surfacing

I feel like this blog has diverged somewhat from its original intended purpose; I haven’t posted anything AMV-related in almost three months, and even then that was one post out of my last five that’s even mentioned AMVs in any way. In the event that there are those of you out there who read this strictly for the AMV stuff — sorry, my bad. This isn’t to say this is a bad thing. In fact, although I started this blog with the intention of making it mostly about AMV stuff and critiques/analysis on the subculture, I quite like the way its morphed and trickled off into other directions. I don’t intend to change that — ultimately, this blog is an outlet for all the thoughts I have on various things that people IRL wouldn’t be interested enough to talk to me about directly. That, and I do my best thinking in the form of writing.

That said, I do feel the need to provide a short update and get the blog back to its roots, at least for one post. My life has been rather busy lately, moreso than usual; I got engaged on April 12th, I’ve been using my free time to pursue a few non-AMV/anime related interests lately (mainly video games and reading, neither of which I’ve done in months and months and months), and at the end of May I’m going to be starting a summer class for learning Japanese.

I’m particularly excited about that last point, as I’ve been teaching myself hiragana, katakana and kanji for the better part of the last three months. This sprung out of pure boredom at work, and a desire to put my time towards something productive. I’ve never been particularly good at learning languages (took a total of four and a half years of French between high school and college, I retained about 5% of it), so deciding that I want to learn Japanese is a tall order for me. However so far I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I haven’t actually started studying grammar or any of the really important stuff when it comes to actually communicating yet, but that’s what the class is for and I’m really psyched to get started.

However, as a result, my free time is largely limited now, and whenever I have any AMVs get relegated to far down the priority chain. I haven’t been watching new AMVs, and I haven’t been working too much on the Genome Project either. When I watch AMVs these days, it’s either my own or videos that I already really like and just want re-experience. Not that this is a new phenomenon, but ever since I started the Genome Project it’s become something of a lost art. I’ve been spending the majority of my AMV-focused time over the past year obsessively seeking out videos I haven’t seen before, and whenever I’d have some time to devote to AMVs I’d usually spend it entering new videos into the database, rather than rewatching old favorites.

As far as how that point relates to the intention of this post, what follows is a list of AMVs that have been on my radar recently, and are just plain great — regardless of their popularity, release date, or anything of the sort. I just feel the need to post some awesome videos that you should watch if you haven’t already. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy some excellent videos that you may or may not have seen before.

Amaterasu – Révolutionnaire
Released in 2015

Already we have a front-runner for 2015 video of the year. It’s still early, granted, but this is so far my favorite video of 2015, taking into account the blockbusters that are GEHIRNSTURMEN and Serein. Where those videos rely on technical savvy and manufactured depth, Révolutionnaire falls back on tried-and-true emotional savagery and more subtle editing tricks to tell a story that is both more compelling and relatable than either lolligerjoj or slimed could manage.

In reality, comparing these three videos is a completely uselss undertaking, as they all are so completely different from one another in almost every meaningful way. The only reason that I mention the three in the same breath is that they’re pretty much the only truly memorable videos that have been released these past four months, that I’ve seen anyway. 2015 hasn’t been great so far, but that’s not to discount Révolutionnaire as being any less great by comparison — it’s a video that would stand on its own against any backdrop of other videos from any era. Simple editing never goes away, although it does unfortunately tend to get shouted down by its flashier contemporaries. Révolutionnaire, in the spirit of the message it attempts to convey, does its own thing and succeeds wildly.

ErMaC – Soul of an Angel
Released in 2001

If you’ve read past entries in this blog, or you keep up with my recent releases, you probably know that I have a thing for nostalgia. Like, nostalgia and I are good buds, and it can actually be pretty unfair — if you’re able to evoke a sense of nostalgia in me with a video, chances are I’m going to be able to look past any defects, regardless of how glaring they might be, and think highly of your work anyway. Such is the case, I believe, with Soul of an Angel.

When I first downloaded this video (according to the .org, in 2007) I was unimpressed — another Eva video that was overly flashy and used an obsessive amount of overlays? Screw that, I’ve got better things to do with my time. I didn’t watch it again for over seven years, and last year when I fired it up I was…confused. I didn’t get how I could not only stand the video, but love it. To this day, under normal circumstances, I hate overlays the way they’re used in this video just about 99% of the time. Everything that annoyed me the first time I saw the video was suddenly not tacky or obtrusive, but kitschy and, yes, nostalgic.

