Okay, the fact that I already got you to this point and you’re reading this article already says something: you have an open mind. When I first heard about what went into the creation of Neo Yokio and not what it was about, I had my doubts. I’ve been watching anime and reading manga for quite some time but with this series it took me a while to select play on my Netflix account. Needing something to watch before bed, a couple of friends and I decided to go for it. With all the sincerity I possess, I cannot stress to you enough my feelings about it:
I liked it.
Created by Vampire Weekend’s Eza Koenig, Netflix’s original series Neo Yokio is a show about people who may have money, but are prone to melancholy. The show takes place in an alternate version of New York City which is under constant threat of demonic attacks. Nouveau riche demon hunter Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith), is mourning the end of a relationship. His moments brooding with his robot companion Charles (Jude Law), are often disturbed by his Aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon), who demands that he actually work for his money. Jason Schwartzman rounds out this star-studded cast, as Archangelo Carelli, the protagonist’s arch nemesis.
To keep earning money for his extravagant lifestyle as a demon slayer, the story follows Kaz taking on mundane jobs that interfere with his time with friends. I didn’t take it too seriously and feel that it’s under a lot of extra scrutiny due to the buzz surrounding the cast members and creators. Yes, the show is flawed, but it didn’t stop me from ending the short season one with more questions and an honest want for a season two.
Due to all of the negative reviews and groups on Facebook shunning the show for several reasons, I found myself lost and wondering what I saw in this series that others did not. So, here are a few things I noticed that changed my outlook on the show:
It’s a Parody on High Society/ New York Lifestyle/ American Anime Culture
Being raised with a foreign father who is used to a hierarchical society focused on family wealth, there were times when watching this show gave me a healthy reminder of what that kind of life is like (which is why we moved to the States). Dealing with the day-to-day of a certain lifestyle can takes a toll on one’s emotional state, which is something that is poked fun in a lot of Vampire Weekend’s songs. This is also why so many from my inner circle have chosen to leave high society as well. That, and being a native New Yorker who has been apart of American anime culture since her teen years, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself from start to finish.
I Watched It with Friends
One of my friends who began watching it on his own was debating on continuing the series because he didn’t really know how to feel about it. After talking about it, we gathered around with our favorite snacks and (re)started the series together. After our binge of three episodes, he mentioned to me that laughing together and having others point out certain things to him made the experience of watching the show all that much better, and he was ready for the last three episodes.
The Humor is Quirky
Think late night Adult Swim episodes of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, Jaden Smith’s Twitter account, a dash of classic anime references, and the delightful dry humor of both Jude Law and Susan Sarandon. There was a heavy reminder of when I would watch Lucky Star; a nonsensical anime series that follows the life of four Japanese school girls, with an evolving plot and over the top shenanigans.
I will say that my one complaint about the series was the lack of black women. I was excited to have a black protagonist in an American made parody anime, however the lack of black women stood out to me negatively. Hopefully for season two, there will be far more diversity. For me, when coming home from a long day of work, it’s nice to just turn your brain off and enjoy a show just to enjoy it. The cast was ridiculous, the entire show is meme-able, and the references from some of my favorite anime flooded my interests (when they weren’t already occupied by Kaz Kaan’s attitude or the decent fight scenes). I enjoyed it and I know I will get heat for it. If you don’t like it, then that’s okay too. That’s the amazing thing about anime: that there is a plethora of wonderful titles with a wide range of spectacular topics means that there is an anime out there for everyone.
Neo Yokio is not for kids, but for those who tell me that my opinion is trash simply for liking this show…
You don’t deserve this big Toblerone.