I intended for AMV Theater to be the articles I would write when I didn’t have other ideas, but now… it’s been almost two years since my last. Maybe it’s a good thing I have enough ideas to keep me from having to fall back on it, but I still believe in sharing the artistry of AMVs. Here is the return of AMV Theater, my series of AMV recommendations.
In honor of Pride Month, all these AMVs feature songs by openly gay or bisexual artists. Their music combined with LGBTQ characters and same-gender relationships, whether or not they’re “canonical,” is a beautiful thing.
[C\S] She Keeps Me Warm – Yuri Collab (2014) by Heartsie, Chani, and Panny
Multi-Editor Projects (MEPs for short) get a bad rap for association with dizzying variety of source footage or nonsensical pairings, but that isn’t the case for all of them. This AMV is a collaboration between three editors, each working with several anime listed in the video description. They use the song “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert, an openly lesbian singer-songwriter, best known for being part of “Same Love” by Macklemore. Here, Lambert’s song takes on a life of its own through love between animated girls.
Some relationships featured are one-sided or doomed, like Tomoyo and Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura or Fumi and Yasuko from Sweet Blue Flowers. Some are full-blown romances, like Akira and Fumi from Sweet Blue Flowers. It even includes side characters like Tomoe and Miyako from Whispered Words, and couples from obscure anime like Mari and Moe from Samurai Flamenco. The AMV wonderfully balances the scenes of affection during lyrics about dating with the moments of reflection or vulnerability during lyrics about how Lambert “cannot change, even if I tried.” The scope captures the depth of lesbian experiences, from relationships with women to identity itself.
Girls Like Girls – Full Femslash Mep (2016) by Devotion Studio
Another MEP, with a more conventional division of one couple per contributor, set to “Girls Like Girls” by openly lesbian pop star Hayley Kiyoko. With how rare interactions between female characters can be, MEP fractions are ideal for femslash pairings that may not have enough footage to carry an entire song. Even this AMV resorts to fanart for one couple, which is unfortunately not credited to the artists.
While the She Keeps Me Warm AMV featured all official couples, the Girls Like Girls MEP is primarily unofficial ships (with the notable exception of Ruby and Sapphire from Steven Universe). Relationships between girls reimagined as romance is just as worthwhile in fandom, especially through the authentic lens of a lesbian musician. The sentiment of “girls like girls, like boys do” in the chorus is accented by the editing of girls with known boy love interests (such as Marinette from Miraculous Ladybug) with attraction to girls here instead. It even reimagines Gravity Falls with Mabel as the one crushing on Wendy, rather than her twin brother Dipper. The song is as much about love for girls as it is about the legitimacy of lesbian identity in a heteronormative society, excellently illustrated in the AMV.
Kotetsu x Barnaby – Better Than I Know Myself ~ HBD Evita (2016) by kaitokid1014
This AMV shares its title with the song used: “Better Than I Know Myself” by Adam Lambert, an openly gay musician, with a meaning perfect for Kotetsu and Barnaby from Tiger & Bunny. Again, the song choice from Lambert brings an authenticity to the AMV’s romantic portrayal of their open-to-interpretation relationship. While the song is inherently only from one person’s point of view in the relationship, the editing of the AMV brilliantly divides it between Barnaby in the first half and Kotetsu in the latter.
The same lyrics from different perspectives tie their similar feelings together. For example: at the first “I know it gets hard sometimes,” Barnaby thinks of his coldness, as shown in a shot of him staring at his hands and speaking to Kotetsu. He will never abandon him after how close they’ve become. In Kotetsu’s section, “I know it gets hard sometimes” is not about his own behavior but Barnaby’s, as shown though a scene of Barnaby panicking. It serves as a reassuring response: he knows Barnaby acts the way he does out of trauma, and will stand by his side to support him. In the end, they feel the same way in how they rely on each other to escape loneliness. That’s love!
[ Miharu & Yoite ] Fall Into the Sky (2009) by AlaenaNight
(Warning: contains major character death and spoilers.) Many people are unaware Vanessa Carlton, best known for her hit song “A Thousand Miles” and subsequent video memes made with it, is openly bisexual. It’s touching to see her music used in the queer context of Miharu and Yoite’s relationship from Nabari no Ou rather than memes.
This AMV combines footage from the anime adaptation with pages from the original manga to craft its narrative. The manga storyline, in which Yoite dies and Miharu loses his memories of them but nonetheless feels longing, serves as a framing device from which Miharu reminiscences on when Yoite was alive. “I don’t belong living in your precious memories” fits Yoite to a T, as they don’t even want to be remembered after they die. Within the flashbacks, “if I could just see you” plays over both of them desperately seeking the other out despite being on opposite sides of the conflict. By paralleling them, it shows how wrong Yoite was to think their life didn’t matter since they both love each other. It’s a shame the AMV was created before the end of the manga and couldn’t include when Miharu reunites with Yoite one last time, but it still holds up.
Anthy – “I was a Fool” (for Love) (2013) by sharnii
(Warning: contains incestuous rape, nudity, and spoilers.) It wouldn’t be an AMV Theater without Revolutionary Girl Utena. This time it’s an Anthy character study set to “I was a Fool” by Tegan & Sara, a duo of openly lesbian sisters. Though usually interpreted as about an unhealthy romantic relationship, the AMV applies the song to the sibling relationship between Akio and Anthy. In a non-romantic context, a song by lesbians still meaningfully suits Anthy, as Akio’s abuse keeps her from fostering relationships with women and expressing her sexuality. She “was a fool” to devote herself to Dios, as he grew up to take advantage of her sacrifice and manipulate her. It ostensibly captures Anthy’s state of mind in the middle of the TV series, still under Akio’s control. The series ending where Anthy walks away from Akio only appears during “if you’re worried that I might’ve changed, left behind all of my foolish ways, you best be looking for somebody else,” rather than the final note. It’s a heartbreaking choice of editing to return to mid-series footage after that, but its presence serves as a reminder Anthy will one day be free.
Steven Universe AMV–Dance Apocalyptic by Janelle Monae (2015) by brent raptor
Unfortunately, my final AMV has been blocked in my country so I can’t properly embed it. If you’re also in the United States and can’t watch it on Youtube, someone else has uploaded it to Bilibili here. This AMV combines Steven Universe with “Dance Apocalyptic” by Janelle Monáe, openly queer (also describes herself as bisexual and pansexual) musician, from her album The Electric Lady.
The AMV is a joy to watch, as it marries the upbeat energies of the cartoon and the song. It also unites the work of two bisexual creators: Janelle Monáe and Rebecca Sugar, showrunner of Steven Universe. The quick shots from a multitude of episodes keep you guessing, with almost-matching lyrics like Steven’s pizza rewards card and coins for the arcade at “credit cards,” only in the end to linger on Rose’s magic moss in bloom and Steven dancing with Connie in the end. It leaves you feeling the healing power of dance in the face of the end of the world, then surprises you yet again with a special appearance from Peridot.
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