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Hetalia: Axis Powers (ヘタリア Axis Powers Hetaria Akushisu Pawāzu?) is a Japanese webcomic, later adapted as a manga and an anime series, by Hidekaz Himaruya (日丸屋秀和 Himaruya Hidekazu?). The series presents an allegorical interpretation of political and historic events, particularly of the World War II era, in which the various countries are represented by stereotyped anthropomorphic characters. The main characters are the countries which made up the Axis powers and Allies of World War II, namely Italy (North Italy in particular), Germany, Japan, America, England (representing the United Kingdom), France, Russia and China. Hetalia (ヘタリア?) is a portmanteau combining hetare (ヘタレ?, Japanese for "gutless" or "pathetic") and Italia (イタリア?). This is to make light of Italy's domination by neighboring states since the Italian War of 1521–1526.
Himaruya originally created Hetalia as an online webcomic, and so far four 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 and the fourth on June 30, 2011. English translations of the first two volumes have been published by Tokyopop in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Both printed volumes published so far have topped The New York Times manga best seller list. The series was later adapted into drama CDs, and an anime series created by Studio Deen has also begun streaming online. As of January 8, 2010, the anime series' international distribution is being handled by Funimation Entertainment.
The main historical events portrayed in this work occur between World War I and World War II. The series often uses satire and comedy to address well-known historical events as well as historical and cultural trivia. Historical, political, and military interaction between countries is allegorically represented in Hetalia as social and romantic interaction between the characters; the webcomic version in particular depicts military and economic incursions using various innuendo.