Long before I got involved in my local otaku community and met my partner, who used to be an avid AMV editor, I knew I would one day want to make an AMV. I’m sure I had seen a number of videos before the one I’d like to introduce today, but I Wish I Was A Lesbian by AbsoluteDestiny is the only one I remember and the one that spurred my ambitions to make my own. Citing AbsoluteDestiny’s description, it’s “a comedy about the benefits of being a lesbian.” And that’s what set it off from all the others – it was funny, memorable and, while old (premiered in 2003), the editing was still well above average among what I could encounter on YouTube back then.
AbsoluteDestiny entered the anime community first as a fansubber, but before long AMVs sparked his interest. He created his first in 2001, realized his lack of skill and after a short creative hiatus, during which he studied the works of others, went on to make several well-received AMVs in 2002, which even earned him some awards. He stopped making AMVs in 2004, but still edits videos from live action cinematography (see the list of his 55 videos). Do not despair though! He released an Avatar music video just last month, indicating animation is still close to his heart. I already mentioned I Wish I Was A Lesbian was from 2003 – about half-way through AbsoluteDestiny’s “career.”
In light of recent discussions about gender representation in anime, manga and other media, I dare to suggest AbsoluteDestiny was ahead of his time. Nevertheless keep in mind that this AMV is a simple comedy (and perhaps an exercise in lip synch), bemoaning the obvious fact that men can be rather disgusting, especially when it comes to mating, and anime males are no different. I sympathize with the girls, especially Faye Valentine and Asuka.
Aside from Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ranma ½, Di Gi Charat, Kare Kano and of course FLCL were used. You can see they are all well-known series, even 10 years later, which likely helped the AMV gain popularity, nevertheless it is most definitely the idea and fine execution that carried it all the way to AWA Pro and AnimeNEXT to seize Best Comedy Awards in their respective AMV contests. This last point is also one of the two important lessons I’d like to draw from this post.
Lesson #1: Good technique and a well-handled concept will always capture the highest points among the AMV community. Allow me a short digression. In my local community we only have one large AMV contest a year. A number of judges have that ungrateful task of sifting through all the submissions, awarding points in several categories, both objective (e.g. video quality) and more subjective (like the concept). About a half of all submissions advances to the public voting. In the end the judges choose one video to award, the public chooses up to three.
To win there are two strategies: For the public prizes go for a rude song and a wanna-be-funny AMV with the latest anime. To win the judges’ award think of a good concept and execute it well. Coincidentally majority of those who can think of a good concept are also those whose technique is impeccable. Perhaps there is a connection between the two?
Lesson #2: Learn from others’ works. This applies to all fields where you might venture. Most times there will be someone better than you to learn from. I maintain that learning from something already created is easier to do than reinventing the wheel.
If you’re interested in AMVs, let me point you towards A-M-V.org. It has an enormous database of AMVs, recommended video and sound editing software, tutorials and a lively forum covering all aspects of the English-speaking community – beta-testing, legality, airing anime, upcoming competitions, conventions et cetera.