We Did Not Need a Jaden Smith Anime

Jaden+Smith+in+anime+form+holds+a+Toblerone+chocolate+bar.

Netflix

Jaden Smith in anime form holds a Toblerone chocolate bar.

Recently, I bore witness to an unspeakable atrocity. Ezra Koenig, the lead singer of a fameless band known as Vampire Weekend, has taken it upon himself to write the most disgusting, vile, irredeemable work of fiction to ever see the light of day. At least, this would be his mission if he actually had a soul, which, judging by the little he has said about his motivation for creating this nightmare, he appears not to.

The show, dubbed Neo Yokio, initially strikes most people as a satire. It is set in the city of Neo Yokio, seemingly meant to be a cross between New York and Tokyo. This is despite the city showing no elements of Japanese culture and being more reminiscent of London than Tokyo.

Anyhow, Neo Yokio’s society centers entirely around superficial aesthetic aspects of culture, completed by a list in Times Square displaying all the bachelors in the city and their eligibility rankings, defined by things like fashion and, well, really nothing else.

Jaden Smith’s character, Kaz Kaan, is a member of a specific class of foreign immigrants who possess magical abilities and have risen to the top of society by ridding the city of its demon problem in the past. These “magistocrats,” as they are called, naturally feud with the normal aristocracy due to their foreign background, dark skin, and purple hair.

The premise is genuinely interesting and has a lot of potential, making the show even more atrocious as Koenig decided to throw all the potential out of the window, instead focusing the show mainly on the novelty of Jaden Smith being the main character, written to be a mixture of Smith’s and Ezra’s own personalities. Being the avatar of the two, Kaz ends up being a soulless husk concerned only with his fashion and the appearance of being with a woman. Furthermore, Koenig abandons the fact that Kaz has magical powers (which are loosely defined, to put it lightly), and with it, every nuance that could have been explored.

In an interview with GQ, Smith said, “I loved all the fashion references because I feel like that’s more necessary in entertainment because it really is entertaining.”

Disclaimer: it is not entertaining. It is especially not entertaining when it is the only point of substance in the entire show.

Kaz’s season arc is his attempt to become and maintain his position as the #1 most eligible bachelor in the city. This endeavor is not based on him actually being a hopeless romantic or “Hamlet character” as Koenig was trying to write him. Instead, Kaz is only concerned with his appearance and popularity.

In episode two, he finds a woman who is interested in him named Sailor Pellegrino. Long story short, she ends up being a demon, and he is forced to exorcise her. Rather than going through emotional trauma like he appears to at first, he is mostly indifferent. Furthermore, Sailor’s ridiculous country accent and flashy blue hair appear to be a ridicule of pop stars in some way. However, Koenig confirmed that the blue hair was just because Katy Perry had blue hair once, and the accent was just because Miley Cyrus has an accent.

Nothing in this show has any point. Nothing is done that is worth anything. Nothing is done with the obvious social tensions. Nothing is done with Kaz’s powers. Nothing is done with Kaz’s emotions. Even on a purely technical level, it is absolutely horrible. The animation looks like it was made by first-year students, the voice acting is devoid of any sonic quality or emotional quality, and the music was probably composed in all of thirty seconds.

Neo Yokio is the worst case of wasted potential we have seen in media for a long time. Koenig should be ashamed of himself, and I sincerely hope that Will read this and decided to do what any good father would do and pull out the belt on his son for unleashing this monstrosity on the world.