Title: Sins of the Armor (The Truth Beneath the Sakura)
**First Place Anime Video - Kitsune Kon 2014<
YouTube only - Contest Version! (the version I submit to contests)
(Look at the awards for this video! I am extremely humbled by these honors and flattered that people think so highly of it.)
Sometimes, there are videos I just didn't expect to make, but it all somehow manages to come together. This is one of them.
Within Temptation is another one of my big favorite bands, and when I was listening to this particular song one night about a month before finishing this, I suddenly realised just how much the lyrics really fit the Samurai Troopers Message OAV. While the song itself is about something else entirely (I believe it's about the Tudors, both the historical figures and the TV series), how much of it fit the overall themes and emotions on display in this five-episode OAV were beyond striking...haunted by the sins of the past (whether it's the Troopers/Ronins themselves, or the vengeful spirit Suzunagi, who pursues them because of the play that predicted their battles and was responsible for her and her family's persecution and death), seeking forgiveness, and looking for the truths in life. As the idea first came to me, it simply would not leave me alone. I would listen to it over and over, sometimes for a couple hours on end (go on, talk to me about how I spent about half of my four-hour flight out to Anime Expo listening to this on a loop...), just letting the imagery run through my head. And even when I wasn't listening to it, it was on my mind, and I took that as a sign that maybe I ought to sit down and plan this out.Of course, doing so was not going to be without its challenges. For one, this is a seven-minute song--not something you find very often in AMVs in general (mostly because a lot of contests have length restrictions); in fact, this is the longest one I've ever done a video to. Second, while this OAV has some wonderfully striking visuals, it's also chock-full of lengthy clip segments from the TV series (much of which was downright unusable--those that were I used filters to give it a washed-out, aged look of happening in the past) or the Kikoutei Densetsu OAV, the events of which are referred to often in the main story (and that I was able to draw much more from--I didn't use a filter on these because of the importance of these scenes to the story). So the limited footage (and I was determined to work only from what was in these five episodes and not draw from anything else in the series or other OAVs) combined with a longer track made for an all-new challenge for me. But gosh darn it, I was going to try.
Planning everything out on paper also provided a challenge. While certain portions were very clear in my mind, there were others that weren't, and I kind of had to wing it. But when you look at the video itself, it's not entirely obvious what parts were initially unplanned just because the themes of the OAV go so well with the music. Many ideas came to me while editing, and some even became an ongoing theme (such as Kikoutei/Inferno and the fight against Black Kikoutei being "the cruelty of the beast"). And even among what I did plan, there were some "happy accidents" in the themes too (like all the references to one's soul being scenes of Seiji/Sage, who is rather the more "spiritual" member of the team). Surprisingly, editing only took me a bit over a week (not counting pre-production work of ripping the footage and trying a different editing program before giving up in frustration before even starting and going right back to my tried-and-true Studio), even though there were some days where I didn't get a lot done for one reason or another, and even though I used a lot of different effects and such throughout (though they're not all entirely visible).
So why does this have two titles? Well, it's mostly because I couldn't decide which one I liked better. "Sins of the Armor" was my working title for this, playing off the "forgive me my sins" line that is so prevalent in the song, but as I was working, I liked "The Truth Beneath the Sakura" as well, since it plays off the title of the song, and also how sakura petals not only feature heavily within the series, as well as imagery I used throughout the video, but also are something associated with samurai in general. In the end, I simply couldn't decide on one over the other, so I used both.
It really amazes me just how well this all works together in the final version. Maybe the song wasn't written with this in mind, when you look at this, you'd never guess that was the case. There's just something about this combination that just works, and I can't describe it any more than that.
(And as an interesting sidenote, this is my first AMV that is 100% sourced from my own resources! The audio is ripped from my own CD, and all of the footage is from my own copy of the DVD as well. I feel particularly proud of this, because it shows how far I've come from my humble beginnings years ago.)