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Hetalia World Series Collection 1 UK Anime DVD Review

5 min read

What They Say:
The boys are back in town – Austria’s got problems than no-one seems able to help him with, Romano’s relying on Boss Spain to fend off France’s advances, and America’s planning his Christmas party. Just another day in the wacky world of Hetalia

The Review:
Audio:
Audio comes in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 versions – I listened to the Japanese track for this review. There aren’t many excuses in the series to give the soundstage a proper workout, to be honest, with dialogue being the order of the day and just spot effects to liven things up. It’s clean and clear, though, with no obvious encoding problems.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen format. The show’s visual style is heavy on the pastel colours and deliberately soft-focus, which means that by design it’s not the best-looking series out there. It’s a style that suits the series, though, and with there being no apparent encoding defects there’s nothing to complain about.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
While the ED song plays, we get an image of the three lead boys messing around on the right of the screen, while options down the left side are provided for Play All, Episodes, Extras and Setup.

Extras:
We can’t complain about being shafted on the extras front, that’s for sure. There are three episode commentary tracks, for episodes 1, 4 & 6; “The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia”, a text extra which highlights some of the historical events that feature in the show; video footage of several Hetalia fan events; a dub outtakes reel; creditless versions of the two ending sequences used in this set; and the English-language trailer. Should keep you going for a bit…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chibi Romano has a bad dose of the tsundere attitude about him – he really can’t stand Boss Spain, but when a very perverted France just won’t go away (and when Turkey tries to invade), there’s only one person he can turn to. Speaking of invasions, Austria’s having to deal with several, and when England proves to be nothing more than a fair-weather friend (one sight of the enemy and England heads back home) Austria has to accept help from the cute, eager but potentially yandere Hungary. And already I’m using too many -dere words in this review. Meanwhile, Holy Rome and Chibitalia continue to be confused by each other, Japan tries to get his head around America’s ideas for a Christmas party, Finland and Sweden go travelling and meet Estonia and Latvia, and England catches a cold.

And that’s but a small part of what happens in these 20-something episodes of Hetalia World Series. The “World Series” part comes from this season’s efforts to drag more countries into the mix, which has two main side effects: first, there are even more characters to deal with, which isn’t necessarily a good thing when I had enough trouble keeping track of them already; and second, the show’s short episodes become even more fragmented, with individual scenes / gags flashing past almost before you get your head around what’s happening. I gave up trying to keep up, and eventually just went along with the flow. Which helps, but can’t really overcome the show’s weaknesses.

I’m no real fan of Hetalia – for something pitched as a comedy, it generally leaves me completely cold. Never mind the five-laugh-rule, it has a hard time raising one with me, and the first two seasons hovered somewhere between tedium and frustration with me. This season also suffers from a flaw that first appeared in season two – with the big historical events out of the way, the show’s having to focus on more and more obscure countries and events to lampoon. There’s a law of diminishing returns kicking in here, which makes the future for the 4th season (and potential 5th now being talked about) look rather bleak.

It’s not for lack of wanting to like it, either – the idea behind the series is pure genius. But the way it’s executed leaves me more wanting to, well, execute the characters than watch them for too long at a time. Yes, there are some small highlights, but mostly I just don’t get either the show’s humour, or the way it’s managed to gain the cult following that it has. Maybe I’m just not “with it” anymore.

In Summary:
I know and accept that plenty of people love Hetalia, and with this being more of the same formula, fans of the earlier seasons will likely want this too. I still don’t get it, though, and as a result couldn’t recommend it.

Features:
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 5.1, Episode Commentaries, The Hidden History Hidden Within Hetalia, Hetalia Fan Event and the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2010, Hetalia Event in Tokushima (Parts I & II), Fan Event, Outtakes, English Trailer, Textless Closing Song “Marukaite Chikyuu”, Textless Closing Song “Hata Futte Parade”.

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: July 23rd, 2012
Running Time: 115 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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