Long Before TRON Legacy, Daft Punk Got A Boost From Cartoon Network's Toonami

Daft Punk is a duo that hardly needs an introduction. From Grammy-winning hit songs like "Get Lucky" to their work on soundtracks to blockbuster movies like "Tron: Legacy," the electronic musicians have conquered the world. But long before Hollywood came calling, the French beat-makers got a boost from the folks at Cartoon Network. Specifically, when the band's anime-inspired music videos aired on Toonami.

Complex did a deep-dive into the history of the anime-focused gamble that was Toonami back in 2017. While the programming block certainly helped give anime a profile boost in the U.S., it also helped out several popular musical acts, Daft Punk among them. As Toonami co-creator Jason DeMarco explained at the time, the duo reached out to them when they were in the midst of premiering an ambitious music video project titled "Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem" tied to their second studio album, "Discovery."

"When Daft Punk did Interstella 5555 they had released the first two videos, and they came to us and said 'Do you want to premiere those [the next two videos] on Toonami and we'll make a little promotional thing?' It's crazy because they're huge now but they weren't then."

The project was directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi and it takes the entirety of "Discovery" weaving an anime narrative around the album's songs. As a result, Toonami made for the perfect home to premiere a couple of the music videos that came from the project. Assembled together, "Interstella 5555" makes for a unique feature film experience. Its individual pieces make for a compelling music video experience. It also didn't hurt that songs like "One More Time" and "Digital Love" were absolute bangers that not only looked at home during the programming block but were very likely to become earworms for those who caught the videos.

'Daft Punk and one of the greatest anime creators of all time'

Daft Punk, as a musical group, experienced relative success with their debut album "Homework." However, it was more of a cult hit dance album than it was a true mainstream breakout. But with "Discovery," they ascended to another level. Toonami had a part to play in that. As DeMarco explained in the same piece, they weren't the only band the programming block helped out either.

"Then the same thing happened with Gorillaz. So we said 'Why don't we have an hour where we just show music videos? We'll do it at midnight so we're not risking any ratings stuff and get whatever other music videos we could get that were animated.' So we got Kenna's 'Hell Bent'; The White Stripes' 'Fell In Love With A Girl'—there was a Beck video too. I've heard many, many times over the years from Toonami fans, that that's the first time they saw Daft Punk or Gorillaz."

In the years that followed, Daft Punk exploded. Aside from doing the entire soundtrack for "Tron: Legacy," they also found global success with the album "Random Access Memories," which went multi-platinum. The group has since disbanded but bringing this music to the masses was arguably DeMarco's biggest accomplishment during Toonami's run:

"The biggest thing I brought to Toonami over the years is the music. It was always my focus to expose people to artists and to hopefully help those musicians achieve a bigger audience. Like, if you're going to tell me that Leiji Matsumoto and Daft Punk did a thing together and we got to premiere that—to me that is already like 'Ok, good. I've done it.' For me that's the top of the mountain—Daft Punk and one of the greatest anime creators of all time."