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Western Animation / Neo Yokio

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Neo Yokio is a Japanese-American animated series that premiered on Netflix on September 22, 2017, created by Ezra Koenig. The series follows the daily life of Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith), a "magistocrat" who lives in the titular city of Neo Yokio. More than a century ago, Kaz's ancestors were summoned to Neo Yokio to quell a sudden uprising of demonic energy that threatened to bring the city to its knees. Their descendants continued to protect the city, many of them joining the ranks of high society in the process.

Kaz is the latest in a long line of magic users, reluctantly upholding the family legacy of demon hunting. He would prefer to dedicate his time to fashion, field hockey, and staying in the top spot on the Neo Yokio bachelor board, but his Aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon) conspires to keep him employed. At her behest, Kaz takes up work performing various magical tasks— exorcisms, demon slaying, et cetera— that keep the city from being overrun by malignant occult forces.

Alongside his robotic butler Charles (Jude Law), best friends Lexy and Gottlieb, arch-rival Arcangelo Corelli, and disaffected fashion-blogging former flame Helena St. Tessero, Kaz will have to juggle both his high society image and an increase in demonic activity that could threaten Neo Yokio once again.

An hour-long Christmas Episode, entitled Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, was released on December 7, 2018.

Neo Yokio features examples of the following tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: You have Jeffrey, Agatha, Charles, Lexy, Helena, and Sadie. Then you have Kaz, Arcangelo, Sailor Pellegrino and Gottleib, just to name a few.
  • Affectionate Indecisive Parody According to an interview with the producers, it was originally intended to be an outright parody of anime with every episode spoofing a single series in particular. However, during production, the crew wound up unironically loving the cast of characters they made, hence why the parody elements seem rather indecisive.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Protagonist Kaz Kaan.
    • Professional race car driver Mila Malevich.
    • Aunt Agatha is always referred to by her assonant title, rather than as "Agatha Kaan."
    • A trip to the graveyard reveals that Kaz had an ancestor named Kip Kaan.
  • Alternate History: Aside from the history of demon slaying, the more we learn about Neo Yokio the more obvious it becomes that this world is very different from our own.
    • The original World Trade Center towers are still standing and everything south of 14th Street seems to have been consumed by rising sea levels or sunken into the Atlantic. People still live in the underwater portions of the city in waterproofed townhouses accessible by bubble vehicles.
    • The world map appears to be drastically different. The Soviet Union is still a nation with enough resources to send competitors to international events, suggesting that the Soviet Union did not dissolve in 1991 like in our timeline. Japan and Italy seem to have been combined into a single nation called "Giappone" (the flag is a white field with a bifurcated red-green circle in the center). Also, our world's Quebec is implied to be a separate nation called French Canada (its flag is the same design as the Canadian flag but the left stripe is colored blue to resemble the French flag).
    • Additionally, Neo Yokio itself appears to be an independent city-state. It grants its own citizenships, has its own customs and immigration system to prevent demonic attacks, is its own participant in international competitions, has its own national anthem (a cover of the real-world British religious and patriotic song "Jerusalem"/"And did those feet in ancient time" with the word "England" replaced with "Neo") and their own armed forces and seem to prefer metric to imperial/US customary units. There are no reference to influence from a federal/U.S. government and Neo Yokio is simply referred to as "the largest urban agglomeration in North America".
    • There's evidently a place in southern North America called North Cackalacka. Considering the implied politics of Neo Yokio, it's possible that it's an independent entity or that it may be a U.S. state. (It might also be a region akin to Appalachia, if Sailor Pellegrino's twangy accent is anything to go by. Cackalacka is another way of saying Carolina, so she could simply be saying she's from North Carolina.)
  • Alpha Bitch: Arcangelo is a male example. He leads the "east side gentlemen" who look down on Kaz for being Nouveau Riche.
  • Animesque: Co-Animated by Studio DEEN and Moi Animation (with Titmouse and Digital eMation for the Christmas special) to boot. The style imitates anime of the early 2000s, complete with frequently Off-Model characters, flat coloring, and many hallmarks of the genre that have fallen out of favor like sweat drops, nosebleeds, and chibification. It also seems to reference low budget anime dubbing, with poor lip synching and voice acting of varying quality.
