I would like to share this with all of the Hetalia fans. I hope that you'll be able to see the meaning I'm trying to spread here.
I feel that Hetalia is such a wonderful thing that happened to the world of Japanese webcomics and anime alike. The reason why this fandom became the longest for me is because of the way Himaruya Hidekaz had dedicated so much of his time to research random (but interesting) facts about the world like no other. We all admit that we once dreaded the big fat history book before Hetalia came into our lives.
Then it's as if, by pure magic that history became something major just because of this little phenomenon.
The Hetalia fandom has grown large due to its influence throughout the world. Because we all share this mutual interest of this, I feel that the fanbase has already done creative things to express their love of Hetalia as well. That's why I appreciate those who come up with such stunning artwork of the canon characters, write beautiful fanfiction with original plotlines, enjoy laughing at the historical jokes (or pretty much the hilarious memes and gifs) being made and posted, and ultimately, agree and respect each other's customs and opinions.
It's as if we are suddenly developing this patriotism towards our own nation, despite the fact that the characters were based off of their nation's stereotypes (but that's what makes Hetalia well...Hetalia!).
However, as good as everything about the fandom may seem, we still come across controversial issues of fans incorporating sensitive material into their work, especially when it comes to fanfiction...and that somewhat bothers me. This is because sensitive events such as massacres and wars bring about a lot of hatred towards a particular nation (especially the Nanjing Massacre in China and Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Terrorism, etc.) and the lingering hatred is yet again provoked. Apparently, a lot of people like to write smut based on the characters (and I'm not saying that it's an extremely bad thing) and some like to take it up a notch by writing sex scenes set in a period during a delicate event (again, I bring up the Nanjing Massacre, but pretty much every war applies here) with one country involved in the war, being submissive to the other.
If you did your research, the stuff you see are not all roses and sparkles you see in Bishounen anime. These events ACTUALLY happened. They were all printed into our history books. The years spent on bloodshed, turmoil, and warfare had nothing to do with love and submission; these nations all turned against each other, made alliances, then broke them. And this kept on happening.
Therefore, incorporating Hetalia into real life historical events that may provoke negative and controversial sentimentality is by the far, the worst way to gain the respect of other fans. Know that these events were not something taken lightly. Every nation had their reason to go through all this turmoil for them to become the nations they are today. So if you want to write something, write with optimism and respect for the world, not just for your own country.
Also, I have also noticed how some fans simply hate a certain nation because they dislike or hate the character. Please learn to discern fiction from reality. No matter how much you consider them real, they are NOT real. If you weren't into Hetalia, you wouldn't even bother pairing up a bunch of landmasses and having them "pleasure" each other (That's extremely awkward). In fact, you wouldn't even bother acknowledging them at all! Just because this is Hetalia and the characters are the embodied version of countries and act according to their corresponding nation, they are most certainly not the actual country itself!
Another thing, I believe that the true message for Hetalia is not about the yaoi pairings, the OTPs, the obsessive "USUK" or "ROCHU", the catchphrases ("pastaaa!"), the bishies, the fanservice nor the smut. If the avatars of the world were expressed as depraved sexual beings desperate for relief, then I'm not sure if we would accept that as we already did today.
What I see in Hetalia is the friendship and the willingness to help each other out. I know it sounds corny but, let me go further into detail.
If you watched the series (and the movie "Paint it White!"), and read the webcomic, then it should be evident that although this series is merely just a satire of the events of WWII, you may have noticed how much this series revolved the character Italy. For one thing, yes, some people may like him because of his adorable "vee!" or may hate him for being so obnoxious and loud all the time. For another thing, you constantly see Italy trying so hard to bring the Axis and unintentionally, the Allies together. In "Paint it White", when the whole world was devastated (and turned white by the Noppera), the remaining nations decided to put together a temporary alliance to help each other survive.
As for the misconceptions, S.Korea, Russia and Prussia are three among many characters in the fandom that are enormously mistaken due to their stereotypical traits of the nation. The situation differs with S.Korea (as you may know, the character was banned from the series before it was released due to the actual nation protesting against the character's behavior of a pervert) but canon-wise, Russia is always depicted as this adorable yandere who loves to torture other nations while Prussia is this carefree "I don't give a F--" type of character who likes to annoy the hell out of everyone. Historically speaking, Himaruya's portrayal is generally correct; Russia had a long history of isolation, bloodshed and civil warfare while Prussia was eventually dissolved by Hitler during WWII (so the sources say). Now, canon-wise, I see that Russia's behavior quite fits because, if you think about it, Russia's isolation (due to the frigid winters) and constant bloodshed, led to a mentally unstable mind.
When listening to his character songs, he mentions how he only wants someone to be his friend despite him looking "creepy or intimidating". The same applies for Prussia---he's a nonexisting nation; the land called Prussia is now part of East Germany so imagine how the character would feel if he is the living avatar of a nation that no longer exists. Pretty heartbreaking, right?
Hence, if you think about it, all of these fictional "avatars" of our world are looking for acceptance and respect from one another. And the way they are willing (begrudgingly) to help each other survive in a time of crisis gives me one more reason to love Hetalia. Although fictional, these characters really made us think that they are one of us, and that they actually do exist in this world. For this reason, I look forward to reading fiction that expresses that teamwork and cooperation, because hope, comfort, sympathy, and forgiveness despite one's (unjust and cruel) actions is something so heartfelt that it can have us relate to one another.
Furthermore, this gives me more reason to look more into the world. Because of Hetalia, I now learned about the Baltic countries, the Nordics, as well as the Micronations. Before the fandom, I didn't even know what Sealand nor Seychelles were or where they were located in the map (I'm sure most of us didn't even bother to memorize the world's geography)!
I know I write this like I'm elaborating and evaluating on something that is not real instead of worrying about my college applications. But I'm taking my time to convey this message because I love the series for what it is instead of what it's not. I really appreciate all that Himaruya has ever done to make this series a huge success. We should all thank him for producing an awesome way of bringing this world together...and we should also thank his fans who gave their time to contribute to the world and have them enjoy it.
As fans of Hetalia, we should strive to appreciate the customs and traditions of the world without criticizing for their race and ethnicity. Instead, we should give constructive criticism for the actions we deem unjust regardless of ethnic background and give the respect to all persons in world (not just fans of Hetalia).
Before I end this, I would like to express my gratitude for those who spent their time reading through this long journal entry. I wrote this because I really enjoy Hetalia and felt that not a lot of people really grasped the true meaning of it (if you beg to differ, please mention in your comment). I do not ask you to be offended by it, nor start a flame war because of a fanfic you thought was written horribly. I am honestly expressing my opinion of the fandom for what it is and what I've seen. I am not critisizing those who love to write USUK smut or any yaoi smut of the sort, and you can continue to write it as you please for I have no intention to interrupt or hinder you from your burst of inspiration.
I think we all know that we contribute to this fandom because we want to, not because we have to...and I really appreciate your efforts for this. I want everyone to know that your efforts are not something to be wasted and we're all doing this to entertain one another, because we all share something common. I hope that by now, we learned to love each other's ethnicities a bit more and respect our fandom a lot more.
If you feel that this has given you some sort of "enlightenment" on the fandom, you can do a great deal to get this shared and circulated around the fan community. That way, the Hetalia fans will be able to learn from their mistakes and move on.
Again, thank you for reading this extremely long post.
Have a nice day, Hetalians!
Listening to: None.