Using anime music videos to promote and help define Anime Detour was, perhaps, inevitable. Music all by itself has a pretty serious emotional impact; small wonder it has close ties to religion and magic and other public rituals. Combine that with the imagery of powerful and popular series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and you've got something that grabs the hearts and minds like few other things we could have come up with. There were also quite a few staff members on the 2004/2005 concom who had produced their own excellent AMV as well: stuckintraffik, revolutionaryjo, tokenfanboy, animeamiee and willow_one all have excellent works posted to AMV.org, some of them dating back to the days when AD was merely a nameless concept. Combine that with stuckintraffik's brain flash about inviting Kris McCormic as one of our first guests in 2004, and the foundations of Detour's close association with AMVs was firmly set in place.
Now, I don't mean to claim that there's anything unique about us having an AMV contest, exhibitions of AMV, or workshops/panels on how to do AMV. Dozens of other anime conventions have those, and it's possible other conventions even have something like the WTF contest. I do think our commitment to pimping the hell out of our convention using AMV, on the other hand, is unique among the anime conventions I have any familiarity with. Detour's Room Party Kit doesn't have anything to do with drinks or munchies or decorations; it's an LCD projector, an external hard drive, and a decent little sound system with enough cables and power strips to drive an AMV party for at least eight hours. And that's exactly what we've done, from Des Moines to Fargo and in between to packed rooms.
So, yeah; it's obviously more effective to show music videos that are 3-5 minutes long than to set up an alternative to what most conventions already have plenty of, which is to say anime screening rooms. A lot more people are going to stick their heads in when they hear Loudon Wainwright III belting out "I Wish I Was A Lesbian" than if we put FLCL or Cowboy Bebop (from which that AMV draws its cliptage) on. I think there's more to it than that, though. Couple paragraphs ago I talked about the combined power of the magic in the music and the lure of imagery matched with it. Most of the time those matchups are just funny and amusing little stories like IAWAL. Sometimes they aren't. One of the AMVs we always played to close out our room parties was "Right Now", which is mostly comedic but towards the end offers a clip of a small child watching some dancing anime characters on her TV. After a few seconds she gets up and starts dancing with them as the words "RIGHT NOW ANOTHER ANIME FAN IS BORN". When Phade played that right before closing ceremonies in 2004, the crowd went apeshit. They were hooting and cheering and roaring their approval, and I don't think it was until that moment that I had any idea that they thought we'd done good. That kind of moment sticks with you, just like the debut of Nostromo's "Always Hardcore" a couple of years later. People react to these AMV, because it touches something in their hearts.
That's why we keep running them, I think, and why we've always used them to try and reach people. We don't insist that you be a good editor or even an editor at all. We just want to be sure you can appreciate the good AMV and react to them with the same intensity we do, because that's a clue that you might be one of the people we'd like to hang out with for the weekend. Which is really what Detour was always intended to be - an anime house party for us and a few
Which leads into the size issue, but that's something for another post entirely.