Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an anime film produced by Toei Animation and supervised by Leiji Matsumoto. The members of the band Daft Punk specifically asked Matsumoto to make this film to bring their album, Discovery, to life.
One of the most fascinating things about this film is the fact that the story is only told through animation, music, and minimal sound effects; there is absolutely no dialogue in the film. However, the lack of dialogue doesn’t hurt the production, because a viewer can piece together what’s taking place in the story with relative ease.
The film begins with a group of four blue-skinned aliens performing the song “One More Time” on an alien planet. As they finish their performance, a team of humanoids crash into the venue and subdues the crowd and the band with gas. The band members are kidnapped and taken aboard a space vessel; however, unknown to the kidnappers, a distress signal has been sent to a nearby spaceship. Shep, the pilot of the spaceship is a fan of the band’s female bass player, chases the kidnappers into a wormhole and crash-lands in a dense forest.
In an underground facility, the band is stripped of their clothing, have their memories erased, have their skin color changed to a human tone, and given human clothes to wear. The band also has mind-control devices implanted on them. Their captor presents himself as the band’s manager and calls them The Crescendolls. “One More Time” becomes a big hit for The Crescendolls, but the band members find that the fame is quickly wearing them out. Shep attempts to free the band from their captor’s control, and the film follows what happens to the band.
Overall, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an incredible viewing experience; Matsumoto was able to effectively utilize the music and visuals to convey the story. However, for me personally, seeing Stella and Arpegius (two of the band members) in their human versions, is a little disconcerting; in their human forms, they look remarkably similar to Yuki Mori and Susumu Kodai from Space Battleship Yamato (these characters would be known better to American audiences as Nova and Derek Wildstar in Star Blazers). However, that means that Interstella 5555 fits in perfectly with the rest of the works in the “Leijiverse.”
When I watched Interstellla 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, it was on the DVD release of the film, so this is the version this review will be focusing on. On the DVD pressing, there were a few bonus features included.
When you the DVD comes up, you are given an option to choose between French and English for your language before the main menu comes up. The menu allows you to watch the film, choose chapters, choose your audio option, view the special features, and see the DVD credits.
The first special feature is the “interactive play” feature. In this feature, a symbol occasionally appears on the lower right-hand corner of the screen; when you select the symbol with your remote, you get a screen with a picture (or pictures) that go with the symbol. Next is “character files,” which is basically pictures of each character with no text; the character files in this feature are also used in the “interactive play” feature.
The “Animation Editing of Digital Love” is basically a version of “Digital Love” that combines storyboards and in-between animation with the finished animation. A karaoke section includes karaoke versions of “One More Time,” “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” and “Face To Face.” There is an interactive game included, but I haven’t figured out how it’s supposed to work, since no instructions are provided. The special features also include a trailer for the film and biographies of Leiji Matsumoto and Daft Punk.
I would recommend Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem to fans of Daft Punk’s music, to fans of Leiji Matsumoto’s work, as well as to anime viewers who appreciate music. However, from comments I’ve read about the Blu-ray release of this film, it appears it would be better to get a hold of this DVD; I’ve heard from various online reviewers that the video quality on the Blu-ray looks terrible.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem that my husband and I purchased.