This is the final post of my list of my favorite AMVs released in 2020. For the whole thing, check my archive of all my past lists or click here for a YouTube playlist.

10. Fantasy
editor: TRUTH CRAB
anime: Hyper Combat Unit Dangaioh
music: Against All Logic – “Fantasy”

Girls, spaceships, robots, this video has it all! There’s tight internal sync from start to finish and never a moment where what’s happening onscreen isn’t firmly holding your attention. The basic structure of this AMV isn’t a big departure from the works this editor usually shares, but this is as far as you can get from TRUTH CRAB’s atmosphere-focused pieces, which usually function as an exploration of a mood or a meditation on the visual aesthetics of the anime being edited with. “Fantasy” is not a highly-technical edit by any means whatsoever, but there’s a level of urgency to it where every cut feels purposeful and the action feels acutely synced to the music. There are moments of silence and quieter passages in this track, which wind up tension and build atmosphere, but make the most of these breathers while they last. TC is locked in on this absolute banger of a track on a level that defies most of what I’ve come to understand about his work over the last two years.

9. Divine Moments of Anime
editor: vivafringe
anime: various
music: Shpongle – “Divine Moments of Truth”
warning: strobe effects

“Random scenes” AMVs rarely come any more random than this, an AMV that strings together lengthy clips from about thirty different anime and video sources. Short clips are sometimes looped, while longer scenes are often left to play out in their entirety. Hard cuts rule the day and there’s nary a transition here to produce the kind of flow that dance or electronic music videos usually try to establish. I’m afraid to look back over all the reviews that I’ve written so far to see how much I’ve abused the word “hypnotic,” but yes, this is somehow the most hypnotic AMV experience I’ve had in… forever? I don’t know about that but vivafringe throws the blueprint for editing out the window with this ten minute-long journey through a variety of bizarre, festive and yes, psychedelic scenes. This was my favorite work from him this year, although I’m not sure if it actually represents his editing skills at their most creative or fluid. Then again, who’s to say it doesn’t? I have never seen anything quite like “Divine Moments of Anime,” which I can only assume was removed from YouTube by a panicked COPPA takedown. One day your kids are watching cartoon music videos online. The next, they’re coming home with an unexplained sunburn and funny hats. I’m afraid I might be joining them!

8. L’histoire homosexuelle d’Homura
editor: keiichiface
anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
music: Flight of the Conchords – “Rambling Through the Avenues of Time”

This is a parody song, I guess, but not a derivative work that’s simply flipping a well-known hit on its head by changing a few lyrics. “Rambling Through the Avenues of Time” is a pastiche of a kind of baroque folk rock sound that I can’t say I ever listen to or know a whole lot about, but Flight of the Conchords treats it with sincerity and as a vehicle to poke fun at its characters. The song grows increasingly absurd and impossibly dramatic with every passing verse, which isn’t illustrated in the comparatively low-key original scene from the show, but provides keichiiface with endless opportunities to provide surprisingly creative or hilariously on the nose literal sync for every one of these hyperbolically embellished lyrics. The running commentary from a captive and unamused listener, which is kind of the key to the whole bit, is masterfully recreated in this AMV and is (IMO) even funnier than how it plays out in the original sketch. If you’ve been following this countdown so far or read previous ones I’ve written, then you’ve probably caught onto the fact that I’m not normally drawn to this kind of comedy editing. It’s rarely executed this well without ruining the original joke. I’m kind of past the point of laughing hysterically at this, having watched it too many times for it to keep surprising me, but I’m still in awe of how well it works on a technical level and how the dry humor of the situation wasn’t lost in translation but somehow comes out feeling even more subtle and nuanced than it was in the hands of its original creators. Nothing in my description here makes this sound the least bit appealing, I’m sure, as there’s nothing less funny than listening to someone explain a joke. So yeah, you’re going to have to watch this one to see for yourself.

