2015 in retrospect: amvs (20-11)

20: UnluckyArtist – Yin-Yang Destiny

Anime: Katanagatari
Music: The Pussycat Dolls – “Jai Ho!”

Discovering anime through AMVs is, at least for me, a bit passé; this is mainly because over the years I’ve watched so many AMVs and become so familiar with various anime through them that I rarely see AMVs that use new-to-me anime, even if it was years ago. That and my somewhat antiquated adherence to the .org as my main source of AMV discovery probably limits my exposure to newer or less popular anime, so it’s always somewhat exciting when I come across an AMV that uses an anime I’m unfamiliar with, which itself looks interesting enough to want to watch.

I haven’t yet watched Katanagatari, but it’s probably what I’ll be queuing up next, all because of this beautifully simple and down-to-earth video. This is probably UnluckyArtist’s best AMV to date, which is a relief; his videos are always on the verge of greatness, but in almost every one I can point to something that holds it back from crossing that line. I’m having trouble thinking of any such thing with Yin-Yang Destiny. Maybe because there’s nothing extraneous and he’s able to just tell a story without bogging it down with the stock effects that are the hallmark of most of his videos, maybe it’s because the editing is so slick and the lyric sync just right, or maybe it’s all of these things. This is an incredibly fun and happy video, full of adventurous energy and lighthearted romance, and it’s set a high bar for what I expect out of Katanagatari. Let’s hope UnluckyArtist did it justice.

19: VivifxAMV – AwwKward

Anime: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Music: The Gregory Brothers – “Herp De Derp”

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun ended up being a left-field series from this year, and one of the most pleasantly surprising anime I watched in 2015. It was an anti-romance in the same vein as Yahari Ore, although with a much less cynical tone. There were several AMVs that used Nozaki-kun, and did so quite competently; probably the next-best example would have been allegoriest’s fantastic Notice Me. However, VivifxAMV’s AwwKward was the one that did it for me more than any other this year, simply because of how stupidly well this song fits Chiyo’s character in particular. The editing in this video is also superior; lots of tight beat sync and some really, really hilarious lyric sync keep this video rolling as one of the most flat-out fun videos of 2015. Everything about this video just hits on exactly the right notes, not least of all the title, which basically sums up the feeling you have when the video ends.

This is a video that, no matter how many times I watch it, never fails to leave me in a fit of stupid giggles, and comedy videos that do so as consistently as this one are rare. Especially as someone who’s not particularly prone to like comedy videos a whole lot, I feel this one succeeds wildly as one of the most fitting and memorable comedy videos in the last year at least. In fact, the only other comedy video that I feel was better from 2015 was…

18: BecauseImBored1 – One Hell Of A Host

Anime: Black Butler (various)
Music: Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack – “Be Our Guest”

What I find most impressive about this AMV isn’t the solid editing, or the spot-on lip sync, or the incredible build-up to the hilarious last 30 seconds…no, what impresses me most is that there’s actually an anime out there that has all the scenes needed to do some of the most demanding lyric sync I’ve ever seen, at least from this year if not farther back than that. In comedy videos like this, especially ones where deviating from the lyrics would basically be editing suicide, editors typically have to reach beyond the bounds of the anime they’re using into other anime, or they have to add in text, or do some fancy effect/overlay work to keep up with the lyrics.

Not so in One Hell Of A Host. BecauseImBored1 is — somehow — able to manage to find the perfect scenes for pretty much every single lyric of the song, while at the same time never compromising the video’s momentum. One of my favorite moments is the line “After all Miss, zis is France!” which fades from a shot of the Eiffel Tower to a pan on a similarly-shaped cake. There are more little nuggets of clever scene organization mixed with laser-focused lyric sync such as this one than I can count, and the video ends up being endlessly entertaining to watch over and over as a result.

The video ends up feeling deceptively simple, because there are no real effects to speak of, save for maybe a few blurs here and there and the film effect during the interlude, but I’m not going to pretend that it was anything less than an intensely precise and deliberate video which probably took more work than most “simple” videos these days. In any case, it’s a success and deserves to be recognized and remembered as a top entry in BecauseImBored1’s already very solid videography.

