Cyborg Dreams

An Intersection of Media, Japan, and Fandom


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AMV Hell What?

If you have ever attended a sizable anime convention, or one that has a heavy focus on AMVs (anime music videos) there is a chance you have witnessed this strange and exciting compilation/mix tape of anime, music, and lewd comedy. And as the convention season begins to slow down and I find myself fully recovered from Anime Week Atlanta I am reminded that last year was the first time several of my friends had seen an AMV Hell, and while many people get a good laugh out of it I wondered how many fans actually know what it is and the history behind it.

If you haven’t heard of it before it can be a bit difficult to explain, perhaps you should watch the original and come back, I should add a spoiler alert as well.

So, what is it and how does it work?

The easiest explanation is that it is a fan-made AMV mix tape intended for comedy, a more drawn out explanation is this; AMV Hell is a compilation anime music video that relies on one of two methods to get to the punch line. Either it takes a normal song with strange lyrics and uses an anime clip to interpret the lyrics literally, or it pairs a strange song with an equally strange clip. Of course this is not always the case, especially when the clip becomes self referential.

For those interested in the full story as told by the creators, I will provide a link at the end of the article. But the succinct version is this; The original AMV Hell began in 2004 when two online friends – Zarxax and SSGWNBTD – began collaborating on humorous short clips of anime mixed with songs. From this AMV Hell and AMV Hell 2 were created simultaneously. AMV Hell 2 was for adult content and spawned its own line of offensive/sexual material, but the original was intended for convention audiences (according to the creators). It premiered at the 7th Animazement (which happens to be a local convention here in North Carolina) and from there took off.

The process of producing AMV Hell is arduous to say the least. As it became more popular the creators put calls out to other anime music video creators to contribute. The intention was to have a year long creation and vetting process for each AMV Hell that was created, but like most people, anime fans are procrastinators. According to Zarxrax submissions would not show up in force until a month before the deadline which caused no end of headaches for both creators.

Last year at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2014 was the premier of AMV Hell 7: Attack on 10 Year Anniversary. And as of May 3rd of this year Zarxrax has stated that it was very likely the final one.

Will there be more Hell?

What are your experiences with it?

A full history for those want to read it

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Nostalgia is a Drug for Geeks

Nostalgia from the Greek words nostos and algos, return and suffering. Literally, the suffering caused by the yearning to return to one’s place of origin.

After hearing neuro-anthropologist Dr. Daniel Lende give a lecture on how he was studying drug addiction and the culture and reasons behind it, I had the realization that much of what he was describing was exactly what I go through when I feel nostalgic. According to his study the basic breakdown of what is happening in the brain is this:

  • A shift in attention, paying attention to cues that let addicts know it is time to use
  • Feeling a desire, usually one that consumes their thoughts
  • Urges that happen beyond conscious control

Inevitably the things I find nostalgic are geeky; NES, Ninja Turtles, old D&D games, Megaman, the first time I watched Gundam Wing and Dragon Ball Z. And this led me to wonder; is nostalgia the geek’s drug of choice? While most people experience nostalgia, it seems to be especially prevalent among geeky/nerdy people. It is something we actively seek out; in a world with PS4’s and Xbox One’s we still seek out and recreate the 8-bit experiences of our childhood. Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and JoJo’s Bizarre adventure are all getting remakes and new seasons while new and popular anime wait patiently for the next round. (Will Shinjeki no Kyojin resurge when I’m 50?)

Of course capitalism has something to do with that, childhoods are easy sells. But the geek childhood we see repackaged more often than most, markets thrive on our nostalgia. I haven’t seen a modern remake of Happy Days or I Love Lucy, but TMNT is on its fifth television incarnation, has had six comic series, and three live-action movies with a fourth just released. (I know I’m leaving some out, but you get the idea) Funimation releases Dragon Ball Z in some new and premium boxed set every, what, three years? And now there is Dragon Ball Kai.

So it’s profitable, and I think that’s because we seek it out more than any other sub-culture or age group.

Why?

A study titled “Nostalgia: Content, Triggers, Functions” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (91, 975-993) suggests that nostalgia is often onset by sad or negative feelings. Additionally, in a majority of those studied nostalgia acted as a cure or relief from those feelings. My theory is that because many of us grew up isolated from our peers and were shunned for our interests. The games and media we participated in brought us solace and a sense of community with other like-minded individuals.

If those activities helped us cope with the hardships of growing up as outsiders, or with the difficulties of growing up in general, then it would make sense that we would draw strength from those memories. But we do more than draw strength, we surround ourselves with it. Sing songs about it, plaster it all over our homes, purchase and repurchase original and reproductions of our childhood loves. We never tire of exploring Hyrule or of throwing a spirit bomb at Frieza.

I have found myself more than once watching re-runs of anime I grew up with when I was feeling down. Sometimes I think of it as “anime junk food” but what is actually happening here is that I am seeking relief from feeling depressed or worried. And it is not feelings of exclusion (I have grown up to have many friends in many circles) but the worries of the adult world; jobs, rent, bills, etc. And in those moments I have a sense of comfort brought about by reliving my childhood experiences.

Perhaps in a world where we “millenials” are often lost, underemployed, and in debt (read Sarah Kendzior’s great article about this) we seek to comfort ourselves by filling our lives with memories of a life less full of worry. Who needs narcotics and anti-depressants when you have Duo Maxwell?


If you’re interested in further reading check out these links:

Dr. Daniel Lende’s neuro-anthropology blog

Nostaliga: Content, Triggers, Functions

Sarah Kendzior’s blog