Saturday, September 8, 2012

Final Fantasy 10 AMV: Monster

Well! It’s been a good while since I encountered an RPG Anime Music Video good enough that it deserves an entire rant by itself. The last one was over a year ago, in fact. Quality’s a hard thing to come by sometimes. Luckily, the long gaps are balanced out by the greatness of the quality works when they do finally come along.

Today we have an AMV made by YuniX2, the first FF10 AMV to get its own spotlight here. With a warning that there will be major spoilers both in the video and the rant, let’s dig right in.

Final Fantasy 10: Monster:

For the Last Time Zoidberg, Look with Your Eyes, Not Your Claws!: The visuals’ quality here is basically as good as if you were watching the game itself (so long as you’re watching this in the highest available Youtube quality). The game’s visuals in general are very good, and even the actual in-game clips have good visual quality and definition, so it looks fine.

The visual artistry* here is nothing major, but YuniX2 does use some tricks that rather nicely add emphasis to the video. As she has told me, she tried to make good use of transitions, make them interesting, and I’d say she definitely succeeds on that point. Aside from effective use of fading one scene into the next, there are some really good moments of transition in this, such as the one at 0:16. The transition here blurs the first scene into the second, making it seem watery, like ripples disrupting a reflected image. This is an effective transition to use because the scene it’s going into IS water, while the lyrics are speaking of water. Not just that, but specifically they’re speaking of something previously solid that has become like water, which is sort of what the scene change shows--a scene of reasonably solid things liquefying into a scene of the sea below surface. That right there is a case of using special effects to create some great synergy. And the visual artistry is present until right up to the end, too, showing up in a great way at 2:49 to 2:55, where a collection of scenes of sadness, what’s been lost, pain, and destruction all flash in succession and then zoom out in a cool fiery effect into the evil Yu Yevon spirit that’s caused them all. Just as good as the water transition at the beginning of the AMV, I’d say, possibly better. There’s all kinds of cinematography bells and whistles here and there in the video like that. They’re employed when they’re called for without being excessive, quick and attention-grabbing without being distracting, and they coordinate well with the current pitch and emotion of the song. You can see the creator’s hand in the video helping bring it all together, but not being overbearing.

An interesting thing I would like to note about this AMV is that a significant number of the scenes it uses are regular game scenes, not from its FMV stock. This is something I really wish more AMV creators would attempt, at least with games in the same or a greater visual league as FF10. The fact of the matter is, every RPG has got limited FMV. You watch 5 AMVs of any given Japanese RPG, and you’ll have most likely seen every CG cutscene the game has to offer at least once, and most of them you’ll probably have seen at least 4 times. There is only so much content a game’s FMVs can offer. Even with a game like Xenosaga 3, which boasted 8 hours total of FMV, every scene quickly becomes very familiar to a regular AMV viewer. Taking visual content from the regular gameplay to supplement the FMV video is great for the viewer, because we’re going to get to see something new and different for a music video, and it’s great for the one making it, because it’s giving the creator many, many more scenes to work with, more options for exploring the music and the ideas the video is meant to convey. And that’s exactly what’s happened here--the non-FMV scenes allow YuniX2 to fully develop her ideas for this AMV, capturing the music’s lyrics and mood far better because the scenes are better suited to do so than the limited number of FMV scenes. I daresay that this music video wouldn’t just be worse without these non-cinematic scenes, it wouldn’t exist to begin with. Good on YuniX2 for taking a step beyond convention in order to do her project right.

Your Music’s Bad and You Should Feel Bad!: This AMV uses the song Monster, by Paramore. Can’t say I have any strong feelings on the song one way or another. Don’t really like it, but I don’t really think it’s bad, either. It sure works great here, though.

So basically, this AMV is, in terms of its musical component, as excellently orchestrated as the Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2 AMV I talked about a while back, Sera’s Holding Out for a Hero. The tune itself is followed and emphasized more or less perfectly from start to finish, starting as early as 0:10 (where Yuna begins to fall just as the music begins to drop to set up the first lyrics) and just going through to the end of the video. When the music becomes powerful and erratic at 0:35, so do the video’s images, just as the scenes become more slow and thoughtful at 0:58, when the music returns to a somewhat more tranquil pace. It goes this way for the whole video, with YuniX2 expertly following the music’s twists and turns, accelerations and descents, covering the full emotional gamut that the song offers through the visuals that FF10 can provide.

