2014 in retrospect: amvs

2014! What a year. I did a lot in terms of AMVs; besides getting back into the hobby in a general sense, I released three videos, attended NDK, and started working on the AMV Genome Project. That last bit has caused me to continually be watching videos, all the time. As a result I did see quite a few more from this year than I would have otherwise, but still not a huge number. In either case, I did want to list out my ten favorite videos from 2014, and I will do so below.

Just something I noticed while composing this list — it is full of really simple, no-frills videos. Although there are one or two exceptions, for the most part the videos that have been the most memorable to me are the ones that probably weren’t trying to be when they were created. It’s ironic, but I have found this to be true of AMVs in general. Those videos that try to stand out by being big and complex and ridiculous are completely forgettable in the end. That simple fact gives me hope that maybe I have a shot at being relevant years from now, even when I can’t keep up with the technique.

Time will tell. For now, here are my favorites from the last year. Enjoy!

10. Cirera – A Little Pain

Is old-school being brought back? Hard to say, but there were a few old-school style videos released this year, my favorite of which was Cirera’s A Little Pain. I don’t know why but I tend to be drawn to Sailor Moon AMVs, despite having never seen the series myself, and this one is one of my favorites that I saw all year (and having gone back through lots and lots of older videos throughout the year, I saw plenty of them). In a time when AMVs are slowly becoming more and more visually complex and retina-assaulting, filled with motion graphics and other BS that nobody’s going to remember or think is impressive in two years, it’s nice to see that there are still videos being released that show a sound grasp of the basic things like simple cuts and storytelling that never change and will forever be the building blocks of the greatest AMVs.

9. viper1255 – Fallin’!!!

I remember when I first started out on the .org, viper1255 was one of the first people whose videos I watched and really liked (his 1000 Miles Worth Walking video is still an outstanding piece of work, eight years later), so my affinity for Fallin’!!! might be based on that nostalgia. But then when I try to look at it objectively, even through some of the glaring technical flaws it ends up being one of the most fun videos I saw all year. His attention to detail when it comes to lip sync is still to be topped — you want a lip sync video done right, and in a way that’s not completely static and boring? Watch a viper1255 video, and take notes.

8. Scintilla – Mitakihara

“Grower of the Year”…if any video deserves this title, it’s Mitakihara. I didn’t like it at all when I first saw it in Pro, but the more I watched it, the more my tune changed…and now I’m quite sure that it’s one of the year’s best. It’s a dark, surreal, and immense video that puts the focus on the city, Mitakihara, from Madoka Magica. It builds slow, but the payoff is enormous — one of the all-time great AMV climaxes, if you ask me. I know I’m prone to hyperbole when I talk about videos I like, so you can take that last statement with a grain of salt, but if nothing else believe me when I say that this is a stunning work worth remembering.

7. MaboroshiStudio – The Will To Win

I have some friends with pretty passionate opinions on this video — specifically their opinions on Maboroshi’s video vs. this one — and we just choose not to discuss it because AMVs are serious business and screw you all Maboroshi’s video is better.

…Sorry sorry! Got carried away there. In reality, the two videos are very similar — Kensh1n’s tends towards the action-y side while Maboroshi’s is more drama-oriented, and when it comes down to it I think that’s probably why I prefer Maboroshi’s. It’s no real surprise that two Shingeki no Kyojin videos (possibly more, I haven’t checked YouTube) have been made to this song — it was practically written for SnK, and its huge, theatrical sound make it any editor’s wet dream. Maboroshi edited this video brilliantly, using simple cuts and lots of internal sync to get the job done. It leaves you winded by the end, just like any given episode of SnK. In fact, if you get the urge to start watching SnK again, just queue up The Will To Win. It’s the same fricking thing.

6. Gorz – Gatsby

I don’t know what it about this video that I like so much — the song? The effects? The editing? Or the fact that this video was entirely constructed in a week in the first round of The Quickening? That last bit always blows my mind when I think about it — whether or not you like this video, to come to terms with the fact that it was all done in a week is…impressive, if nothing else. At its heart, Gatsby is a stupid dance video like so many others, but it is a drop-dead gorgeous one, with lots of interesting effects and colors and text work. What separates this one from the faceless thousands just like it? Heck if I know, but it’s one of my most-watched videos from this year and I just cannot get enough of it.

