Hetalia: Axis Powers (Japanese: ヘタリア Axis Powers, Hepburn: Hetaria Akushisu Pawāzu) is a Japanese webcomic, later adapted as a manga and an anime series, by Hidekaz Himaruya. The series' main presentation is as an often over-the-top allegory of political and historic events as well as more general cultural comparisons. Characters are personifications of countries, regions such as Hong Kong and micronations with little reference to other national personifications. Both positive and negative cultural stereotypes form part of each character's personality. The character roster is large and far from complete, but the main cast is primarily the countries which made up the Axis powers and Allies of World War II - namely Italy (North Italy in particular), Germany, Japan, United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China. Hetalia (ヘタリア) is a portmanteau combining hetare (ヘタレ, Japanese for "useless" or "pathetic" in a cute or endearing way) and "Italia" (イタリア, Itaria, Italian for "Italy") The main storyline's events occur during World War II, but the vast majority of the comics take place during other historical events, modern holidays, or at no specific time whatsoever. The series often uses satire and light-hearted comedy to reinterpret well-known events as well as less common historical and cultural trivia. Historical, political, economic, and military interaction between countries is generally represented in Hetalia as social interactions and misunderstandings between the characters. Himaruya originally created Hetalia as an online webcomic, and so far six tankōbon have been published by Gentosha Comics, the first on March 28, 2008, the second on December 10, 2008, the third on May 20, 2010, the fourth on June 30, 2011, and the fifth on July 31, 2012. English translations of the first two volumes have been published by Tokyopop in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
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