Ξ May 31st, 2009 | → 2 Comments | ∇ Music is Life, The Anime Annals |
Drama, comedy, suspense, horror and wonder: Anime brings all of these to the table, and much more. A successful AMV will manage to capture a series’ primary elements and focus on conveying them to the Viewer. The superlative videos can even manage to tell either a different story entirely, or simply select one or two characters to “deliver the word” in a way not apparent in the original. In any case, the video should cause the Viewer to want to watch the whole series, for without growth the industry is poised for dissolution. There are far too many leechers who are content with downloading content and gobbling it as fast as they can just because it is “free” who have no intention of buying and contributing to the media/hobby/artform. And without profit, who can blame the companies that provide us with anime to simply pull up stakes and get out of Dodge while they can?
So, while I champion the existence of fansub groups, I also chafe at the war between the companies and those who seek to enjoy the creators’ various works. Art is created for the people; nevertheless, the people ought to compensate the artists for their work. But this is a topic for another day, as it’s really a complex problem and a slippery slope as well, so we’ll just focus on the AMV today, shall we?
This entry will deal with the AMV’s attempt to compel a Viewer into trying out its subject’s whole series. With that in mind, I’ve chosen several videos that feature some of my favorite series in the hopes to turn Visitors of all levels on to an anime they may have missed out on. With so much diverse subject matter and genres to choose from, it’s easy to happen! Let’s start out on a happy note (and I guess you know where this will eventually be leading LOL)…
(NOTES: (1) Here be SPOILERS! (2) Links will be either to wiki, or if that article contains too many spoilers, to Anime News Network’s entry. (3) If watching trailers on ANN, and if they have English dubs, bear in mind that all-too-often these are FAR inferior to the original Japanese/subtitled versions… I mean, who wants to hear an anime character spouting lines in a Valley Girl or kiddie-cartoon voice? Ugh. With few exceptions, avoid the English dubs when forming an opinion! Ditto for YouTube “quality”. And (4), as always: Watch in Full-Screen and in High Quality, if available!)
Azumanga Daioh was one of the funniest series I’ve ever seen. Every episode had me laughing, oftentimes quite hard! An excellent blending of humor, reality, surrealism and heart-warming character development, it tracks the fortunes (and mis-fortunes) of a group of high-school girls as they make their journey toward graduation day. The comedic timing is top-notch, and even though quite basic in terms of animation, the style is a perfect fit for the quick-cuts and simplicity of the overall design and story. Told mainly through the eyes of child-genius Chiyo (the short one in the vids), it did very well in relating this happy/sad/wistful experience to the Viewer, and I’m sure will bring back those days, the cultural differences notwithstanding.
Credit for the following vid goes to reoer13, who made this award-winning AMV in 2005. Given that AzuDaioh is a 2002 series, neither are dated in the least
Now for a focus on character: EVERY cast member of AzuDaioh is unique and well-written; even the teachers are quite quirky and funny and (with one notable example) wacked-out. The next AMV focuses on Ayumu, more often called “Osaka” by her schoolmates and fans of the show. Almost constantly in a daze, spaced-out, or daydreaming, and with a unique outlook on life (LOL), she’s really a delight to watch, as she steals almost every scene that she’s in! Normally I dislike subtitles in an AMV but these will help the unaware with a glimpse of her character. SSGoshin4 made this tribute video for her when he/she was in the seventh grade (!) and so is quite close to the subject matter
Okay… got all that light-hearted stuff out of your system? Good! Because now we take a little trip into somewhat darker territory with an AMV for Baccano!, a convoluted thriller of a series that can best be compared to movies like Pulp Fiction. But really… it is incomparable. At times hilarious, confusing, shocking and disorienting, the story displays some unsettling and quite-bloody violence that is way over-the-top! But that’s not the focus. Really. It’s a great example of complex storytelling condensed into a short series despite the fact that there are 18 main characters!
Largely set in the United States in the 1930′s, it takes place (mostly) on a train called The Flying Pussyfoot, where the half-a-dozen subplots involving gangsters, immortal alchemists, and several key mysteries collide like two runaway locomotives (or six), and head-on. The song chosen for the AMV is pitch-perfect, and anyone with a liking for the Stray Cats’ sound will enjoy the fitting music.
From the Earth to the Sky: the next AMV features the futuristic-yet-steampunk, not-quite-Space-not-quite-Opera story of Last Exile. Completely unique in setting, style, and presentation, it takes place on and above the planet Prester complete with air-to-air artillery, steam-powered tech and airships large and small, and violent conflicts between vastly different civilizations and cultures. While not set in space, you’ll feel that you are! With character designs by Range Murata (now involved with the currently-airing Shangri-La), all of these very-human (and more than human) cast members are thoroughly intriguing.