17: Shin-AMV – Nefarium Psychologica

Anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Music: Halou – “Honeythief”

It’s been surprising to see the variance in Madoka videos, because while there are many that pretty much feel similar to one another, there are plenty that are completely singular. Mitakihara, for example, feels nothing like Latter Days, and neither of them feel quite like The Nightmagi Cometh either. Add to that list Nefarium Psychologica, which forgoes any kind of real story and instead trips out on the abstract. Much like Lepidoptera, which I mentioned earlier in this list, Nefarium Psychologica is a mood piece, much more about atmosphere than statement. That doesn’t stop Shin from editing the crap out of this, and as a result it’s a smooth journey through weird colors and shapes, punctuated every so often with a face or a scene just on the verge of coming into full focus. There’s certainly a sense of dread and impending disaster that leaks through the pores of this video, although it’s lost in the confusion of the video’s omnipresent surreality. I feel uneasy watching this video, but it’s an unease I want more of when the video is over — props to Shin for pulling that off.

16: ReggieSmalls – You’re All I Need

Anime: Tokyo Ghoul
Music: Logic – “Nikki”

I wish we had more good hip hop AMVs, but at least we have ReggieSmalls, who tends to make some pretty fantastic ones. His best this year (and possibly to date) was definitely You’re All I Need, a dark and sinister video if ever there was one. There’s some pleasant ambiguity in the true meaning of the song (is he talking about a girl? About his addiction to nicotine? Could go either way, really), and the video itself could have multiple interpretations. It could be just about the violence, sure, but where’s the fun in that? I’ll go the “abusive relationship represented abstractly through freaky mask and resultant physical brutality” route myself. Isn’t overanalysis fun?

Whatever the meaning, it has Reggie’s unique editing style written all over it. When using hip hop, I’m sure it can be tempting to go all-out on sync, as evidenced by, say, this. But Reggie doesn’t usually do this in his videos, and it’s refreshing and one of the things I love about him as an editor. He keeps his videos simple, he focuses much more on the mood of the song than the actual beats, and as a result his videos tend to be synced much more loosely than they could be. But You’re All I Need is a perfect example of why this style works so well, and I’m not sure if it’s exactly something I can put into words. It’s perfectly in sync with the way the mood of the song shifts and rearranges itself as it progresses, even if it doesn’t always match with the cadence of the song. For a song of such potentially personal subject matter, it just feels more authentic this way.

15: PieandBeer – Oneiro

Anime: Paprika
Music: Beck – “Dreams”

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like it when videos default to the “durhurr it was all a dream” to justify the weird stuff that happens in them. Iren S.S.’s Monarch is a perfect example of this — it’s a cool video but the end kind of ruins the whole thing. And while I feel that Oneiro ultimately falls into the same trap, I like this one a lot more because at least PieandBeer is upfront with us about what she’s doing (“oneiro” is “dream” in Greek, the song is called “Dreams”, if you haven’t caught on by then I don’t know what else I can do for you).

And this is a weird video, because Paprika is apparently a weird movie. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m familiar with a lot of the scenes in this video from having seen them in others. Oneiro really doesn’t hold back on the weirdness though; where a lot of other Paprika videos tend to attempt a story, PieandBeer decides to just…not, and it turns out that this is the proper way to edit a Paprika video, because this is the first time I could enjoy one without having to worry about trying to follow some labyrinthine concept. It’s random but at least it makes sense that it’s random, and while that may be a poor attempt at covering for PieandBeer’s lack of logic, she can be forgiven for making something so amusing.

14: Pic4 – Nomura

Anime: Knights of Sidonia
Music: Jack Trammell – “Compelled”

The theatricality of this video gets me every time; you cannot watch this video and not feel that Pic4 doesn’t take every advantage to turn the dial up to 11 in nearly every way. The multi-climactic song choice, the ridiculously precise internal sync that is in every nook and cranny of the video, the melodrama of the anime itself…on top of it all, it’s a video that just keeps getting better as the seconds tick on. Every time you think you’ve seen the best part of the video, five seconds later something even better happens. Action videos are rarely this thought out and intentional, while still managing to be this balls-to-the-wall intense. In short, there was probably not a more adrenaline-pumping action video released in 2015, and Pic4 can certainly be proud of making one of the best.

