3. AMV Concept Theory

Every video has a concept, no matter how obvious or mysterious it is. However, people often confuse “concept” for “story.” They may accuse less complicated videos of having little or none of it. In actuality, concepts for videos fall into different positions on a fluid, basic leveling system: no concept, mood, lyric, symbol/motif, technical, and story.

No Concept

These are the videos most often denounced for having no concept, or a very weak one. In a sense, they are at the very bottom, in the basement of the concept leveling system. This is because they fail to communicate a true message. I personally feel that the “action” genre lends itself most easily to this level. They often consist of random scenes set to unfitting music, and fail to get across any real meaning. This is more of a novice problem than an actual video problem, since the editor probably intended for the video to mean something to the viewer. While one can say there is no visible concept, the very existence of the video is a meta-concept in itself.


These videos strive to make the viewer feel something. They are not so complicated as to explain a depressing or uplifting occurrence, but they focus on a specific feeling. They come from all genres; they may or may not consist of multiple anime. All the moments of the video combine with the song to push a certain mood—happiness, hatred, fear, determination. Mood is also prevalent in higher-level concepts, but is accompanied with more “meat” on its bones. Mood alone can be moving in itself, but the mood is also important for other forms of concepts.


Editors who use lyrics for their concepts must carefully choose their songs. The entire song will depend on them, whether to tell a story, evoke a mood, outline a character, or recount an event. The lyrics provide a handy baseline to follow, but they may also limit the editor in terms of flexibility. However, one can be creative with this type of concept, as Ileia was in her video “RAH HEY!”. She uses the lyrics—at least, the way they sound when sung—to create an amusing video that would else have not been possible. Many people find parodying the lyrics by juxtaposing them with something that is the opposite (obscene violence to a happy song, very serious action to a children’s song) may result in some unique comedy videos.


These videos work to highlight a specific theme or reoccurring idea. Two notable examples would be Nostromo’s “Quantum Ripples”. He tries to capitalize on a theme, or a continuing pattern by using anime clips with similar movements (spinning, tunnels, eyes). These videos are usually more artistic, and do not tell any sort of specific story—at least not one that can be followed linearly. For this reason, they are appreciated on a level of flow, beauty, and sometimes technical prowess, which leads me to my next concept level.


The concept of these videos is no more than this: technical proficiency. These videos may incorporate other lower-level concepts (like mood and motif), but they are chiefly dedicated to showing off how much control the editor has over the material. An example of this nikolakis’s “Empty Motion”. The amount of masking in that video is impressive. Videos of this nature are sometimes lost on a general audience because it is hard for non-editors to understand the amount of work that goes into making some of these videos. While not strong story-wise, they are usually fun to watch and, if one knows how it was made, highly respected.


This is the most obvious form of concept. These videos tell a story that is clear to the viewer, and probably touching. They are not abstract, they are reachable and relatable, and they probably employ several of the other forms of concept. Most videos tell stories, though many merely follow the storyline of the anime. These AMVs can be powerful, but the more complicated and different the story is, the more attention it will probably get. Story-driven videos have the potential to become an ultimate video, since they can employ every single lower-order concept level as they go along to create a very sophisticated piece. However, some editors who shoot too far may end up making the video too complex to follow, thus losing their viewers. Many well-remembered story videos are crossovers, such as Shin & GuntherAMVs’ “Fate Matrix” and ScorpionsUltd’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”.

All forms of concepts have their strengths and weaknesses. Editors must learn how to wield them with familiarity and comfort, using them when needed and shelving them when they are not. Everything comes with practice, so it stands the only way to improve your conceptual abilities is to try them out.