  • Bookends: The series begins and ends with Kaz at a tennis court lamenting a woman who's just left him.
  • Broken Bird: Helena. After she was saved from a demonic possession, Helena became cynical and emotionally withdrawn.
  • Burning the Ships: Helena does this when she blows up the Bachelor Ranking Board in an act of terrorism. Law enforcement soon learned Helena is the culprit; forcing her to flee Neo Yokio.
  • Camp: Is the animation sometimes awesome, but usually crap? Check. The English dub sounds like an Abridged series? Check. Amazing voicing acting over bad lip-syncing? Check! Hated by critics? Check. Jaden Smith's OC? Check. Ladies and gentlemen, set up your tents and light your campfires.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Sailor Pellegrino and Helena Saint Tessero both have beef with the upper-class of Neo Yokio.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: The characters are all wealthy socialites and demon hunters. Unfortunately, they're also mostly shallow, clothing and status obsessed Upper Class Twits.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Because they keep running into each other by happenstance, Cathy thinks her ex-boyfriend Kaz is a stalker. She describes him as a "Jealous Psychopath." Given that their last encounter involved him forcefully kissing Legend/Lexy as an obvious ploy to make her jealous, it's hard not to see where she got the idea.
  • Camp Gay: Professor Muhly and Maxwell.
  • Character Development: At the beginning of the series, Kaz is overdramatic, whiny, and obsessed with his image on the Bachelor Board. While still overdramatic and whiny, after seeing the slum district and helping Helena escape the city, he's left wondering if his lifestyle is really all that perfect.
  • Chekhov's Gift: The Giant Toblerone Kaz gives to Helena. Helena later uses the Toblerone as a bat to save Kaz from the Hellenists.
  • Chick Magnet: Arcangelo, who is almost constantly on the top of the Bachelor Ranking Board. Kaz also counts, but his popularity and Bachelor Rank fluctuates constantly.
  • Circling Monologue: Invoked when the Helenists have Kaz captured and prepped for a demonic sacrifice - Helena arrives on the scene and begins to monologue about how Kaz represents everything that's wrong with Neo Yokio, circling him as he's tied to a crude wooden altar. Subverted immediately afterward when she knocks down one of the Helenists with a giant candy bar, revealing that she was only using the monologue as a distraction to get in position to attack.
  • Common Mary Sue Traits: Played for laughs with Kaz Kaan.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Helena "accidentally" spills her drink to interrupt the Remembrancer from reading her diary in public.
  • Cult of Personality: The Helenists, who are obsessive fan girls that revolve their fashion and lifestyle around Helena. They eventually transform into an actual cult when they attempt to sacrifice Kaz in a ceremony to summon demons so they could be possessed just like Helena was.
  • Curtains Match the Window:
    • Remembrancer: Despite his powdered wig, his eyes and eyebrows are both blue.
    • The fat goalie with Pink eyes and hair similar to Kaz.
  • Crystal Skull: The diamond-encrusted skull Kaz was hired to protect in episode 2.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Helena's demonic possession. Forcing her to rethink her view of Neo Yokio, this eventually leads her to blow up the Bachelor Leader Board in an act of terrorism.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Professor Muhly is initially suspected to be a demon sympathizer. Turns out he's just dating a guy that DJs Gregorian house.
  • Defector from Commie Land: Mila Malavich. Since Mila only defects to live the high life in Neo Yokio rather for political reasons, this trope only partially applies.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Kaz and to some extent Helena.
  • Demonic Possession: Popular fashion blogger Helena St. Tessero is seemingly possessed by a demon in the first episode, though it turns out it's actually her custom-made suit that's possessed.
  • Demon Slaying: Kaz Kaan comes from a long line of demon exterminators.
  • Ditch the Bodyguards: Mila Malevich ditches Kaz after convincing him to participate in a three-way lap dance from burlesque dancers. Covered in Kisses, Kaz gives chase when he notices her absence. Mila was able to escape on a fisherman's boat, never to be seen again.
  • Double Meaning: The Diamond Skull in episode 2 is a real life art piece called For The Love Of God.
    Maxwell: Kaz! Kaz, For The Love Of God, it's gone!
    Kaz: What's gone?
    Maxwell: The Damian Hirst Skull, For The Love Of God!
