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I attended Anime Central in 2009 and found myself at the “iron editor” competition on one of the nights. I wasn’t sure what, exactly, it was supposed to be, but there wasn’t anything else interesting on the schedule that evening before I was planning to go home for the night, so I gave it a try. The AMV room was a medium-sized conference space with seating for at least 200 people or so. I really don’t know how to describe how big the room was other than to say that it was considerably smaller than the huge room that AMVs are screened in at Sakura-Con, and considerably larger than the tiny meeting room that ACEN has confined their AMV programming to in more recent years. The iron editor contest itself played a small part in the entertainment that evening; there were lots of upbeat and fun AMVs screened, along with contests for viewers to participate in. It was a very communal experience, and even if you weren’t volunteering to test your anime knowledge for prizes, the relaxed and pleasant atmosphere made for a spirited and fun way to wind down the evening, one that was focused on anime fandom and culture, rather than the comparatively violent and non anime-related dances that are the biggest nighttime draws for most ACEN congoers.
This AMV played no small part in my enjoyment of that evening. Before that night, I’d never seen an interactive AMV like this one, and I don’t think I’ve seen any since. I believe that the video had just recently been made, and that ACEN was one of the first conventions it was shown at (if not the first). Because its creator made it specifically for public screenings, it was never put online until someone recorded it bootleg-style at another convention a year later. Now it’s become a convention staple, which is sort of a blessing and a curse. It’s great because this AMV is extremely creative and well-made, and deserves to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. At the same time, it’s a little unfortunate, given that every time I’ve seen it since, there have been many other viewers in attendance who’ve made it their mission to yell out the answers to the trickier parts of the video, essentially spoiling the surprises for anyone else who hadn’t seen the video.
There once was a time when conventions served as gathering points for anyone interested in this niche hobby, and were the only place that such videos could been seen. It’s been more than a decade since that was even remotely true, as practically all AMV sharing and viewing now takes place online. Convention attendance is still on the rise overall, but there are still lots of fans who have no idea that AMVs were once a featured attraction of them. Now that practically every AMV ever made can be viewed online — “lost” AMVs and those featuring music from Wind-Up Records aside — many fans don’t see the point of spending any time at a convention watching them. Obviously, they haven’t been in a packed room that’s showing this video. Although its impact is lessened with each viewing, it’s still a classic that makes any convention it’s shown at a little more fun than it would be without it.