Region: 2 - UK
Length: 78 minutes
Japanese 5.1 Surround
The apocalypse is nigh! The nations of Hetalia face their greatest crisis as alien invaders arrive to obliterate the world as we know it. A fleet armed with a homogenising beam is sweeping across the planet to wipe out identity, painting all its places and people as white a milk. It is up to the Hetalia heroes to unite against the faceless foe and protect the provenance of nationality!
Hetalia's original premise and indeed, much of its strength, comes from observational humour intertwined with real historical events. Both whimsical and witty, it doesn't pussyfoot around with political correctness. Each nation is equally prodded, poked and teased yet all this is done with ample affection. The characters may be flawed but not one of them is without charm.
The original 4koma gags were a composite of character traits inspired political trends underpinned by actual events from a history of global conflict. So why, all of a sudden does the Hetalia universe invite aliens onto the world stage? This is because they are a convenient peg on which to hang a movie plot. In a series that is all about the cultural cacophony and jostling egos of the Earth's nations, interstellar invaders are great incentive for humanity to put their perpetual bickering aside to unite against a common foe. It is a formula that worked for science fiction for decades, yet this time it would seem that the aliens are not a metaphor for anything in particular just a reason for all the Hetalia favourites to maximise screen time together.
While many fans will welcome the opportunity to see their favourite characters free roaming on the silver screen the plot did very little for me. The film is pretty shallow and lacks the astute humour that was the very pinnacle of Hetalia's eccentric elegance. The alien plot is a safer option for the franchise, which leaves it less open to attack from offended parties (an issue that hounded the original broadcast of the series).
To stretch the format, the filmmakers fell back on recycled gags and even scenes from the TV anime. To counterbalance this, the movie also features some firsts (such as Iceland's first animated appearance) and welcomes back the precocious Sealand. For yaoi fans, there are enough moments to satisfy and stimulate the mind. Adorable Italy is as laconic as ever, brusque Britain and flamboyant France fight constantly and the ever weary Germany remains hardboiled in the midst of the silliness.
The movie does manage to hold true, for the greater part, to the timbre and tempo of Hetalia. This is no mean feat for a series that grew from a witty mini webcomic, to a series of anime shorts. For fans who can't get enough, they can gorge themselves on the feast of treats that is the feature length Hetalia. Personally, I enjoy Hetalia like a bag of pick-and-mix sweets – in moderation, chewing over each sweet and funny flavour before packing it away to enjoy something more cinematically substantial. What really costs the film is the abandonment of its intellectual element, something that Hetalia should not live without.
The film has its moments but it is not for the uninitiated and overall it is disappointing. I think that to love it, you need to be a diehard devotee of the characters. It is way too much of sugar rush to stand on its own without a taste for comedy with crazy candy coating. Paint it White pales in comparison to the manga and anime. The franchise simply flags on the silver screen and the hyperactive humour gets tired all too quickly.