Vanship pilots (and childhood friends) Claus and Lavie encounter a crashed airship transporting a girl named Alvis, who harbors a dark and glorious secret. Being couriers, they agree to take her to the Silvana, a rogue capital ship, where they encounter the Ahab-esque Captain Alex Row, who, with his own crew of talented misfits and experts, is embarking on his own White Whale-like grailquest…
One of the most engrossing anime I’ve watched, from start to finish, and several times at that! Truly defining the term “epic”, it’s entertaining from beginning to end. The following AMV will give you a small taste from the immense pallette of atmospherics you’ll encounter in this 26-episode tour-de-force. To the skies!
From the utopian to the dystopian: Ergo Proxy is dark, in many ways. Gloomy, deep, allegorical, and drenched with symbolism and historical references, it’s another completely unique presentation that is at most times impossible not to watch. Upon seeing a sample of this anime the group Radiohead (a personal favorite) reversed their decision to not allow their music for it, and agreed to permit “Paranoid Android” as the series’ Ending Theme. Another musical note of interest: the heroine, Re-l Meyer, is the spitting image of Evanescence’s Amy Lee (another personal fave), from the “Fallen” era, replete with blue eyeshadow! That couldn’t hurt it any LOL
I’ll allow the above wiki link to serve as background info; here’s the ANN page with access to the in-Japanese trailer. In short, Ergo Proxy was a fascinating journey; more a psychological thriller/examination than horror-show. But there’s some of that too…
I’m going to depart a little from the “chosen song” criteria and offer an AMV done to the full version of the anime’s Opening Theme, since (1) it’s a great song, and (2) fits perfectly with the scene selection. Here is “Kiri”:
Annnnddd… what would an Ergo Proxy AMV be without an Evanescence song to accompany it? Here’s an excellent (if anomoly-marred) video featuring Ev’s “Bring Me to Life” that, again, perfectly captures the essence of this neo-gothic anime. Re-l is just awesome (AND a bad-ass), and as a plus, it’ll show you one of my favorite characters ever, little Pino, with her melodica to boot
Ahhh… Baby’s First Anime! After discovering Elfen Lied, the subject of the next AMV, I became completely hooked on anime. There was no turning back for me after getting through its infamous opening ten minute sequence! I knew then for sure that anime was NOT (just) for kids… in spades. In choosing a fitting video for this series, it literally took hours to weed through those that were too spoilerish while still being able to invoke a theme or two from the story, as well as being good enough to present here. This proved to be most difficult, as there are so many twists and turns that any spoilers would give away that 99% of them were not usable. And since this is an anime that keeps the surprises and shocks coming around every corner, I didn’t want to tip its hand and diminish your enjoyment should you decide to check it out. And “enjoyment” is a term that should be qualified depending on your tastes
Drenched with blood and over-the-top gore, laden with atmosphere, and influenced by everything from Latinate Scripture to the artist Gustav Klimt (just for starters, literally), Elfen Lied’s story is alternately horrifying, cute, sad, stunning, heart-wrenching, and ultimately, satisfying, even if its ending is intentionally left open to interpretation. It largely depends upon how you view humanity and its (and the Diclonius’) will to survive, and your tolerance for witnessing extreme acts of cruelty, violence, gore, and nudity (not that there’s much of that). It explores pretty well the concept/question of “Who are the Monsters?” There’s just too much to say about it; it’s better-served as an experience, and one that you’ll never forget. Guaranteed!
This AMV, created by aerialesque (NICE NAME!), features the song “Candlelight” by Imogen Heap, and largely focuses on the relationship between Kouta and Lucy, and avoids most of the bloodshed this series is (in)famous for. Since literally anything I say about the anime would be extremely spoilerish, I’ll leave it for you to discover. This is the first anime I watched, bought the artbox set of, and loved. I’ve watched it at least ten times. It’s amazing. ’nuff said!
(And if you do manage to watch the series on the Web, make sure you watch it in order, and in the best quality possible. Preferabbly in the dark. On an empty stomach LOL)
Well, that’ll do it for this final Part in the series… or is it? Seems that I was recently offered a challenge, and so, coming shortly, will be…um… an “After-Story” if you will
I hope you enjoyed this essay on AMVs and look into their respective series; this is a very small sampling of what is there to offer. And for those still not familiar with the artform of anime, please let these entries be a hopefully interesting and intriguing introduction to it. It’s most likely more than you’re willing or able to imagine! Because… it happened to me!
Until next time…