Song: “Jock Jams Megamix” by Jock Jams
Sports anime have never been my thing — almost. I guess I’ve seen a couple (and what I have seen was actually pretty fricking good), but I’m usually not drawn to this type of anime in any way, shape, or form, so it should hopefully say something about the quality of this video that I like it so much. This is an example of pure editing prowess in 100-meter sprint form — fast-paced scenes of sweaty athletes going at it hard set to a megamix of tracks any self-respecting ’90s 20-something would recognize immediately…not much to dislike here. Even the brief moments of humor are fantastic and well-placed. While MEPs these days often seem to just act as brief demo reels for the editors involved, it’s refreshing to see one that has such a simple and intentionally uncomplicated focus, and an equally bare-bones approach. It’s proof that that’s all you really need.
Song: “Sorry I Was Sorry” by Adult Mom
The VHS filter wore out its welcome last year by all accounts, and yet this year I saw some of the first videos that used it the way I feel it was meant to be used — with an actual concept to legitimize it. An Indie Film is one such video — the washed-out color filter, film dust, and VHS distortion effects paired with an achingly hipster lo-fi indie song sung from the mouth of a scorned lover give this video’s title the weight it deserves. It’s a loosely-edited piece, playing heavily on the “pompous college Art 101” aesthetic, while still managing to be a poignant and tragic look at the end of a relationship. Take note, wannabe-trendy editors itching to start making the next faux-VHS masterpiece — this is how you do it. Which is to say, it’s been done, so don’t.
Anime: Big Fish and Begonia
Song: “Home (feat. Jose Gonzalez)” by Barbarossa
As one of Elcalavero’s more “normal” videos, The Red Book is still distinctly his; he uses a song that is rife with sync opportunities, and takes almost none of them, charting a more free-flowing route through the music than most other people probably would. He creates a mood and turns his eye more on the background synths than on the prominent drum beats — what we get is a loosely-synced, stream-of-consciousness video that evades any kind of straightforward visual rhythm. In the end it’s classic Elcalavero, relying much more on the anime’s fantastical scenery and the inherent emotion and wonder such scenes impart, than on any kind of pure editing tricks to get its point across, and it’s beautiful.
Song: “No Limit” by 2 Unlimited
Techno and futurism have always walked hand-in-hand, ever since electronic music became a thing — electronic music is always the go-to soundtrack for sci-fi movies and TV shows and flash-forwards, often satirically, but just as often as a serious sonic presence in our imaginations for what we’ll be listening to 100 years from now, or as a generic ambient background noise for picturing our society in as many years’ time. It’s a kind of weird irony, then, that leads us to No Limits!, an homage not only to old-school anime and AMVs in general, but to a less refined vision of the future than we have now, but which might have been common 20 years ago.
The majority of the anime in this video are ’90s sci-fi shows and movies, with the occasional shounen anime thrown in. It’s action-packed and colorful and it feels like the kind of thing a 10-year-old boy might enjoy watching to get himself ready for a Saturday of cartoons, video games, and junk food. There’s a certain unrestrained quality to this video, like UnluckyArtist was indulging in some sort of forbidden guilty pleasure by creating it. It’s stupid fun, a throwback to an era of cheesy hardkore techno and adventurous space anime, the likes of which we’ll probably never quite get to experience again.
Song: “Oddloop” by Frederic
I feel like every year there’s at least one video on my list that “I just shouldn’t like” because of various reasons…in this case, it’s excessive text use, lots of masking and crossover-type stuff going on, candy effects, and the like, but man does it all work in such seamless, eye-pleasing harmony that I can’t help but love it. For those not won over, it may help to read a translation of the lyrics — there’s actually a bit of a story going on here and although shallow, you’re really getting the whole package here with the pretty color palettes, fun sync, and super stylish atmosphere. Yeah it’s a bit trendy, and yeah this is normally the kind of thing I would immediately dismiss out of hand — but if you’re like me, give it a shot, because it’s a wickedly good ride.
Song: “Strawberry Bubblegum (Allure Remix)” by Justin Timberlake
This reminds me in a lot of ways of a video I put on my list last year — one Satellite Towns — in that it mixes a lot of disparate, unrelated anime, has generally crummy video quality (up to and including mixing 16:9 and 4:3 footage), and no really obvious conceptual or aesthetic thread running through it. Still, it’s one of those weird and rare instances where none of this matters; in fact, it might be that these are all things that I like about it, as they add a certain “underground” quality to it. This isn’t something that most people would ever seek out, or would turn off after 30 seconds if they stumbled across it. It’s a video that will forever be lost in the sea of YouTube, and yet somehow I have it, and get to enjoy it. It’s the little things like this that make the hobby exciting.