7. Back to Life
editor: NekoKitKat
anime: Yu Yu Hakusho
music: Ollie Wride – “Back to Life”

Praising this video (or any AMV) simply for nailing the retro aesthetic so well probably doesn’t mean very much. Working with an older anime source and an older (or older-sounding) song will usually do most of the work for you in this department. But you can always tell when editors get lazy with this sort of thing and when they really go above and beyond to get it right, as NekoKitKat does in this AMV. This is not just a satisfyingly well-synced effort from beginning to end, but the effects play off the look of the anime in a tasteful and complimentary fashion, not to mention just looking like the music sounds. The glows, flashes and lens flares in this video only let up occasionally, which reads like a recipe for a headache or at least the sort of visual repetition that would surely lose its charm long before the video is over (especially an AMV that’s over four and a half minutes long). This never even comes close to happening, either because their presence is just barely subtle enough to never overwhelm the video or because NekoKitKat pulls back on them at all the right moments. I have never watched Yu Yu Hakuso, so take it from me, none of my fondness for this video is coming from a sense of nostalgia. This is a great character-focused action video overflowing with positive vibes and an obvious passion for the source material.

6. MOTORCYCLE BOY
editor: Abrogate Need
anime: Pelican Road Club Culture
music: Bo Diddley – “Bo Diddley”

Do I try to make the case for why this AMV is a work of genius? Or just be content to keep it to myself? You never know when some random edit is going to catch on and go viral, despite not containing a single piece of media that’s the least bit meme-worthy or related to anything that’s popular or trending. I can think of a million reasons why this video has no chance in that marketplace, but it captures a vibe that’s as tragically relatable anything I can think of. No one else and I mean no one is editing with music like this, and together with these oversaturated anime scenes, Abrogate Need (AKA Prostrate Constantly, no I am not “outing” him here, this is public knowledge) creates a transcendent moment that has no precedent. The hypnotic rhythm of this song combined with the flicker of passing lane pavement markings underfoot embodies the dream of the open road and the unfiltered raw experience of meeting it outside of the confining frame of an automobile. But rather than finding zen, the private torment of our sadboy protagonist reveals the emptiness of its possibilities and the illusion of escape it once promised him. What he’s riding to or (more likely) running from, we’ll never know. He can only outrun it so far on one tank of gas…

5. the roots of anemia
editors: Hazelnevertalks, Caribou-kun
anime: Manga Sekai Mukashibanashi
music: Earl Sweatshirt – “Shattered Dreams”

“the roots of anemia” feels like the culmination of a certain aesthetic that hundreds of editors have been circling around for years now but never came close to realizing anywhere close to as well as Hazelnevertalks and Caribou-kun did in this video. I know that undertaking these reviews sort of requires me to describe them to some extent, but in this case I really don’t even want to try. Just watch this and experience it for yourself. No one else is making anything like this, certainly not the thousands of people who took rap music from a niche genre that fans once had to beg editors to work with to the most-edited music on the planet, doing so in the most braindead and obvious manner possible–but I’m old and it doesn’t matter what I think. Besides, that was always inevitable, I guess. There’s a lot more where this came from as these two editors made an AMV for every track on Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, most of which I still haven’t seen but have been collected into an entire single video here. If my sprawling and verdant cannabis plant ever actually buds (unlikely at this point, I’m assuming), I will roll the mother of all blunts and soak it all in. This is not required, mind you, as the video is trippy enough on its own to take you places where no AMV has gone before. Working with footage that’s as far as you can get from what constitutes 99% of rap AMVs, Caribou and Hazel find a door to new worlds of expressive editing and unlock it just for you.

4. Boipening
editor: The Lazy Daze
anime: various
music: Charli XVX – “Boys”

This is not the first AMV I’ve seen to lean so heavily on opening/ending credit animation (nor will it come anywhere close to being the last), but the approach has never felt so cohesive or rewarding. I don’t have a lot of observations to make about this video, but with no hyberbole whatsoever I just want to say that every time I watch it, I literally ask myself “how can this video be so perfect?” There’s a lot of sources at work here, but in spite of the variety on display, there’s no sense of incongruity or sources being forced to mash together. Everything here feels like a perfect fit, every cut hits right where it should, and the opportunities that this beautiful footage provides are never wasted or squandered. I don’t even like this song, and under any other circumstance I can see it annoying me or provoking my preexisting animosity towards this artist. Yet every time I hear it now, it’s nothing but positive associations and good vibes. I first watched this video while lying in bed in the middle of a hypochondriac COVID-19 episode (I think everyone had at least one of these at one point in the past year, right?) and it pulled me out of a dread that I was sure would be the last emotion I’d ever feel. It’s kind of a tall order to ask it to do the same for you, but I’m sure you’ll come out of it on the other side a happier person than you used to be.

