AMVs don’t come much simpler than this. It’s not even “deceptively simple” in the way that we usually praise this kind of stuff, it’s as obviously simple as you can get and that’s a pretty risky move considering how tough it can be to keep a viewer’s interest without a deeper concept to string them along, not to mention how easily simplicity can be mistaken for laziness. If you haven’t watched Haibane Renmei then you’ll probably have no idea what’s happening in this video, but you might still be able to tell that most, if not all of this video, is clips taken from a single episode and possibly not even rearranged out of order. Watch any random Naruto AMV from ten years ago and you’ll see why this is rarely a good idea. But I think it works well enough here, probably because this is just about as perfect of an anime-song pairing as you’ll ever find.

Even for a nine year-old AMV, there’s something left to be desired from the quality of the video, and the initial scenes lose some of their impact from some lip flap that could have been corrected with a little bit of effort. I’d love to see what a cleaned-up version of this video would look like, but I wonder just how much it would really change the overall experience. This is a small, intimate, quiet little AMV, not a big blockbuster subjected to endless remasters and remakes, and if it results in insignificant improvement for a video of that scale, it would likely make little difference for an AMV like this.

This video was edited by neocinema AKA MasterV, who edited at least 3 AMVs in the mid 2000s and seems to have left the hobby (last logging into the Org exactly 1 year after this video was released). They left behind a Youtube channel that doesn’t seem to have been touched in 9 years and a website that seemed to be a film blog of sorts. Maybe there was more information about this AMV on it, but by the time the Wayback Machine had crawled the front page in 2007, it was too late. We do, however, get a look at what life was like in 2001 for the aspiring digital filmmaker.

Today is the first day of fall, and while the scenery in this video is a little too green for the occasion, you’ll have a hard time finding another AMV with such an autumnal feel as this one. How anyone can take it slow while drinking one of these is one of life’s biggest mysteries, but this AMV will help take the edge off.

New AMVs don’t get a lot of love on this blog. That’s something I’d like to change but I still haven’t found a useful or enjoyable way to sort through the new videos that are being posted on Youtube every day to find new releases worth sharing. There’s no way around it; this would mean watching a lot of AMVs that I don’t have any interest in, which would be fine if I was writing this back in 2006. But what constitutes a boilerplate, run-of-the-mill AMV in 2016 is very different from what I grew accustomed to back in the mid-2000s, and I often find it difficult to actually sit through more than a couple videos of these before needing a break. I don’t like to rant about this because I know fully well how this kind of complaining comes across, and I really do believe that there’s a lot of creative work going on in the hobby that I’m completely unaware of that I’m writing off without a second thought. The last place I’d expect to find that would be a channel called Daily Chill (“your daily dose of various music“), but here we are.

It’s a frivolous matter to get hung up on, but is “Daily Chill” supposed to be a channel or an actual editor? Is there even a difference? With half of the videos on the channel being EDM/chillout tunes playing over a background picture or a looped gif — yes, this is a thing and I think it goes a lot deeper into Youtube than I’ve dared to dive —  it’s hard not to get the impression that it’s a music-focused channel. Maybe there are videos made up of clips taken from anime series, but is that just a means to an end to showcase the songs? No, it doesn’t matter and I’m trying not to care, but… I just hate vocaloid and J-Core and nightcore and how easy it has been for this music to thrive when paired with anime iconography in the laziest ways imaginable. Take away the background images on any of this stuff and it all goes away very fast. Daily Chill does not use any of this music — its videos feature tasteful, polished, laid-back EDM, with an irritating exception or two —  so what am I ranting about? Well, when I look at this kind of approach to pairing music and anime/manga and how it has become so ingrained in Internet culture, I can’t shake the feeling that it’s slowly absorbing everything around it, including AMVs, and becoming the well-accepted and celebrated default way to mix music with Japanese media. Even when it’s done well (as it is here), it’s hard for me not to feel suspicious about where it’s inevitably leading. If I try to explain this any further, it will have to be in a future entry.

Now that I’m done looking, sounding, and acting like the cantankerous asshole that I’m so set on never becoming, it’s probably a good time to talk about this video, which (so far) is the best thing on the channel. I haven’t seen many good Kyoukai no Kanata videos, which sucks because I really did enjoy the series. Even taken out of context, its scenes are beautiful to look at and seemed to have so much potential for good videos (whatever those would look like, I don’t know). And unlike some other light novel adaptations (go ahead, take your pick), I felt a real attachment to the characters and their relationships resonated with me and felt as believable as they can probably ever be when it comes to animated storytelling. I won’t speculate on why I feel that way, it’s a matter of personal taste and re-reading my long-abandoned draft of a review of the series (last saved apparently 2 years ago) gives me few clues about exactly how this series was a success where others only introduced me to realms of cliches I never knew existed. KnK was definitely packed with cliches, but it worked with them in entertaining and endearing ways and, most importantly, knew when to drop them in service of the believability of the scene and the characters. Ileia’s “Whoarriors” probably needs no introduction and has aged a lot better than the 2014 time-capsule that it could have been. “I See Fire” was another piece of solid editing and proof that you shouldn’t judge an AMV’s creativity by its title. And that brings me to this video, which may or may not have been inspired by an internet meme rooted in one of the most creatively-dead subcultures on the Internet, but succeeds in spite of its trappings.

