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