Is It Okay to Judge an Anime Based on How Well It’s Used in AMVs?

In working towards completing a huge project for this site I have first been working on a separate, related, project – an updating and expansion of my grading system. This new system, in my mind, would be a useful tool in completing the huge project and is something I should be able to complete. After all, I have watched nearly 700 anime TV series and have been thinking about how to grade anime shows for over 8 years now.

While letting my mind free range on the topic of what parameters to use in grading an anime I noticed that during my recent renewed interest in anime AMVs that certain anime shows seem to be fertile ground for AMV editors to turn into great AMVs and other shows seem to lack the ability to be turned into great AMVs.

Take, for example, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Without any effort I can think of three absolutely spectacular AMVs that use this anime. Each one features a different type of song yet all three display stellar matching of song to show clips as well as getting to core of why Gurren Lagann is one of the best anime of all-time. The three AMVs I’m thinking of are:

Written in the Spirals by Shin AMV:

YOU CAN’T DENY US! by BecauseImBored1:

And Polaris by PieandBeerAMV:

If I was making a list of my all-time favorite AMVs all three of the above would definitely be on it. My knowledge of anime AMVs are not nearly encyclopedic enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there several more fine examples using Gurren Lagann because it does just make sense that an anime that features jaw-dropping animation and a surprisingly weighty story should be an anime that produces many great AMVs. The problem is this doesn’t prove the converse – that good AMVs prove that an anime is a good show.

Before continuing, this might be the right time to explicitly mention what I consider a good AMV for the purposes of this post. The first is that the song and show have to be related in some way; it can’t just be a random awesome song paired with random awesome anime. The second is that the AMV should meditate on and bring into focus some aspect of the anime; it can’t just use elements of an anime completely divorced from it’s underlying context. (There’s nothing wrong with these AMVs but they seek to create something new and fall outside of scope this post.) The third is the AMV should make viewers want to watch or rewatch the anime and, ideally, check out more music done by the artist(s) of the track used in the AMV. The fourth and fifth are that the AMV substantially uses only a single anime and is well done, for obvious reasons.

As I initially began to ponder the answer to this question – is it okay to judge an anime based on how well it’s used in AMVs? I thought it would probably be safe to say that anime with good/great animation could and would be used to create great AMVs but nothing beyond that. However, I immediately thought of two strong anime with an abundance of quality animation – One Punch Man and the Monogatari franchise – that lacked an AMV, from what I’ve seen, that matched how well the three AMVs I mentioned above did justice to Gurren Lagann.

More research was needed.

I thought of KyoAni’s Tamako Market/Love Story which I recently discovered having not one, but two, really great AMVs.

There’s this one – Shine Bright by PieandBeerAMV:

As well as – Stay with Me.. by Joy’s Amv:

The initial series, Tamako Market, was okay but the movie sequel, Tamako Love Story, was very excellent – my runner-up best anime movie of 2014 – and was focus of both of these AMVs. Coincidence? Probably not.

Actually, Kyoto Animation series seem to be a prolific field for the making of excellent AMVs. To name a few off the top of my head:

Celestial by PiercedSky:

Safety Dance by Shin AMV:

Twilight by Koopiskeva:

Boom Clap Panic by Cenit:

She Loves That Rock And Roll by Drewaconclusion:

She’s Just Oblivious by silver_moon:

There’s more examples but I don’t want to turn this into a Youtube click the links post. 🙂 As an aside, these KyoAni AMVs showcase the decade of animation dominance Kyoto Animation has enjoyed over every other studio making TV anime. It’s crazy to think that in over ten years there hasn’t been a single TV anime series that could convincingly make the case that it was a better animated show then what Kyoto Animation could do. (The one caveat to that statement is that KyoAni has always been bested in the area of action/fight animation but even the gonzo action bonanza that was One Punch Man could not best Hibike! Euphonium as the best animated anime TV series from 2015.)

There are a few shows in Kyoto Animation’s catalog that I didn’t know of nor could find, with a little digging, a good AMV for and these included: Munto, Kyoukai no Kanata, and Musaigen no Phantom World. These names should ring a bell, they happen to be weakest series that Kyoto Animation has put out, ranging from the mediocre – Kyoukai no Kanata – to the terrible – Musaigen no Phantom World. So, maybe, there is something to answering this question, I thought to myself.

To cut short the blow-by-blow let me summarize the further thinking I did on this subject.


There is a limited number of AMV editors that have the ability and expertise to put together a really great AMV.

These editors are going to work on shows and songs that interest them. So it’s possible that a great anime is too obscure to get turned into a great AMV. Though, this AMV, Above Humanity by Narshial shows that even a rather obscure anime like Kaiba can be turned into a rather fabulous AMV. (Thanks to this article for my discovering this gem.)

Even the best AMV, though, only has a few minutes of time to work with and it is possible that certain anime have some characteristic that makes it very difficult to impossible to get effectively summarized into AMV form. Hunter x Hunter (2011) is one of the best anime ever but is another one that I haven’t found a good AMV to go along with this 148 episode anime series.