The video is hard to talk about because of the lack of cohesion, but in a general sense it looks like a pop song such as this sounds — this is ultimately a pretty trite thing to say, I think, but I can’t figure a better way to describe it. There’s a lot of color manipulation going on, stock transitions, and the like, and it all complements the nonsensical lyrics and general upbeat vibe of the song. “Fun” and “action” are probably too strong of words to try and categorize this video, but risarei captures the mood of the song in a way I and most others probably never could have. I realize in the minute or less it probably took you to read this, I’ve said close to nothing of value about this video, but that probably means you should just watch it and judge for yourself.
Anime: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Song: “Henrietta” by The Fratellis
Joy’s AMV has been on my radar for years now; her videos from a couple years back were often on the verge of being really likable, but were usually held back by poor effects use or an overabundance of external sync that I just couldn’t get behind. COME ON! is the first of her videos where she really seems to have gotten it right — it’s a raucously entertaining summary of the relationship between the two main characters in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, full of energy and fun lyric sync. Although she also uses plenty of stock transitions, this is one of the few contexts in which they work — the fast pace of the editing and upbeat nature of the video makes such otherwise tacky effects feel right at home. It’s a good video choice for when you have two minutes or so to kill before that file finishes downloading, or the oven finishes cooking your dinner — something to smile at and feel good about before moving on with the rest of your day.
Anime: Seikaisuru Kado // Original live action
Song: “C418” by stranger_think
Say what you will about leolide but he is, without a doubt, one of the most driven and experimental editors out there right now, and also one of the most prolific — if you look at his YouTube channel you’ll find page after page of AMVs and making-of videos (no less than 100 posted in the last year alone). While I have not had the time to go through all of these, one of the most interesting that I found from the last 12 months is kaos, a short, proof-of-concept type video that mixes first-person live action with anime in a unique, apocalyptic way. Combining these two elements has certainly been done before, and while it’s sloppier here than in other examples, it would seem that it was never leolide’s intention to go all-out — this feels very experimental in every way, as if leolide was testing the waters to see if something like this could be done convincingly in the first place.
But the rough-around-the-edges approach lends it a certain haphazard feeling that dovetails with the video’s concept — a mysterious giant cube suddenly appearing in the midst of a city, before all sorts of (anime) people and creatures begin appearing all over the place. The video has this really lo-fi charm, helped in no small part by the film effects and color manipulation that cover every frame, that, for once, don’t feel trendy but feel pragmatic. Whether or not we’ll ever see this concept fleshed out more in future videos remains to be seen (it probably won’t be), but as an example of little-explored areas that AMVs can expand into, kaos is certainly one of the more intriguing examples out there.
Anime: The Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below
Song: “Who Will Save Us Now?” by Dave Chappell
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now — this is pure anime-summary fare, no creative divergences or abstract interpretive passages included. Artsy critical types need not apply, I’ll just save you your time now. Maybe rewatch kaos, above, or find a different Top AMVs list to read (and let me know where you found it because I’d love to read it too). For the rest of us, Convergence should serve as a very satisfying drama entry, peak-hopping from one plot point to the next and essentially compacting The Children Who Chase Lost Voices into a neat and tidy three-and-a-half minutes (which is about all that’s needed for this particular movie, if I’m going to be honest). As ever, aerialesque demonstrates her ability to kill it with this approach — it’s saturated with dramatic scenes chosen carefully enough to get a feel for a larger story, but oddly enough the thing that got me was the way she used a bunch of scenes (mostly from near the end of the movie) that are rarely used in videos with this source, or at least the ones I’ve seen. She provides closure and there’s something to be said for that, especially when people seem to love using open-endedness as an excuse for lack of creativity.
So no, this isn’t the most ground-breaking video out there — it follows the tracks, it tells its story, and then it gets out of the way. But it packs a hugely emotional punch — many times more than anything I experienced while watching the movie itself — and milks the drama for all its worth, and I definitely think there’s a welcome place for videos like this on any year-end list.
Song: “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish” by Hilary Summers, Kemi Ominiyi, The R’SVP Voices
If you’re not familiar with the source of this song, some of the jokes in this video may be lost on you (and also shame on your for not being familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy in one form or another), but like the best comedy videos, PieandBeer creates something that’s funny just because it is, and not because of any extraneous knowledge you might need to “get” the jokes. There’s a healthy dose of astute lyric sync and her usual quick wit smattered throughout this AMV, but perhaps the most noteworthy element is that, if her video description is to be believed, she made this entire thing out of (mostly) one half of a single episode of Osomatsu-san; anyone who’s done any amount of AMV editing knows just how little footage that would be to work with, so to make something this fully functional and, well, funny, speaks to her skill…as if her years of videos prior to this one haven’t done that already.