This year marks, I believe, the 11th year of the Secret Santa Project and my eighth year participating. Reverse Thieves started the project and continued it for ten years and this year marks the first year that All Geeks Considered hosts this absolutely enjoyable project. I don’t know which part I enjoy more, the picking of anime for someone else to watch or discovering what new anime someone has chosen for me to watch.
My track record in receiving good picks has been very good. Will this year continue the string or did I receive a big lump of coal this year?
An evil record executive is bent on galactic conquest and there’s only one man standing between him and the success of his diabolical golden plan.
Thoughts and Impressions
As you probably know, each person is given three choices of what to watch and they are asked to review just one. I like to start these reviews with a short explanation of how I picked what I picked to watch.
My three choices were:
Honey and Clover Genshiken 2
Interstella5555: The 5tory of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
I’d actually seen the first season of Honey and Clover a long time ago and never got around to the second season. Therefore, I asked for one of my backup choices and got Genshiken Second Season also known as Genshiken Nidaime. Keeping in mind that one of stated goals is to get people to try something they probably wouldn’t have otherwise, my eyes gravitated towards Interstella5555. If I had time, I decided, I would have finally watched Perfect Blue, even though that would mean I no longer had an unwatched Satoshi Kon movie to look forward to.
Interstella5555 might be one of the most unique anime that I’ve come across. The French electronic duo known as Daft Punk decided for their second album, Discovery, to create an animated movie that would feature all the songs of the album and this animated movie would draw inspiration from the anime they watched as kids. With the legendary Leiji Matsumoto – Space Battleship Yamato, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999 – supervising and the animation studio Toei animating, Interstella5555 was created and released in 2003.
So, did I like Interstella5555? Yes I did.
I’d be curious to learn if the story for Interstella5555 was created first and the music created to match the anime or if the music was created first and they got lucky in being able to match the music to the story because Interstella5555 did not play out as a disparate group of animated music videos for the individual songs. Instead, it told a coherent story without the need for dialogue. Though, to be fair, it was a bit rushed as the story could have easily been expanded into a full 13 episode TV show, but, at the same time, the events of the anime always felt like they matched the music playing the background.
I enjoyed the music. Having only heard an occasional song of theirs in isolation, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Daft Punk. I hesitate to even discuss the music, beyond saying I liked it, because I’ve never studied music and couldn’t even tell you what the differences are between the various types of electronic music. I just know when I hear something I like. For example, I’m currently listening to a 2 hour mix of Shingo Nakamura as I write this (this is a popular choice for me to write to) and I see Youtube is recommending me the album Drink the Sea by The Glitch Mob, which is another favorite I like to listen to when I write. I couldn’t tell you the difference between these three; I know they exist, they feel like different music, I happen to not have the tools to explain it. So, what I guess I’m getting at is that one doesn’t have to be a fan of Daft Punk to enjoy the music side of Interstella5555.
I feel more qualified to discuss the anime side of Interstella5555 by virtue of still, technically, being an anime blogger of many years. I am, however, not sure how productive doing so would be. It’s like trying to discuss why a joke is funny. It’s an experience and describing an experience to someone who wasn’t there is a sure way to make it sound uninteresting at best – unless, one happens to be a gifted storyteller themselves (which I’m pretty sure, I’m not). For example, I already mentioned the story being a bit compressed, it tries to and pretty well succeeds at telling a story spanning the galaxy which is a pretty neat feat since Interstella5555 is only about an hour long. The problem with stating it like this is that it sounds pretty close to “damning with faint praise” which is not representative of Interstella5555 as an experience. One could imagine a more fleshed out story, but the moment Interstella5555 goes beyond also being a showcase of Daft Punk’s music, it stops being Interstella5555.
Do you want to here some more faint praise for Interstella5555? It’s got excellent animation for an anime released in 2003. Again, this isn’t fair to Interstella5555 as an experience. For starters, when the action of this movie shifts to Earth, it takes place sometime in the 1970’s or early 80’s. (Incidentally, it’s this period of time that acts as an inspiration for the music.) It defeats the purpose to make it look more modern. The only thing that really places this as an anime from the early 00’s is the very occasional use of clunky early 00’s CG animation. Ten years earlier and there wouldn’t be any sort of CG animation and 15 years later and there’d be a lot of it with some of it potentially looking decent. Secondly, no matter the style or age of the animation, it’s possible to see the care and effort that was put into it and I could tell the people that animated Interstella5555 cared for it and made sure it was done well.
What I apparently keep going back to is that Interstella5555 is an experience. A unique one, that only runs for about an hour, which makes it difficult to discuss without dissecting and laying bare too much of it for any potential viewers of Interstella5555 all for very little gain. I can say I wish this type of project had caught on and more artists/animation studios would collaborate and created their own anime musicals because I really enjoyed Interstella5555 and would have liked to have seen a different pairing what would have resulted in.
So, if you haven’t seen Interstella5555 then do yourself a favor and go watch it. And I promise not to say experience for a long while 🙂 .
Final Score: 10/12 A
MAL Score: 8/10 Very Good
Ending: 2/3 – Excellent
Production Values: 2/3 – Excellent
Rewatchablity: 2/3 – Excellent
Recommended? – Yes. A charming blend of anime and music delivers a truly unique experience that shouldn’t be missed. (Sorry, I lied.)
You Might Also Like: Macross, FLCL, SSSS.Gridman, AKB0048, and Aquarion Evol
And to all my readers, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
A few more screenshots: