Writer: Tanya Nasimiyu
Who would have thought Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig would go out to make an anime featuring Jaden Smith, Steve Buscemi and Desus & Mero? When the trailer came out many people anticipated the release because of the cast line up and the seemingly familiar struggles of depression and dysphoria while struggling with a personal image that were mentioned. Neo Yokio did not disappoint except it did what it set of to do and maybe a little more in six episodes.
As an amateur anime watcher, I came to the show with some expectations based on the past anime’s that I have watched such as Inuyasha, Mitchiko to Hatchin , Samurai Champloo and other popular titles. So I was expecting either a lengthy hero’s tale or a short realistic and gritty show. To my surprise I received none of those but a short satirical tale of a world based on our own real life. Neo Yokio is a city that thrives on social life and there are two groups of people who are at the top. The old money developed and created Neo Yokio and are held highly in society, but when demons attacked, they hired sorcerers who were living in poverty to chase the demons in exchange for money and status, hence the magistocrats.
The show follows Kaz, Jaden Smith’s character, as he struggles with his sense of self after a tragic breakup, his familial demands of becoming a demon slayer to keep with the money that their family has grown to acquire and his giant toblerone obsession. In the six episodes we get a little bit of the Neo Yokio experience all while it being a satire on real world situations of status, social media and such.
Through and through Neo Yokio managed to be good at what it set out to do but lacked on the character end. On Kaz’s end Jaden Smith was okay at portraying him but he needed a little more life to fully bring Kaz to life. And Tavi Gevinson’s character Helena St. Tessoro as well lacked, life as well. Desus & Mero though truly played their part and more to bring Gottlieb and Lexy to life. My personal favorites were Pop star sensation Sailor Pellegrino and Jason Schwartzman’s Arcangelo. Another commendable part was the animation that was done very reminiscent to 90s toonami and the soundtrack for episode 4 which was graciously done by Dev Hynes of Blood Orange.
Soft 8 / 10