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Hetalia Axis Powers: Paint It, White! UK Anime DVD Review

5 min read

The boys of Hetalia are back, and instead of arguing with each other, they’ve got alien invaders to deal with. Which involves them dressing up in white suits that make them look uncomfortably like something unmentionable…

What They Say:
The Pictonians 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..!

The Review:
Audio comes in Japanese stereo and English 5.1 surround versions – I listened to the Japanese track for this review. It’s a fairly standard, serviceable stereo mix, with decent placement on dialogue and effects, but equally there’s nothing about it that really merits getting too excited about. Gets the job down, with no obvious encoding problems.

Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect. While this is a theatrical release, you’d have a hard time telling it, as it looks pretty much identical to the TV series – not particularly rich on color or detail – but then Hetalia has a fairly distinctive look, and not messing with it makes sense. There were no apparent encoding problems.

No packaging was provided with our review copy.

The main menu is a simple static screen, with the hordes of Pictonians providing a backdrop to the movie logo and options for Play, Scenes, Setup and Extras. A suitably military-sounding theme plays in the background. There are no transition animations, so it’s all quick and easy to use.

There’s a good load of extras here. First up is the redundantly-named “The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia”, a set of text liner notes that explain the real-world history behind many of the scenes in the movie. You would need to be a true history enthusiast to spot most of these, so it’s well worth reading. Next up is “The CAPSLOCK Commentary”, a full commentary track for the movie with the English dub production staff. There are also version of the theatrical closing sequence (with and without Japanese credits), “Opening Day Stage Greetings” (a 12-minute video of the movie’s cast meeting fans at the Japanese premiere, FUNimation’s English-language trailer, and finally a set of dub outtake scenes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The world is becoming over-run with faceless beings, beings with bright green lights dangling from their heads. They’re the evil Pictonians, here from another world to take over ours. Such an invasion places Allies and Axis in an unusual position – being forced to work together to defeat the alien menace. Which you just know isn’t going to work too well – sure enough, when Hero America tries to take charge, the other nations stand up and walk out, determined the save the world their own way. But sooner or later, they’re going to have to swallow their pride…

Paint It, White! is a strange beast. It’s a theatrical version of Hetalia – and if you’re thinking that converting a series of web shorts to a movie is a tricky thing, you’d probably be right. So the producers of this one haven’t really tried, with the “movie” instead being presented as a running montage of typically-Hetalia shorts – every few minutes the Hetalia logo will pop up on screen, and the movie moves on to the next segment. It’s a bit like watching one of the series DVDs in one sitting – which didn’t work so well for me.

This way of presenting things means that, while there’s ostensibly a running story for the movie to deal with, it doesn’t stick to just that – there are as many little segments that play to the usual Hetalia have-fun-with-national-stereotypes, and have little or nothing to do with the Pictonians storyline, as there are segments that do, so it all feels very disjointed as you work through it. There are a number of new nations introduced to the mix along the way as well, giving you additional things to “get” along with the main story & what the main characters are doing there. It’s too much to jam together, and doesn’t really work.

The Pictonians don’t really work for me, either. Coming from a monochrome world and determined that the rest of the universe will see things their way, they’re quite literally painting the world white (hence the title), and turning humans into what for all the world look like walking sperm with little green lights on their heads. With the boys having to infiltrate the Pictonian flagship to release the humans captured there, they naturally dress up in similar outfits – by which point I was openly wondering what the hell I was watching, and what the movie was trying to do. In the end, it runs into more poking of fun at national stereotypes, as the boys try to convince the alien invaders that the Earth, with its myriad of difference experiences and peoples, is far more interesting than any monochrome world. A noble message, to be sure, but it would’ve been nice to have had some fun while getting to it. In case you hadn’t guessed, I didn’t.

In Summary:
Now, I’ll admit that even with the original series, I never “got” Hetalia – I can’t deny that it seems to tickle the funny bone of plenty of people, judging by its online fanbase, but it has never tickled mine. In that respect, then, Paint It, White! entirely lived up to (or down to) my expectations of it, failing to get even a giggle out of me at any point and thereby failing the 5-laugh comedy test. If previous outings did tickle your funnybone, then fire away – this is more of the same style of humour, and should work for you. But overall, I can’t find it in me to recommend this.

Japanese Langauge 2.0, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia, Hetalia: The CAPSLOCK Commentary, Original Theatrical Ending, Textless Theatrical Ending, Opening Day Stage Greetings, “Paint It, White!” Trailer, Outtakes.

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: 18 June 2012
Running Time: 78 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen

Review Equipment:
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37” widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-22 5.1 speaker system.

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