As I try to (belatedly) finish this look back to 2016 as it relates to anime, there was one area that saw a considerable increase of renewed interest on my part and I can’t rightly finish without mentioning it – even though there isn’t a single “moment” I can point to.
One of the most common auxiliary components to anime fandom are anime AMVs. I’d actually like to know the history as to why AMVs became so popular among anime fans. I’m hardily an expert on all the different fandoms but I can’t think of another fandom that produces and consumes AMVs like anime fans do. (By the way, what do you call an AMV that uses live action footage? LAMV?)
This popularity also, I believe, numbs people to how tricky creating a quality AMV actually is. The creator has to extract snippets of scenes from several hours of an anime (if using even a short 1 cour anime), pair these snippets to a song that was never designed to work with the anime, probably throw in a bunch of special effects stuff, all to create something that is hopefully coherent in presenting an idea/feeling/story that the AMV creator wanted to create all while being intrinsically linked to who the AMV creator is, then the viewer has to – at least – not dislike the song and/or anime and can decode what is the idea/feeling/story of the AMV, at which point the viewer decides if they like the AMV or not (based, probably, on if the AMV speaks to some core part of who the viewer is).
If that sounds a bit Rube Goldbergian to you, aka, an overly complex way of doing something that seemingly could be done simply, you’d be right. And, just like a complex Rube Goldberg machine, failure of just one small part of that chain means the whole thing falls apart.
Which is why the successes are so memorable and why, I think, even if we take for granted how hard it is to make a good AMV, a vast majority of anime fans have at least a passing interest in AMVs because they are looking for the those times when the stars align. Last year (add another “last” to that, we’re in 2017 now) I mentioned that in had been 10 years since that day in May 2005 I downloaded my first fansub, which saved my flagging interest in anime. I just recently realized that the first AMV I downloaded to make sure I could always watch it was Jihaku by Tyler and that happened in November 2005.
There are so many areas that being an “anime fan” can have an interest in and I never considered myself a big AMV person, but, even someone like me has been interested in AMVs from almost the moment I would consider myself an anime fan. However, 2016 was the year I have been most interested in anime AMVs.
Thinking about it, I imagine I became more interested in AMVs this year, in part, because, as I try to deepen my appreciate all the facets that go into making good anime, I more deeply realized how much work goes into a good AMV. And I’m not talking about all the flashy special effects stuff. Not that I’m against flashy special effects in AMVs but, like quality animation – sakuga, they need to be in service of furthering the anime or AMV (aka, they need to have a point). I don’t know the technical terms of the things that good editors do right that poor editors don’t do right, but, if you watch a string of multiple AMVs from a single anime – say the Monogatari franchise – there will be ones that pull the viewers attention, even after repeated viewing, and ones that will be quickly forgotten. I’ve figured out that the still interesting after repeated viewing ones are as-close-to-objectively-as-possible the really good quality AMVs.
So, while I’m not going to talk about a single “moment” today, I want to feature the AMV that just might be my favorite AMV from 2016 and would also probably win if I would do a countdown of my top AMVs of 2016. That this AMV features a work by Satoshi Kon who, in my Secret Santa anime review, I had the chance to recently talk about and that this AMV features his Tokyo Godfathers, my favorite Christmas movie, seems fitting for this Christmas themed look back at 2016.
The AMV is titled Fiat Lux (“Let there be light”) and was created by the very talented PieandBeer.
“Perfect” is how I would describe this AMV; it’s also a word so exceedingly deficient to complete the task. Also inadequate is saying the totally true statement “PieandBeer is one the best anime AMV editors and Fiat Lux might be the best AMV from this editor”. I could go with recounting my emotional state by saying watching Fiat Lux makes me cry happy tears from the sheer awesome beauty of it, but, that’s inadequate to others reading this because I’m just a bunch of words on an anime blog that’s more neglected than not. Then again, saying that language is an imperfect medium to transmit ideas is hardly an original thought.
Let’s try this, I have a personal theory that the best short stories are like tiny mustard seeds. They become lodged into our minds, sprout, grow into disproportionately large trees of fine quality, and are impossible to get rid of. I think I can carry over this idea to the best AMVs. Fiat Lux only runs for a few minutes but it does a stellar job of bending time to make it feel like one has just watched the entire movie of Tokyo Godfathers. At the same time it provides a meditation on the movie by using the song to bring out certain emotions and thoughts from the presented scenes and provides a meditation on the song by using scenes from the movie. The decisions used by PieandBeer in scene selection and song selection also provides a window into how the editor views both works and stimulates my memories and thoughts towards Tokyo Godfathers and deepens my new found appreciation to the song.
In short, Fiat Lux is a mustard seed.