Neo Yokio is a co-produced animated television series created by Ezra Koenig of American rock band Vampire Weekend, and produced by animation studios Production I.G. and Studio Deen. The first season consists of six episodes, and premiered on Netflix September 22nd. The series stars Jaden Smith as Kaz Kaan.
Synopsis: Neo Yokio — the greatest city in the world. It’s the most populous urban agglomeration in North America, but its prestige does not merely stem from its size. Neo Yokio is a diverse labyrinth of cultural and architectural innovation at the forefront of global fashion and finance. All of this is cold comfort to the lovesick Kaz Kaan, the youngest member of a family of “magistocrats,” pink-haired demon slayers who work to liberate the city. Things take a mysterious turn when Kaz is drawn into the turbulent world of ex-fashion blogger Helena St. Tessero, setting in motion a sequence of events that force him to question everything he knows about Neo Yokio. (Source: IMDb)
Review: Going into Neo Yokio, you already know it’s going to be atrocious. But this is precisely why, even in the midst of how bad it is, you can find enjoyment. Surprisingly enough, the series did actually have an underlying story, albeit not a very good one. Besides repetitively taking odd magic-demon related jobs at the will of his aunt, the main story seems to be the one between Kaz and Helena St. Tessero. Having last seen each other when they hooked up at a party, Kaz is then told by his aunt to exorcise the demon possessing Helena. After a failed attempt, he returns and completes the job successfully. After the fact however, Helena magically realizes the way she was living life before is wrong, and she changes her personality entirely.
This new realization causes Helena to change the way she dresses, acts and lives, creating trouble for Kaz down the road. This all comes to conclusion at the end of the season, with Kaz helping Helena run away from her crimes and escape to New Jersey. There is more that happens during the six episodes, but of little importance. While not much of a story, there isn’t much else and the rest of Neo Yokio simply displays the daily life of Kaz.
Moving on to the characters and my god are they terrible. Both the characters themselves as well as the actors that play them, seem extremely even being in their own world. Jaden Smith is obviously not a voice actor, so I guess I can’t fault him entirely, but his playing of Kaz is incredibly dry and emotionless. Not just him, but most of the cast suffers from these same problems. The only person who I thought was decent is Mila Malevich, played by Annet Mahendru.
Animation-wise, Neo Yokio is completely average. It wasn’t bad enough to make the show difficult to look at, but it wasn’t by any means good either. The same can be said for the music and sound effects; average, but also slightly underwhelming. Honestly, that could be used to describe the entire show. If it wasn’t for how obviously bad it was, from a straight critical standpoint, the show wouldn’t have been tolerable at all. Like I said at the beginning though, the show becomes enjoyable when you are watching because it’s bad. You begin to look out for parts that are worse than the show’s average, either silently or verbally laughing at them.
On a serious note, it is always disappointing when an American-Japanese partnership falls short like this. As anime grows in popularity around the world, more frequent collaborations are going to become a reality. Hopefully, future works similar to this will benefit from having qualified writers and directors. If you haven’t yet seen Neo Yokio, it’s Toblerone’s are the talk of the community right now, so you mine as well spend a couple hours and get a kick out of the show.
Neo Yokio is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix .
You can read our most recent review on Tsuredure Children Vol 1 here.