Makoto Shinkai has made a name for himself amongst AMV editors; as the creative genius behind Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised In Our Early Days and others, his works are, quite simply, some of the most fabulously gorgeous things to look at in the entire realm of 2D animation. Even if he’s not a great story writer at the best of times, watching his films is a consistently captivating experience. His works often deal with the theme of love at a distance, and none shows this quite as brilliantly as his magnum opus, 5 Centimeters Per Second.
Now, if you’re the type of person who keeps up with this blog, chances are you’ve seen a decent number of AMVs in your day, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if you’ve seen more than your fair share of 5CPS videos. It’s nearly impossible to escape these videos, and it’s really no surprise; AMV editors tend to be drawn to the really pretty stuff, and Shinkai’s works always deliver in spades.
Fact of the matter is, I’m sick to death of Shinkai videos. Having made several myself (one of which won an award entitled “Best Shinkai Video” in a Pro contest that had enough Shinkai videos to warrant the creation of such a specific award), and having seen more than I can count, there are few things that will make me more hesitant than watching yet another 5CPS video. They all tend to boil down to the same basic story, and they’re all (mostly) boring. With a few exceptions, most videos that use Shinkai’s work as a source contain absolutely no surprises.
It’s with hesitancy, then, that I post Anicsi‘s video Chain of Memories here. The problem with this video is that you’ve seen it before. It may not have used this song, and it may have been edited differently, but you’ve seen this before. Many, many times. This isn’t a video that strives to do something different, or to stand out in any way; it’s wholly unoriginal and entirely predictable. Here, I’ll ruin it for you: Guy longs for girl, doesn’t have a happy ending. Sound familiar?
But…you see, this video is a concrete example of something I wish I saw more of on a regular basis: heart. This video is pure emotional expression, to the point where I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an editor so clearly through his/her work before. I’ve edited for catharsis in the past, and I’ve made videos out of emotional things I was working through at the time. But looking back, I’m not sure how clearly those emotions were conveyed in the videos themselves. It’s really not an easy thing to do, now that I actually sit down and think about it; you are, after all, pretty limited in what you can express by the footage you are constrained to.
This video though…when you watch this video, it is impossible not to feel the things Anicsi was going through when she made this. It’s necessary for you to read the full description of what drove her to make this video, because when you do…the video just hits really, really hard. It feels like every other 5CPS video, yes, but there’s a key difference — where other editors make their videos based on emotions conveyed within the source itself, Anicsi made this video based on her emotions, and nothing else. It’s a desperately sad video, because you as the viewer are seeing into the editor herself, if only a little. It’s entirely humanizing. It’s not a video where you can separate yourself from her — an incredible feat that few are able to pull off.
It’s my favorite 5CPS video in recent memory, and by far one of the most emotionally engaging videos I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter that I knew as soon as the first piano note played and the first scene flashed how this video would play out, nor does it matter that it’s basically a re-hash of the story within 5CPS — when I first watched this video, it was like I’d never seen a 5CPS video before. It completely took my breath away and continues to do so. It’s brilliant.