Also, a person’s feelings about the song used could sour the AMV as a whole and music appreciation seems even more subjective than appreciation of TV shows.

On the other hand,

Animation quality can significantly alter one’s reception of an anime and an anime containing good animation certainly helps when making AMVs as well as helps the show start off with as strong of a first impression as possible. The most excellent character animation from Ore Monogatari!! shown in this AMV, SUKI DA!!! by StarTrinity009 makes for a good AMV, even without knowledge of the show, as well as helps explain why watching the anime was so much fun.

An anime with weight to it, not one of those vapid series about a magical high school and based on a light novel, provides plenty of opportunities to create high quality AMVs like these two of Death Parade:

Disco Limbo by purplepolecat:

And Lorem Ipsum by Shin AMV (a bit of NSFW language on this one):

There are certain types of shows: fan servicey rom coms, light novel adaptations set in magical high schools or video game worlds, cheaply produced knock-offs of better series, long form shounen series, kid targeted series, etc. – that aren’t known for being good and don’t seem to get made into good AMVs.

So, where does this leave us? I’m not sure how many more videos I can reference before I forget why I started this post so let’s move on.

The conclusion I eventually reached was that I couldn’t use the presence of great AMVs made from an anime as a factor in grading that anime because there is too many mitigating factors involved. However, there is a strong correlation between quality of AMV and quality of anime. Which means if one sees an AMV about an anime they’ve never seen that fits my above criteria and really interests them, then, it might be a good idea to check that anime out. As for the upgrade and expansion of my grading system, it’s coming along; I’m about 85% satisfied with the new criteria since it mostly works but it’s still missing a factor or factors that appears to be allowing too much variance in the end results.


9 thoughts on “Is It Okay to Judge an Anime Based on How Well It’s Used in AMVs?”

  1. ^ This isn’t a groundbreaking AMV and I don’t know if watching it can possibly measure up to the experience of actually watching its series, but I’ve seen a few One Punch Man videos that left me feeling the way that you seem to here, until this video came along and did it right (in my opinion, of course).


  2. I think I’ve mentioned before that I ended up taking a two-year break from anime starting in 2011 after I got thoroughly burned out on Naruto. It was K-On that got me back into anime again in late 2013, and it was surfing for AMVs that actually inspired me to watch K-On, in particular JadeCharm’s “Confession to the Dancefloor” and RenaSun’s “We Dream We Can,” both of which I still count among my personal favorites.

    In regards to the main question of the post, Is It Okay to Judge an Anime Based on How Well It’s Used in AMVs?, I think it’s hard to judge a series from an AMV on anything other than its animation quality, since that’s the one aspect that’s always front-and-center. My list of favorite AMVs includes ones that use Kamisama no Memochou, KanColle, A Certain Magical Index, and Maria-Holic as their primary series, and I wasn’t especially impressed with any of those shows (in fact, KanColle is the only one I ever actually finished). One thing all four have in common, though, regardless of what I think of their stories, is comparatively high-quality animation. The other big issue is the potential for misrepresentation. Gunslinger Girl is an example of a show that especially suffers from this problem, since AMV editors invariably tend to focus on its relatively few action scenes. If all you knew about Gunslinger Girl was from AMVs, you’d think it was Black Lagoon with moeblobs, instead of the dark, thoughtful character drama that it actually is.


  3. Thanks for linking to my blog in your post. To be honest I’m a little confused by the question here because I think that anime and AMVs should be judged completely separately on their own merits. They’re two entirely different art-forms, and even though AMVs obviously rely on anime for them to exist in the first place, the methods that an AMV uses to communicate and interact with a viewer are totally different from those an anime series/movie/OVA uses. I don’t think it would be fair to judge a show based off the AMVs made with it, in the same way it wouldn’t be fair to judge Led Zeppelin’s debut album based off of this remix of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”.

    That said, I think there are things one can gather from watching AMVs to determine whether or not an anime is worth one’s time. For example, I have little to no interest in most typical shounen anime. I will never watch Naruto or One Piece because, besides the impracticality of doing so, I’ve seen enough AMVs which all share similar traits to know that neither of those anime would appeal to me in the least. Can I objectively say anything about the quality of the anime based on what I’ve seen in AMVs? No, I don’t think so, because I don’t understand the emotional context, only what the editor chooses to reveal in his/her video. But I can say with pretty close to 100% certainty how much the anime would appeal to my tastes. (If that seems a little off-base then let me take another example — Full Metal Alchemist, which I’ve never watched nor do I ever plan to, simply because I’ve seen countless FMA videos and it looks like the setting, animation, etc. would not engage me in the least. I’d be stupid to call it a bad anime though, especially as I know it’s one of the most critically-acclaimed and loved anime out there.)

