On a planet in a distant galaxy, four musicians are celebrated for their musical talent. A space ship arrives and abducts the four, taking them to earth. They are brainwashed and colored to give the appearance of humans, before becoming the newest rock sensation on the planet. Their only hope lies with a single man who managed to follow them to Earth. If fails to free them, they'll spend the rest of their lives as mindless drones, serving only to make top selling albums for an evil music mogul.
Interstella 5555 brings together two unlikely forces to produce something which isn't exactly new, but hasn't been done before on this scale: an hour long music video. I skipped over this title many times over the years, but when I heard who was involved in making it, I watched it as soon as I could get my hands on it.
Daft Punk - a well known musical group out of France. Their popularity is far reaching, but if you don't follow electronic music you may not be familiar with them. I've heard of them before, but never knew much about them until I found out they were specifically chosen to do the soundtrack of Tron: Legacy. While I don't own any of their albums, I admit that I like their stuff.
Leiji Matsumoto - is a force to be reckoned with in anime. While I'm a rabid fan of Captain Harlock, I wouldn't say I'm a devout of Matsumoto himself. I especially appreciate the themes of his anime. I've always liked the look of his characters, even if they're basically variations on the same 10 or so designs.
Putting these two together seems like gold for a music video, but it's not just a simple video. It's a full length feature with an actual story. There is no dialog, and the length of the title is backed by a soundtrack featuring Daft Punk's album Discovery. By marrying animation and music, it creates an experience different from what is normally considered anime, but this also means there are stipulations in order to enjoy it.
Some parts are constructed to be music videos. As Daft Punk is more on the techno side, the visuals that accompany the music can reflect this repetitive nature - which can become tiresome if you're not into it. Because there's no dialog, the pacing is decoupled from normal sane constraints, although it works just fine for a music video. It dwells on some parts, like the concert in the beginning, but moves at a brisk pace between segments. Instead of waiting for words to be spoken, ideas are often summed up with simple looks or gestures. This also means much of the anime can be left up to the interpretation of the viewer, so your mileage may vary with the story and characters. I thought the story was impressive and the characters were well developed considering this was all done with no words.
As for the music, well.. if you don't like electronic/techno stuff to begin with, this is a tough sell. Especially with the repetitive nature of the music. At times the animation can shuttle you past that, but to really enjoy this, you need to absorb both the music and animation in equal proportions. While not animated on what I would consider a top tier, the design and visual choreography works very well.
I rate this as good because... it's just so damn cool. While most anime titles are created with commercial viability in mind, this isn't exactly a money making formula. It really does seem like Daft Punk approached their anime hero to make something cool. And Matsumoto steps up to the plate to provide something that compliments the sound perfectly. This makes Interstella 5555 something special. It's also has one of those feel good endings that can thaw the heart of the most cold hearted. If you're okay with the music and the concept, it's a treat to watch.
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