Neo Yokio is an anime created by Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. The show is about the life of Kaz Kaan (voiced by Jaden Smith) who is a Magistocrat. A magistocrat is simply a magician who is an aristocrat. Kaz comes from a family of magicians who are “neo-riche” or nouveau riche (For those that don’t know nouveau riche is French for new rich). Neo or nouveau riche is someone who has attained wealth within their own generation without family inheritance. An example of this is Jay-Z. As a magistocrat it is Kaz’s duty to exorcise demons and the like.
The show itself is a commentary on capitalism, misogyny, and American culture in general. Neo Yokio has all the ingredients to be a great show. It has an important underlying theme and/or moral message. It has an overarching outline of what could be a great long-term story. However, Neo Yokio isn’t good. The show sacrifices plot and character development to commentate on American culture in a paradoxical fashion.
Now a show doesn’t necessarily need a story or character development to be considered good. Documentaries typically don’t follow a formula where that is required and neither do most game shows but Neo Yokio is written as story based show. It just has none or barely has one. What we get is a grotesque form of a story. A story that was haphazardly put together. One where the story falls second to Koenig’s commentary on U.S society.
Neo Yokio’s sins continue with its sad attempt at character development. Kaz Kaan is infuriatingly annoying and he remains so even at the end. Sure he goes from being a content consumer of the capitalistic society to being a critic of it but it feels abrupt and sudden. He is also just Jaden Smith’s twitter feed come to life so he doesn’t feel like a fleshed out character. His peers also pretty much remain the same with the exception of Helena Saint Tessoro. The character who is the most guilty of not having character development is his archrival Arcangelo who later befriends Kaz over frivolous reasons.
Some even say it’s an abridged series on modern life itself. Call it what you want. I call it a waste of time.
The show also suffers from blatant product placement (Screw you Toblerone), horrendous voice acting (Everyone is monotone with an exception of a few characters), atrocious art. Now I’m not saying having art that isn’t appeasing to the eye makes or breaks the show (It doesn’t well…not for me at least). What bothers me about the art in Neo Yokio is that it is cookie cutter. It looks very similar to the artworks found in those mass-produced “How to Draw Anime” books.
I have had heard Neo Yokio called an abridged series without having a prior series to make fun of like Dragon Ball Abridged or Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged. Some even say it’s an abridged series on modern life itself. Call it what you want. I call it a waste of time.
Verdict: Has potential but squander it with its lack of storytelling and character development among with other sins.