AMV Hell is(/was) one of the premiere Anime Music Video movements on the Internet. Each individual entry in the series uses short AMV clips to parody whatever anime/songs/sound clips are used within the individual clip, usually done in one of two ways: a fairly normal (often pop) song with metaphorical lyrics set to a clip that suggests a more literal interpretation of the lyrics (often creating extreme Lyrical Dissonance), or a song/sound clip that is already weird/funny/obscene set to a corresponding weird/funny/obscene anime. The rapid-fire element of the clips—as well as the use of flipping channels on television as a framing device—provoked comparisons to Robot Chicken, though AMV Hell existed well before that show.
In May 2004, a handful of AMV makers released the original AMV Hell. It was little more than a fun little experiment, but the idea caught on, much to their surprise. The creators simultaneously released AMV Hell 2: Son Of AMV Hell, a video filled with less family-friendly content, so the first could be shown at conventions without fear of inappropriate content. (It was. Many times.) The establishment of AMV Hell as a serious franchise came with AMV Hell 3: The Motion Picture in September 2005; roughly an hour long, this entry featured dozens of contributors and had no end of oddball (and often downright hilarious) shorts. The jump from short five-minute humorous snippets to an epic like that made a lot of people stand up and take notice.
Simultaneously released with AMV Hell 3 was AMV Hell 0, which the creators described as "the more irreverant [sic] side of AMV Hell. And by irreverent, we mean it's [also sic] one of the most offensive, disgusting, pornographic, vile, worthless pieces of garbage ever conceived." Similar in concept to AMV Hell 2, the 0 entry consisted of a series of clips with overt sexual/violent/scatological content unsuitable for public consumption. (AMV Hells 1, 3, 4, and 5 were produced with convention theater showings in mind, and their content is censored to reflect this.) AMV Hell 0 thus has a high Squick factor and features an adult content warning before any of the nastiness begins.
June 2006 saw the release of AMV Hell: Championship Edition, a contest held by the AMV Hell creators in which contestants were given specified songs and told to make the funniest video they could. The top 55 videos were turned into the Championship Edition compilation. And then came the big one in September 2007: AMV Hell 3: The Motion Picture II: AMV Hell 4: The Last One, which featured over two hundred and fifty videos and ran for an hour and a half. After such an epic, the AMV Hell team swore they'd never do it again, as the effort on 4 almost killed them—but they didn't stick to that (of course). In September 2008, the team released AMV Hell Divided By 0, which (in a case of Refuge in Audacity) deliberately set out to push the extremes of both X-ratings and poor taste. Where 0 was largely comprised of conventional hentai, Divided By 0 jumped further still by focusing mainly on openly fetishistic content. Like its predecessor, Divided by 0 has a high Squick factor and an adult content warning.
The series laid low for a few months until one of its original creators, Zarxrax, introduced "AMV Minis" in July 2009. In an attempt to maintain and provide an outlet for continued interest in the AMV Hell brand while lessening the workload of its management, Zarxrax designed the "AMV Minis" entries as a series of shorter videos released more frequently instead of feature-length events. These Minis are comparable in scale to the original AMV Hell, but are comprised entirely of submissions from other editors and do not have clips created by Zarxrax himself. The "first season" of Minis runs to thirteen episodes: eleven regular editions and two special editions—one focusing exclusively on Azumanga Daioh (a popular subject for clips and skits throughout the whole franchise), and the other a collection of "Bad Stuff" (think of it as the Minis' own 0). The second season launched in April 2011; the first episode of the new season responded to viewer feedback that criticized the proliferation of dialogue-based skits and skits that felt dragged out/overlong in earlier Hells and Minis by limiting submissions to a maximum of seven seconds and requiring their accompanying audio to be music or song, as well as banning skits based on Family Guy. This immediately provoked a rash of complaints moaning about a bewildering pace and a nostalgic fondness for Family Guy, illustrating the unpleasable nature of the series' fans.
While the first season of AMV Minis ran its course, the AMV Hell team developed its next full feature—AMV Hell 5: Dedicated to Dio, dedicated both to Ronnie James Dio as well as an AMV creator whose works had graced previous AMV Hells—alongside it. Co-creator SSGWNBTD began accepting submissions for 5 in September 2009; it premiered (partially) at Otakon in July 2010 (it lacked only an opening and a closing) and later premiered in full at Anime Weekend Atlanta in September 2010.
