The Human Touch: Hetalia Bridges the Gap
What I’ve found is that sometimes it’s hard for people to get excited about history. Many feel like history is an impersonal subject and that countries are just lines on a map. And that’s because many people can’t connect with history because history lacks a personal touch—a human touch.
For a government class, I have to do a reading on The History of the Peloponnesian War. I don’t want to read that. It’s not a long reading, but it’s more than two pages, so it gets a big “nope” from me.
And as I was looking through this textbook, I found myself wishing there were Hetalia characters that directly represented Sparta and Athens, so that maybe I would actually enjoy the reading a little bit.
See, Hetalia creates that “human touch” that history usually lacks. Hetalia gives a human face and human emotions and human ambitions to a country that before was simply a geographical location. Hetalia bridges the gap between historical events and what it means to be a person with feelings and desires.
Civil Wars are no longer just battles that tear a country part from inside, they are battles that tear a person apart from inside—battles that manifest in the inward struggle and conflict of a human being (the personification). And we, as other human beings, can relate to that.
It is one thing to read about the American Revolution in a history class. But it’s another thing to watch the Hetalia episode and physically see the pain on England’s face and have it hit you that this is hurting him. Your heart stops then aches when you think about how Russia—no, Ivan Braginsky—was left defeated and alone after the collapse of the Soviet Union. These images cause fans to suffer and feel in ways they probably would never have if they had merely read a historical summary out of a textbook.
Hetalia was never a way to gloss over war or sugar coat history. Hetalia was a way to make you want to rip out your heart for things you didn’t give much thought before, to make you laugh and cry and feel sincere, profound emotions about historical events that barely mattered to you before.
Hetalia has always been, and will always be, a way to make history move you.