The first thing you notice about”i doubt my love” isn’t the editing or the concept of the video, both of which are pretty straightforward, but the basic look of it, which I both love and feel hesitant to praise, maybe because it’s only a matter of time before a thousand other editors run their videos through the same scripts or filters to get the same effect (heck, this is probably happening already). This kind of 3-D color-blending (for lack of a better word, I really don’t know what any of this is called) isn’t really new, and it even shows up in a few of Daily Chill’s previous works, none of which felt like fully fleshed-out ideas, especially compared to how it’s employed here. One factor that makes this video involving and convincing in on a level that many comparable videos weren’t — to say nothing of a fun but ultimately confused concept like this — is how receptive KnK is to these effects. The effects are complimentary to the quality of the original footage and the result is both natural-looking and kinda hypnotic. Describing original anime footage as a “canvas” for effects would probably be the best way to describe everything that I think is wrong with AMVs today, but it’s a useful way to consider why some retro-flavored effects work better with certain anime than others.  KnK receives this treatment in a way that absorbs the effects into a homogeneous whole, or at least makes a convincing case for how analog-invoking effects can still work with shiny new digital anime.

Complaining about text in AMVs is just beating a dead horse at this point, so I won’t do it here. I didn’t mind the text in this video, which refreshingly breaks from simply narrating song lyrics and is either . The video is “dedicated to someone special” but the messages we read are a confusing clash of gratitude (“i’m lost without you”) and spite (“i didn’t lose you, you lost me”), which requires a whole new reading of KnK to even remotely apply to Mirai and Akihito.  Dropping these kind of lines into videos is kind of a Daily Chill trademark, although I was never really intrigued or moved by it in any of his (her?) previous works. Is the editor quoting dialog from these series (many of which I haven’t seen)? Are these intensely personal works created to exorcise emotions from a broken relationship? Are these phrases worked into Daily Chill’s videos solely to give them an air of world-weary heartbreak or ambiguous mystery? Who knows? The very fact that I’m left curious enough to wonder about it at all probably proves that it was far from a vacuous creative decision.

Up until now I really haven’t said anything at all about how this video was actually edited. There’s little here to really dig into. It’s very simply edited, with cuts landing on simple drum beats, rarely breaking from the 4/4 rhythm, and just enough moments of internal sync that pair up with interesting little parts in the track to keep things interesting. If this is a video that indulges in effects up to the point of excess, its actual construction is very restrained and unsurprising. Simple, however, does not imply that it’s ever predictable or boring, but that’s a matter of personal taste, isn’t it?

Potentially pretentious hallmarks all considered, something about this video just makes me want to give it the benefit of the doubt and buy into the world that it’s selling us, both because of a ton of intangible factors (get me into a good song I’d never heard before and you can probably get away with anything) and the fact that DC really does get better, even if only in increments, with each and every full-length video they put out. Much of the latest content on the channel has been in the form of short snippets of AMVs, which may be collaborations and/or iron chef-style videos. Technically, those are interesting enough, but I look forward to more full-length videos to see just where this editor is going next.

I just read CrackTheSky’s latest post about Studio Ghibli AMVs and it got me to thinking about these kind of videos, how I view them and emotionally respond to them and how that’s changed over time. “Miyazaki at Night” is one of my favorite Ghibli-themed AMVs and possibly the last one that left any kind of special impression on me. While there’s nothing flashy or especially surprising about how it’s edited, it establishes a unique tone and identity for itself through its unconventional choice of music and scene selection and refreshingly patient pacing, giving it an appeal that sets it far apart from other videos working with the same material. I love this video for what it is and find it interesting on its own terms, not necessarily just because of how it compares to other Ghibli videos. BUT comparing it to other such videos is an impulse I can never completely drop given how, consciously or not, so many of its predecessors tend to follow the same patterns or aim for the same emotional targets. The way these films subtly reference and recall one another, not to mention the special strain of sentimental nostalgia that Ghibli/Miyazaki films tend to invoke, practically invites this approach to editing. The first “Ghibli AMV” I ever saw, which both typifies and perfects this approach, was dwchang’s “Here Comes the Sun.”

