Maybe 13 or 14 years ago I watched a video of a strange cartoon that I’d never seen before. The song Until the day I die by Story of the Year was blasting from my pc speakers, you know the built in ones that sounded like total crap but you were glad you had something, and the characters on screen were fighting and casting what seemed like magic. Back then I had no concept of what anime was, let alone Naruto. I didn’t even really understand what I’d stumbled across. This was still a year or two before I got into anime and when I still thought Pokemon was an american cartoon and so was Dragonball Z.
This wave of animations also introduced me to some louder musical genres. Before then I mainly listened to what was on the radio and a lot of hip hop/R&B. These videos were always accompanied by rock, metal or a genre adjacent to those two. For the next couple of years, especially after I started watching anime properly, I would often watch these AMVs or Anime Music Videos.
These AMVs were a big part in spreading anime to a broader audience. Obviously this was all fan content, but these videos got tons of views because they were just so damn cool. The subject of an AMV would often be a specific fight in an anime, like Ichigo vs. Grimmjow from Bleach or a ton of Naruto Vs. Sasuke. The really talented AMV makers would match up certain beats in the fight to the music so it would be even more satisfying to watch.
I’m often reminded about an AMV I watched about Luffy Vs. Hody from One Piece. This is in my opinion the weakest arc in One Piece, but the fight itself is pretty cool. So taking an arc and just bringing it down to a four minute video with a banger song behind it is a great way to still consume it.
Some people even went extra crazy and did some ridiculous things. Take for example Anime’s got Talent. It’s a three and a half minute compilation of a whole bunch of anime, just celebrating the entire genre. And all of this done to the background of it being Anime’s got talent? I wish I had half the creative bones the person who made this video had. It’s probably my favorite anime-related random video I’ve ever seen.
Why am I talking about it today? I guess it’s just nostalgia. It’s a time I’m severely missing. Coming home from school and watching AMVs for an hour or so before continuing watching One Piece for the rest of the day while solidly ignoring my homework. It was a celebration of the anime we all loved so much and brought people together when Anime wasn’t as big a phenomenon as it is in the west now. It’s obviously still growing, but I can’t help but look at the road traveled and see how much has changed. And I have to admit that I got into anime pretty late. I’ve heard people talk about bootlegging VHS tapes with bad translations as their only option. By the time I started watching anime at the very least streaming sites (you know, the definitely perfectly legal ones) were becoming more common and although there would be some stuff missing and a lot of incomplete catalogs compared to now, at least the big shows were decently available. And I think for a lot of people these AMVs were their first introduction to anime. And if not that, they were a big part of their consumption. So after reading this I urge everyone to go to youtube and search for some good AMVs, to celebrate the good old days of anime. Thanks for reading.