|Director||Daisuke Nishio, Hirotoshi Rissen, Kazuhisa Takenouchi|
|Studio||Toei Animation, Daft Life Ltd.|
|Genre||Musical, thriller, science fiction|
|Purchase DVD||Click here to purchase from Amazon.|
Do you like electronic music? Do you like the band Daft Punk? Do you like anime? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then consider looking at Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. This is an interesting Japanese-French production from Toei Animation with a small budget of $4 million. What we have is basically Daft Punk’s Discovery album as an anime. If that’s not enough to suit your fancy, then check this out.
Alien Abduction… By Earth People
Chances are that you might have seen a part of this anime from a particular music video.
Yes, it is one of Daft Punk’s best known songs, “One More Time.” You’re pretty much viewing the beginning of the movie here.
The story follows a band from a distant alien planet: the guitarist Arpegius, the keyboardist/vocalist Octave, the drummer Baryl and the bassist Stella. This flamboyant alien race resembles a cross between humans and the Smurfs. They were just minding their own business until humans invaded the planet and abducted the band members.
You read that right. Humans abducting aliens. We’re the alien invaders. How ironic.
And this plan was staged by an evil businessman known as Ludwig von Trump—I mean, the Earl de Darkwood. Using his vast fortune and technological resources, he brainwashed the band members and changed their appearances to be more human. Then he sold their image as a new, hot band called the Crescendolls, whose popularity drew fans from all over planet Earth.
But an alien astronaut called Shep learns of this abduction, so he takes it upon himself to rescue the Crescendolls and return them back to their home planet. Shep himself is a big fan of theirs and has a big crush on the band’s only female member, Stella. He meets the Ascended Fanboy trope, willing to stage a rescue plan to save his favorite band from lifelong enslavement.
I’m going to stop here with the plot synopsis, because everything else should be experienced by just watching the movie. So I’ll go over some of the movie’s themes and production history, which won’t be long.
Around the World in 60 Minutes
Interstella 5555 has a distinct art style that you might have recognized from past manga and anime. That’s because the art direction is supervised by Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999. It should be noted that Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk were big fans of Matsumoto’s work, particularly that of Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
So of course, we got this romantic movie that took place in space. Which also happened to feature cameos of Daft Punk.
Undoubtedly, the art direction is one of the strongest points of Interstella 5555. The bright otherworldly colors mixed in with dark, moody scenery establish a line between fantasy and reality. The Crescendolls come from a world of bliss and good times, where they’re allowed to be themselves. But in a world of pop culture and fame, the reality sets in. The entertainment industry is big business and it doesn’t care who it has to ruin in order to profit out of it. The loving fans were ignorant of what went during behind the scenes, not realizing that the Crescendolls were manufactured images by the entertainment industry. Just simple, mindless tools unable to be themselves.
Of course, the movie only partially focuses on this theme. At its core, the plot is a basic good vs. evil scenario with the typical outlandish tropes of Japanese anime. But just because it’s basic doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable in its own way.
Interstella 5555 runs like one long music video with a coherent story. There is not a single line of dialogue present in the movie (with the exception of song lyrics) and few sound effects. As a result, the movie only has its visuals and sound design to tell the story. And it succeeded in doing just that.
You can also gather a bit of commentary on how passionate fans can motivate artists to express themselves however they want to—in a positive light, of course. The story does touch upon this through the character Shep, whose love for the band got him to take action. And in return for his dedication, the band members acknowledge him as a person and honor him as their hero. Shep himself is a symbol of passion. Without him, the band would remain expendable tools of the music industry. His existence is a reminder to the Crescendolls that they need to remain true to themselves to escape the trappings of the industry.
And in a roundabout way, we can also see this simply just from acknowledging that this movie is a collaboration of Leiji Matsumoto and his fans from Daft Punk. It’s not often that you would get to work professionally with one of your childhood icons, so might as well make this project a labor of love.
Of course, I could be reading too deeply into an hour-long anime about alien musicians, robots, guitar-shaped spaceships, evil businessmen and ancient musical artifacts. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Interstella 5555 as a fun “silent” flick with beautiful animation and phenomenal electronic music. The ending was quite touching too, which I felt was meant to represent Daft Punk’s childhood affection for their imagination and memorabilia. Take that as you will. See the rest for yourself.
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem$19.96
- Straightforward good vs. evil plot.
- Art style and animation supervised by one of the great mangakas, Leiji Matsumoto.
- If you're a fan of Daft Punk and/or electronic music, the soundtrack is a big plus.
- Some decent commentary about the music industry, fanbases and childhood icons.
- If you're not a fan of movies with no dialogue, this movie may not be for you.