[Dropped after seven episodes.]
I think it’s safe to say that the Hetalia series is the most popular anime-short franchise of modern times. The amount of fanfiction, fan art, fan shipping, fan-girling (Typically this gender, too) seen over the course of my being an anime fan is almost absurd, rivaling the likes of popular Shounen titles such as Naruto or One Piece. All this from an anime short of all things, too! The amount of episodes in this shortened time frame would equal roughly eleven-episodes of standard length anime, with each episode (I assume) being within its own story, with only a casual overarching narrative to fall back on.
So what is it that makes it so popular? The straightforward character archetypes? The way the characters bounce off one another? The overall design that, while (probably?) not originally intended, became a popular aesthetic for bishies? Or perhaps a combination of all of those things and more? Hetalia certainly has a soft and cheery atmosphere that makes for any kind of access to a variety of different anime viewers, so it wouldn’t surprise me that it became an outlet for short bursts of energy. Kind of like popping a peppermint candy after every hour of work or so. Or gorging on said candy one after the other.
Maybe it was this atmosphere specifically that made the series so dull for me. My brother, who is typically strict with anime, even recommended the series to me as a decently funny experience. When I finally got around to it, not only did I find it not funny (never laughed once), but I found it to be rather lowbrow. Even worse (for me), it was the kind of humor that was sure to be a hit with the younger generation of viewers with its plethora of, for lack of a better explanation, “LOL SO RANDOM XD” gags. I entered with the expectation that America would be a violence-hungry tryhard with no brains or that Russia would be a giant bear with a superiority complex that drank vodka all day. Instead, I got Italy being lethargic and always blabbering about pasta. Wonderful; this anime is not for me.
Still, that’s all I can really say in terms of it’s negative qualms; the series is clearly not trying to be serious with its story or critical with its stereotypes of various countries. It’s a lighthearted attempt at being (not) funny with characters that eventually grow(?) and bond with one another despite their differences. Perhaps it is the corny approach to presenting obvious moral foundations that I find such a turnoff. That, and I just don’t think the anime is funny or entertaining at all. Still, that isn’t to say the series itself is a horrid one, just that one shouldn’t expect to go into it with any serious expectations. One should also ignore the rabid opinions of hardcore fans that try to christen the series as anime’s greatest achievements. That will definitely soil the mood of the series.
Technically sound, but not for everyone (especially me). Exuberant personality with characters and the way they portray their one-off archetypal personas, with a heavy focus on humor and subtle character bonding (from what I recall/have seen). That’s all it is. That’s all it probably ever will be. I won’t ever know because I won’t continue it. It’s just not for me.