3. Blinding Lights
editor: katranat
anime: Ai No Kusabi
music: The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”

This past July, The Weeknd released an original animated music video for his song “Snowchild,” which plays like a mini-movie that collects all of the most iconic imagery associated with the artist into a four-minute mythologizing retrospective of his career. It doesn’t come anywhere close to visually capturing the essence of his music as well as this AMV from katranat does. The luxury and sparkling opulence that’s suggested by this music absolutely radiates from this early 90s OVA, resulting in a video that’s dripping with style and is the most potent expression of the neon-lit retro-future aesthetic that I’ve ever seen. And katranat milks it for all its melodramatic potential. This is vintage editing at its finest with phenomenal use of sync in all respects. It’s never too much of one or another, but there’s always some element of external, internal or lyric sync guiding every scene with a sense of purpose, usually subtle and imperceptible, although the big moments in the song never fail to be paired with spectacularly animated scenes that match them perfectly (the action sequences that accompany the main hook of the song are a Revelation). There are too many highlights to mention: the washed-out synth sounds as the city fades into view in the opening seconds, the flicker of the headlights on the road as the beat kicks in seconds later, the flick of a cigarette at 0:59, the elevator scene at 1:47, the final shot at 3:13… Are there any bad scenes in this video at all? Are there any that aren’t perfect?

This AMV was released in February of 2020, and I feel like I’ve lived with it just as long as I’ve been conscious of the existence of this song, so it’s difficult for me to fully separate the two and imagine this single inspiring a music video that would look any different than what’s on the screen here (obviously, the biggest song of the year has its own official music video, one I hadn’t actually watched it until today–it is a loud and disorganized mess that’s a complete misunderstanding of what makes the song as good as it is). On its own, this song does not scream ACTION AMV, but maybe that’s part of why this AMV appeals to me as much as it does. katranat follows the drama and lust that’s bubbling up beneath the retro flair of this song and gets right down to the absolute soul of it. Nothing less than this monument to glamour and violence was ever going to contain it.

2. shifting slowly
editor: Hazelnevertalks
anime: Ojamajo Doremi
music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – “Adagio for Glass Harmonica, K 356”

I haven’t seen this anime. I don’t know any of these characters, understand any of their relationships or anything at all about what is happening in any of these scenes. I understand almost none of the dialogue that plays over almost every shot in this AMV. Maybe the sheer impenetrability of this video helped open me to its unique rhythm, which doesn’t flow with the music in any traditional sense but proceeds with its own logic, perhaps in the only way an AMV using a piece of music like this ever could have. External audio from this episode of Ojamajo Doremi is layered over the music, which is always just sparse enough to float above the composition on its own plain and add another layer of context and purpose, the polar opposite of the distracting effect that’s achieved when almost any other editor attempts such a trick (which I considered a passing novelty a year or two ago but is now so cemented in the language of this hobby that it’s now the default approach for many new editors). The repetition of this dialogue doesn’t stir up the raw sense of dread that it does in some of her other work, but achieves an ambiguously ominous feeling that’s undeniably unsettling. At the same time, there’s an innocence and cheerfulness to this work that’s enticing and refreshing in its sincerity, as well as a loneliness and disconcerting emptiness in many of the scenes it gives way to that’s quietly devastating. There is a lot going on here, but even with so many emotions at work, “shifting slowly” never explicitly forces the viewer to feel anything at all. It is one of the strangest fan edits I have ever laid eyes on, and immersing myself in this hobby for as long as I have still left me totally unprepared for it.

Because this was the first video that HazelNeverTalks uploaded to her channel, I feel a little odd singling it out as such an achievement, as this might suggest that it was all downhill for her from here. That’s not the point I want to make whatsoever, as every video that she’s shared with us over the past year has been superlatively creative and personal, filling an underserved niche that no one else is even bothering to explore. But “shifting slowly” struck a chord with me that I’m still trying to understand.