Of course, just as impressive as the video’s meshing with the actual music of the song is its synchronizing with the song’s lyrics. The video is paired well to the words of the music, very often mirroring the ideas and key words conveyed by the singer, such as at 0:18, when, while the lyrics talk of water and drowning, several of FF10’s many underwater images play, or the parts of the song where the singer talks of wondering, with the clips showing a character looking thoughtful, curious, or apprehensive (0:50 and 2:40 are good examples of this). There’s even a bit at 0:29 when the clips of Yuna appear to be lip-synching to the song, which is amusing, and done surprisingly well.

More than these instances where the lyrics are shown in a literal fashion, I’m impressed with how often meaning and knowledge of the game comes into play with coordinating with the song. This isn’t just an appropriation of visually-fitting scenes to work with the song--this is using the heart of the game’s content to resonate with the music. A lot of scenes work on a symbolic level more than a literal one. You take a moment early on, at 0:12, when the singer talks of someone who was her conscience, and the scene shown is of the Grand Maester Mika surrounded by practitioners of the Teachings of Yevon religion. Mika is the highest authority of the faith, and it was the Teachings of Yevon that orchestrated the cycle of Summoners’ Pilgrimages in Spira. It’s primarily the dogma of Yevon that provides moral guidance to Spirans, particularly to Summoners like Yuna, so in essence, Grand Maester Mika is a very effective symbol of something that was, early on, Yuna’s conscience. If you’re not looking any deeper than surface-level, that scene in the AMV might not seem to fit, but a little understanding of the game and simple thoughtful interpretation makes that moment in the video excellent. And it’s far from the only one. The chorus talking about stopping the whole world from turning into a monster, for example, ingeniously shows scenes of Sin and Anima. Now, in the literal sense, this works, since they’re both obviously monsters, but it works on a much deeper level superbly. Sin is a recurring monster of Spira that is destroyed by the sacrificial act of the Summoner, but this “destruction” is more a transfer--one of the Summoner’s companions is used to destroy Sin, but that person then, after a period during which the world has a break from Sin’s destruction, becomes Sin him or herself. Thus you have the “turning into a monster” bit of the song covered. Anima also works, because Anima is an Aeon (FF10 version of Summoned Monster) created by Seymour’s mother, who died to become an Aeon with the intention of being the Sin-destroying and then Sin-becoming sacrifice--again, “turning into a monster.” This stuff is just peppered through the AMV. The part at 1:19 when the song talks of not being a villain despite another’s accusations, being put to a scene of Yuna’s trial before the Maesters, 2:18 when Seymour transforms into his RPG True Villain Form to taunts that he’s “going to lose it,” and especially the part from 2:49 to 2:55 that I mentioned above, the one that shows scenes depicting the sadness, loss, pain, and destruction of Spira caused by Sin, which culminates with another pledge by the chorus to stop the world from turning into a monster just as Yu Yevon is shown...these are just some of the great examples of this deeper level of video-lyric coordination.

Guy, You Explain: With some great AMVs, the visual component, the game’s scenes, are clearly the most important and compelling aspect of the video, that which the AMV ultimately is centered around and created for. This was the case with the Final Fantasy 9 Porcelain AMV I ranted about a while back, I think. The music was a wonderful way to emphasize the visuals of Final Fantasy 9, conveying the beauty and majesty of the game. With some other great AMVs, the music is end-all be-all of the video, with the visual aspects, the game’s content, being more there to expertly support and embellish the music and the lyrics. Such was the case with the Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2 AMV, Sera’s Holding Out for a Hero, which flawlessly employed the game’s footage to show and support the song. But this AMV is more than that--this is one of those rarest of AMVs, one where everything comes together as a whole in equal parts, to convey a story, theme, message, or simple idea that unifies both the song and the game’s content together in total harmony.