    If that counts as “judging” the anime then maybe my whole argument is invalid, I don’t know. It depends on how you choose to define “judging” I guess. In my personal approach, I like to judge both anime and AMVs on their own merits, which is why I continue to watch videos which use certain anime that I’m sick of. (You mentioned Kyoukai no Kanata which is a perfect example — an anime I have little interest in and which I’ve seen very few worthwhile AMVs to, but which I continue to hold out hope that someone will do something awesome with. For the record, there’s at least one good video which uses this as a source). Awesome AMVs can be made from crappy anime, and the reverse is also perfectly true. Although I think AMVs can certainly push one’s expectations regarding a specific anime, or vice-versa, I think that to use one as the sole criteria in judging the other is unhelpful and restrictive at best, and damaging at worst.


  4. Thanks for the comments. I secretly hoped for some links to good AMVs that I’ve yet to see and that’s been the case so far. 🙂

    @Seasons: That is exactly the type of AMV I wanted to see for One Punch Man. I love it! The feel of the song matches the feel of the show and captures an important essence of OPM and there are several clever matches between the lyrics and the show and, to my very amateur eyes, it’s edited very nicely.

    @WingKing: I suddenly have a need to rewatch K-On! – thanks 🙂

    I started this blog back in 2008 during a period that I was burned out from watching anime. I’ve always wondered if I started anime blogging back earlier in 2006, during the height of Haruhi mania, when I wanted to grind my fingers to the bone from incessantly typing about how awesome the show was – would I have kept at blogging after the fever passed as it eventually did.

    That’s a related question to the one I posed. Why doesn’t a good anime like Gunslinger Girl, in this case, get a good AMV that properly gets to the heart of the show. I’ve never seen Gunslinger Girl but the clips I’ve seen used does make it look not very interesting to me.

    @crakthesky: I’ve always had a problem with forgetting that people aren’t mind readers and I often fail to include bits of an argument when I write something. Let me take another crack at this.

    Great art inspires people. It doesn’t matter the art form or the time period. This, obviously, includes anime. There are various ways to be inspired by an anime but the one I focused on here was AMVs. Since people who make AMVs are not being to forced to make them, I think it’s fair to say that each good AMV, as I defined it above, is an example of being inspired by that anime.

    And to restate my question then, can an anime be considered a great anime if it doesn’t inspire AMV editors to use it to create good AMVs.

    In a perfect world I think the answer should be yes, but, in reality there’s too many variables like there is limited number of quality AMV editors, some works are rather obscure, some works are too complex to summarize well, people’s subjective taste in music, the need to have a piece of music to fit what the AMV editor wants to say, etc. – so, I think the answer is no. However, I think one could say that good AMVs might be indicative of a good anime and could be used as a factor in determining if one should watch an anime or not.

    I gave the first Full Metal Alchemist a 5/10 on MAL and the second attempt – Brotherhood – I gave a 7/10. Bones is normally strong in animation but their storytelling is normally average, at best.

    Okay, that is a good AMV for Kyoukai no Kanata, bonus points for linking the ring between show and song like that. If the show had been better I could maybe even remember what was going on in the clips used. I think that that AMV is about the best that can be done with Kyoukai no Kanata without completely twisting it’s clips into some totally different context because the show was rather average and doesn’t really have anything beyond it’s animation to draw inspiration from.


  5. Really interesting post!! 😮 I actually run an amv blog; I’m an editor myself and while we differ on we consider to be good amvs, I do have a LOT of amvs posted on my blog (most are not mine) that you could have a look at 😀
    I find, personally, that while art is a huge factor in those “let’s lump together a load of really cool scenes and put it to an awesome song”, you can find a lot of plotlines/ideas from all anime that could be made into a really good amv. I mean… arguably some of the most famous amvs are just down to masking the heck out of hundreds of animes. (Anime’s Got Talent comes to mind here :3)


  6. Thanks a bunch for these fabulous Tamako Market AMVs! I can never get enough of these.

    Yeah, of course you can’t *really* judge an anime by its AMVs, but more than once I’ve been convinced to watch an anime because of a great AMV and I don’t think I’ve ever let down when I did that. The last time I did that was last year, with Wolf Children.

    There are a few things we can take from an AMV, at least: good animation, good art, good colors, substance, emotions, the general vibe of a series. So of course good series tend to make better AMVs. Also, being an AMV editor myself, it’s much more fun to go through scenes and more scenes of a series you like then one you don’t. And one thing I’ve noticed is: it’s obviously more fun to make an AMV with well-animated meaningful scenes too, and you don’t get that in any show. Only those that really shine through.

    Anyway, thank you for the post!


  7. The very fact itself that an anime inspired someone to take their time and make an AMV already tells you something about an anime. The more emotions an anime can invoke, the more popular it is, the more AMVs will be created, some of which will be of high quality.

    As for assessing an anime itself, I can’t see the connection. I liked many AMVs, but was not interested in the anime they featured at all. Conversely, I saw many horrible AMVs for excellent anime.


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