I should probably note that I’m not claiming that this video was the first of its kind. “Memories Dance” — infuriatingly not on Youtube, as most Ghibli-content is automatically taken down from the site sooner or later, fair use or not — was released nearly three years before “Here Comes the Sun” and shares the same reverence for Studio Ghibli and many of the common themes and visual motifs that appear throughout many of its different titles. Others may have come even before that. But “Here Comes the Sun” was not only the first time I’d encountered such a concept, but also one of those formative viewing experiences that was so novel and pure and — have your favorite emesis receptacle ready for this one — real that I truly wish I could go back and re-watch it again for the first time. Mind you, this was at my first anime convention in 2004, in a packed contest screening that we had to wait in line for about 30 minutes to be allowed to enter (which is probably when Eva Bebop was shown) and where watching fan-edited videos in a dark room on a big screen implanted some nebulous sentiment in my head that I’m still trying to shape into something that’s productive and enlightening and not merely obsessive or fruitlessly nostalgic.

Countless editors have been bitten by the Ghibli bug since then. Even when they’re done very well, these kind of videos have a hard time really getting through to me anymore. I guess the concept simply doesn’t carry the same sentimental weight for me that it used to, not even as newer films (Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises) continue to expand the universe of cross-referencing characters and scenes that make these videos so emotionally provocative. There’s still endless potential for editors to make tribute-style AMVs that break this mold, which I really want to see more of, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with the impulse to create a traditionally epic, sentimental and optimistic video that mashes together shots from Kiki and Porco and Totoro and Mononoke. Who wouldn’t want to do that? But anyone who does would be doing themselves a big favor by watching this first. Either they’ll discover that the great AMV they want to make already exists… or they’ll hopefully be inspired to put their own twist on it and come out with something completely unexpected.

Or just throw a bunch of clips together with a random song and text all over the screen. It literally doesn’t matter, people will watch it.

Maybe this could have been a great AMV even if it hadn’t fitted so nicely into my preconceptions of what a Madoka + Bjork video “should” look like.  Thing is, once I saw what the source combination was, I not only was ridiculously hyped to watch it, but I suddenly also knew exactly how an AMV featuring this anime and this song had ought to fit together if it knew what was good for it. Of course, I had no such conscious thought but I certainly wasn’t ready approach this video objectively (assuming that I ever do when it comes to any AMV), and if I wasn’t fully aware of it, I certainly had an inkling that this was going to be a big disappointment if it dared to depart too far from my expectations. Finally watching the video, those expectations weren’t merely met, but totally realized both in terms of style and theme. So why did I feel so ambivalent about this?

Mind you, this was all about two years ago, when I first downloaded and watched this video and then forgot about it for more than a year. Looking back, I’m still struggling to understand why I underrated this AMV for so long. The color bar effects in the very beginning of the video seemed unnecessary — which is perhaps the worst thing you can say about them, really — and didn’t feel like a part of the video so much as something “layered” onto it. Or something like that. Never mind that Puella Magi Madoka Magica interweaves contrasting visual elements in every episode, dropping characters into settings that break all the rules about how anime is supposed to look. Admiring its unconventional style but being critical of an AMV for doing the same thing on a much less audacious scale is a curious response, indeed.

Coming back to this AMV some time last year, I couldn’t believe how I’d taken it for granted because it really is a terrific Madoka video. It plays off the mood of the series very well, not shying away from its darker themes but somehow conveying a hopeful message through it all, expressing both the sorrow you’d expect as well as an unexpected but most welcome sense of joy. There’s plenty of action packed into this video but it’s hardly a mindless pileup of the series’ many (undeniably dazzling) fighting scenes like so many one-dimensional (though often entertaining) Madoka AMVs tend to be. As for the music, this is not a song that lends itself to lyric sync very easily. And yet, there’s never a noticeable passage where the editor isn’t squeezing out interesting visuals that take their cue from the lyrics. As superficially pretty as this all is, it’s all in the service of a vision that leaves the viewer with strong impressions of the characters and a stylized, emotionally-charged glimpse into their conflicts. I believe that most AMVs attempt some of these tricks or at least find different ways to arrive at the same results. In other words, in terms of structure this will probably look like many other AMVs that you’ve already seen, although those videos (whatever they were) were likely nowhere near as visually compelling as this one or possessed a vision of the series and its characters that feels quite as inspired as “Madoka Nebula.” Well, that’s just my opinion and a matter of taste. If you believe that this is a better Madoka video, who am I to disagree?

Then again, this is an UnluckyArtist AMV and if you really needed to be told, that is something that will never let you down

There’s nothing in this post that I necessarily want to take back, but having a couple months to think about that list and to (re-)watch more AMVs, I’d like to mention a couple of notable AMVs that probably should’ve been mentioned there but weren’t. These were all well-received and went on to become, by one degree or another, “popular” videos that were widely-viewed and got lots of attention. Maybe that worked against them when trying to decide whether or not to include them on my list. After all, why shine a spotlight on videos that so many people had already seen? I don’t know the best way to go about making a list like that might be, but writing-off AMVs because they’re too popular is surely one of the worst ways to go about it. These three videos have stuck with me since I first watched them or finally broke down my misplaced skepticism. They’re not hidden gems, but they deserve all the attention they’ve received and more.

