Hetalia goes through more countries now, and whilst we do get our usual fun with the Axis and Allies, they seem to be subdued for the most part in its usual brand of comedy and information…you’ll be the judge whether that is a good or a bad thing.
What They Say :
The awesome international incidents never stop in Hetalia World Series! All your fave Allied and Axis boys are back, and they’ve brought a bunch of new guys to the party. You like to party, right? Duh. Feel the tension build as Prussia plots an invasion of Austria’s happy little place. Try on a codpiece! Share in Spain’s pain as he does his best to look after little Romano. Run with stampeding kittens! Swoon at the awkward new bromance blossoming between Japan and Greece. Eat a yummy churro! Listen and learn as France teaches Italy about the birds and the bees. Avoid Sealand! Cheer as America befriends space aliens and whales. Truly, no matter whose flag you fly, it’s about to get all SQUEE up in here. Like, big time.
The Review :
I watched the release in both English and Japanese with the infamous English dub being as…well, infamous as ever. (Again, you decide if that’s good or bad, personally, I love it) The English is in 5.1 whilst the Japanese is in 2.0 – never had many issues regarding the transition with audio to subtitles, no lag time in either language and always at a good enough level without needing to resort to turning up the sound to max. The visual aspect as also fine, the animation is never the best in Hetalia but it’s clear, it’s concise, there were no problems with any laden issues when you pause the show or in general, a standard good release.
The menu is very basic, we get a shot of Sweden, Finland and Iceland on the main menu with a horizontal line with the selection of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras, with the extras menu having to scroll down and making your selection there. Again, no issues regarding selection or slowdown whether on the menu or to return to the menu whilst watching the show, another good release.
Hetalia surprises us with this release with a ton of extras, which last almost as long as the actual show. We get English episode commentaries for 5 of the episodes (which in total is the same length as a full episode of a regular anime show) – we get episode 26 with Jamie Marchi (director, writer and voice of the narrator), Chris Bevins (Japan) and Eric Vale (America/Canada…pretending to be Todd Haberkorn and making pot jokes at ‘Eric’), episode 32 has the cast fawn over the Nekotalia kittens, with Scott Sega (director), Todd Haberkorn (N. Italy) and Ian St. Clair (writer) – episode 36 has John Burgemier (Switzerland) and Chris Bevins (Japan) talk about the infamous Switzerland/Japan dance scene (trust me, you’ll know it soon enough), Michael Tatum (France) and Scott Freeman (Britain) talk about episode 41…and codpieces (again, you’ll see) – and lastly we get Eric Vale back as himself this time with Clareen Harp (China) on episode 45 as Clareen cracks up on certain lines she had to say…to say it’s silly is an understatement but considering the dub of Hetalia, you had to expect it – the discussion about the Switzerland/Japan scene being my favourite as the producers knew what was coming and had to keep quiet considering just how over the top it is…
The next segment is a section called The Hidden History Of Hetalia which has been consistent with all of the releases since Season 1 – where you get to learn various facts and historical knowledge that the episodes speak of. These can range from in this release, facts about the Spanish Civil War, origin of National Foundation Day in Japan, stereotypes about Japan’s diet, Germany and beer, China’s age of discovery, Iceland being sold off on eBay, the story of how Italian gondola’s became to be…and food portion sizes between Japan and the US. Very varied and both educational…and silly at times.
We get some dub outtakes, which are predictably silly whether it’s discussing tomato vaginas, trying to be Scottish or doing Scooby Doo impressions. We also get the Chibitalia and America’s Cleaning Storage segments back to back so it all runs together rather than in cut bits in the original series in both languages.
We also get stuff for fans of the Japanese, as we get a segment called Hetalia in Taiwan where we get Italy’s seiyuu (Daisuke Namikawa) in Taiwan for a fan event. We get a lot of fun in him travelling there, ranging from stuff like being surprised by the amount of bikes, trying to learn Chinese, his reaction to the Taiwanese fans, signing autographs, talks about Taiwan in the manga/CD, (a female nation who hasn’t appeared in the anime yet) going to an Animate in Taiwan, and his reaction to a Taiwanese shaved ice place (the man likes his sweets)…
We next get a fan event in Roppungi, where we get Katsuyuki Konishi (America/Canada) and Masaya Onosaka (France) hosting a crowd of fans before the premiere of Axis Powers Paint It, White – the two of them doing live commentary (sadly don’t get to see any of it, just the aftermath) do topics after it , their opinions on France and America, America losing his voice, doing Italy impressions and their fave characters(from the extras here, I conclude most of the Japanese seiyuu have a crush on Hungary…both the character and the actress)
Still more on the Japanese side, we get a special talk between Bob Shirahata (Director) and Hiroki Yasumoto (Germany)- a 20 minute long looking back on the series looking at the fun and challenge of performing, favourite characters(Hungary again a favourite – seems the girls are more popular in Japan as Liechtenstein is also mentioned who doesn’t appear in this volume) about recording, talking about the other projects, the movie and how the story was from scratch and fans both in Japan and from outside Japan.
