I’m no stranger to Neo Yokio. If you’re frequently active on Tumblr like I am, when the show dropped on Netflix last month, there wasn’t an escape from the newfound obsession with Toblerone and bizarre, self deprecating humor. Even with the star studded cast, watching the trailer and seeing the horrible animation wasn’t enough for me to dedicate three hours of my life to it.
Well, sometimes, there are just lazy Sundays and when you’re not a football fan and tired of watching Catfish TV marathons on MTV, all there is left is Netflix and Neo Yokio to binge.
Let’s just get straight to the point: Neo Yokio is weird. It’s bizarre. It’s in its own category. If a Tumblr user was given a budget to create the anime of their dreams, Neo Yokio would be it. The show surrealist, deadpan humor and self deprecation almost seems like a Tumblr post brought back to life. The protagonist, Kaz Kaan, is the poster child of the Tumblr user who is quick to reblog posts about wanting to die, being broke, and finding Millennials Are Killing X meme posts hilarious.
It’s not a show for anime fans, even if the Netflix promotion seems to try to push it as such with the cliche shounen power beams, lasers, and demons. The only thing that’s “anime” about this title is the character designs and the soundtrack. Everything else is just pop culture references and enough name brand dropping to rival a CW television show.
The first episode sets the tone for the show and spends the entire episode introducing Kaz, his ridiculous depression over insignificant things, his friends, his rivals, and his so called title as the best magisocrat in all of Neo Yokio. For some the level of self deprecation and pretentiousness may almost come off as annoying, but when you realize this seems more or less to be a tongue in cheek reference to shows like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and the other multiple teen dramas that have been on the TV for the last decade or so about rich White Kids experiencing rich White Kid problems, its a little bit more bearable to watch.
Unfortunately, for this show, it doesn’t not come off as strongly. Even if Kaz is depressed to the point that he can’t even attend a game or a scheduled dinner because he broke up with his girlfriend, going as far as to toss a Cartier watch over the rooftop of a skyrise, all the other characters responses are too normalized for it to come off as funny. There’s really no “punchline” here; it’s just a bunch of rich characters saying really dumb things.
The rest of the show follows the same pattern — Kaz wants to be a socialite and be at the top of the charts but his responsibilities as an exorcist always keep him away from just being one of the normal rich kids. And for someone being described at the best of his game, he’s always botching these exorcisms up because they conflict with his socialite activities.
Fortunately, we’re given a break from the recycled plotline and in the last half of the series, we’re given a stand alone filler plot that seems to be a really random homage to the classic anime, Ranma 1/2, and a penultimate storyline that serves to be the “prequel” to what, I am to assume, Neo Yokio is actually supposed to be — a show about corruption and imbalance in society. Or, maybe not.
I don’t know.
If there is funny scenes, they were from Kaz’ two best friends, Lexy and Gottileb, who were voiced by the comedy duo Mero and Desus. They were a funny juxtaposition against all the high society, socialite culture that seems to envelop the entire show.
Neo Yokio isn’t as horrible as how the anime fans are making it out to be, but it isn’t as amazing as the music magazines are making it out to be. It’s just there. Ezra Koenig has created an interesting premise but his delivery of this concept has fallen flat with weak writing and flat character development. The animation quality, for essentially a six episode OVA, is abysmal and worst than your typical anime filler episode.
I dare say that there’s potential but it needs a lot of improvement and more care taken in the animation. Perhaps, maybe even a team of comedy writers that can deliver some stronger jokes.