The Fangirl Chronicle
editor: Celia Phantomhive
anime: Watamote, Free!
song: JViewz – “Far Too Close” (Pegboard Nerd remix)
Despite her increasingly desperate attempts to make friends and make the most of her new life in high school, Tomoko Kuroki finds herself in one embarrassing situation after another throughout Watamote, a cringe-inducing comedy that polarized viewers between empathizing with her self-destruction and laughing at her misfortune. Discovering an anime like Free! would certainly give her a much-needed break from the trainwreck of her daily routine, and that’s just what happens in this AMV from Celia Phantomhive. I’ve never watched Free! but know enough about it to say that Tomoko’s euphoric reaction to the series is satisfyingly in-character, and frivolous as her triumph may be, it’s hard not to get caught up in her much-overdue joy. This is a misleadingly simple-sounding concept requiring a clever sleight of hand to actually pull off. There’s a lot of potential to jumble this project and its interweaving layers of different narratives into a big mess, but the end result is a delightfully upbeat video that’s easy to follow and, as AMV fanfiction, serves as a sweet coda to Watamote‘s somewhat ambivalent ending.

editor: lolligerjoj
anime: various
song: Huoratron – “New Wave of Mutilation”
This isn’t a video I’m eager to attempt to describe, either because I suspect that my words won’t do it justice or because I think that it’s a video that deserves to be experienced and judged first-hand — even though this AMV is not for everyone! — rather than picked apart and explained by some donkus with a blog. Although I’m forever on a quest to find the most artistic, unique, or strangest AMVs people have made, watching this one leaves me feeling completely out of my element and dumbstruck for anything resembling a meaningful response. There’s really no precedent to this sort of thing in the world of AMVs and the more I think about it, the less I’m sure that I’ve ever seen anything like it in any music video anywhere at all. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff really is what gets me most excited about AMVs, which even at their most creative rarely present such a challenging or visceral experience for the viewer. Maybe in its own way, it’s actually kind of pretty. Or is it?

Just Funkin’ Dandy
editor: Shin-AMV
anime: Space Dandy
song: Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”
Little by little, my completely insane and irrational disdain of Bruno Mars finally melted away last year and I suddenly found myself weirdly enthralled by his songs whenever I’d hear them on the radio or in a store or at work (save for this pile of crap which I will literally drop everything to turn off or flee from if necessary). But if “Uptown Funk” was a hit, I somehow never heard it until encountering this video, which should have been the AMV that defined 2015 but was somehow eclipsed by this and perhaps even this. No matter. “Just Funkin’ Dandy” was a great AMV that oozed with the cool confidence of its source material and actually seemed both fun and hip enough to pass for something entertaining and potentially-viral enough to step out of the AMV world’s unfortunately (but undeniably) uncool shadow, if only for a minute. This didn’t happen, but not because the video fell into any of the trappings of effect-heavy AMVs; it’s polished and refined to a degree that better resembles professionally-commissioned work than than anything put together by a lone editor on their own time. Even without the framework of the comic book page-effects, which can hypnotically slip by almost unnoticed thanks to the keen focus on internal sync (and some of the most effective lip-sync I’ve seen in an AMV), it’s just a feel-good AMV that could be a pleasant surprise for uninitiated casual fans and a real joy for those viewers who’re ready and willing to bask in its suave charm.

Finding a good AMV with Prince music to post this week wasn’t easy, but after much digging I finally discovered one that I really, really like. And while I haven’t seen this anime, this is one of those AMVs where that’s not really necessary to just sitting back and enjoying what’s happening on screen. How faithful is this series to the “real” Romeo and Juliet? Who cares!

Of course, putting an AMV with Prince music in it on Youtube was always a takedown waiting to happen (although some videos have somehow managed to slip by unnoticed for years), so it comes as little surprise that the original video was automatically muted by Youtube (who, free of charge, suggested the generic EDM track that’s now replaced “I Would Die 4 U”). The end result is an AMV that… isn’t bad, but to admit that would kind of be an insult to the editor and anyone who’s tried to edit an AMV with a thoughtful eye to how scenes relate to lyrics and an ear to how cuts can be placed according to the rhythmic or melodic elements of a song.

I have no Prince anecdotes to share here, so go read whatever Bono or Win Butler are saying about him (which is probably a lot unless they’re still telling everyone stories about all the times they hung out with David Bowie).

