Full Title: Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
Similar: Legend of Black Heaven
The Galaxy Railways
Watched in: N/A (99% music)
Length: 1 hr. 7 min. movie
- Daft Punk music.
- Visually striking.
- A complete story, despite the music focus.
- The need to get from one song to another without downtime in between.
Something many anime fans don’t know about is the prevalence of anime and manga in France. After all, the word ‘anime’ is French (hence the odd pronunciation in English). In the manga industry, there’s something called the ‘French Exception,’ where a series can fail in all Western markets except France. Many avant-garde or niche manga find more success in France than in Japan itself. France also localised works much sooner than other regions for a long time. I recall seeing the final season of Dragon Ball Z on French TV while the US had only begun dubbing to English. With all this in mind, it comes as no surprise to see French music duo Daft Punk collaborate with their childhood manga hero, Leiji Matsumoto (Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999), to create Interstella 5555.
Interstella 5555 is an anime visualisation of Daft Punk’s “Discovery” album. It opens on an alien planet to a band of Smurf-looking people playing “One More Time,” until invaders kidnap the group and take them to Earth. They manage a distress signal out to space pilot Shep. Down on Earth, after receiving the Michael Jackson treatment to pass for human, the brainwashed aliens become the Crescendolls, a band destined for earthly stardom under an evil music mogul. It’s up to Shep to slap the human out of them.
There’s no dialogue beyond a foreword and any lip-sync to the music. Sound effects similarly are at a minimum. However, there is a complete story here, one I enjoyed for its oddities featuring heroes, villains, and conflicts with resolution as it plays through the album. This is simultaneously the selling point and greatest flaw.
I don’t know if it’s because I don’t like musicals (outside Disney’s ‘occasional song’ style), but the jump from one song to the next felt a tad rushed, working best when the band played on-screen or during action. I would have liked moments between songs to give the music a rest. Outside of Shep, we don’t get to know the characters well. Twenty to thirty minutes woven between songs would have been great, especially since Shep has the best parts of the story. Imagine this across all characters. Dialogue isn’t necessarily the answer – just downtime.
Most, if not all, of Interstella 5555’s appeal rests on the soundtrack. If you don’t enjoy Daft Punk, then there’s nothing for you here, whereas fans will love it. Those with no strong feelings for the band either way? 50-50.
Interstella 5555 is an hour of Daft Punk set to anime. Simple as that.
Art – High
Interstella 5555 has a very 80s colour palette and character design like Captain Harlock. The pilot’s sideburns! Gorgeous shots of space and good animation too.
Sound – High
It’s Daft Punk music throughout, with minimal sound effects and no dialogue outside the introduction. Not much else to be said.
Story – Medium
An Earth villain kidnaps an alien music group to bolster his success. While I appreciate the inclusion of a full story arc, the focus on getting from one song to the next doesn’t allow us to meet the characters fully.
Overall Quality – High
Recommendation: Try it. If you’re a Daft Punk fan, then you must watch Interstella 5555 (if you haven’t already). For others, it’s worth a try. The soundtrack predicates your enjoyment.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)