The Film: Interstella 5555 (2003)

The Premise: During the recording of their hit album Discovery, the faceless duo behind the electronic house band Daft Punk cooked up a scheme to produce an anime set against their album.  Recruiting their hero Leiji Matsumoto, the man behind Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999, the two traveled to Japan and ignited production of a feature-length collection of videos to tell the story of an intergalactic band captured by a space-roving record exec who remanufactures them into The Crescendolls- a hyper-pop group he uses to set the charts on fire. One member of the band has escaped and endeavors to free them from the exec’s control before he uses their massive success to bring about the end of all things.

Is It Good: Well I dunno, does that description sound up your alley? Interstella 5555 fits very closely into the mold of what most consider prototypical anime- the kind that makes boring white people like myself get all frightened and confused when it happens to them. This certainly isn’t the weirdest anime I’ve seen, but it’s filled with the kind of excessive stylization, baffling cosmic mythologizing, and constant arbitrariness that gives the animation style its reputation for being inaccessible.

What Interstella has going for it (beside the Daft Punk music, if you’re into that) is that it is ultimately a music film with no dialogue and virtually no sound effects and, to be completely honest, this gives the movie less avenues through which to be weird and annoying. The visuals are pretty, but in that blacklight-corner at Spencer’s kind of way. The story is interesting and is served by how straightforward it is. The characters are cute, noble, or pretty enough to root for, the villain is douchey enough to dislike, and the weird cosmic stuff is applied to the typical sell-out rock band story in a way that is interesting enough to follow. It’s hard to recommend if you don’t care about Daft Punk, but I’ve provided a bit of help in the next section for those who are still unsure if Interstella is for them.

Is It Worth A Look:

Random Anecdote: These guys will be scoring Tron: Legacy and will make a cameo in the film, much as they do in Interstella 5555.

Cinematic Soulmates: Heavy Metal, Wizard Of Oz If You Do That Dark Side Of The Moon Thing