(f0rmerly the eɪ ɛm vi chronicles, but enough of that nonsense)
About four months ago I published an entry about Digimon, in which I recalled how I first got into the series and attempted to articulate precisely what it was that I liked so much about it. This was an entry I was especially eager to get around to, as I’ve always enjoyed the “personal essay” approach of writing about art and media, and I felt that my experiences with this series in particular had effected me enough to build an interesting entry around.
What I wanted to do was talk about what was going on in my life when I first started watching the series, how that effected my experience with it and what it meant to me in my slow development as an anime fan. I wanted to write something very personal, something that would finally sum up everything that I wanted to say about the series and what it ultimately meant to me, but I think I stopped short. Was I afraid of revealing too much? Too embarrassed? And besides, who would possibly want to read all this, anyway? This was before I discovered the ongoing Diary of an Anime Lived project, in which bloggers write, in honest, vivid, and sometimes less-than-flattering detail about how some of their favorite titles have touched their lives. If I’d known about it at the time, my entry might have taken a much different shape.
I actually thought about writing my own DoaAL entry, but I’ll spare myself the grief and post two of my favorite AMVs instead. Despite being a relatively popular series, it’s difficult to find good-quality Digimon AMVs. This is due in part to the series never being released on DVD outside of Japan, meaning that editors have had to search the Internet for footage and make due with whatever they could. And visual quality aside, there’s just been a lack of creativity in general when it’s come to Digimon AMVs. I tried to write more about this but it came out reading like an angry rant. That’s not really my intent here.
One editor, however, has made a name for himself cutting excellent Digimon AMVs, two of which I’ll post here. Going by the name Hagaren Viper on both AMV.org and Youtube, he’s the mind behind what’s probably recognized as the Digimon AMV, the high-energy collage titled “Digital Phenomenon.” The video blends five seasons of the series together into one unified whole, focusing on the characters but avoiding anything resembling a narrative in favor of an abstract, effects-driven approach. The video pulls off a difficult trick: somehow making the series appear cooler than it actually is.
I’m usually not a fan of music like this, but when it’s combined with great clip selection and excellent editing like this, it’s hard not to be sucked into the feel of the whole thing.
The entire concept of the video was borrowed from another AMV, the much more famous (as far as these things actually go) Naruto AMV, “Phenomenon,” which has inspired countless other homages and imitations over the years. I have yet to watch any others besides “Digital Phenomenon,” although I’d be surprised if they were half as good. As much as I say I value creativity and originality over simple favoritism in audio and video sources, I think I prefer the Digimon remake to the original.
A band like Thousand Foot Krutch isn’t that far removed from most of the heavy, aggressive rock music that editors love to use in videos like this. Like I said, even though I’ll admit that I can enjoy it in the hands of the right editor, I’ve never been much of a fan of this kind of music. I tend to gravitate towards electronic or beat-oriented music. Unfortunately, in the scheme of things, this isn’t the music of choice for most AMV editors. But even here, Hagaren Viper comes through for me again with an AMV set to a Chromeo song. Well, almost.
Part of an unfinished multi-editor project, in which song samples were randomly assigned to different editors, HV didn’t choose this track so much as reach into a virtual hat and pull it out by chance. And, for at least 45 seconds, he really makes the most of it. This video reimagines Digimon not as a strictly-for-kids anime, or as fodder for a thousand monster-battle AMVs, but as something genuinely… cool. And I think that’s how I’ve always felt about the series. Behind the fact that it was, in fact, an anime originally made for kids in Japan, and a capably-dubbed but nonetheless culturally-whitewashed import, I was always in love with the entire look of the show, namely the character design and the potential behind those characters. There was an appeal in it for me that was distinctly youthful, but not childish. Obviously, my personal interpretation of it was shared by few fans, if any at all. But in this AMV, you can get a glimpse of what I always sort of wanted the series to be. If that makes any sense.
I’m not sure if HR really stands behind this video, or just regards it as a lesser scrap among his AMVs. But I love the visual sync, the choice of micro-length clips employed (which could have been just about anything, but are really well selected here), and the clean, crisp edits and subtle effects. But is there something inherently corny about the entire concept? A love triangle between three kids, with a hipster-approved electrofunk soundtrack? And on top of all of that, lip-syncing? I don’t know. If it’s wrong to enjoy this, then maybe I don’t want to be right.