1. Trick of the Trade
editor: TroubleClef
anime: Kaitou Saint Tail
music: Connor Spiotto – “The Villain I Appear to Be”

There’s no need to watch the animated short that inspired this AMV in order to fall in love with its simple charms. It’s the source of the song that ToubleClef uses here, not to mention the concept that she loosely borrows for this edit, but approach “Trick of the Trade” on its own terms if you can and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most charming and timeless-feeling AMV that you’ll ever seen in this hobby. It establishes the characters and the conflict of Kaitou Saint Tail to vivid extremes that are immediately understandable and completely captivating, with a smooth and simple pace that flows with an effortless grace. Yes, it is a faithful and loving re-creation of “Diamond Jack,” a tribute so successful that it steals the magic of the source material. TroubleClef matches the movements of the song with perfect scene selection and some of the most natural-feeling internal sync I’ve seen in a while, stirring up intrigue, drama and comic relief with perfect timing. This kind of fantasy is a welcome respite from not just the drudgery of the everyday but the cynicism and one-upmanship that I still encounter in this hobby on a regular basis. Is this a perfect AMV? It is to me. If nothing else, it’s an AMV that feels like it was always meant to be, one that I could have discovered twenty years ago and fallen in love with at the dawn of my obsession with this hobby. And I can’t remember the last time I watched anything that felt so utterly, unapologetically wholesome. These days, I need that more than I could ever imagine and this video delivers it on a level that’s still paying out dozens of views later.

Playlist of all videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc3GuT5JoUhM1jCF5-IYQWb6whDmTySXk

20. BALD!
editor: Salt AMV
anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion
music: JPEGMAFIA – “BALD!”

This isn’t a feelgood AMV, but it makes me laugh. And when I laugh, I feel good! And so will you.

19. Made
editor: Apus
anime: various
music: Dub FX – “Made”

With metronomic hard cuts, at least one brilliantly subtle masked transition and effortless-feeling internal sync in practically every shot, “Made” accomplishes a lot with with little more than the most basic editing techniques and tools. Apus has a keen eye for scenes that naturally flow into one another, dipping into over a dozen different sources but quickly establishing a sense of cohesion that holds the video together like super glue. If you’re not familiar with this song, you might be thrown for a loop in the opening minute when the vocals come in, but stick with it: it’s a rewarding and inspiring experience that will grow on you. I was really hoping to see something new from this editor before the year was up, and while I had no idea what shape that effort would eventually take, it was well worth the wait. There’s no sleight of hand at work here, just basic editing at its best.

18. ∆| Our Little Dark Age |∆
editor: UnluckyArtist
anime: various
Music: MGMT – “Little Dark Age”

UnluckyArtist is really good at making these kinds of AMVs. And once again, he shows us how it’s done. Hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to say here, because that ineffable quality that runs like a stream through all his work overflows into a lake in this video. I still don’t quite know what to call it. Scenes blend together seemingly without any friction yet connect with the tactile pleasure of puzzle pieces. Subtle effects ebb and flow and play off each other in inventive ways. It’s not hard to tell what this AMV MIGHT be about–I want to emphasize “might” because I really appreciate that the meaning is never literally spelled out for the viewer, leaving you to interpret it in any way you find personally meaningful–but it’s a work of deeper and more complex feeling than most art that’s attempted, and almost always failed, to comment on or even merely react to the state that we are in.

17. Running in the Night
editor: Synæsthesia Productions
anime: Brand New Animal
music: FM-84 – “Running in the Night”

It took some time for both the hype of Brand New Animal to die down and my synthwave skepticism to slowly bend enough for me to fully appreciate this video. The visual iconography that so much of this AMV is built around feels like it was made–or resurrected from the dead–just for this moment. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen some of these effects at work in a video, but rarely have they felt so appropriate, deserved or essential to an editor’s vision rather than being the tacked-on distractions that they so often are (oh, all the videos I could list here to prove my point, but let’s keep things positive instead). I’d love to see a version of this AMV without any effects at all, which surely wouldn’t be as fun or aesthetically consistent as the final product, but only to confirm my suspicion that the reason this video works as well as it does is the constant motion in every scene, which strings together each scene with an infectious sense of momentum that’s irresistibly appealing.

