The main points of the story coincide with the Daft Punk tracks on their Discovery album. On an alien planet, a band is playing to a packed audience; keyboardist Octave, guitarist Arpegius, drummer Baryl, and bass player Stella. ("One More Time"). A military force invades the planet and kidnaps the band ("Aerodynamic"). A space pilot called Shep is awoken from a dream about Stella by a distress call about the kidnapping and pursues the kidnappers through a wormhole, where he crashes on Earth ("Digital Love").
The band is taken to an underground facility, where their memories are removed to disks and their blue skin changed to make them resemble humans. They are fitted with mind-control devices hidden in sunglasses ("Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"). Their captor, Earl de Darkwood, poses as their manager and presents them as a new band called The Crescendolls, who take the world by storm ("Crescendolls"). The fame has its disadvantages as the exhausted members of the band are forced to sign large amounts of marketing material. Meanwhile, Shep finds his way to the city and discovers what has happened to the band ("Nightvision").
During a stadium concert, Shep flies in with a jet pack and fires a beam at each band member, freeing all of them from the mind control except Stella. In the escape, Shep is mortally wounded, and Darkwood's bodyguards are revealed to be androids ("Superheroes").
Stella is taken to a “Gold Record Award” ceremony, where the Crescendolls win the Gold Record. Baryl is concealed in the audience and frees Stella with the beam, and they make their escape with Octave's help ("High Life"). The band returns to Shep, who reveals their true identities before he dies ("Something About Us"). They bury Shep and his spirit rises into space. While driving away, they find their way to Darkwood Manor, the Earl's home, and decide to investigate ("Voyager").
They reach Darkwood's mansion, in which they find a journal revealing Darkwood's plans. He has been kidnapping musicians from various worlds to acquire 5,555 gold records, with which he can rule the universe. Darkwood captures them and attempts to sacrifice Stella to complete the ritual, but they manage to throw the final gold record into a chasm, and Darkwood follows it into the abyss. ("Veridis Quo"). The band travels back to the record company to retrieve the memory disks. While escaping from the building, Octave is tasered by a guard, and his skin reverts to its blue state ("Short Circuit").
The authorities find Shep's ship and mount an operation to return the Crescendolls to normal, and get back to their home planet ("Face to Face"). On the way back to the wormhole, Darkwood's spirit appears and attacks the ship. Shep's spirit also appears and fights Darkwood, which frees them. The band returns to their home planet to great acclaim, and a statue of Shep is erected ("Too Long"). At the end, it is implied that the whole thing was the dream of a young boy, inspired by the Discovery album.
During the end credits, a remix of "Aerodynamic" plays.Stella – The only female band member, she is the bassist of the Crescendolls, as well the the main protagonist of the film.
Arpegius – The guitarist of the Crescendolls.
Baryl – The drummer of the Crescendolls. He is noticeably shorter than most of the other characters.
Octave – The keyboardist and vocalist of the Crescendolls.
Shep – An alien astronaut on a mission to rescue the captured Crescendolls. He has a crush on Stella.
The Earl de Darkwood – The human captor of the Crescendolls and the main antagonist of the film.
Daft Punk - The masked musicians themselves make a cameo appearance in "High Life".
As detailed in the insert included with the 2003 DVD, the idea for Interstella 5555 formed during the early Discovery recording sessions. Daft Punk's concept for the film involved the merging of science fiction with entertainment industry culture and was further developed with their collaborator Cédric Hervet. All three brought the album and the completed story to Tokyo in the hope of creating the film with their childhood hero, Leiji Matsumoto. After Matsumoto joined the team as visual supervisor, Shinji Shimizu had been contacted to produce the animation and Kazuhisa Takenouchi to direct the film. With the translation coordination of Tamiyuki "Spike" Sugiyama, production began in October 2000 and ended in April 2003. The cost of the film is said to have been $4 million.
The first four episodes from the film were shown on Cartoon Network on 17 November 2001 during the "Toonami Midnight Run: Special Edition". Cartoon Network later hosted the episodes online as part of their short-lived Toonami Reactor project (later revived as Toonami Jetstream). In December 2003, Interstella 5555 was released along with the album Daft Club, which served to promote the film and provided previously unreleased remixes of tracks from the Discovery album. A Blu-ray edition of the film was released on September 2011 and contains similar artwork packaging.
Many elements common to Matsumoto's stories, such as a romanticism of noble sacrifice and remembrance of fallen friends, appear in Interstella 5555. Daft Punk revealed in an interview that Captain Harlock was a great influence on them in their childhood. They also stated, "The music we have been making must have been influenced at some point by the shows we were watching when we were little kids."
The film was well received by critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 86% based on 7 reviews (6 positive, 1 negative).
The BBC gave the film four stars out of five, saying that the film is a "visual and aural treat of intergalactic proportions". MovieMartyr.com said that the film was "the best animated film made in 2003, and a true testament to the artistry possible in two very different mediums." Mania.com concluded by stating that the film is "a unique feature that shows just how well music can be blended to animation to make a compelling story."
Empire said the film was "Fine if you like the band – you'll be treated to some cartoons playing over the top of their Discovery album. For everyone else, just daft."