As February comes to a close, fans of Anime Expo can sense the ever-growing excitement as the July convention approaches. While the massive convention has caught negative press in recent years for massive lines and overcrowding, there are still dozens of reasons why people flock to the show from all over the country.
One such reason, at least for this nerd, is the world-class AMV competition. A 3-hour event that showcases the best Anime Music Videos the community has to offer: running the gamut from high-adrenaline action videos to heart-crushingly sad drama entries.
Now, while the AMV competition has recently occupied the largest hall that AX has to offer, it wasn’t always that way. For years, the steadfast team in charge of organizing and running the event, did so out of tiny video rooms that were quickly outpaced by the size of its fandom. Technical difficulties of legendary proportion spun some shows off the rails, but through it all, the team – led by Vlad G. Pohnert – persisted. Just this last year there were a couple instances where a video experienced some brief shuttering during its initial screening. In the interest of fairness (since they’re all ultimately voted on in their respective categories, as well as Judges’ Choice and Best in Show), Mr. Pohnert re-screened the affected videos, despite the shuddering being hardly noticeable.
Needless to say, the team responsible for the AMV competition was a seasoned, passionate group that had a firm grasp on what it took to run a successful event of that size.
And now, AX is bidding them adieu.
In reviewing some recent reddit posts on the AnimeExpo subreddit, I came across this one – which poses a simple question: how does one enter the AMV competition?
As it turns out, former coordinator XStylus had a few things to say about submissions, and the current state of the AMV competition:
Hi there — former AX AMV Coordinator here. This is probably my first “public” statement on the matter outside of a few whisper circles.
I’ll preface by saying that we’ve long had great friendships with the folks at AX, and we continue to consider them friends. We’ve always loved running the event, the folks at AX enthusiastically loved the work we did in kind, and certainly the attendees did as well. That being said, AX is quite an intense juggernaut to work with compared to other cons such as SakuraCon, and we were reaching a point where there was only so much more we could give of ourselves without affecting our personal and professional lives.
We had thus reached the decision that it was time to begin winding things down, and so we had an eye for making AX2019 our final year, perhaps even AX2020 if time was needed for transition since we didn’t yet have a successor lined up. However, just as we were about to notify AX of that decision…
In late September 2018 and somewhat out of the blue, AX notified us that they wanted to go a different direction with how AMV was ran. They also vaguely asked us to consider providing our talents elsewhere in other departments within AX, praised us for our work, and emphasized that their decision wasn’t a result of anything we had done on our part.
Naturally, we were quite taken aback by this and asked (repeatedly) for additional details, but our inquiries went without response. As of present, we still don’t know what sparked this move. Perhaps it had already been noticed that we were looking towards the exit.
Given the great relationship we had and the appreciation for our work, you can imagine how perplexed and even a bit hurt we were by how this had all taken place. “Were we being let go? If so, why? Or did they just want changes? If so, what kind, and why?” After about a month of thought on the matter (and with still no word), we figured that the best case scenario was that there would be changes asked that would make an already difficult juggernaut even more difficult. So, we decided that the best thing we could do under the circumstances was to gracefully step out of the way and let AX evolve the event in whatever way it wished. After all, this was our “out,” albeit a kind of sad one because although we trust that the old saying of “it’s nothing personal, just business” applies here, to us the event has always been very dear and personal.
We would’ve liked one last on-stage farewell to the audience, but we are proud of what we achieved with the time we had. We took a beleaguered AMV event with a tarnished history and built a polished show that set new standards for professionalism and presentation that other AMV events have since emulated. As for myself personally, the skills I learned from that helped springboard me into my present career and dream job. I’ll always look back on those years fondly.
We don’t know who will come after us, but we hope above all that whoever comes after us will be able to build something greater for the next generation. We feel that we’ve achieved all that we could achieve. It’s appropriate for new blood to come forward and build something fresh, and we hope the attendees respond well.
Some words of advice to our successor:
1: You will live or die (very publicly and on stage) by your prep.
2: Make the event your own. Rather than mimic what we did, ditch the rulebook on how an AMV event is ‘supposed’ to run and take this chance to create something fresh.
3: Fight viciously for the editors. Treat them like red carpet rock stars because without them, you have NO event.
4: Watch your back.
Anyway, time for our team to get down to business on getting ready for a great AMV event at SakuraCon, an event that remains quite personal to everyone involved from the top down, and one that we expect to remain at for quite a few more years to come.
We’ve reached out to Anime Expo for comment, and will update our story accordingly if and when said comment arrives. In the meantime, longtime fans of the AMV Competition should be mindful that this year things may look…different.