I’ve known about this AMV for a really long time.  We’re talking years, here. And I’ve known, more or less, what it was all about and also that it was supposed to be really good and maybe even important. I put off watching it for so long because I hadn’t gotten around to watching Trigun until a few months ago, and I didn’t want my experience of this video to be ruined (or tainted) by spoilers. And to get the most out of it, I’d want to know what I was looking at and understand the context of it all. I think this was a smart move, yet at the same time maybe it’s like someone putting off listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band because they hadn’t yet watched Help!. Maybe that’s an arbitrary comparison but maybe it’s not. For a long time, when critics or music fans of a certain age would discuss the greatest album of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s was always part of the conversation. That’s not really the case any more, nor would most Beatles fans even call it the best Beatles album. Likewise, this AMV was a bfd for a long, long time, and hung around the top of the best AMVs list for most of the 2000s. Fewer fans recognize its pioneering status today, but no video can stay trendy and popular forever (find any other fifteen year-old AMV that actually has and prove me wrong).

Of course, utilizing two of the most popular and iconic anime series of all time probably helped ensure its popularity, and it probably would have been well-received if the editor (E-Ko, who disappeared from the hobby over a decade ago) had put in even as little as one-tenth of the effort that they spent on it. But having put in that extra 90% (or 900%, I guess?), the end result is the video we have now and it’s really startling how well it all paid off. Where did I first hear about this video? At a convention panel years ago? “It’s a cool video, it makes Spike and Vash look like they’re really fighting each other!” At that point, those kind of AMVs had already established themselves as a genre in themselves (and, conceptually, have changed very little in the years since) and I couldn’t imagine how yet another one was going to impress me. Rather than watch it and decide for myself, over a very long period of time I went ahead and let my own vision of what this video probably looked like slowly form in my head. I highly recommend doing this with something in your life, as it’s a very humbling experience when you finally give in and see how much the real thing puts your ideal vision to shame.

My first impression of this was one of complete surprise. This wasn’t simply two sources slapped together to to kinda sorta work together, but a video that presented an actual story that was easy to follow,  required almost no suspension of disbelief to accept on its own terms, and was assembled more convincingly than anything else like it that I’ve ever seen. Even when they don’t completely win me over, most AMVs usually like this leave me feeling very impressed by the sheer effort that was spent on their creation. That’s certainly the case here, given the amount of masking that was required to bring the characters from these two series together into one world. And yet, the end product feels so seamless that it somehow feels completely effortless at the same time. I realize that doesn’t make any sense but these are just my impressions and when a video or any piece of art can make you feel comfortable with such contradictions, then you know it’s doing something special.

This AMV has stood the test of time not because it was “innovative” or “ahead of its time,” but because its pioneering use of effects was all the service of bringing a simple story to life. Maybe that could be said of a lot of AMVs, but how many have felt like such a natural extension or cohesion of two different worlds? I won’t attempt to search the archives of for the depths of Cowboy Bebop/Trigun crossover episode stories, but I’m sure they’re out there. I honestly wonder if any of them at all could possibly bring together both series’ elements of comedy and action into such a perfect balance as “Tainted Donuts” does. This is hardly a bold proclamation; declaring that this video is a classic and twisting a couple of superficial observations into the shape of critical insights tells the average viewer nothing they didn’t already know or would quickly figure out on their own. But even if spilling ink over this AMV only serves to acknowledge its existence, that’s still a post that’s been overdue far too long.

I’d originally planned on posting something about Elcalavero’s newest AMV, which I’m actually a much bigger fan of than the one I’m posting here, but why post something so accessible and entertaining when you can continue to alienate potential readers instead?

This AMV was made a couple of years ago and isn’t the strangest Serial Experiments Lain AMV I’ve ever seen (and never could be) but it goes beyond ditching plot and characterization more than most Lain videos ever dare to, which is saying a lot. It’s also one of the best ambient AMVs I’ve ever seen, which is a subjective categorization but most of us give genres a bit of leeway when it comes to AMVs.

I don’t have much to say about this. Stuck on writing a few different posts right now so I wanted to knock something out before the end of the month. These posts get shorter and shorter…

Don’t give up on this just because it begins with a series of still frames that will probably leave you wondering if your video player is frozen. It gets better after the first 20 seconds, but anyone hoping for a typical Trigun AMV should probably turn back now. There’s no shortage of the iconic action scenes from the classic series, but here they’re handled in a way that feels sort of… subdued? The epic awesomeness of these scenes don’t hit you over the head like you’d expect, but they still sneak up on you when you’re not looking and pull the rug right out from under your feet. Or maybe even when you’re actually looking right at them, which would be even more unexpected! I’ve never had a rug pulled out from under me and I’ve only ever seen it movies or cartoons or comics, so I don’t even know if it’s a real thing. But it’s a saying that everyone knows so it had to come from somewhere, right? Is it something people used to do all the time and now it’s just gone out of style? I don’t even know if that really describes how I feel about this AMV but it’s a start and maybe we’ll get there yet.

