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Hetalia Axis Powers: v. 1

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History made mock carries this webcomic, which personifies the world's countries as squabbling pretty boys (and a few girls). Vignettes of varying length reference events from the Middle Ages through the 21st century, played out through politically incorrect stereotypes and satire. Much of Volume 1 focuses on the two world wars, while Volume 2 turns to recent decades. Even historical microdramas become fodder for amusement, like Sealand's bid for recognition as a sovereign state and Switzerland's accidental invasion of Liechtenstein. In a particularly goofy episode, aliens are seen creating crop circles on Earth using "Photoshop Crop Circle" software. The art tends toward the slapdash, and telling the characters apart can prove difficult. Fortunately, Volume 2 starts with a full character guide. The biggest challenge can be appreciating the jokes, but then boning up on your history is part of the fun. Verdict The series has been wildly popular in Japan and the United States. Both volumes have hit the New York Times manga best sellers list. Moreover, cosplayers around the world have embraced these characters big time. Recommended for older teens and up, in classrooms, too. FUNimation has picked up the anime.-Martha Cornog, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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