The team later announced two separate projects: AMV Hell 6: Final Fantasy Hell and AMV Hell 6: The End Of The Universe. The former was planned to have only clips either taken from or referencing parts of the Final Fantasy franchise, but this entry never came to fruition. The latter was initially planned to touch on the 2012 End of the World theory, had its rough-cut premiere at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2012, and was slated for release on the 21st of December 2012, but SSGWNBTD was unable to further tweak it. On the 20th of December, Zarxrax announced that SSGWNBTD was "fired" from the project, released the rough cut via BitTorrent, and re-opened submissions for one more month. The team finally released AMV Hell 6.66: This is (Not) The End in April 2013, though in this state, only a third of the entry's original rough cut content remained.
After the release of 6.66, the third (and ultimately final) season of the Minis began. Each entry in this season focused on challenging creators to stick with a certain theme (for instance, creating videos based around Mondegreens); after each entry was released, viewers could vote for their favorite video from said entry. The winners of each individual entry were compiled into the season's final episode (Final Destination) and viewers were given the chance to vote on the best individual video of the season.
The seventh entry in the main series, AMV Hell 7: Attack on 10 Year Anniversary, premiered at Otakon in 2014 and had its online release in October of the same year. On the 3rd of May 2015, Zarxrax announced that he had officially decided to end AMV Hell following the completion of the third AMV Hell Minis season, in the sense that he would no longer oversee any more projects or make any more official entries in the series. He noted that AMV Hell had run its due course: with the proliferation of internet video hosting sites such as YouTube in the decade since the release of the first two entries, the series no longer needed to go on as it had in the past. With that announcement, AMV Hell appears to have finally died—though the legacy it created will live on forever.
AMV Hell had a considerable influence over AMV making: imitators inspired by the series' "multiple-short-AMV-clips" style have often described their videos as "AMV Hell style". The series even spawned numerous imitators within other fandoms and groups across the Internet. In essence, the page-topping quote became a reality.
- AMV Hell (5/2004)
- AMV Hell 2 (5/2004)
- AMV Hell 3: The Motion Picture (9/2005)
- AMV Hell 0 (9/2005)
- AMV Hell: Championship Edition (6/2006)
- AMV Hell 4: The Last One (9/2007)
- AMV Hell Divided By 0 (9/2008)
- AMV Hell 5: Dedicated to Dio (9/2010)
- AMV Hell 6.66: This Is (Not) The End (4/2013)
- original rough cut (AMV Hell 6: The End of the Universe), 12/2012
- AMV Hell 7: Attack on 10 Year Anniversary (8/2014)
- Season 1 (7/2009 - 11/2010)
- Season 2 (4/2011 - 10/2012)
- Season 3 (AMV Minis Challenge) (7/2013 - 1/2015)
The AMV Hell series, including the AMV Hell Minis entries, contain the following tropes:
- Actor Allusion: As a nod to the dub cast of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, one clip in AMV Hell 5 features Ponyo's father quoting the Badass Boast from Taken.
- Affectionate Parody:
- 2 contains a parody of the "Evangelion Opus" AMV; 3 contains parodies of the "Danger: Low Brow Humor", "Euphoria", and "Shounen Bushidou" AMVs. For good measure, 0 does a second parody of "Euphoria" by mixing RahXephon with Mindless Self Indulgence's "Faggot".
- 3 also has a parody of Kevin Caldwell's "Believe".
- 3 contains an edited version of the Neon Genesis Evangelion end credits (mixed with Azumanga Daioh), and 4 contains a version of the second season Death Note opening mixed with Lucky Star.
- AMV editor Vic Bond 007 is infamous for his use of the lens-flare special effect. 3 features a clip attributed to "Vic Bond 008" that consists of nothing but lens flares set to "Blinded by the Light".
- The Aristocrats: This appears in Divided By 0, narrated by Nyamo.
- Ascended Meme: Media Blasters has used signs that only say "Gentlemen, behold! CORN!!" to advertise Boku no Sexual Harassment at conventions.
- Ax-Crazy: Divided By 0 does this one literally.
- Black Comedy: The team took this to its literal extreme in 0 and Divided by 0; you will be offended by these two videos, guaranteed. 0's disclaimer even says that "this stuff is so bad we never should have even made it".
