Have you ever run across a music video that tells a story, and does a splendid job of it - a good enough job that you're held to the screen, only to howl in frustration when the song ends (and, perforce, with it the tale)? Videos that tease with hints of More To Come but of course can't ever deliver? Well, in this particular case, you're in luck.

Interstella 5555 is an animated film by Leiji Matsumoto - the director who brought us the oh-so-Seventies cartoon series Star Blazers. His animation style is distinctive, with 70s hairdos, wardrobe and accessories on his characters. In this case, he has teamed up with the French techno act Daft Punk to make a slightly unusual animated film. Notably, there is no soundtrack (speech or otherwise) other than the tracks contained on the Daft Punk album Discovery. There are a few sound effects, but beyond that, it's all in the music.

The movie (parts of which where taken to make videos for the first four tracks released from the album) tells the story of a rock group, popular and talented, from a world other than our own. A quartet of young musicians who are universally adored by their people, they are kidnapped from a concert stage by a mysterious silver spacecraft and its robotic crew. An alert is sent out at the last minute, which reaches a blue electric-guitar shaped spaceship and its sole occupant - a Strapping Hero Type, who has a serious crush on the lady in the band, and is a fan of the group in general. Aghast at the news, he straps on a helmet that is straight out of Battle of the Planets, hits the hyperdrive, and pursues the kidnappers...

...straight to planet Earth, where we find that the group has been kidnapped by an evil producer, disguised as humans, mindwiped and sent onto the world stage as the new hit pop sensation 'The Crescendolls.' Will they ever make it home? Will justice prevail? Will we ever actually see hot blueskinned chicks in their undies? All these questions and more that you never thought to ask will be answered!

The movie is actually great fun, taken in the correct (silly) frame of mind, which is apparently the mood in which it was made. It's a romantic tale, an adventure story, and a way to take the fun-but-dreadfully-repetitive music of Daft Punk and give it some life. There are some musical bits which sound incredibly like the MIDI accompanying soundtrack from early versions of Wing Commander - which, I think, heightens the geek appeal.

I would suspect (not having tried it) that this would make an awesome background video track for any sort of dance party. Since there's no speech or dialogue, you wouldn't be missing anything; the movie is designed to be understandable through imagery alone. Looping it would let folks at the bar catch a few minutes when they went up for a drink. Hmm, maybe I'll try that...

It's available on DVD, as well as your local underground BitTorrent network. I couldn't find it on NetFlix, but it's available from Amazon.Com, which is how I finally got to see the End of the Story from those four initial videos. Now if only I could figure out where the anime scenes contained in the video for Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend are from, damn it...

Update: Aha! Saved by the google, rec.arts.anime, and various geeks therein...the movie is entitled Space Adventurer Cobra and was only briefly released in the U.S. Argh. Now to find it.

12/05 Update update: WOO! ADV has re-released Space Adventurer Cobra on DVD in the US Market. Where's my credit card?

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