  • Edible Bludgeon: Toblerone is used as one in episode 3, 'O, the Helenists..." to save Kaz from the Helenists.
  • Elemental Powers: Kaz's cousin Jeffery can use Water Magic. He cleans pools for the wealthy denizens of the Hamptons, but his magic can backfire — in the course of a single episode, the magically purified water in the Kaan's infinity pool transforms Jeffrey's hood friends into butterflies, his father Albert into a raccoon, Lexy into a woman, and Gottlieb into a panda.
  • Embarrassing Hospital Gown: After her Near-Death Experience, Helena swears off her Fashionista ways while still at the hospital, and as a protest, decides to never change out of the flimsy hospital gown she's wearing. She even attends a fancy party while wearing only that, which scandalizes Neo Yokio's fashion-fixated society and embarrasses her friends and family. It also backfires somewhat since some of her die-hard fans decide hospital gowns are a new trend are start wearing those instead of their school uniforms, to the annoyance of the staff. By the time the Christmas special rolls around Bergdorf Goodman is selling couture hospital gowns and diamond-encrusted bandages to the trendy youths of Neo Yokio.
  • Enemy Mine: Exaggerated. Arcangelo, in the face of the Bachelor Board's destruction, immediately calls off the feud to become Kaz's "homie" and is outrageously friendly and sincerely supportive to him. As soon as the board is fixed, the two are back to being rivals.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Sailor Pellegrino. She tells Kaz she likes him despite using him to get close to the Damien Hirst skull, For The Love Of God.
  • Fantastic Slurs: Arcangelo repeatedly calls Kaz a "Ratcatcher" in reference to his Magistocratic heritage. The tourism video that opens the first episode helpfully informs viewers that the magicians and occultists who came to Neo Yokio to deal the the demon problem in the 1800's were "colloquially called ratcatchers." (The voiceover that announces this factoid accompanies footage of a magician blasting several large rats with a bolt of purple energy, though whether his actions are purely for pest control purposes or to stamp out diseases like the plague is left vague).
  • Fictional Flag:
    • Giappone is a fusion between Japan and Italy, and its flag looks like a combination between both countries' flags with a white field with a bifurcated red-green circle in the center.
    • French Canada is independent and instead of using the flag of Quebec, it uses the same design as the Canadian flag but the left stripe is colored blue to resemble the French flag.
  • Flaming Skulls: Sailor Pellegrino after she possess the diamond-encrusted skull. Instead of flames, it's red demon energy.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish:
    • Mila, the Soviet Race Car Driver, has fetish for everything Neo Yokio. From the Plasma Television to the Californian king sized bed, she openly admires and verbally espouses the merits of Neo Yokio's excess.
    • In episode 3 'O, the Helenists...', Kaz states several times for his fondness for Eastern Fashion that was used at Easton Prep School. He is clearly distraught when the Headmaster announced he would abolish the uniforms.
  • French Jerk: The French-Canadian racer. Rude to the other racers, and accuses the Russian racer Mila of "stealing" the races from him.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: In the big race, Kaz has to decide whether to beat his opponent, Cathy's new boyfriend who's left him melancholy all season, or help Helena escape from Neo Yokio. He decides to forego his obsession even though it turns out Helena was using him as a decoy.
  • Gainax Ending: "A Pop Star of Infinite Elegance" ends with Sailor Peligrino, Kaz's date to the Black and White Ball, literally out of nowhere revealing herself to be a demon. After Kaz slays her, he walks through the crowd at the ball into a dark room. End of episode.
  • Gang of Hats: The East-side Gentlemen. They sport Suit jackets, dress shirts, black sunglasses, colored shorts.
  • Gender Bender: Lexy undergoes this in episode 4, although he makes a point of insisting that he's still a dude.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Demon's use red and purple colored energy, Kaz uses blue.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Remembrancer. The one-man investigator and Neo Yokio secret police. He may be trying to stop a terrorist, but he is aggressive, willing to ignores concepts like warrants and diplomatic immunity if no one calls him out on it, and is downright a creepy bastard. He is also voiced by Steve Buscemi. He fits this trope like a powdered wig.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Kaz Kaan. He is dumped by his girlfriend Cathy which becomes the source of his melancholy.