16. EARTH CLUB ONE
editor: Karmelin
anime: Saint Seiya
music: Karmelin – “Earth Club One”

At least half of this video doesn’t even feature anime at all, but a sixty year-old movie I’ve never seen, so maybe “EARTH CLUB ONE” (ostensibly a music video for Karmelin’s own track, as all of the videos on their channel appear to be) isn’t strictly an AMV in any of the terms that most of us would agree on. But all year long I was impressed and entertained by everything this editor was releasing, and I found this to be their most creative and unexpectedly pleasurable work, so here it is! Karmelin folds and reflects scenes from Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac into kaleidoscopic shapes, creating a suitably psychedelic and abstract visual interpretation of the music. On paper, the clips from the live action film would seem to be the exact opposite of this in every way possible: warm in a visual and emotional sense, overflowing with human drama and celebration. I doubt that just anyone could weave these contrasting works and approaches together into anything that would feel coherent or so complimentary. This is a joy to watch and definitely something that no one else was ever going to make.

15. 11h30
editor: Hiagoka
anime: Serial Experiments Lain
music: Danger – “11h30”

I’d be hard pressed to call this an game-changing Serial Experiments Lain AMV by any means, as it’s a pretty faithful interpretation of the present day cyberpunk aesthetic and visual overload that the series is known for. But it’s a video I instantly connected with, one that cuts out any resemblance of fluff and barrels ahead with crisp, unpretentious editing punctuated by occasional zooms and occasional glitch effects (which I imagine are even more raw edits and not plugin effects whatsoever). This lends the cerebral, psychological material a rougher edge that feels urgent, disorienting and vexing on a level that many videos made with this anime don’t impart quite like they used to. “11h30” isn’t a total descent into the paranoia of the series (never more relevant than today, by the way). This is still an upbeat video that, despite its often repulsive imagery–rest assured, if you’re reading this blog then you are not sheltered enough to be bothered by anything it has to offer–is still an enticing trip that’s hard to resist.

14. Selkie
editor: Synæsthesia Productions
anime: Song of the Sea
music: Solas – “The Grey Selchi”

Watching this video is an escape from the world, an invitation to let go and bask in one of the most mellow and comforting animated music video edits you’ll find anywhere. It’s not a video that you simply sit back and “chill” to, but one that evokes a deeper feeling of peace and security. It’s six minutes long but never once feels the last bit too slow or too long. Gentle zooms and fades are used on most shots, which sounds repetitious on paper but is the perfect way to meld these scenes and this music into a work that you’d swear must be some kind of “official” music video from Cartoon Saloon. I watched this video before seeing the movie and maybe it technically spoiled it for me, but this took away nothing from my enjoyment of the film when I eventually queued it up on Netflix. So you have my word, don’t hold back on watching this. I just watched the President of the United States of America attempt a violent coup against his political rivals and thanks to this AMV I’m calm as fuck. Someone’s reading this right now and asking how this is an anime music video. Look, if The Martian is a comedy movie then this is an AMV. Don’t think about it, just feel it.

13. Hakase – Jazz Genius
editor: pyromaniacrobot
anime: various
music: Ehrling – “Sthlm Sunset”

There were still two weeks left in 2019 when this AMV was first released, but I didn’t see it for the first time until nearly a month later. Same goes for most of the hundreds of thousands of views it would eventually rack up, so I don’t have any hesitation about including it on this list. Concepts don’t come much simpler than this but rarely yield such wholesome rewards. A video this short ought to just be allowed to speak for itself instead of being dissected and explained in a review that would take longer to read than passively absorbing and enjoying the work itself, but a few words: beautiful and impeccably clean masking (just look at that trumpet in the thumbnail, even the finger rings look amazing), super-creative use of multiple sources that are recognizable but seamlessly woven together to create the illusion of a single world, flawless internal sync and that rare restraint to end a work when it’s said everything it has to say. You are probably going to watch this more than once.