I think that’s probably the major factor in why this video has become a staple in my AMV diet for the past many months now. When it comes to pinning down things that objectively annoy me in AMVs, Soul of an Angel has it all. I shouldn’t like this, and in any other context I would probably never recommend this video to anyone. As much of an influence as it was on editors around the beginning of the millennium, there’s very little here that the modern editor could pick out as being something worth emulating, or even remembering at all. It was a huge video back then, but it’s all but forgotten now — I couldn’t find it through YouTube searches so I had to upload it myself. And, crucially, if you weren’t around to experience first- or second-hand the kind of stuff that was being released in the early or mid-2000s, you may wonder what I’m on about.

For me though, this sits among my all-time favorites and brings back memories of a different AMV culture than exists today. Granted, I wasn’t around until five years after this video was released, but it still manages to transport me to a fictional, romanticized “golden age” of AMVs that I never got to experience firsthand. I’ll leave your own interpretation to you.

PieandBeer – Pamplemousse
Released in 2014

I could point you to a thousand and one upbeat, happy, addicting videos, but few of them would leave the lasting impression that Pamplemousse does. I’m not sure I could pin down why, either; it’s entirely possible that its relative newness in my catalog of AMVs is causing it to stick out more than it would otherwise, but it’s also possible that it just does this kind of thing better than its peers. I’m open to either possibility, and if you haven’t seen it yet, enjoy that first watch — it’s awesome.

The bottom line is this: a more deliciously sugar-surreal video may exist, but if it does I haven’t seen it. Ultimately it’s one of those videos that does nearly everything right, no matter the angle from which you choose to approach it. The editing is simple and top-notch, the lyric sync selective, but just so, the feels present but not overdone, the presentation of its source material intriguing enough that I really, really want to watch Kyousougiga now…it’s like a lattice crystal of all the things I love to see in an AMV: all arranged in an aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound way.

Okay, so you’re done watching it now, right? And you love it and wish there was more, right? Well, you’re in luck because PieandBeer has possibly the most consistent catalog of videos of any currently active editor. I could point you to Rhythm&Melody, or Lucky Seven, or Wonder, or Rocketheart. Pretty much all of his videos are edited in a similar fashion to Pamplemousse — with a clear understanding and confident implementation of all the most important basics of what it means to put together an engaging video. Have fun, I may not see you for a while.

Enigma – Fooly Cooly II: The Marvelous Reckoning
Released in 2011

It astounds me, to this day, how many truly different FLCL videos I’ve seen. I mean, it’s six frigging episodes, it’s #17 of the 30 most-used anime according to the .org, and yet the trough of possibilities seems truly bottomless. You need look no further than UnluckyArtist’s Coping Mechanism released late last year to see that even now new things are being done with it.

Enigma’s two brilliant FLCL videos (this one and the next) demonstrate even further the versatility of the anime. Fooly Cooly II: The Marvelous Reckoning is a bleak look into what I imagine something approaching mental instability and depression must be like: confusing, chaotic, colorless. To be fair to Enigma, I don’t know what he was going through when he made this video; the only comment we have to go off of is, “Weirdly a personal video.” Whatever that means to him, to me this video feels deeply intimate and reflective; it feels very much like a video that was made purely for catharsis, never intended for the public. I know that’s not the case, and I’m very grateful that Enigma did decide to show this to the world, because although this isn’t the best video of all time or anything, it does demonstrate what I believe to be editing at its most expressive, and for that alone this video is worth remembering and sharing.

Enigma – The Melancholy of Naotahara and Harunuki
Released in 2012

If The Marvelous Reckoning is the internal struggle with depression, The Melancholy of Naotahara and Harunuki is the happy face that’s put on to cover it. This video is still seething and desperate underneath, although at surface level you might not think twice that there’s anything more than smiles and laughs beneath. But it doesn’t take long to see that something’s off; the colors are just a little too saturated, the effects work just a little too clever and unique, the song just a little too peppy for the lyrics that buttress it.

This ends up being a video that, perhaps unintentionally, feels just as personal as the first, although in this case it feels like an over-correction — an apology for the soul-baring that happened in The Marvelous Reckoning, that itself went a little too far. Or, you know, it could just be another awesome FLCL video.

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About crakthesky

Mid-20s and vocal about my subculture.
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