" L). There's also a lot of reading, which I am certain is done on purpose so as to be annoying because the text more often than not takes up half of the screen. The animation is pretty standard, and I believe that is also intentional. If I remember correctly, at one point it is actually commented on by one of the characters.
All that said, Hetalia: Axis Powers is definitely worth watching. However, I must caution that there is a lot of bad language and sexual themes, along with heavy doses of blatant stereotyping. Anyone who is easily offended needs to stay as far away from this as possible. Otherwise, it is highly possible to laugh until you're literally in tears. So far there are two seasons of APH, but hopefully there will be a third if the information I've read is correct. In the manga and drama CD there are a ton of other personified countries that have stories to tell.
Due to the MA rating of this series, the embed video code at YouTube has been disabled, so I am instead linking to episode one at ANN, sub and dub. Concerning the differences between the two, it seems that the sub is a bit more toned down than the dub as far as language, however the characters tend to talk over each other, so for me reading the subs was almost impossible.