Reviews: Interstella 5555

An interesting curiosity

I watched Interstella 5555 because I had heard that it was the pinnacle of a lost age of anime, an age during which anime was within reach of being regarded as "cool" and "hip" and worthy of playing in swingin' nightclubs. It has a Daft Punk soundtrack and colorful space imagery, a winning combination, right?

I was actually disappointed. It's a good movie, but hardly the "cool" milestone I had heard about. Part of the problem, I think, is the animation. It's good enough by anime standards, but nothing spectacular. The opening concert sequence ("One More Time") suffers from repetitive, basic animation, as do a few other scenes. The character designs are also by Leiji Matsumoto - meaning archaic '70s art with his trademark lack of variety. No offense to Leiji - I like his stories - but his art is hardly cutting-edge.

As for the music - I like Daft Punk, but I would hardly call the soundtrack a masterpiece. Some of the tracks are good (mostly the songs), but most of them are fair instrumental pieces that work better as background material than outstanding works. I also don't think the soundtrack matches up that well to the action all the time. Besides the death scene example quoted in the main article, during the confrontation with the villain we hear "Veridis Quo," a very mellow piece. And during the songs the lip-synching doesn't match up very well either - assuming that was the intent. (Daft Punk's voices hardly fit with the characters, frankly.) There is no comparison with Disney's masterful work in the Mickey Mousing field.

That being said, it is a fun little movie, and the story carries it a lot more than I expected. For lacking dialogue it is very easy to follow and even involving - I could see this being a premise for an OAV series or something. The reveal that the Earl de Darkwood intends to conquer the universe with 5,555 gold records is pretty silly, but what can you expect?

In conclusion, I recommend a view, because the plot is engaging, the music is good, and the art is... an acquired taste. Just don't expect anything revolutionary. Think of it as an hour-long music video, which it basically is, and you'll have a good time.