Anime fans are going to have an interesting time with Jaden Smith’s latest project, Neo Yokio.
The project itself is delightfully weird in that classic Jaden Smith/alternative black kid way—the show was created by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, which is the first clue that this show is tailor-made for black alternakids—as a college student, I used to listen to Vampire Weekend non-stop.
The second black alternakid bit of catnip—Neo Yokio is an anime. According to Shadow and Act, the name is an Americanism of “Neo Tokyo,” the cyberpunk city in Akira and, as the name suggests, is a mix of New York and Tokyo. In this anime, New Yokio is a “cultural oasis mix of New York and Tokyo at the forefront of fashion, finance and culture.” Smith stars as the main character Kaz Kaan, who is the youngest of a family of demon slayers called “magistocrats” who had once saved the city. Even though Kaz only demon-slays when his aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon) sets them up for him, Kaz eventually realizes there’s more to Neo Yokio than just his favorite hobbies—playing field hockey with his friends, endless shopping, and hanging out with his robotic butler. However, in true affected rich kid fashion, he learns more about his city thanks to a former fashion blogger.
Comedians and TV/social media personalities Desus Nice and The Kid Mero voice Kaz’s friends Gottlieb and Lexy, and Jude Law voices Kaz’s butler Charles. Jaden’s sister Willow and Amandla Stenberg will also lend their voices, which leads me to the third black alternakid sign: Amandla Stenberg is in this show.
I don’t know what role Stenberg will have in this show, but Stenberg is no stranger to genre media. She was a part of FOX’s Sleepy Hollow for two seasons before launching her indie comic book Niobe: She is Life, which focuses on a young black elven girl who would become a savior . Yes, Willow being in this show is also black alternakid catnip, but we should’ve known Willow would be in a show her brother’s a part of; what’s the point of having nepotism powers if you can’t use them for good?
Check out the trailer below and see what you think. Neo Yokio, comprised of six episodes, will drop on Netflix Sept. 22.