- Black Comedy Rape: "Gentlemen, behold! CORN!" and its sequel "Gentlemen! I bring you...MORE CORN!"
- Book-Ends: 0 starts and ends with the above-mentioned "Corn" scenes.
- Brain Bleach: Divided by 0's closing credits do their best to ruin sex forever. Breaking the Fourth Wall can be scary indeed.
- Brick Joke: One contributor used Monty Python's "Argument" sketch in one of the AMV Minis.
- B-Roll Rebus: A lot of humor in the series comes from visually representing metaphorical lyrics in a literal sense.
- Censored for Comedy: The 18th episode of AMV Minis' third season has this as its theme.
- Colon Cancer: 4's full title is "AMV Hell 3: The Motion Picture II: AMV Hell 4: The Last One".
- While 5 was eventually released under the more manageable title of "AMV Hell 5: Dedicated to Dio", during its development phase, it was advertised on the animemusicvideos.org website as "AMV Hell 3: The Motion Picture III: AMV Hell 5: Your Banner Is Too Big". For at least one con appearance, the last bit was instead noted as "Your Subtitle Is Too Big".
- Covered in Gunge: The series has a little of this all over, but it mainly concentrated it into 0 and Divided By 0.
- Creator's Apathy: Zarxrax note does this in-universe in the opening of 6.66. Displeased with the submissions he's received (and following a Big "NO!"), he decides to "just throw some random videos in and hope there are some good ones." (All the "rejected" clips shown are ultimately credited at the end.)
- Creator Thumbprint: Some of the more prolific editors have source materials that they use repeatedly, but other editors tend to avoid. N.P.C.C.'s notable use of Jem clips became blatant enough to reach Running Gag status over the course of the third season of AMV Minis.
- Deconstruction: Of all entries, 0 does this to the famous "Euphoria" AMV. Both use clips from RahXephon and a specific set of visual effects, but where "Euphoria" presents a gentle world by using calm clips from the show and the song "Must Be Dreaming", AMV Hell 0 uses "Faggot" by Mindless Self Indulgence and far more violent clips to send a simple message: "Okay, 'Euphoria', here's what the show was really like."
- Both "Euphoria" and the 0 version were by the same guy, meaning he essentially deconstructed his own work.
- Double-Meaning Title: In addition to being a reference to Rebuild of Evangelion, 6.66's title is also alludes to the Number of the Beast, as well as to how only a third of the rough cut's content survived to the final version.
- Escalating Punchline: The EVA skits in 2 certainly qualify. The first two have the original somber orchestral music from the original scene, the third has Chirping Crickets, and the fourth has Adam Sandler's song from The Wedding Singer ("WON'T SOMEBODY KILL ME PLEASE? KILL ME! I WANT TO DIE!") The final one has the EVA crushing and dropping its victim, except it's Unit-01's head that falls into the LCL rather than Kaworu's. Save for the last clip, every one of these shows the same exact image.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The series averts this — Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen, amongst other anime considered "untouchable", are mocked just to prove that they could do it.
- Fan Disservice and Fanservice: 0 and Divided by 0 are made largely from Hentai.
- Fan Vid
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- Gallows Humor: Divided By 0 does this one literally.
- Girl Watching
- Grand Finale: 7 serves as this for the main series, while the "Final Destination" entry for the AMV Minis' third season closes that part of the series off.
- Grand Theft Auto Effect: Particularly memorable clips tend to be referenced in videos of the song that have nothing to do with the clip.
- In-Joke: One such example is the "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" clip from 3 where Nicholas D. Wolfwood is carrying around a massive Star of David instead of a cross. This is at least partially inspired by a Jewish cosplayer calling himself "Rabbi Wolfowitz" who would go to conventions doing exactly that.
- Intercourse with You
- Jerkass: A large portion of the site members count as this, if their chatbox personas provide reliable evidence.
- Kick the Dog
- Mondegreen: The third episode of AMV Minis' third season is dedicated to these.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The "Previously" segment at the beginning of 4 counts.
- Mushroom Samba: I'M ON SHROOMS!
- Never Trust a Trailer: Parodied at the end of 1, which ends with a trailer for 2 showing clips from titles such as Nausicaa, AKIRA, Princess Mononoke, Read or Die, and Cowboy Bebop, interspersed with text like a fake "Triumphant!" quote from Roger Ebert and "Featuring none of the scenes shown here!"
