Hetalia Axis Powers

February 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm (Anime)

which, if you don’t know, is a webcomic -> manga -> anime about Boys-Love caricatures of various world powers. For a little more info, see this yahoo answers thread.

I caught the first episode of the anime, which is only really remarkable for its general construction (i.e. the joke is already over once you read a description of the show). However, it did remind me of how little I understand the cultural consciousness of other countries regarding wars they lost, particularly when we (America) were on the other side.

We are not without examples of failed military encounters in the U.S. Vietnam stands out most strongly as a place where, honestly, we were “the bad guys,” but, particularly for people of my generation, this is only understood in a very abstract sense. Definitely the entire McCarthyist movement in the U.S. is not looked upon fondly by most.

But at the end of Vietnam we just went home, and the war wasn’t exactly popular at the time. There was no subsequent occupation of America. No reconstruction of American infrastructure. I’ve heard some people suggest that World War II gave Japan cultural brain damage, which is why their microculture seems so bizarre today. Maybe Hetalia Axis Powers reinforces this idea?

What is the Japanese sentiment with regards to World War II? What about Germany, or Italy? How do you talk about these things in a history class? Is it far enough gone now, that there’s a detachment in the current generation?

The only American experience I can think of that bares any similarity is the American Civil War, where there was an occupation, a reconstruction, and a lot of cultural fallout. By American standards, this is ancient history, but it still has a presence in our modern culture. I grew up the American South, and even disregarding the crazy KKK types, there lingers a sort of fractured pride and resentment. For about half of my school years, on the national holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, my state also honored Confederate generals “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Eventually our state legislature decided this was a bit uncouth (which I’m sure was the original intent), and created a second state holiday for Jackson and Lee. Some people still fly Confederate flags, and at least one state capital did so within my memory. The association of the confederacy with slavery makes this a touchy subject, as the conflict over civil rights and racism considerably outlasted the war.

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