Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem and the Gorillaz.

Music Videos: An Unconventional Journey to Anime

Hello and welcome back to My Geekology! I’m Ash and today we are going to talk about my journey to anime! We all have our favorite stories and characters that have become a part of our life’s journey. Many of us have had these characters in our hearts all of our lives. However, I did not experience anime in earnest until adulthood. Late or early, I’m very thankful I arrived at all. We hope you have fun, see you on the other side!

A little context…

In 2009 and 2010 the ends of my weeks were all very similar. I was a freshman and sophomore in high school respectively. I would finish up at school, typically go to practice for whatever sport was in season, check in with the German club, and then I’d go home to eat. Typically, this journey was ornamented by Arctic Monkeys or Prince. After that, I would go perform. The people who saw my flamenco group were different every time, they wanted different things and were excited by different things. However, something that was uniform about them all was that they loved music that made them want to dance. It is the underbelly of so much pop music to EDM and dubstep it is the groove that connects your soul to the rest of your body and makes you move. Interweaving these dance motifs, often sourced from Daft Punk, into our brand of flamenco became a winner for our live performances and helped us deliver something we always wanted to, and that was a joy.

Anime and Its Incredible Influence

Anime is a vehicle for some of the most spectacular stories in media. Whether they are stories about cataclysmic clashes with demons or something more grounded like basketball, the combination of incredible artistry, voice-acting, and storytelling is captivating. Its American fanbase is only growing as pop culture figures like actor and director Michael B. Jordan, musician Halsey, and NFL star Jamaal Williams wear their love for the art form outwardly.

In addition, online groups like RDCWorld dedicate time and effort to marrying anime and comedy. Minds like Jk D Animator create incredible visions connecting Hip Hop greatness to shonen anime. Efforts like these do a lot to help spread anime to broader audiences. They help develop multitudes of bridges that could help people find their way into the world through other passions.

We all have different entry points into the incredibly diverse world of anime. There are a great many Americans who grew up watching different series on Toonami or through avenues like Crunchyroll. However, people like me took in anime-influenced media for a long time before I was brave enough to ever venture forward.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008) was one of my favorite shows growing up, I did not know until way later that so much of the influence behind what made that show larger than life was from anime. My first-time consuming anime was directly influenced by a music group. This group was called Daft Punk.

Enter Daft Punk

In a documentary directed by Hervé Martin-Delpierre called Daft Punk: Unchained (2015), the group’s creative processes are documented throughout the creation and rollout of their 2013 Grammy award-winning album Random Access Memories. Throughout the course of the documentary, their journey to this album is conveyed and something that came up surprisingly is anime. The group shared a bond over their love of classic anime, like Astro Boy (1952-1968) and Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1978-1979). These influences would heavily inform how they chose to deliver their music to the world.

Allegra Frank wrote of the incredible marriage of Daft Punk’s music and their passion for anime in her article for Slate titled “How Daft Punk’s Forgotten Anime Changed My Life.” In it, she discusses Daft Punk’s companion film for their hit 2001 album Discovery, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem which was done entirely in an anime style. She talks about how influential it was to her personally and connects back to seeing parts of it on Toonami along with Gorillaz music videos.

I have this exact same memory. I remember the blue-skinned band and being deathly afraid of the “Feel Good Inc.” music video. The marriage of music and anime was natural to me because it was introduced to me in childhood. It was aliens and monkeys; it was funky basslines and dance music. Knowing the robots I loved found influence in the world of anime led to me purchasing my first Captain Harlock manga, and I was hooked. My feet were on the road because of two French dance music virtuosos.

You’re Home

Daft Punk is one of the most influential music groups in my life. The rewarding look over from someone that says “Oh, I see you” when I performed one of their musical motifs, to them laying the breadcrumbs that allowed mine and so many others entrances to the world of manga and anime. Their influence is multi-faceted.

Along with their music helping my growth as a musician, they were the soundtrack to so many of my memories in life. “Voyager” was the song that helped me go to sleep, “One More Time” was played at my 21st birthday party, and I affiliate the orange-yellow leaves of autumn in New York City with the repeated phrase “Hold on, if love is the answer you’re home” from “Touch.”

A great gift they gave me before their retirement was a new door to walk through. As I work through the anime series that my wife already has affection for and memories affiliated with, I’ll remember the early images of blue-skinned musicians and the first time I heard the name Captain Harlock and remember my journey into the world of manga and anime began with the musical robots and scary monkeys.

Thank you for coming on this journey as we looked at an unconventional path into the wonderful world of anime! We hope you had fun, and we’ll see you here next time at My Geekology!