12. Everything In Its Right Place
editor: Prostrate Constantly
anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion
Music: Radiohead – “Everything In Its Right Place”
warning: strobe effects

I really don’t want to put anyone on blast, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this anime and this song used together in an AMV, which kind of tempered my expectations for how good this video could actually be. And I’m not even saying [unnamed preexisting AMV] wasn’t good, it just didn’t fulfill my hopes for how well these sources would gel together, reinforce the feelings that I get from them individually or fulfill the potential that they might have together. This one, on the other hand, delivers the goods and overflows with mesmerizing psychedelic angst of the highest order. This AMV boasts some of the most hypnotic use of overlays I’ve ever seen, which is done in a super-specific kind of way that just does it for me and triggers a non-emotional variety of frisson in my brain… but might mess you up if you’re sensitive to this kind of thing. Overall, I just love the mood of this video, which is as abstract and experimental and non-narrative as you can get (striking me as a smoother and more accessible extension of some of Prostrate Constantly’s previous work). And Evangelion has never NOT been explored by editors on these terms, I know, but only once in a while do they ever come close to fully plumbing the depths of its darker themes or look this cool while trying

11. Prose
editor: CrackTheSky
anime: Kimikiss Pure Rouge
music: Feist – “Intuition”

With no expectations for this video, and certainly no emotion invested in it from being the least bit familiar with this series or these characters, I was completely bowled over by this AMV’s simple depiction of what appears to be a pretty typical high school crush. In four and a half minutes, I went from being immediately suspicious of what I assumed was a bunch of naive teenagers and wondering why I should possibly care about their drama to feeling positively invested in this central character’s inner life and her deep-seated longing for one of her classmates. Kimikiss Pure Rouge uses a soft color palette and scenes often bathed in a hazy, nostalgic glow, which just fits right in to how quiet this video sounds and ultimately feels. It’s emotionally potent in ways that don’t provoke a strong response, but slowly nudges you towards increasing curiosity and empathy towards its characters. The climax doesn’t resolve itself in the explosive fashion you’ve been trained to expect, but embodies a sense of bittersweet resignation that’s rarely the endgame of any AMV with such a romance-driven plot. CrackTheSky might just be working with what this anime is giving him here, but it’s rare to see a video like this that feels so introspective or concerned with the personal experience of its lovelorn subjects.

30. Mister Fahrenheit
editor: illdie
anime: Promare
music: Queen – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

This is the first Promare AMV I’ve seen and I watched it literally an hour after finishing the film. Maybe I ought to dig a little deeper before settling on this video as the essential Promare edit because I’m not saying this is absolutely as good as it’s ever gonna get but… it’s pretty damn good! It takes a lot to make me feel like a video has really earned the right to use a song like this, and “rules” like that are obviously a load of crap but hopefully you know what I’m trying to say. Promare is nothing if not BIG and illdie was more than up to the challenge of making an AMV that would’ve been an IMAX exclusive if theaters were still open. It’s not a particularly original place to start from, but pulling it off without phoning it in is tougher than you’d expect. This video is as fun as I dreamed it would be and somehow more epic than I though possible, a humbling cure for my cynicism when it comes to blockbuster edits like this. The ambitious and kinetic animation provides ample opportunities for internal sync that power this AMV and make it such a joy to watch. Don’t sleep on this!

29. Here Comes the Sun
editor: moezychan
anime: Weathering With You
Music: The Beatles – “Here Comes the Sun”

Leftover nostalgia for dwchang’s 2004 AMV of the same name—watching it at the 2004 Anime Central AMV contest was a super-formative experience for me—is probably importing a lot of goodwill and positivity into my personal reaction to this video. But taking those feelings out of the equation as best as I can, it’s hard to deny the simple charm and overwhelmingly upbeat and positive vibes from moezychan’s take on Weathering With You, which gets there just fine all on its own and knows how to make you feel it still. It’s a simple and slow video that matches the classic song beat for beat with a patience that makes its quicker-paced sequences hit you that much harder. moezychan never explicitly acknowledges or dwells on the grim realities of the film (not that she’s painting them over, either) but thoroughly convinces the viewer that the best is yet to come. I saw this movie at the theater in January of 2019 and recently watched it again for the first time in a year. I’m trying to keep a good sense of perspective through the last year, and I don’t mean to literally compare the experience of living through 2020 with the events of this movie, but I definitely relate to the film in a whole different way today than I did when I first saw it. I have no idea if moezy-chan was inspired by anything at all besides her love for this movie in editing this AMV, but watching it today feels especially poignant in a way that may or may not have ever been intended. Let its rosy optimism consume your fears.

