There are no shortage of Ghibli tribute AMVs on the web, and it’s been this way for over a decade — Vlad’s Memories Dance stands as one of the most notable and lasting, released as it was at the height of the .org’s popularity, and using that song that just sounds so Miyazaki-ish. For the younger generation, siny’s Creating Something Beautiful is a bit more updated and modern, and also quite good. This isn’t to mention the hundreds — probably thousands — of other, in many ways similar, multi-source Ghibli AMVs that have been made in the intervening years and beyond.
Weirdly, despite the countless videos of this ilk that I’ve watched in my years as an AMV viewer, I never seem to get tired of them. Equally strange is the fact that it’s not nostalgia that ties me to these videos, as unlike many (most) AMV fans of my generation, I did not grow up on Studio Ghibli films, and it wasn’t really until the last two years or less that I even appreciated a Miyazaki film — I did see Princess Mononoke when it was originally released, although I didn’t remember any of it and it had no great affect on my life, and I also watched Grave of the Fireflies almost ten years ago when I was in college and didn’t get what the big deal was.
So I’m not entirely sure why I’m always drawn to this played-out concept, and continue to enjoy these tribute AMVs that are, by and large, indistinguishable from one another, but I am. I think a big part of it is that even if I never really appreciated the influence of Miyazaki’s work on a personal level, I certainly understood it, and so I could get behind these works as genuine, heartfelt love letters to an artist whose work impacted so many people in extremely personal ways. I love seeing that kind of stuff, even if I don’t directly relate.
I think on another, more universal level, I just always found Ghibli films to be beautiful from a visual standpoint, as I think most people do. There’s a richness to Miyazaki’s films that is simply not present in most other anime, and it’s possible to look at his work the same way I would a great painting. Heck, the backgrounds in almost any given shot of a Ghibli film could be framed and no one would know the difference. As a visual person, then, this stuff appeals to me.
While most Ghibli tribute videos tend to overload on sentiment (in a good way, usually), chibidani‘s Miyazaki At Night mostly forgoes emotion in favor of showing off the beauty of Ghibli’s worlds at (surprise surprise) nighttime. This is nothing overly complicated in terms of scene selection, and there’s no story — it’s just one night shot after another from various Ghibli films, and a more calming, serene video possibly does not exist. The song chosen is absolutely perfect — a downtempo, ambient house track that changes very little in its four-minute run, but manages to lend a poignant accent to the visual beauty that’s onscreen. Nothing but hard cuts, Miyazaki At Night is one of the easiest videos to watch and simply enjoy from an aesthetic standpoint. You could fall asleep to this, but not out of boredom, more just because that seems the natural reaction to a video this blissfully slow and with this subject matter (if you could call it that).
I don’t know if I can necessarily call this my favorite Ghibli AMV — there are a lot jockying for that position, and in terms of tribute videos, it’s really tough to top Memories Dance. But it’s by far the most unique and pleasantly surprising of all the Ghibli AMVs I’ve seen. I love multi-anime videos like this that take a simple concept — in this case, showcasing night scenes — and completely run with it to the exclusion of everything else. No, there’s no story, and no, this isn’t a video that plays on your nostalgia, but it’s perfectly upfront with you about what you’re going to get, and it delivers in spades. It’s one of my favorite Ghibli videos if nothing else, and one that was criminally unrecognized on its release. Don’t miss it this time around.