I’d actually been meaning to watch this for a very long time, since it comes up everytime I go looking for AMVs set to music by artists I like. I really like kid606 and have been into his music ever since, incidentally, around the same time I first got into AMVs. And wouldn’t you know it? I really, really like Trigun, too. Took me long enough to finally see it, but now that I have I can finally talk about anime with people whenever I take my time machine back to 1999! I had no idea if this video was going to be any good, but I had a hunch that it was going to be interesting and it certainly fulfilled those expectations (your mileage may vary). This certainly isn’t a depressing video but it really nails a certain sense of detached or repressed regret, which, intentional or not, is certainly appropriate for a character like Vash. You won’t re-experience the sense of dread or fearful remorse that hangs over so much of the series, but any editor striving to encapsulate that in a single video might be biting off more than they can chew.

I don’t know what to say about the shot at 2:38 and the few others like it that follow except that you really can’t complain about them being expected or too predictable.

Cross this video with Nopy’s Sky Journey and something else that I’ve yet to see in an AMV and you might get the video that I’m currently trying to make and will probably finish sometime in 2020 if I don’t pick up the pace sometime soon.

I used to be really into making lists, especially at year’s end when I couldn’t help but join in as all my favorite magazines, websites and (especially) fellow Internet-posters would tally up their favorite music and films of the past twelve months. This was an annual ritual for me that I’d always put a ridiculous amount of preparation into, and the satisfaction of completing a lengthy list that I felt strongly about was, justified or not, a really satisfying sensation. In hindsight, I think this was a big waste of time but realistically I can’t think of anything else I’d have been doing instead that I wouldn’t say the same about. I’ve been busier than ever over the last two years, which has lead to a decline in the efforts that I put into this sort of thing and left me feeling like I’m doomed to become one of those people who gives up trivial stuff he enjoys because of… life? Even more detrimental to my regular list-making impulse was the breakdown of most of the Internet communities that played a huge part in motivating it in the first place. It’s hard to keep a message board going strong for over a decade, but the departure of key members, technical breakdowns and awful moderation (completely cutting off new members is a death sentence for any forum) slowly but surely whittled down my favorite board into a pathetic shell of its former self that signaled the death knell of its usual end-of-year music polls, which had all but become the engine for keeping the board going in the first place. For lack of a better term, general list-fatigue probably wore me out on doing this more than anything else, though.

I’d put the same effort into making lists for movies, but here’s where time and money really became a limiting factor into what I could do. Looking back on 2015, almost every movie I saw in theaters was a big studio release, and our regular trips to the city to see hard-to-find films were all but put on hold. What was my favorite movie of 2015? Inside Out? Star Wars? Those were legitimately good films, but not enough to justify making a list. And putting albums aside — my top 50 is a shaky top 10 this year — putting together my usual singles/songs list didn’t even cross my mind this year. I’ve heard all of two songs on this list and I’m afraid to dig any deeper to see how out of touch I’ve actually become at this point.

My AMV-viewing habits are kind of unusual and help to ensure that I probably miss out on a lot of good stuff every year (which I’m okay with if that means finding it next year or eventually even later). Half the time I spend watching AMVs is re-watching old favorites or digging through old videos of years past for forgotten gems or horrid-yet-fascinating disasters. Still, there were a lot of great videos released this year that I feel compelled to recognize in some way. This isn’t and could never be anything close to the list and commentary compiled by CrackTheSky over on his blog. And due to the effort he put into his list and the overall redundancy of my own selections, I wasn’t sure if there was any point to me posting a list of my own at all. And yet, here it is, not an extensive BEST AMVS OF ALL TIME 2015 manifesto, but a quick review of what I enjoyed most and hopefully a few words about the how and the why of it all. This is only a top ten, and since a short list dominated by a handful of names wouldn’t have been very fun, I’m limiting this to one video per editor. No countdown tension here: these are in alphabetical order because I’d rather get this done quickly than fuss over the order of it.

The Creepening
editor: Chikasole
anime: The Flowers of Evil
song: Jaymes Young – “Two More Minutes”
So yeah, usually I won’t watch a video if it features a title I haven’t already seen. I’m super-paranoid about spoilers when it comes to anything that I have even the mildest interest in eventually watching, and I’m sure this video is full of them. But rules are made to be broken, right? This is probably the coolest video I watched in 2015, which is probably a weird impression to have of something so unabashedly disturbing. I could do without the text — pleasing to the eye as it is — but there’s else nothing I’d want to change about this video. Howard Hawks’ quote about what makes a good movie (“Three good scenes. No bad ones.”) surely applies to this AMV; there’s too many memorable moments to list, which is usually what you get whenever there’s such a perfect synthesis of mood and seemingly effortless sync in every sense of the word.

