The trailer for Neo Yokio, a new Netflix anime from Jaden Smith and Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, is officially out – and it’s as whimsical and strange as that description would suggest. Field hockey, demon slayings, terror alerts, mecha-butlers, and a bedazzled skull with a Southern accent all make an appearance in this trailer, and it’s cut more like a mish-mash collage of scenes than a coherent, marketable pitch. I can’t decide if this is going to be my new absolute favorite thing in the world, or a sloppy disaster – but it’ll definitely be one of the two.
The show is set in Neo Yokio, “the greatest city in the world” and “a diverse labyrinth of cultural and architectural innovation at the forefront of global fashion and finance.” Our main character, Kaz Kaan, is “the youngest member of a family of ‘magistocrats’ – pink-haired demon slayers who once liberated the city. Today, his demon-slaying is barely more than a side-hustle coordinated by his Aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon) – Kaz himself would rather concern himself with shopping, field hockey and – of course – mending his broken heart.”
“Always by Kaz’s side are his faithful mecha-butler, Charles (Jude Law), and his inseparable friends Lexy and Gottlieb (The Kid Mero and Desus Nice),” continues the synopsis, “as he navigates the complexities of life in Neo Yokio and tries to stay one step ahead of his arch-rival, Neo Yokio’s number one most eligible bachelor, Arcangelo Corelli (Jason Schwartzman). Things take a mysterious turn when Kaz is drawn into the turbulent world of ex-fashion blogger Helena St. Tessero (Tavi Gevinson), setting in motion a sequence of events that force him to question everything he knows about Neo Yokio.”
As you can see, there is a lot going on in that synopsis, and the trailer itself certainly drove that a-lot-ness home. I’m at once absolutely in love and oh-so-worried, and I can’t decide which emotion is stronger in me. I grinned at Smith’s unexpectedly deadpan delivery of everything over-the-top his character says, from “She’s possessed? That sucks” to “I’m grieving the death of a relationship” to “Win? Lose? We’ll all be equal in the grave.” I like the extravagance of Neo Yokio’s cityscape. I also love that they’re going to dramatize field hockey. And while the animation looks uber ’90s, I’m pretty sure that’s a deliberate choice to amp up the parody element.
Of course, whatever else I end up thinking about the show, I have to acknowledge what it’s doing for representation. In most manga and anime, black and brown people barely show up at all – unless it’s in really offensive stereotypes or racial caricatures. And yet, from The New Day to my own friend group, I know there are loads of of black and brown anime fans. So I’m glad that Neo Yokio will let that fan base see themselves represented as full, developed characters in a medium they really love. That’s going to be cool no matter what.
All six episodes of Neo Yokio premiere on Netflix on September 22.
(Via /Film; image via screengrab)
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