Next we have a segment called ‘Draw a Circle, That’s the Comment Corner’ which is just some quick comments from four of the seiyuu about their characters, the movie and the celebration of Hetalia airing on a Japanese TV channel, so we get four plugs from Daisuke Namikawa (Italy) –Hiroki Yasumoto (Germany) Hiroki Takahashi (Japan) and Noriaki Sugiyama (England/Britain). We also get an interview after the Hetalia movie premiere, Japan, Italy, Germany and Bob Shirahata(Director) gathering thoughts on the people’s reactions with some comic bantering between the group. Finally, we get the cleaning versions of both ending songs and also a full length music video of the full opening of Marukaite Chikyuu sung by North Italy in Japanese.
In short, a lot of extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hetalia is one of those shows which easily falls into the love or hate regime. A very popular series (with myself actually cosplaying a couple of times from it) which historians roll around in their graves (before realizing that a lot of the facts are right…just the way the countries are represented is what scares them) combined with a dub which really pushes the boundaries with accents and certain jokes, Hetalia is another one of those series that everyone has at least heard of, if not seen at least one of the episodes. Season 4 is a bit odd compared to the previous series, where they actually focus less on the main characters and expand to giving other countries a shot in the spotlight, and it works for both better and worse in respects.
We get some interaction with countries you haven’t seen together for example, my favourites being the flashbacks with Hungary and Prussia. Hungary is quite a fan favourite in Japan because of a combination of being a cute girl with badass ninja maids and is also rather fond of men being with men so to speak. Prussia, is this lonely badass brother of Germany who always says he’s awesome but you feel he has sparks of loneliness. Their arcs are basically the start of seeing Hungary actually thought she was a boy in her younger days and during a fight with Turkey, Prussia who also thought this, gets an eyeful when he tries to help her (in his own way). It leads to a rare soft moment from Prussia, and the change of character as people may think Hungary becomes more womanly, but yet she still retains her badass character even when she becomes a maid for Austria. Both Hungary and Prussia get other episodes away from each other, my favourite being Prussia actually in shock that his brother Germany refuses to drink beer as compensation for making Japan eat less salty foods.
We also get the rest of the Nordics involved in a few skits – we’ve seen Finland and Sweden in previous volumes, but now we get Norway, Denmark and Iceland involved. Iceland is probably my favourite as he gets some snarky moments, whether it’s trying not to admit that Norway is his brother, ignoring Sealand as he tries to get cocky over him during their infamous ‘selling on Ebay’ stunts, or just eating food with his pet puffin whilst the other Nordics are at work. We also get a new segment called ‘Nekotalia’ which is basically the countries as talking cats. Personally I didn’t enjoy these segments as much as the regular show or the Chibitalia ones, for me it felt filler. Was cute but not too funny personally, but again, some parts of Hetalia will work better than others. We also spend some time with Spain and Romano (which leads to the brief debuts of Belgium and The Netherlands – Belgium was very fun), and Lithuania starting to get a bit more badass as he’s fed up of being picked on back in the Teutonic Knights era.
The main characters all get involved in certain skits as well – along with the aforementioned Germany/Japan refusing to eat/drink their favourite foods for health reasons, we get among other things, the infamous England/Germany football match during World War II, exploring with China, America in shock over the small portions of Japan’s large fries along with their policies on whaling, and the one everyone remembers, Japan thinking Switzerland would be more like the stories of Heidi than a gun slinging badass. Basically, as per Hetalia, a lot of the shorts are going to work and a lot don’t. There were some really nice ones (the Germany/England peace match and Chibitalia being actually a good boss when sorting the size of the gondolas back when they originated) but as always with Hetalia, they all cut away to something completely different and a completely different time or epoch. It can be distracting at times but if you’re used to Hetalia by now, you are used to the way it does things.
As always, you can see why this show is a love or hate it. Watching the English dub is another polarizing point because they went with the accents and some infamous changes of script, which are either incredibly hilarious or very annoying and offensive, depending how seriously you take it. That said, I really enjoy Hetalia in both languages and am able to laugh at it quite well as it is genuinely funny. A lot of the moments are fortunately more hit and miss, and whilst the fact a lot of the main characters don’t appear as much (Russia was very noticeably missing a lot from this volume), it’s still a solid release, and fans of a number of the more popular underdog characters like Prussia, Lithuania and Hungary (as well as debuts for some of the Nordics, Hong Kong, Belgium, Netherlands and even Seychelles who came from the Gakuen Hetalia games) will bring a smile to many Hetalia fans.
If you go into Season 4 of Hetalia blind you will probably be a bit confused and whilst you can slowly get into what it’s saying, you may not enjoy it as much. If you are a fan of the Allies and Axis, this volume might be a bit weak. However, a lot of the comedy does work still, the fact we get to see other characters involved a lot more is quite fun, and if you were a fan of Hetalia anyway, this will keep you entertained. Overall a solid release to the Hetalia franchise.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, The Hidden History Of Hetalia, Outtakes, Chibitalia (back to back episodes of the Chibitalia shorts in one full story), America’s Cleaning Storage (back to back episodes of the America’s Cleaning Storage segments in one full story), Hetalia Event In Taiwan, Fan Event In Roppungi, Special Talk Between Bob Shirahita and Hiroki Yasumoto, Draw A Circle; That’s The Comment Corner, Interview After The Hetalia Movie Premiere, English Trailer, Marukaite Chiykuu Full Song performed by North Italy, Textless Closing Songs of Marukaite Chikyuu and Hate Futte Parade
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: 10th December 2012
Running Time: 140 minutes
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.