Death Grips x Serial Experiments Lain AMV
editor: Bry__
anime: Serial Experiments Lain
song: Death Grips – “Hacker”
The continued exponential growth of Youtube has safely ensured that we all have enough videos to watch for a lifetime. This is true even speaking strictly of AMVs, a fact I came to grips with long ago but never understood the importance of until now. Even with a handful of giant channels dominating the site (and sometimes attempting to profit off it), there are still a number of self-contained microscenes with almost no connection to them, not to mention the Org, the convention circuit, or any of the expected hubs of activity in the hobby.  The “candy” AMV scene is probably the most notable of these (try as they may to ape and eclipse some of the best-known AMVs out there), while on the fringe, fans of vaporwave (a genre I feel extremely ambivalent about for reasons I don’t have room to ramble on about here) continue to mine the past for incidental brilliance like it’s still 2011. Occasionally, this takes the form of AMVs, ones which usually revel in repetition, slow-pacing and an aesthetic that’s too complicated to try to explain in a brief blurb like this, but has little to do with mirroring the styles and trends of popular editing.

This AMV (frustratingly untitled, as so many videos seem to be these days) comes from an editor working squarely within that scene, but amps up the effort past the typical aimless drifting or 90s fetishization you’d expect by several orders of magnitude. There’s nothing “vaporwave” about music from a band like Death Grips and Bry__ cuts this video with the pace that you’d probably expect with it. It’s a jarring four-and-a-half minutes that wrings every bit of ominous weirdness out of of Serial Experiments Lain, works it into a rhythmic fit of gltchy footage and anything-goes effects and splatters you right in the face with it. There have been plenty of AMVs that run Lain through the meat grinders of nu-metal or Matrix-club trance, but this is the first rap AMV I’ve seen for the series and it’s also one of the best, period.

Follow My Lead
editor: Koopiskeva
anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Baka and Test
song: Girl’s Day – “Female President”
I don’t care how many AMVs you’ve made or what software you’ve mastered in the process, none of that can fully prepare anyone to make something like this. Even with all the care in the world devoted to crafting a set, lighting it, and actually using photography in a video (to say nothing of the tedious work of accurately matching the choreography of the original video to a frightening degree), there was never any guarantee that any of this was even going to work. But the synthesis of live action with animated clips feels completely natural, integrated so smoothly that you’ve got to wonder if viewers might’ve overlooked it altogether (anyone who still needs convincing or craves a different experience should check out the all-dance version of the video). At this point, it was hard to imagine how an editor like Koopiskeva — wait, are there any others? — might return after such a long hiatus. He may not have topped himself here, but pulling off something as completely unexpected as this may have been an even bigger challenge with an even bigger reward: a rare AMV with no true precedent and a completely unique viewing experience.

Get Better
editor: CrackTheSky
anime: The Tatami Galaxy
song: Bleachers – “Get Better”
Honestly, Victims of the Night was my favorite CrackTheSky AMV of last year and I was looking forward to writing about it here. Tragically, it seems to have been removed from Youtube, or at least blocked in our part of the world, so I’m posting the also-amazing Get Better here in its place. But I’ll mention Victims of the Night anyway because I have a real anecdote that I wanted to share and I don’t want it to go to waste! We saw the video as part of the AMV contest at Anime Central, and although it didn’t win, it elicited the most enthusiastic response from the audience, surely none of whom showed up expecting to watch a Kimagure Orange Road video. On the ride home that night, my girlfriend commented out of the blue about how much she’d enjoyed it, despite having zero familiarity with the anime or even the song. One of the first videos to use “Shut Up and Dance” (preceding dozens or perhaps hundreds of others, all of which have been removed from Youtube save for those featuring cover versions of the song or the most grotesquely pitch-shifted versions of the original you could possibly imagine), Victims of the Night was definitely “old school” but felt every bit as vibrant as any brand new 1080p dance video. I know that reads like blurb hyperbole but I assure you it is not.

Having actually seen The Tatami Galaxy and knowing its story and themes, Get Better presented itself to me with meanings and a familiarity that I can’t bring to Victims of the Night, so fairly comparing the two is kind of impossible for me right now. Get Better isn’t necessarily better or worse but it feels staggeringly bigger, not simply in the sense of using a newer and more vibrant-looking source, but in how it pairs the anime and the song together to tell a story, deliver a lighthearted but sincerely hopeful message and invoke a genuinely cathartic response. So yeah, the lyric sync in this AMV is some of the best I’ve seen in a while, and the internal sync brings the whole thing to life in a way that elevates it beyond there mere act of pairing an anime with a suitable song and hitting all the beats.

It’s hard enough edit a single AMV that’s really great; only a couple of editors were able to do that more than once last year (PieandBeer, UnluckyArtist, Copycat Revolver, to name a few). As prolific and consistently great as those editors were (and still are!), I feel like the half-dozen (or so) AMVs released by CrackTheSky over the last twelve months represented a prodigious creative tear that was on a whole other level. I haven’t seen all of the videos he made before 2015 (there are quite a few!) but those I have seen are very good. Still, what he did last year amounted to the kind of big leap that you can count yourself lucky to witness up-close if you ever get the chance.

