Furious Koreans have begun an effort to force the Japanese broadcaster of WWII parody anime Axis Powers Hetalia to cancel the series, based on angry accusations that its political satire dares to impugn the mighty nation of Korea.
However, the broadcaster points out that the “Korea” character doesn’t actually appear in the TV version at all…
The controversy itself stems from some scenes in the manga (or web comic) which skewer Korean nationalism. In one scene which has Korean board goers particularly riled, Hetalia’s Korea says to Japan (both are male): “Let me touch your breasts”, after which Korea grabs the chest of Japan, screaming “banzai”.
Korean net users have insisted that the breasts in this scene are an unpardonable symbollic reference to the what they see as the traditionally Korean heartland of Dokdo/Takeshima/the Liancourt rocks, a few disputed rocks in the middle of the Sea of Japan (or “East Sea” if more angry Koreans are to be believed).
Another lampoon and subsequent complaint is in the form of Hetalia’s Korea being prone to claim all manner of culture as in fact being of Korean origin (there are in fact odd claims emanating from Korea to that effect).
We seem to be spared the more extreme protests relatively common in Korea, but the petition to cancel the anime has already attracted 12,000 signatures in but a day.
The broadcaster, Kids Station, claims ignorance: “We didn’t know about the Korean criticism. Even so, the ‘Korea’ character does not actually appear in the anime version.”
The news has now even been picked up by the likes of Yomiuri…
Hetalia itself, set to air soon, loosely based around WWII, but with the characters being personifications of their various countries, features a wide variety of similar parodies based on supposed national characteristics. On these, the Koreans in question are strangely silent…
It should be interesting to see what becomes of the claims and accusations made against the show; surely they will not fold over something so trifling?