What They Say:
The Pictorians have arrived from deep in space. They also have dangly glow-balls on their heads, which is kinda cool, but still. The freaky aliens are using use their crazy rainbow-beam-thingy to paint everything on Earth the same color: white! See, now the title of the movie makes more sense, right? Anyway, if the Pictorians are to be stopped, the Allied guys and the Axis boys – plus some new characters, too – must set aside their differences, unite against their common foe, and hopefully get together for a sweaty workout to make sure they’re super-ready to save the world!
This limited edition comes with green Pictorian-bulb bandana.
The audio presentation for this feature is the same as the TV series releases in that we get the original Japanese mix in stereo encoded at 192kbps and the English mix in 5.1 encoded at 448kbps. The Japanese track handles the forward soundstage well as it shifts the characters dialogue around well and keeps it properly placed without any problems. There’s not a lot in the way of depth or anything really heavy here, but it’s an active soundstage that’s well played. The English mix bumps it up a bit with more volume being the main ingredient and a fuller sound overall with what feels like more impact and bass in a few scenes as well.
Originally released in 2010, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The film pretty much has the same look as the TV series so there isn’t that much of a stretch here and it generally comes across as a good looking show. The details when present are solid and the colors have a straightforward palette to them but there are also some standout moments as well. The show has a lot of quick bits of motion to it as we’ve seen before and those continue to hold up well and without any significant or all that noticeable issues. Colors and clean and solid throughout with no problems such as macroblocking but there are several instances of line noise that’s close to turning into cross coloration. Sometimes a scene just doesn’t turn out right when the camera pans over it.
The packaging for this release is a bit more than the norm but similar to what we saw with the TV series seasons in that we get the thin cardboard box to hold the single sized keepcase and the pack-in extra, which is a green bandana of the characters in chibi form. The slipcover and keepcase are both done up in the same design which is definitely appealing. The front cover has a lot of green for the background with the core cast of characters together there looking all serious, outside of Italy. The back cover is straightforward with a strip from top to bottom along the left that has the overall idea of the show and a look at the discs extras and production credits. The right side goes for the character artwork with a big shot of one of the characters while several smaller character shots are in the background. While there are no inserts included in this release, there is a reversible cover which has the core three Axis powers together along the left side while the right goes for the basic green background to it. It looks good overall and the packaging has a lot going for it.
The menu design for this release is rather basic with just a static screen filled with the Pictonians from one end to the other, which is definitely cute. There’s a white brush stroke through the middle which has the logo over it that looks good while the bottom has the navigation with a cute little Italy widget to it. It’s a simple menu but one that fits the show well and the music hits all the right notes as well. Submenus load quickly and the fonts are clean and large enough to read from a good distance as well, making them easy to use when you get to the more detailed extras section. The disc didn’t read our players’ language presets though and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.
This release contains a fair number of extras which is definitely appreciated. The first and definitely a very, very welcome one is an extensive series of liner notes that deals with both the real world aspects of many, many scenes in the film but also how they’re portrayed. It’s educational, but fun! The other big extra is a full length commentary track by the English production staff which has a lot to offer as well since they just have fun with it. They do provide some good stuff on what happens in the film, but it’s like having your very knowledgeable friends sitting in the room with you talking about it. They also include the original theatrical ending which has the Japanese text on the screen, which I definitely appreciated as well as the way it worked the scenes differently. We’re also treated to a clean version of it as well. Another good extra for fans of the Japanese cast has a twelve minute video piece from when the film premiered as they come out to talk with the audience. These are adorable things when you get down to the way the fans are about the actors and characters, much as the US fans are with many of the English actors for it. The English voice cast gets to add in a couple minutes of outtakes which I definitely was glad to see and it’s all rounded out with the trailer for the feature.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While I loved the first season of Hetalia with the Axis Powers phase, the second one with the World Series subtitle didn’t hit it quite as well. There were certainly a lot of laughs, but the show got too spread out with too many characters and lost its focus on the core characters that were the best of the lot. But there was fun to be had and the Axis characters did appear. With those two series, it was very easy to get into overall with its mild commitment of just five or six minutes an episode. Even when it ran a storyline over a few episodes, it often broke things up with other gags so you had plenty to like. In going with a full on feature, I had a lot of trepidation about it because, well, these are all short gag characters. Can they carry a movie?
The gist of the movie is very straightforward as an alien race has arrived on Earth in the present day and they’re turning people into what’s termed noppera. It’s a Japanese phrase which means a creature with no face. When Japan explains this, that turns a lot of the blame his way which is certainly comical. With a worldwide threat though, everyone has to work together to try and save mankind. Except that none of them are capable of working together in the slightest and it just leads to plenty fights as we’ve seen before. There is amusement however in that several look to America from the start because his movies kick ass and he’s always the hero. When others try and defend their moviemaking, it just goes horribly wrong. Italy does, however, get it all right when he says that his movies are all about Italians going to foreign countries and sleeping with women. Aliens can’t be that much different, right?
There’s a lot of problems that the gang faces individually as they see their nations reduced to facelessness. They’ve never been able to work together really well, but this challenge does get them to at least be on the same page. Which is amusing as they learn that the reason for the invasion is because the race, the Pictonians from the planet Picto, want the universe to be like them and Earth is ranked pretty low for a lot of reasons. And it’s very diverse so it makes for a good starting point in getting it to conform and show everyone else what they’re capable of. They get this not from the Pictonians themselves, of course, but from the alien that America knows. Tony, the hamburger eating and soda drinking old school looking alien.
With a movie like this, it really does get difficult to go through from a review standpoint similar to how the TV series was. It runs through so many different gags along the way and keeps to the anything can happen mentality that you just have to sort of roll with it. Having the core gang sneak aboard the Pictonian’s main ship is great, but it also goes on too long as well which leads to it feeling more drawn out. Which is something that Hetalia in long form can suffer from since we’re so used to short form storytelling for it. But the use of the core cast here is very strong as they work so many gags and jokes along the way that if you wait briefly, they’ll be moving on to something else that will make you laugh. Whether it’s Italy doing something stupid that ends up being important or America taking charge, it just keeps moving. And that can keep it pretty entertaining alone just to see where it will go next.
With a runtime similar to that of one of the seasons of the TV series, there’s definitely some fun to be had here but I’m somewhat conflicted about the show. It hits so many of the weird and absurd comedy moments that we often got with the series that it’s very appealing from that point of view. It also tries to have an overall storyline with the invading aliens and that does introduce a good bit of humor to it and a new dynamic as well that generally does work. The combination of the two is where it breaks down at times. The invasion storyline gets pushed to the background enough in favor of the other gags and subplots that it loses its importance. And yet when it does figure hugely, such as when the gang sneaks inside, it’s almost too much of that even though there are a lot of laughs. Part of it is the hard transition from short stories to longer ones and that it doesn’t connect well because of it as expectations are a hard habit to break. But there’s a whole lot to like overall and it’s definitely a great deal of fun when you really get down to it. With its focus on the big name characters as well, that just adds to it since they’re the ones I like to see, though I’m glad even Sealand got his time in the sun here.
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Outtakes, Historical Notes (The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia), Opening Day Announcement, Original Theatrical Ending, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 22nd, 2011
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.