I’ve had this blog for about two and a half years now. I’ve written about countless AMVs, those known, those unknown, and once about my own videos. For as much as I love AMVs, and writing about AMVs, I have yet to write about a single one that, at the time of my writing about it, I would have considered it amongst my all-time favorites. To be honest, the main thing holding me back is that the very idea of doing so intimidates me; with the exception of two or three videos, none of my “all-time favorite” AMVs would have been released within the last seven years or so. As such, these are videos that have had so much time to sit and grow and (some might say) fester, that they’ve kind of warped themselves into larger-than-life embellishments of themselves. This happens with anything that anyone holds close to themselves — it’s something that becomes immune to criticism, impossible to attack from any angle, always good, never bad.
I’d be lying if I said that nostalgia doesn’t play a huge role in how I feel about these videos as well. As far as AMVs go, perhaps nothing else does more to manipulate my feelings towards a piece — even videos that I may not have liked when I first saw them years ago when I was first getting into the hobby would probably result in feelings of tenderness rather than the merciless critique I can usually throw at such videos when the mood strikes me, were I to watch them now. The emotions that I associate with that time in my life — the excitement, the unlimited potential for creativity, the fondness for all the new geeky friends I was making — flood over me when I watch a lot of these videos, and (I admit) it becomes less about enjoying these videos on their own terms than reliving, at least in part, a time in my life that has become extraordinarily special.
This is part of the reason that I don’t watch these videos very much. And when I say that, I mean it in a very literal sense — I will watch these videos maybe once or twice a year, if that. I don’t want any of these videos to become too tainted with the here and now, because that’s not what I cherish them for. I want their existence in my mind to forever be tied to my freshman dorm room, or my sophomore apartment (much as I hated it), or the cafeteria where, as I served food to other students, I would pass the time by playing these videos over and over again in my head.
So it’s with a certain amount of trepidation that I make this post. For one, the effectiveness of any video that ranks among my favorites is, in most cases, going to be lost on literally anyone but me. When so much of my affection for a video rests on personal experience that simply cannot be shared with someone else, much of that affection will be lost in translation. The sights, the sounds, the smells that I associate with this video — I can’t implant these things in your brain. No matter how well I may describe them, it would be a facsimile of the real thing, and a poor one at that. More importantly, though, because so much of what I love about this video relies on inaccessible sense data, it seems somewhat trite to post anything at all. If I were able to look at this video objectively, would I even like what I saw? Would I want to look at this video objectively, if I could?
Yet I feel drawn to say something. This is a video that, back when the .org was a thing and people cared about their profiles and actually kept them updated, we had these “Top 10” lists embedded in there (I mean, they’re still there, but no one uses them anymore). I proudly put Dive there shortly after I first watched it, and it hasn’t moved since. If you pull up my profile now, Dive is still sitting there, and although I will probably never update that list for the sake of posterity, I don’t know if I could ever move it anyway.
Calling this my “#1 All-Time Favorite AMV Forever” may be a stretch. Actually — yes, it’s a huge stretch, and it’s probably not true. Over the years, various people have asked me what my favorite video of all time is and I’m pretty sure I’ve given each person a different answer. I can be fickle about certain things, AMVs not least of all, and to call any video my “favorite” seems absurd — although if you asked me to list my favorites, I’m sure I could do that pretty easily (you’d have to give me a hard limit though, otherwise I could go on for a while). Asking for one’s favorite AMV would probably get you an answer from most people, but in the same way that asking for one’s favorite color would — and then if you starting asking for their favorite color for different objects — types of clothing for example, or cars — you might get a different response. So with AMVs — what’s my favorite drama AMV? Action? My favorite to watch on a sunny day? On a rainy day? When I want to feel nostalgic? When I want to be uplifted? Every one of those would net a different response from me, and any one of them could probably be counted among my “favorites”.
But anyway — Dive. Okay. Trying to talk about this one is difficult because, despite my earlier objections, I know this is a heavily flawed video, and one that will probably not appeal to a lot of you. It’s long, it doesn’t use anime in a strict sense, and the story is somewhat juvenile (a video game…within a video game). But man, is it epic. The song choice works incredibly well with the footage — car chases, space fights and all, it feels huge and there’s something to be said for that. The climax and post-climax are still, to this day, some of my favorite AMV moments ever — massive adrenaline charges that set off huge chain reactions of emotion in me that have little to nothing to do with the nostalgia I’ve spent so much of this post talking about. It’s not even that anything emotional really happens, it’s just the surge of serotonin that naturally follows an adrenaline rush (don’t take these biological claims as fact, I may or may not have the slightest clue as to what I’m talking about).
I love the way the video flows and moves, the way it reacts to the music and seems to be driving it at the same time. I love the kitchiness of it, the niche approach that these days may seem quaint or even cheesy. I love the detail in the effects work — the text, the animated HUDs, the blue light rays that precede the climax. This is not a video that would be made today, even if you ignore the fact that no one seems to remember that the Xenosaga games ever existed in the first place. It’s either too clever of an idea or too stupid, depending (I suppose) on how you decide to look at it.
But even so, it’s one of my favorites. It’s something that nobody remembers these days (and it was never very popular even when it was released), but that I still — and will always — hold very close to my heart. And while I won’t make a habit of posting these videos which are among my favorites, especially because so many of them rely very heavily on my own sentiment, I am happy to share this one with you, even if you don’t share my enthusiasm for it. It was a time and place thing and yeah, you kinda just had to be there, in my dorm, watching this video for the first time on a bulky, beige, 16″ CRT monitor with the noise of other college kids leaking in through the door and the window the computer was set by. You had to understand the feeling that videos like this were imparting to me at the time, and the overwhelming sense of “rightness” I felt when I did anything AMV-related. Dive is one of those videos that cuts right to the heart of my life as an AMV editor, and it’s not something that fits into a specific mold of what I “like” about AMVs. The two paragraphs above this one tell only a small part of Dive’s impact on me at the time, and even smaller why it continues to be so important. I think, on some level, every AMV fan can relate — even if it’s not with Dive.