Melancholy of Anime Music Videos

June 20, 2006 at 12:36 am (Anime)

Music Videos are an ancient art trailing aeons back through the mists of time to the now-mostly-forgotten 1980s. Well, maybe not, but MTV was founded in 1981, the same year of the Daicon 3 convention in Japan. Scroll forward to today, the new MoSH animated music video, and a proliferation of fan-made AMVs.

It used to be that was the place to go for AMVs, and I think it still is to get the hi-res versions, but these days everything seems to show up on YouTube, as I’m about to demonstrate. There’s a lot of embedded video under the cut, so mind that.

Failed experiments in video editing

I don’t know that the Daicon III video qualifies as an “Anime Music Video” so much as just an animated short with music, but if we just think in terms of a short animated video with *no dialogue* and a musical score, than I guess it would.

Daicon III Opening

Two years later, the SF-con was hosted in Osaka again as Daicon IV, and we get this somewhat better known animated music video opening for that convention. Both the Daicon videos have original footage. So does the afforementioned new MoSH AMV, and there are other well-known ones, like the Daft Punk videos, and On Your Mark.

They’re pretty cool and stuff, but not really comparable to the fan videos commonly thought of as composing our library of “AMVs”. AMVs are actually a big part of what brought me into otakudom, and I think they’re particularly interesting because they seem to be much much more popular in the American fandom than the Japanese fandom.

This is really a parody opening / fan-dance recording, not an AMV, but it’s the closest I have to an example from Japanese fans.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think the first AMVs I ever saw were at Ohayocon 2003 (my first anime convention). No idea what it was. My circle of friends the past couple of years have made a habit of AMV collection and viewings. The one event I attend at pretty much every convention is the AMV contest, even though I am often just sitting through a lot of boring (to me) videos until they get to the comedy section.

The Most Important Anime Music Video Ever

There are many many different kinds of AMVs. I think most take the somewhat traditional music route of attempting to elevate the drama of some drama song with extra-dramatastic drama footage of drama anime. Or something. I don’t really pay much attention to those, but the incredibly low baseline for AMVs has often been the topic of parody videos. Over-use of the same songs, ridiculous over-use of Adobe Premier / After Effects filters, and generally poor conceptualization are common. Whoa I should stop here for a second, because I’m about to get hate mail. I’m well aware of how much fucking work it is to produce an AMV, and that everybody has to have their 100 pages of crap they have to write before getting to the good stuff and so forth. I just bring up the common failings to give me an excuse to embed another parody video:

Neon Genesis Polka

Actually this one of my favorites. Really I think comedy parodies like that one are the main reason I watch AMVs. It’s weird though, because I think a lot of these should require some context of knowing the source shows to appreciate the irony of the overdub, but my younger brother professes to have enjoyed all the out-of-context videos I’ve showed him, and when I think about it, I liked a lot of this stuff before I’d seen the material it was based on. So I’m curious what the real nature of the humor is. Here are some more examples of videos I think are funny at least partly by virtue of dubbing irony (the MoSH video would also qualify):

Stop The Rock

Hard Knock Anime

I guess showtunes have a sort of inherent humor value

And Jinnai is so awesome you don’t need to see El Hazard to get it

Some videos have a lot more editing in them than others. To get the dubbing, I’m pretty sure people often just pick a mouth-open and mouth-closed shot and alternate them at whatever frame rates seem to work with the dub. I guess the It’s Tricky video might be an extreme example:

It’s Tricky to make an AMV

Now, for some videos the humor is a lot more explicit. This video was sort of anthemic for some fans for a while:

Right now I’m writing another post titled “Melancholy of” something

And then there are the rare cases of videos I don’t think are particularly humorous, but enjoy anyway. Usually these are really high energy videos, and probably my oldest and most favorite example is…


And just to put the last shovelfull of dirt on the graves of everyone’s bandwidth, here’s my favorite AMV ever, combining a song already fairly humorous with my favorite female anime character, and a couple of very amusing parody shots (*snicker* Berserk…):



  1. Kozumura said,

    You know, alot of my early anime-days were spend downloading hordes of AMVs on It’s crazy, I used to have a frickin’ gigs of them loaded. Alas, they are now lost when my old PC choked.

    I can relate to alot of the things you say. YouTube is basically take overing every source of video needs ever. Right now, I still wondering how the hell they have handle the bandwidth.

    Oh yes. that Yukari video was pure awesome.

  2. sethjohnson said,

    Yeah I’m also kind of baffled at how Youtube can succeed. Google Video I understand more, because they already have the crazy resources. But YouTube…maybe they are backed by The Cabal or something.

  3. The Hierophant said,

    I feel compelled to remind all present that There Is No Cabal.

    And why The Cabal [TINC] would back YouTube is unfathomable.

    I know they’re pulling a lot of cash from venture capital at the moment. YouTube is one of the reasons I continue to suspect that we’re seeing the return of the “1. Get on the Internet, 2. ???? 3. Profit!” business plan from the late nineties. Look for YouTube to get bought out by AOL or a similar content conglomerate – the owners will become instant hojillionaires, and it’ll move to a subscription or ad-based model. Bet on it.

    Anyway, sorry to threadjack. Nice post, definately hits the high points of the phenomenon. I’ve been sitting on a draft of a similar write-up on AMVs, the larger ‘mash-up’ culture, and copyright issues, but I’m not sure it’ll go anywhere.

  4. The Zombie Lord said,

    Definitely true about uber-dramatastic-ness being the somewhat stale bread-and-butter of AMVs.

    On a quasi-side-note, way back in high school I made an AMV to VHD: Bloodlust and Rob Zombie’s Dragula with almost the same video clip used at almost the same time in the song as they in The Most Important Anime Music Video Ever. Hey, I didn’t know any better…

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