Netflix’s newest anime, Neo Yokio, is kind of like anything from Forever 21. It looks cute from afar, but once you take it off the rack, all you feel is disappointment.
The show seemed set up for perfection. It was created by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig and stars Jaden Smith alongside Jude Law and Susan Sarandon, and even Steve Buscemi lends his voice to a character. In addition to having a star-studded cast, it also has an impressive soundtrack. Episodes are a mix of posh classical music and smooth jazzy beats, including an exclusive track composed by indie R&B artist Blood Orange. The amount of talented people involved in this show is enough to make anyone excited, but the end result is somehow lack-lustre, just like a cute shirt with “Taco Tuesday” written across the back.
The series follows the escapades of eligible bachelor and demon-slayer Kaz Kaan, voiced by Smith, around a futuristic parody of New York which is essentially a playground for the exuberantly wealthy. We’re first introduced to Kaan in a melancholic state after a breakup, and his mood doesn’t ever change throughout all six episodes in the season. The novelty of his monotone voice wears off quickly and the non-existence of character development is frustrating, to say the least. Most conflicts revolve around what expensive suit to wear or how to get above his nemesis Arch Angelo on the city’s prestigious “Bachelor Board.” The superficial content of the show almost comes across as a satire of the lives of the 1 per cent, but isn’t extreme enough to do so intentionally.
After watching the first season, it’s clear that the show really lacks any intention. With satire off the table, its only fitting genre is adventure-comedy, which it does a mediocre-at-best job of portraying. Kaan ignores his exorcist powers the majority of the time and seems annoyed and bored whenever he’s forced to use them. A bored main character equals a bored audience. This is what takes the series from an expected favourite to a late-night binge you’ll probably stop watching half-way through.
If there’s any reason to ignore the series’s obvious flaws and watch anyway, it would be the animation. The storyboard team includes Kazuhiro Fuzuhashi (HunterxHunter) and Junji Nishimura (Pro Golfer Saru) who successfully make the city and its citizens look as good as the characters say they do.
At first glance, an eligible bachelor traipsing around the world’s most glamorous city while slaying demons sounds like a good idea, but the execution of Neo Yokio comes across pretty bland. Unless you’re into watching shows strictly for aesthetic or you really love Jaden Smith (guilty), save yourself six episodes of time and watch something else. You’re welcome.