I’m Alive!
editor: Hirou Keimou
anime: Your Lie in April
song: Magic Man – “Texas”
I started writing a blog entry on Your Lie in April a few months ago, and I doubt I’ll ever finish it because it’s really gotten out of control and I don’t think I can rein it back in at this point. I’d love it if I could just talk about the series itself but instead I keep trying to talk about how it made me feel and why I related to it and why it is that I might feel that way and whether that’s a good or a bad thing and whether or not that matters… I don’t remember where I left off at this point but unless I have a burst of inspiration coupled with a temporary block in whatever self-consciousness is (probably wisely) holding me back, it’s probably never going to get posted.

One issue I keep digging into is the angst and tribulation experienced by the main characters, and how a viewer could “enjoy” watching such a depiction. Even if there’s an appetite for empathy at work here, I hesitate to bring that up as a valid emotional response to the series because I feel like it risks cheapening the emotional impact of the story. Sometimes feeling bad for someone else (in fiction, ideally) actually feels good! I’ve done a horrible job of explaining this in a few sentences, but what it boils down to is that I’d usually prefer watching a story about people in distress than one that’s all about comfort and happiness, so obviously this sort of thing is my bag, baby.

So it’s funny how this AMV emphasizes the happiness and fulfillment experienced by the characters, and has really made me call into question whether or not that was the whole point of the series in the first place. I’m Alive! does not turn the whole series on its head or put any kind of “positive” spin on its events. It’s simply optimistic and hopeful and, while not omitting the conflicts in the story, captures the series at its most joyful. This shouldn’t seem like such a radically unexpected move, and maybe it isn’t at all, but it’s so different from my personal perspective that it feels like a revelation.

Knucklehead McSpazatron
editor: Nellogs
anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
song: Two Door Cinema Club – “Undercover Martyn”
This video still feels very new to me, but I have a feeling that I’ll still be watching it years from now. Lord only knows how many Evangelion AMVs I’ve seen at this point. Even some of my favorites have been derivative. It’s all been done! Or so I thought before I watched this. No one is ever going to ask me what anime music videos are or ask me to show them one as an example, but if they did, this would probably be the one I’d reach for (pray this never actually happens, it would inevitably turn out really weird for both us). Heck, will someone who knows what they’re doing just embed this at the top of this entry?  We need to reclaim achievements like this as a universal reminder of what this medium can accomplish.

Magical Morphin Power Rangers
editor: UnluckyArtist
anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
song: Ron Wasserman – “Go, Go Power Rangers”
“Parody” has never been my favorite AMV genre, but who doesn’t love a well-done movie trailer or television opening? This video not only succeeds by nailing a source combo that’s instantly recognizable, but is expertly-crafted to make a seamless product that’s convincing enough to stand on its own.

editor: Copycat_Revolver
anime: various
song: Spoon – “Don’t You Evah”
You’re on your own with this one. What does it all mean? That’s up to you to decide.

editor: PieandBeer
anime: Paprika
song: Beck – “Dreams”
No AMV on this list grew on me over time quite like this one, which I certainly enjoyed the first time I watched it but didn’t give much credit to. Paprika is a movie with so many cool scenes and I’ve seen it featured in a few AMVs that played out like simple compilations of its most psychedelic and twisted visuals. That’s cool and everything, but never leaves much an impression on me. In the hands of a lesser editor, maybe that’s the kind of video Oneiro would have been, but PieandBeer syncs nearly every shot in a way that’s purposeful in hooking the viewer and bringing the film and the song into a synthesis that feels like it was meant to be. This was the first time I heard “Dreams” and now I can’t ever listen to the song without thinking about this AMV (as a bonus, PieandBeer’s audio edit shaves the song down to its most essential parts; even the radio edit of this song goes on for a minute too long). Paprika isn’t an old movie, but it’s refreshing to see someone pluck it out of the “old” sources pile and really do something exciting with it.

Paper Farewell
editor: shumira_chan
anime: Video Girl Ai
song: A-Ha – “Take on Me”
It only took a few seconds of cutting through those comic book manga pages in the opening of this AMV for me to get goosebumps, but I’ve always adored this song’s original music video. This isn’t a remake of that video but a reimagining of sorts using clips from Video Girl Ai. I haven’t seen that anime and although I know it was something of a big deal when it was made, I can only presume that its true purpose was to eventually end up in this AMV because shumira_chan fits it into “Take on Me”‘s narrative so naturally. With an iconic early-90s anime and probably the essential 80s song, brought together into an AMV that resembles a lost early-2000s classic (all aged in the best possible way), this AMV is a nostalgia bomb that crosses generations and will leave you wondering when it was actually made. This isn’t a novelty, though, but one of several videos released last year by a very talented editor that I hope gives us even more to watch in 2016. edit: I now see that this video is not from 2015 and is actually at least 5 years old. Oops!