13: Gallup – The Life of a Spriggan

Anime: Spriggan
Music: Jacques Offenbach – “The Infernal Galop (Can-Can)”

Classical music has an awkward place in AMV culture. Kevin Caldwell made Caffeine Encomium and everyone pretty much stopped trying. And I don’t blame them, he basically crowned an entire genre of music with one of the great AMVs of all time, and all this before the .org even existed. Besides that, though, classical music is simply not a popular genre with the kinds of people who usually edit AMVs, and I’d be lying if I said that I go seeking them out — on the contrary, I usually avoid watching these types of AMVs because I have almost no interest in or love for classical music. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Had I not been asked to review this video, I probably never would have watched it in the first place, but then I would have been missing out on one of the year’s most joyfully twisted videos, and a piece of editing brilliance at that. The Life of a Spriggan is another of the old-school videos that we seemed to have quite an abundance of this year, and it’s a simply-edited action video if ever there was one. However, the way that this video paces itself and the internal sync that happens in nearly every scene (much of it probably unintentional) propel this video above others in its class. It’s a riotous, sadistic distraction, all in just over two minutes, and it’s probably a video you never knew existed. Now’s as good a time as any to get in on the fun.

12: Shin-AMV – Just Funkin’ Dandy

Anime: Space Dandy
Music: Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

While I haven’t seen Space Dandy, I’m going to guess that Just Funkin’ Dandy is probably the best representation of the series yet. Despite the vast amount of work that I know Shin put into this video, I get the feeling that choosing the best scenes throughout the video was probably one of his easier tasks; this video has a certain effortless feel to it that directly contradicts its complexity, and yet this is one of the coolest things about Just Funkin’ Dandy, as it’s another one of those exemplary videos where the song/anime combination was probably planned along with the creation of the universe. Take your pick of the best moment in the video, you have a plethora to choose from — my vote goes to “I gotta kiss myself, I’m so pretty”, but this video is honestly nothing but peaks.

I’ve seen the comic book thing done before (if I may be so bold), so while the overarching gimmick of this video is by no means novel, it is far and away executed in the best way I’ve yet seen, or probably ever will. And really, this is the kind of thing I wish we’d see more of — not this concept specifically, but this kind of care and attention to detail that brings a concept to life in a way that anything less than full dedication wouldn’t. (Tune in tomorrow for an even more extreme example of this). I’m typically very hot-or-cold on Shin’s videos, but this year he’s released two great ones, and Just Funkin’ Dandy is going to be a hard one for him to top. If he doesn’t, I think I’ll be just fine though.

11: PieandBeer – Something Fishy!

Anime: Tsuritama
Music: Royal Teeth – “Wild”

I have no idea what’s going on in this video — I’ve seen a few Tsuritama videos now and I can’t make heads or tails of it, so I suppose I’ll eventually just have to watch the anime. But that’s partly what I like so much about this video, because PieandBeer is able to take a story that seems to be completely unintelligible to those who haven’t seen the anime and still make a compelling video with it, with all the unfiltered emotions and sense of progression that come along with AMVs that have relatable and clear stories. I don’t know why I care about these characters, exactly, but I do, and I’m sure it’s because of the way PieandBeer engineered so many of these scenes. The intro with Haru spinning to the drum beats, the fishing line flying into the bucket to the tune of “Iiiiii believe that I can maaaake you screeeeeam”, the dancing at 2:01-2:03 (and especially at the end of the video). These scenes are all dropped into the perfect places at the perfect time, and Something Fishy! becomes a video that wedges itself into your brain and does not leave. Like pretty much everything PieandBeer does.

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About crakthesky

Mid-20s and vocal about my subculture.
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One Response to 2015 in retrospect: amvs (20-11)

  1. Pingback: AMV chronicles #44: favorites of 2015 | Cutfilm Tovent

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