originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/710713...
🎼♫♪ it’s animation niiiiighhhttttttt♫♪
Old hands at Animation Night may recall the two big playlists of animated music videos we used to draw from at the end of every night! Compiled by the indomitable @mogsk and scattermoon, they took us on a fascinating tour of visual and musical styles. Animation and music are good friends… at least in short form.
And occasionally, musicians get the idea of doing something a bit grander than a single music video. Like a whole movie. We’ve seen a couple of these before - funnily enough both British - with The Wall and Yellow Submarine on AN #86. For the other landmarks in this tiny genre, we gotta go to… Japan!
Let’s roll back to 2003! Anime is just entering its computer era, and household-name electronic music duo Daft Punk have decided that the thing their new album needs is an animated film by Toei, resulting in Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Or in Japanese, インターステラ5555, Intāsutera Fō Faibu, “Four Five”.
Like Yellow Submarine, Interstella 5555 is largely a frame story to set up the band’s songs. It tells the story of a pop band of blue aliens kidnapped by a dastardly human aristocrat in a scheme to mind control them and exploit their special musical talent to sell records. A young alien astronaut goes on a mission to stop them and free the band.
The film’s animation takes after Leiji Matsumoto, the incredibly infuential mangaka and director behind Space Battleship Yamato, Space Captain Harlock, and Galaxy Express 999. Matsumoto is credited on the film as a ‘Supervisor’, although I’m not entirely sure what that means.
I wrote about Leiji Matsumoto last week, so you can read about his origins in WWII comics before becoming the creation of the Leijiverse. His works were a big hit in France, where for example Space Pirate Captain Harlock came over as Albator, and there a young Daft Punk got to meet the galaxy of tragic long women and little bean guys…
…and they had enough money in their pockets to make it possible to create a movie-length tribute to Matsumoto, with a style that’s a deliberate call back. I’m not sure if Interstella 5555 belongs in the Leijiverse proper, but it definitely hits the style of his designs, not to mention many of the recurring motifs - humanoid aliens, spaceships modelled on unlikely Earth objects, the tragic results of coercive force (in space!)…
I’ve seen it once before but I was honestly too tired to appreciate it. If you’ve seen Interstella before, I hope it will be fun to see it again; if you haven’t, I hope you’ll join me in witnessing it with fresh eyes!
Alongside that we have Sound & Fury! Thanks to @mogsk for investigating this one <3
Sound & Fury is so far as I can discern a compilation of music videos based on the songs of country musician Sturgill Simpson. However, I know next to nothing about Simpson, and only came across him through music videos excerpted from this film. Here’s how the music is described…
Breaking with Simpson’s established country style, it featured a fuzzy hard rock sound augmented by extensive use of synthesizers, influenced by psychedelia, funk, and electronic rock.
The film as a whole - just forty minutes long - is directed by Junpei Miyazaki of Kamikaze Douga, known for their work on the OPs to David Production’s Jojo adaptation, and on Pop Team Epic. Kamikaze Douga handled a good chunk of the episodes themselves (in both 2D and 3D), and pulled in other studios for the rest - these include some I’m not familiar with, like Grayscale Arts. But one name I definitely do recognise, Michael Arias of Tekkonkinkreet (see AN 52). Arias is an American who went to America to work in anime at 4C; his work on this film seems to be with a much smaller team, actually in live action.
Moreover, two episodes bring in Henry Thurlow and D’Art Shtajio, some of whose work I think I showed back on Animation Night 21. Their selling point is that they’re the only Black-owned anime studio in Japan, and they’ve previous worked a lot on music videos and short films as well as contributing to various TV shōnen anime. It’s cool to see these guys again - unfortunately I don’t think their crowdfunded projects were successful, but I bet what they put will be pretty stylish.
That’s a brief summary of the credits - but what’s it actually about? Samurai, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and a lot of aesthetic stuff. I’m not sure there’s really a unifying story as such; in Simpson’s own words it’s basically a competition to show off cool shit…
Simpson said that while in Detroit, he was inspired after listening to Eminem to write “a bunch of mad shit-talking songs about how fucking awesome we are” but later began to think that what he and his band had produced was not “weird” enough, so came up with the idea to travel to Japan and “get the five most legendary animation directors in history together and get them all drunk and put them to competition to see who can outdo one another, and we’ll just animate the whole fucking album”
Not long after finishing the album and film, he cut ties with his record label, citing burnout and criticising the music industry. Basically ‘good luck selling this guys’. It seems like kind of a mess so I bet it will be intriguing to take a look into.
So that’s the subject for tonight! With such a late start I won’t have a ton of extra time, but I’d like to revisit some of our favourite animated music videos at the end, so if you’ve got requests, make note of em! We’ll be going live at twitch.tv/canmom now, and starting films in about 20 minutes - would love to see you there!!