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Funimation Gets Hetalia, The Sacred Blacksmith Anime

posted on by Egan Loo
Hidekaz Himaruya's whimsical historical comedy, Isao Miura's fantasy adventure

The North American anime distributor Funimation has announced on Friday that it licensed 52 episodes of the Hetalia - Axis Powers historical comedy anime and The Sacred Blacksmith fantasy adventure anime. Hetalia will ship in two parts starting in late 2010, while The Sacred Blacksmith will ship in one DVD set in Fall of 2010.

The Hetalia - Axis Powers anime adapts Hidekaz Himaruya's whimsical web manga of the same name. Both versions take the archetypal characteristics of about 20 countries and regions, and anthropomorphize them as (mostly) bishōnen characters. This re-imagining of world history and geography is set in various eras, including World War I and II.

The first anime series ran in early 2009 on the Animate.tv computer website and on the Japanese mobile phone site Mobile Animate, after plans for television airings encountered some early controversy over its characterizations. Thanks to the overwhelming streaming audience and high DVD sales, a second season was green-lit for this past summer. There are now plans for a third season this March and a theatrical film this summer. (Funimation's listed 52 episodes would encompass the first two seasons, but not the upcoming third season or film.)

Media Factory's 12-episode anime adaptation of Isao Miura's The Sacred Blacksmith (Seiken no Blacksmith) "unconventional fantasy" light novels takes place after an devastating war that foisted "Demon Contracts" upon the population until they were banned. Cecily Campbell, a noble's daughter who joined a knighthood, encounters a man who dispatches a threatening knight with one sweep of a mysterious sword. The man possesses the power of the same "Demon Contracts" that became taboo once peace had been restored. Cecily has been searching for a blacksmith who can forge her sword, and that mysterious young man happens to be blacksmith named Luke Ainsworth. This chance encounter launches their adventures together.

The first six of seven light novel volumes of The Sacred Blacksmith have sold at least 570,000 copies. Masamitsu Hidaka (Linebarrels of Iron, Pokémon, Juu Senshi Garukiba) directed the project at the manglobe anime studio (Ergo Proxy, Michiko to Hatchin, Samurai Champloo). Masashi Suzuki (Kanokon, Minami-ke: Okawari, Shuffle!) oversaw the scripts, and Jun Nakai (Tokyo Majin) adapted Runa's original character designs for anime. The anime premiered on Japanese television last fall, and it just ended a little over two weeks ago.

Image © 2009 Isao Miura/Media Factory, Earth Star Entertainment, JOQR, AT-X © 2008 Hidekaz Himaruya, Gentosha Comics, Inc./Hetalia Production Committee

Update: More background information added.

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