28. #somanyplaces
editor: iM Coach
anime: New Prince of Tennis Specials
music: Atlas in Motion – “Well Known”

There’s not much “editing” on display in this video, at least not in terms of rearranging video clips with well-timed cuts in any way I’ve been trained to previously understand. Good thing the effects work is some of the most creative and unique that I’ve ever seen in an AMV! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this before–finding a single scene or set of matching clips that would be fitting and long enough to provide this kind of opportunity to even attempt it with would be a major challenge in itself–and it’s definitely more creative and artistic than what I expect from anything I’d describe as or associate with hashtag editing (a term I just kind of made up, maybe it exists or it doesn’t, but hopefully you know what I’m getting at). But once again, I’m proven very wrong and easily surprised by the vision and imagination that people bring to this hobby.

27. Wait 4 U
editor: TRUTH CRAB
anime: Mind Game
music: Machinedrum – “Wait 4 U”

The official tempo of this song is listed at a modest 87 bpm. Or depending on how you calculate it, 197 bpm. But who’s counting? Any time I hear a track like this, my brain latches onto all of the quarter notes as well, so if you want to edit the most frantic and insane AMV ever with this, I’m all in. And when I say frantic and insane, you’re probably picturing a video with at least ten times more cuts than this one has. But a video with this kind of footage doesn’t need much of a push to communicate a frenzied sense of desperation. The action in this scene is that rare combination of being completely over-the-top and completely original, and paired with such an unlikely soundtrack, it’s a thrilling, gleefully absurd and unexpectedly inspiring trip that sprints out of the gate and never looks back.

26. F20LY C20LY
editor: tko03
anime: FLCL, Kids On the Slope
music: Green Day – “Basket Case”

As a practically bottomless well for high-energy scenes composed of mind-blowing animation, it’s little wonder why FLCL is perhaps the heartiest perennial of all AMV sources. Even after twenty years, it still delivers the goods and only ages in ways that highlight just how special and timeless it really is. I usually enjoy the more introspective or heartfelt takes on this series, videos that study its characters’ adolescent struggles or poke at some of its less-explored qualities, while editors who build their AMVs around its iconic animation and absurdly creative visuals have left less and less of a lasting impression on me over time. “F20OL C20LY” is absolutely part of that latter camp, but it’s an AMV I fell in love with right away and somehow feels like a fresh take on the series. I will admit to some bias here as this song does have me feeling profoundly nostalgic, not to mention weirdly fixating about how this song from my youth is now being edited by a kid who’s young enough to be my son (but has been editing for years now), which is really doing a number on me! The action editing is great, the use of text is probably the most creative I’ve ever seen in an AMV (and as a rule, I generally hate superfluous use of it in general) and it captures that fleeting “I can’t believe what I’m seeing”-feeling that I first had when I watched this OVA for the first time. This isn’t strictly a lyric video, and the competition certainly leaves something to be desired, but this is probably my favorite one ever made.

25. Everything
editor: N931
anime: various
music: Saycet – “Mirages”

Over the years I’ve certainly enjoyed plenty of AMVs that editors have dedicated to their loved ones, but when these real life bonds are the inspiration for sincere tributes, something in the process is usually lost on me and I rarely experience their emotions on the level that it’s clear they’re trying to put on the screen. “Everything” is maybe the first time I’ve felt truly touched by an AMV as a real-life love letter, in this case, from N931 to his mother. It is more than a carefully-selected group of scenes merely depicting motherhood and family life, but a supremely thoughtful reflection on the difficulties of parenting that most people take for granted until they’re old enough to have children of their own. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have parents that sacrificed so much of themselves to raise them, and not every one of those lucky people can truly grasp the magnitude of such selfless love and bottomless patience while they’re still young. Putting those feelings into words can feel like an impossible challenge, but as this video shows, fortunately there’s more than one way to express them.

