Parisian house duo Daft Punk might be strange, and constantly wearing electronic facial billboards is probably giving them tumors. But their most recent album, Discovery, is ebullient and affirming. The songs also serve as the nonstop aural backdrop to a sci-fi animated movie composed of 14 contiguous videos—Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, a trippy collaboration between the faceless Frenchmen and one of the greats of Japanese animation, Leiji Matsumoto.
The film opens with the abduction of a musical group from its home world by a Svengali producer who imports musicians from other planets, brainwashing and ruthlessly exploiting them in order to win fame and awards. Kind of like what happened to Menudo. It’s not all doom, though, as a hero-cum-fanboy from the home world arrives in his spaceship-cum-Steve-Vai-guitar to set things right. He’s the perfect Matsumoto man: the sci-fi guy of principles, heart and action. His earthly counterpart is an unnamed Producer Charming of sorts, and the two heroes’ complementary efforts help save the musicians they love, and thus the music itself.
Perhaps it’s the utopian glimmer these characters provide that lends Interstella 5555 the feel of a science fiction fairytale. For while the film burlesques the music industry for its axiomatic greed, it also affirms music as a liberating gift belonging to all people. And at its core, Interstella 5555 is simply great fun to experience. Even at its campiest and most allegorical it’s infectiously vibrant and vital.