5. slackergirl – Spiritgazing

I know that a lot of people are probably not going to prefer this video over the many other, more well-known “-gazing” videos out there (Stargazing, Moongazing, Firegazing, Sungazing). Having not seen any of the other ones myself though, that was never a concern for me — and I’m grateful, because I love this video and it convinced me to finally watch through Kamichu! (which is excellent so far). It’s pure hope and joy and all things good. It’s adorable and touching and inspirational and happy and I can’t say enough favorable things about the various ways this video makes me want to express all the positive emotions that well up in me when I watch it.

4. Megamom – When I See You From Below

If you’re like me, you might have a weird hangup about watching Wolf Children, despite the universal acclaim it seems to have gotten. I dunno man, the furry vibes…just not for me, I guess. But even so, Megamom’s When I See You From Below makes me second-guess myself. The thing I love about Megamom is he has big, awesome ideas that he’s able to execute in big, awesome ways, but he’s just as capable when it comes to making simple, down-to-earth videos like this one. Criticize anime-summary AMVs all you want, but when done properly they can be some of the absolute best out there, and When I See You From Below is a bullseye if ever there was one. Nothing but crossfades and hard cuts to be found in this one, but the story it tells hits me in the gut, and that’s really all I ask for with a video like this.

3. Ardamaeus – Waking Summer’s Dream

Wow…what a surprise. Ardamaeus, who has had an .org account since 2005, made her first (and so far only) video this last year, and it’s a doozy. Fair warning — if you haven’t seen Hotarubi No Mori E, you might want to go watch that first (it’s a 45-minute movie and it’s fantastic, you have no excuse not to). If you have seen Hotarubi No Mori E, then a different, more obvious warning is in order: You will walk away from this video with tears in your eyes and a hole in your heart. This video beautifully captures the essence of the anime — it’s simple, heartwarming, and heartbreaking with a well-told, clear story. There’s nothing extraneous, nothing extravagant, and as a result, it speaks to you as the viewer on the ground level of your emotions — right where they’re most accessible, and the most impossible to ignore.

2. sasukechanx – A Trillion Somethings Right

I’ve already written at length regarding my feelings on this video in a previous post, so I won’t spend too much time repeating myself — to keep it short, I have no idea why I like this video. From an objective standpoint, this video shouldn’t be anywhere on this list, much less sitting at number 2, but here we are. All I know is that I have watched no other video from 2014 more than I watched this one. As generic as it is, and with as many missed editing opportunities as it contains, it shouldn’t be topping anyone’s favorite lists, but I can confidently say that this is slowly becoming one of my all-time favorite AMVs. If you watch this video and walk away wondering what in the world I’m thinking including it on here, rest assured that I have no idea either.

1. BecauseImBored1 – Otaku Paradise

This was a difficult list to assemble. 2014 was, mostly, a pretty good year for AMVs, as I’ve already said. I had to cut a bunch of videos that I really didn’t want to, and about which I could say numerous good things. See below for those videos.

That said though, it was never in question as to which video would top my list. Otaku Paradise is that video, and for reasons that are deeply personal and may not translate to every AMV viewer. Simply, though, for me this video serves as a persistent reminder of what it is that I love about anime and AMVs and editing in general — the people. The various conventions I’ve attended through the years have collectively been some of the greatest moments in my entire life up to this point; I’ve met some of my best friends and shared experiences with them that could not be replicated in any meaningful way somewhere else.

Beyond that though, I feel like Otaku Paradise does a bang-up job of expressing the spirit of unity and togetherness that is present in a con setting. There’s just something about attending a con — no matter how much you might dislike certain types of people, or even specific persons, when you’re in that setting all you can see is a bunch of geeks and nerds freely expressing themselves in a way that they can’t anywhere else. It makes it really hard to hold grudges or adopt any kind of negative attitude when that’s the case. For three days, you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who, no matter how different they are from you at any other time of the year, share in your love and appreciation for a foreign culture and have come to celebrate that love. It’s awesome.