The purpose of this video is to tell the story of Yuna. This AMV links the personal journey and character of Yuna to the ideas that the music sings about, and...well, I was going to say that it melds them together, but that doesn’t seem right, because it implies that they weren’t one and the same to begin with. YuniX2’s combination of Monster and Yuna feels more like recognizing a duality than creating it. If you look at the lyrics,** and think about how Yuna would fit into them, the connection between them practically writes itself. Through this song, YuniX2 tells of Yuna’s rejection of the lies of the Teachings of Yevon and their denouncing her, of Yuna’s emotional fall, from which she is picked up by Tidus’s love and support, of her hearing the true wishes of the Fayth to break this cycle of sacrifice, of her standing against Seymour’s machinations, and most importantly, of her resolve to save the people of the world from the vicious sacrifices of Sin’s death and rebirth and of the fact that it’s only after those who fought for and against a better world (Auron, Seymour, the Maesters, and Tidus) that the world can theirs. It’s all there in the song, really, but it takes the skillful touch of the AMV maker to bring out this meaning, these ideas, this story, through game scenes that emphasize and remind us of the truth that Yuna is embodied by this song. The potential is there, and YuniX2 works that potential to its absolute fullest.

This music video is absolutely fantastic. This AMV puts to music a summary of half the awesome ideas, themes, and story components that I love about FF10, and it does so with meaning and skill. This AMV is a real treat to watch, and I really hope that if you do check it out and enjoy it (which I assume, this being the end of the rant, that you have, if you’re reading this), you’ll give the video a Like, and leave a comment about it, because this level of quality deserves recognition.

* I’d like to remind the reader once again, as it’s been a while since the last AMV rant, that my understanding of technical terms for cinematography and such is extremely lacking, so you’ll hopefully forgive me and bear with me if I name something incorrectly here.

** I didn’t want to post’em in the middle of the actual rant, but if you’re wondering, these are the lyrics:

“You were my conscience
So solid, now you're like water
And we started drowning
Not like we'd sink any farther
But I let my heart go
It's somewhere down at the bottom
But I'll get a new one
And come back for the hope that you've stolen

I'll stop the whole world, I'll stop the whole world
From turning into a monster, eating us alive
Don't you ever wonder how we survive?
Well, now that you're gone, the world is ours

I'm only human
I've got a skeleton in me
But I'm not the villain
Despite what you're always preaching
Call me a traitor
I'm just collecting your victims
And they're getting stronger
I hear them calling
(Calling, calling)

I'll stop the whole world, I'll stop the whole world
From turning into a monster, eating us alive
Don't you ever wonder how we survive?
Well, now that you're gone, the world is ours

Well, you thought of strength and solutions
But I like the tension
And not always knowing the answers
But you're gonna lose it
You're gonna lose it

I'll stop the whole world, I'll stop the whole world
From turning into a monster, eating us alive
Don't you ever wonder how we survive?
Well, now that you're gone the world

I'll stop the whole world, I'll stop the whole world
From turning into a monster, eating us alive
Don't you ever wonder how we survive?
Well, now that you're gone, the world is ours”

Y'know, looking at them all together, I'm not actually sure what the hell this song is supposed to be saying when not applied to Yuna.


  1. Stand corrected, SON! Power ballad over 9000!

  2. But but but... I felt so much more with that amv I found a few months ago (when you made that amv post) than the one you just ranted about... and and and.... 'nah, just kidding. I liked your video, a lot. Queen just is one of those bands for me, and the song was a powerful moment in Highlander.

    And now for some disturbing awesomeness:

  3. First off, I'd like to state that I don't reply to these AMV rants because my work computer doesn't have a sound card, and it's basically against my religion to watch an AMV without sound. It's unfair to everyone involved. So, to my laptop like a boss.

    Less than 80 views is criminal. That video was amazing, and I couldn't fit enough accolades into a single comment. I LOVED that the video is from Yuna's POV. Tidus is a great lead, but it came at the cost of Yuna's story at times. Very cool how it goes through the whole game from that POV, and the lyrics are uncanny.

    Y'know, looking at them all together, I'm not actually sure what the hell this song is supposed to be saying when not applied to Yuna.