Last time on AMV Theater, a series of anime music video recommendation posts, we looked back at my introduction to AMVs and the origin of the art form. This time, we’ll be watching recent AMVs (made in the last decade) of classic anime (over 20 years old). AMVs can be a great introduction to an anime, particularly if it’s an older title. Not all the anime featured in this post are necessarily “obscure,” but it can still be difficult to find engaging modern AMVs of them. A couple of these are even the same anime I showcased last time, but I told you my preferences are going to be apparent.
Sweet Dreams (2009) by sharnii
(Warning: abuse, statutory rape, spoilers.) It would be all too easy to fill this post with Revolutionary Girl Utena AMVs. The array of characters and complex relationships in this 1997 classic is rife for making AMVs, and its playful symbolism leaves room for new exploration and revelations. This editor has a library of thoughtful Utena AMVs that cover many facets of the show, and oddly enough I adore this one about two of my least favorite characters. By using Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams,” which describes a paradoxical relationship of comfort and fear, it studies exactly what I dislike about Akio and Touga: how they abuse Utena. The same editor’s Akio AMV to “Monster” by Lady Gaga (warning: abuse, statutory rape, incest, nudity, spoilers) also does this masterfully.
Human (2011) by Gemma “Narshial” Reeks-Coad
(Warning: gore, body horror, nudity, rapid flashing, spoilers.) Editors haven’t stopped making Neon Genesis Evangelion AMVs since the 1990s. The reboot/sequel series of films Rebuild of Evangelion has stunning modern animation, but the length of the original TV series has more to offer for character-focused AMVs such as this. By examining three characters through one song, their similar manifestations of trauma despite their differences become apparent. The video’s synchronization to the tiniest of musical cues, such as switching shots at a soft singular chime, amazes me.
autoclave (2014) by im simon
(Warning: gore, body horror, nudity.) Devilman AMVs usually come in one of two flavors: bombastic action or comedy. (This editor is responsible for some of my favorite comedic AMVs.) A mellow character study such as this, to “Autoclave” by The Mountain Goats, is a breath of fresh air. The AMV gels with the song’s metaphor of the heart sterilizing the self through Akira’s struggle between his human heart and demonic body. It’s worth watching despite not covering the full song.
Invincible (2010) by Andrew “UTF Enterprises” Isaacs
(Warning: rapid flashing, nudity, spoilers.) I’m a sucker for AMVs that match anime and music from the same era. Even though the songs and footage are from different countries, I often find it harmonious. Not only are Gunbuster of 1988-9 and Pat Benatar’s 1985 single “Invincible” from the same decade, the chorus summarizes Noriko’s character arc: “we can’t afford to be innocent / stand up and face the enemy / it’s a do or die situation / we will be invincible!” The flashes of still images at whirlwind drumbeats are heart-pounding, but the more subtle synchronization during the instrumental interlude impresses me too.
they’re not coming yet. (2010) by zombiezutta
(Warning: nudity, spoilers.) AMVs of Kaze to Ki no Uta are hard to come by, and this is by far the most polished I’ve found. “Not Gonna Get Us” by t.A.T.u. is a staple of AMVs (as there are tens of thousands of results for this song on AMV.org), but the combination with an obscure anime through stellar editing allows it to rise above that. In fact the song suits the point in the KazeKi manga when Serge and Gilbert escape their school, so the AMV incorporates the lovely manga art by Keiko Takemiya as well as the 1987 OVA adaptation.
Char’s in Space (2016) by Captain Galactic
Let’s end on something light: this AMV doesn’t come with any warnings, not even spoilers since its story is so nonsensical and detached from canon. “Bowie” by the comedy duo Flight of the Concords combines David Bowie’s music and iconography across his career into one song, and who better to match than Char Aznable with his unique incarnations? This AMV uses his appearances in Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and Char’s Counterattack as the various Bowies communicating with each other in space for a fun time.