The series’ main presentation is as an often over-the-top allegory of political and historic events as well as more general cultural comparisons. Characters are personifications of countries, regions such as Hong Kong, and micronations such as the Sealand, with little reference to other national personifications such as Uncle Sam or John Bull. Both positive and negative cultural stereotypes form part of each character’s personality, though note some expectations differ since the series is based in Japanese cultural views of the world.
The character roster is large and far from complete, but the main cast could be said to be the countries which made up the Axis powers and Allies of World War II – namely Italy (North Italy in particular), Germany, Japan, the United States, England, France, Russia and China. Hetalia is a portmanteau combining hetare, Japanese for “useless” or “pathetic” in a cute or endearing way) and the Japanese word for Italy, Italia