Otaku Paradise is the purest expression I’ve found yet (in AMV form) of that unity and oneness. It’s unapologietically uplifting and positive. If you’ve ever been to a con, Otaku Paradise will force you to remember the best parts of that experience. If you never have, it’s an intimate look into the culture that surrounds and maintains them, and you will want to be a part of it when all is said and done.

Honorable mentions:
-Anicsi – Stray Tracks
-BakaOppai – A Piece of Toast
-BasharOfTheAges – A Way
-James Blond – Rebecca!
-Koopiskeva – (not)knifeparty
-Koopiskeva – (kinda)dancefight
-MycathatesyouAMV – Chi & The Not So Company
-OkamiRvS – Quiet
-seasons – Living For Today
-slimed – Maelstrom
-VivifxAMV – Ship Happens
-ZaCloud – She’s Not Like The Other Girls


About crakthesky

Early 30s and vocal about my subculture.
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7 Responses to 2014 in retrospect: amvs

  1. Seasons says:

    I’m holding back on watching a couple of these for spoiler reasons. Otherwise, these are all great. I’d only seen 2 of these before now.

    I feel the same way about “Gatsby” as I did about “Pencilhead.” Obviously it’s a big achievement and really fun, but I feel no small amount of anxiety when I watch it because I feel like it’s pushing the hobby into advanced territory that audiences will come to regularly expect, but which I know I won’t ever be able to keep up with as an editor. I’m definitely not expecting to make anything like it or to ever hit it big doing what I’m doing right now, but I’d like to stick around and enjoy this for a little while longer before it all morphs into something I no longer recognize or participate in in any meaningful way.

    I love Megamom’s AMVs. They’re so simple and there’s no gimmicks in them at all but he’s able to squeeze more emotion out of his sources than I knew there ever was there. And I really liked Wolf Children (despite having to watch it from the front row of the theater we saw it in, which was not a pleasant experience at all).

    It’s hard to explain why but I’m kind of ambivalent about the #1 video. But I’ve got to admit that’s a really creative concept that I’ve never seen before and it was well-made.


    • crakthesky says:

      Re: Gatsby. I almost feel like we’re at a place in the hobby where certain standards are coming to be expected of certain types of videos. This has even affected my own expectations; if I see a multi-source dance video using modern anime, I’m definitely expecting lots of colors and sophisticated effects use. I don’t like this trend, but it just seems to me like the expectations in general seem to be a lot higher than they’ve ever been.

      …That said, I don’t think simple AMVs are going anywhere. I think there will always be a place and an audience for no-frills videos that do their job without all the fluff. Even the complex videos are built off of this foundation, and I think people recognize this and will continue to make good, basic videos. And in any case, if the hobby moves on to bigger things, I’m not going anywhere either :P

      Re: Megamom. He’s generally not too gimmicky with his videos, but…he definitely can be:

      These aren’t bad videos, but sometimes he does latch onto one weird or unique idea and ride it through to the end. I actually think this is a good thing but…it can feel “gimmicky” sometimes.

      Re: Otaku Paradise. Yeah, not everyone’s going to connect with this one, and generally I don’t like such obvious emotional manipulation. But I’m willing to forgive that sin as it really does summon up happy memories for me, and I feel that it’s *very* well-edited.


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  4. Scintilla says:

    Just saw this now. Wow.

    I was actually feeling despondent enough about the reception “Mitakihara” had been getting in the judging that I didn’t bother asking for it to be shown in the AWA Pro block at the con that year, even as Jingoro was telling us it was our last chance to request our videos, so I never actually saw it on the big screen… a mistake I was able to correct this AWA (my last for the foreseeable future) when I got to do an Editor Spotlight.
    Seeing a reaction like yours helps immensely. So, thank you.

    Also, you won’t see me argue against “Otaku Paradise” as #1. So much feeling.

    Liked by 2 people

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