- Once an Episode: Each of the mainline AMV Hells start with a clip featuring Gag Boobs, set to some kind of hard rock/metal.
- Panty Shot:
- Pun: This crops up from time to time with things like Shonen Batman or Microsoft Excel.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: Most clips last no more than thirty seconds at most, and far more run far shorter.
- The first episode of AMV Minis' second season forced contributors to make clips that lasted no longer than seven seconds.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Well, kinda. 3 featured an original bit of animation set to AC/DC's "Highway to Hell", and 5 (in keeping with its dedication to Ronnie James Dio) had Tenacious D's "Dio" set to K-On! and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
- Redundant Parody: One clip from 4 features Sol Badguy to the tune of the song he is named after.
- Running Gag:
- AMV Hell 2 had one spoofing the the long shot of EVA-01 grasping Kaworu from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- AMV Hell 3 has a series of variations of the "Ellen Fleiss" parody segment from 1. (The credits for 3 refer to them as "Osaka Cutaways".)
- A visual example is found in the deleted scenes from 3, beginning at the 7:24 mark.
- 4 has repeated clips to Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek".
- In a case of either a Running Gag or everyone going to the same well, 5 had several clips set to "Always".
- 5 also features about three clips set to "Halo".
- 6.66 features a series of bits involving a nature show parody featuring Urd from Ah! My Goddess as the "sake badger".
- A running gag carried over from its rough cut involves setting Terry Crews's Old Spice ads to Tentai Senshi Sunred. note
- The use of songs by Duane and BrandO may count as well. Though seemingly unrelated, there are seven such clips in 6.66.note
- The original cut of 6 had "Fus roh DAH!" from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's trailer. Only one such clip survived in 6.66. note
- One of them did so many variations of the end of Cowboy Bebop that it really turned into an Overly Long Running Gag.
- 7 uses different clips of Malcom McDowell and James Earl Jones' dramatic readings of Facebook posts in Sprint commercials (featuring Tamaki and Armstrong as McDowell and Jones, respectively), and a trio of clips feautring Fat Buu as Zulway, God of Mercy.
- The AMV Minis Challenge season has multiple appearances of the main character from Jem, usually as a cameo in a different series or as a framing device for said series.
- The trailer for 7 has a Jem gag right at the end, too. Can't stem the Jem!
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: One clip does this with the cast of One Piece, with Fred and Daphne fly by on a carpet in the background.
- Shock Site: 0 contains a scene of Sakaki opening a Last Measure link.
- Shout-Out: Griffith's fondness for singing show tunes in the earlier videos is a reference to the Berserk English dub outtakes, where Griffith's VA was a former Broadway singer. He started to sing sometimes if he forgot or flubbed a line (or just felt like doing so).
- Something Completely Different: The second season of AMV Minis featured episodes comprised entirely of Western Animation (inspired by the earthquake/tsunami in Japan) and live-action clips. The latter can be jarring, but still finds itself well within the AMV Hell spirit.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Much of the humor comes from such juxtapositions.
- Quite possibly the ultimate example: in 5, we get a clip of Unicron eating a planet set to Parry Gripp's "Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom".
- The third season of AMV Minis had challenges based around Heavy Metal and music that Tastes Like Diabetes. In the latter case, some entries were genuine Sugar Bowl, while others were Sugar Apocalypse.
- Spoiler: Hoo boy. If you don't want Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, and possibly Berserk, Perfect Blue, One Piece, and Higurashi: When They Cry spoiled, you should approach with caution. And don't even start on Neon Genesis Evangelion... In fairness, though, spoilericity is definitely hampered by a severe lack of context in almost all cases, the only real exceptions being the pretty blatant deaths.
- Take That, Audience!/Take That, Critics!: The frequent appearance of Jem in AMV Minis' third season earned a great deal of negative feedback, partly due to the argument that a Western-produced cartoon didn't belong in an anime compilation. In the 19th episode of that season, OutrageousChaz assembled a video that mocked the naysayers; voting for that episode saw that specific clip tie for the first place spot.
- Visual Pun: The series loves to sprinkle these about.
- Vulgar Humor: 0 and Divided by 0 thrive on this at times. At least a quarter of Divided by 0 is dedicated to coprophilia jokes.