Interstella 5555: When Daft Punk collaborated with Leiji Matsumoto.
The animated film is considered one of the best feature-length manga films of the past 20 years: a work that manages to lightly blend sublime music, animation, pathos, caledoscopic colors and emotions.
A tribute to the man who invented intergalactic travel aboard a steam train and imagined alien bands abducted by evil impresarios.
This story is amazing, and it could not help but involve the futuristic manga master Leiji Matsumoto, father of Captain Harlock, Starzinger, Galaxy Express 999, who passed away recently.
The other protagonists of this story? The most influential electronic music duo of all time: Daft Punk.
This tale begins with the famous channel dedicated to children’s cartoons, Cartoon Network. It is any night in 2001 when Toonami, the late-night TV programming block that broadcasts mainly Japanese anime, airs the first four music videos of the animated film Interstella 5555: the story of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem.
Cartoon Network’s incredulous late-night viewers follow a manga drawn by Leiji Matsumoto, set in a country in a galaxy called unknown, whose protagonists-similar to humans but blue-skinned-are a famous glam rock band that performs music with an unmistakable sound, albeit still unreleased tracks: it is Daft Punk’s French Touch.
The animated film Interstella 5555, produced by Toei Animation (the same company as Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball), is based entirely on Daft Punk‘s album “Discovery”: each of the 14 songs is connected to a part of the film, totally without dialogue, whose only spoken words are those of the songs, an integral part of the film itself.
The idea is so off-the-wall and ingenious that it won everyone over, even the most skeptical; it was also presented at the 56th Cannes Film Festival that same year.
How did the incredible collaboration between Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter and Leiji Matsumoto come about?
It’s the Summer of 2000. Daft Punk are working on their second record, Discovery, which is to match, if not exceed, the success of 1997’s Homework-a daunting task.
The two decide to make an animated musical, or rather “home musical,” as the playbill will read. The Dafts begin writing the story with their friend Cédric Hervet, who will convince the two to have the animated drawings done by the man who had most tickled their imaginations as children, creating ambitious and surreal stories set on trains traveling through space: they needed the one and only Leiji Matsumoto.
The Dafts flew to Japan to meet with Matsumoto; the master was enthusiastic and, in the company of his trusted collaborator and director Kazouisa Takenoushi, they worked on making the animated film.
Two years later, Interstella 5555 – The 5tory of the 5secret 5tar 5ystem is ready to be released, and what better way to present it to the public than on a channel intended for children, which has fueled the imagination and brightened the days of all of us in childhood, such as Cartoon Network?
Interstella 5555 – The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem: plot.
The animated film is considered one of the best feature-length manga films of the past 20 years: a work that manages to lightly blend sublime music, animation, pathos, caledoscopic colors and emotions, managing to be a musical, a romantic drama, a science fiction film and a story with a happy ending. An almost epic feat.
Matsumoto‘s creative mastery is expressed in the explication of the plot: a band of four musicians-from a distant and undiscovered galaxy, where beings are equal to humans but blue in color-are kidnapped by an evil impresario, whose aim is to mentally manipulate them and turn them into the most famous pop group on Earth, in order to enrich himself and exploit them mercilessly.
The realization is pyrotechnic, and breathtaking in its almost blinding use of polychromatic and iridescent effects: truly stunning. A graphic magnificence attributable only-or almost only-to the great Leiji Matsumoto.
Daft Punk‘s songs slavishly follow the plot, full of twists and turns and characters’ adventures, in a continuous alternation of light and dramatic moments: 70 minutes capable of enrapturing the viewer, catapulting him into a parallel world, made of music, hypnotic lights that together act as catalysts of sincere and spontaneous emotions.
Thank you for sharing the great and incredible dream with the world, Maestro.