24. Tunnel-Vision
editor: ObbsessiveBookworm
anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion, End of Evangelion
music: Bryan Scary – “Ziegfield Station”

One of the most psychedelic AMVs from one of our most psychedelic editors, “Tunnel-Vision” takes Evangelion places it’s never been, a claim I’m not making lightly and I hope is taken seriously by anyone on the fence about watching this. It’s as sunny of an AMV as you’ll ever see, yet it’s never a betrayal of Evangelion’s dark and apocalyptic atmosphere or themes. Effects work is tasteful and imaginative, eye candy for sure but fulfilling and creative on a level that such a normally-backhanded compliment rarely delivers on. End of Evangelion already primed viewers to accept live action scenes mixed into an animated story, but OB expands on this premise and incorporates unexpected visuals into the video that will still catch any Eva fan or fan of Eva AMVs by surprise. You are not ready for this.

23. Carry Me Home
editor: DopplerDo
anime: Naruto Shippuden
music: SOHN – “Carry Me Home”

It would be a huge generalization to say that all Naruto AMVs are set to aggressive rock or rap songs, and that’s not a claim I want to make here, but… you get so used to it that hearing a song like this in a Naruto AMV really takes you by surprise. But that’s not why you’re reading about “Carry Me Home” right now. This is one of DopplerDo’s prettiest videos and maybe his most abstract and atmospheric effort to date. Naruto fans might be able to follow the narrative thread that runs through this edit, but it’s just as pleasurable to passively soak in this video in all its beautiful layering, gentle zooms and tasteful color correction. This AMV shimmers and slowly floats into view with an ambient-like grace, giving way to a deceptive but steady rise in tension that never breaks the mood or shakes the viewer out of its dream-like spell. Yeah, it’s another Naruto x/vs. Sasuke video, but that sets expectations that are made to be broken in unexpectedly hypnotic ways.

22. Live It Up Live It Up
editor: CrackTheSky
anime: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions
music: Smallpools – “Dreaming”

Maybe having watched this anime gives me a bit of context that added a lot to my enjoyment of this AMV, and maybe knowing what this anime meant to the person who made it helped me vicariously experience some of the feelings that went into it (in addition to the emotions intrinsically expressed onscreen, of course), but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the most euphoric upbeat AMV experience I had in 2020. All three AMVs that CrackTheSky edited with Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions were singularly unique interpretations of the series, reflections of both its inherently silly premise as well as its serious take on matters of loss, unrequited love and the challenges of communicating and honestly connecting in a romantic partnership. Those videos were great, but the dopamine rush that I get from this effort just puts it over the top, and as a vehicle for these characters at their most adorable and ridiculous, this AMV is a love letter to Chunibyo at its most uplifting and fun.

21. Burnout
editor: Prostrate Constantly
anime: FLCL
music: Wilco – “Misunderstood”

I hate to reference other videos in these little blurbs, but if tko03’s FLCL video captures a barely-contained feeling of enthusiasm that’s uniquely teenage, “Burnout” feels like the anticlimatic ennui that follows, or certainly mirrors my personal experience of being in my early 20s, listening to this music, loving this anime and not having the slightest idea of what I was going to do with my life. That’s so ridiculously specific that it’s probably unbelievable to most readers here, but trust me, there’s nothing glamorous or cool about feeling sad or walking around the neighborhood at night or smoking cigarettes because you have nothing else to do, stuff that’s too banal for any halfway rational person to lie about, trust me. And there’s nothing really unusual about it either, to the point where I think a phase like this is kind of a universal experience for people, whether it’s one that lasts a few weeks or a few years. Watching this video brought these memories to the front of my mind in acutely specific detail, as it captures an all too familiar feeling of disconnection and boredom that’s certainly still with us all in our always-online world but has morphed into a totally different shape than I remember. Craving a release from this mundanity was a constant, and while I never had any idea what that could possibly look like, it was a longing for nothing less than what the last two two minutes of this video delivers. All this is far more about myself than about this AMV in any way that’s guaranteed to ring true with most viewers , I know, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart and it’s what FLCL always understood (even if it’s tween coming of age story), what this song encapsulates and what this video absolutely nails. I haven’t described the actual editing here in any detail whatsoever, but this is a Prostrate Constantly video, so you know you’re in good hands.