  • Heroic Lineage: Kaz Kaan, much to his dismay, comes from a long line of psychic demon exterminators. The only relative we see use their powers is Kaz's cousin Jeffery, who uses his water magic to entertain his friends and turn his own father into a raccoon so he could inherit his father's house.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lexy and Gottlieb. Almost never seen without the other, they even own a bar together.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Helenists try to sacrifice Kaz to summon demons. But demon magic is no match for luxury chocolates.
  • Hypocrite: Kaz points out that, for all Helena's talk of the evils of capitalism, she's still a rich socialite who lives in a townhouse. Subverted when she cuts ties with her boujee life by blowing up the Bachelor Board.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: The East-siders vs the West-siders and Magistocracy. Besides the fact that the East-side see the Magistocracy as Nouveau Riche, there is very little difference between the two groups beyond their geographic location.
  • Idle Rich: Subverted with Kaz; he'd happily be one, but his aunt makes sure he remembers his duties as a magic user.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: The Tesaro's robot butler, Charles and his replacement Charles the Second.
  • Instant Fan Club: The Hellenists. They are so dedicated they plotted a human sacrifice to summon demons to be more like Helena.
  • International Pop Song English: Sailor Pellegrino will drop her usual Appalachian drawl when singing.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Helena's view of Neo Yokio. Episode 6 hints Kaz might be heading down this road.
  • Judicial Wig: The Remembrancer (who dresses as a judge) sports a long, white wig.
  • Kung-Shui: Kaz uses his powers to blow Arcangelo through several dressing room stall walls. Naturally Arcangelo is unscathed.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Mitoko Goldberg, "the hottest lesbian on long island."
  • Loony Fan: The Helenists big time. They follow Helena's blog religiously, send her a lot of letters, and start imitating her behavior. While not wearing their school uniforms isn't a real issue, becoming Hikikomori and letting themselves becomes possessed by demons are. The latter is more significant because they call their possession a "tribute to their queen".
  • Major Injury Underreaction: In episode 4, Charles just says "Oh dear" after accidentally causing a small electrical explosion in his circuits while trying to find a charger.
  • Male Gaze: We get a strange close-up shot of a female tennis player's butt/crotch in the first and sixth episode.
  • May–December Romance: Cathy and Mark. Although most of the casts' age is ambiguous, Mark's gray hair and wrinkle lines suggest he is roughly in his 50's. Cathy, basing on the fact she is the same-ish age as Kaz, is in her early 20s.
  • Mini-Mecha: Charles. Good thing his pilot is a mini too.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sailor Pellegrino references a few modern pop stars. Besides having Katy Perry's blue hair, she's got a Southern accent like Miley Cyrus's and Taylor Swift's romantic notoriety and country-star-moves-to-the-big-city background.
  • No Dress Code: Zig Zagged Doubled Subverted into Justified. In episode 3, The Helenists rebelled against the Easton dress code because Helena newfound distaste for dress codes. Kaz is hired by the headmaster to convince the girls to start wearing their school uniforms. After the Helenists disappeared when their demonic ritual failed, the Headmaster officially the disband the uniforms because the dress code was the catalysis for the damages to the school and the disappearance of the Helenists.
  • Only in It for the Money: Aunt Agatha. It's clear that she only thinks of Demon Exorcism as a good source of income.
  • Only Sane Man: When Cathy is finally introduced, she immediately proves to be more well-adjusted than the typical rich socialite, content with her new San Francisco job, and only gets frustrated with Kaz when she sees his douchy behavior hasn't changed. She's even ashamed when she realizes bringing up her new boyfriend as soon as she encountered Kaz was insensitive. Her worst behavior, telling her new boyfriend that Kaz is crazy jealous and worried that he's stalking her, isn't that unreasonable a concern.
  • People of Hair Color: Kaz Kaan and his Magicrat family. Everyone has some shade of purple and/or pink hair and eye color.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy:
    • Subverted. Kaz has pink hair while Helena and Sailor Pellegrino have blue hair.
    • Played with the Magistocracy. Both men and women have pink hair.
  • Rei Ayanami Expy: Helena, a monotone and aloof woman with purplish-blue hair and purple eyes. After being possessed by a demon and falling down a flight of stairs, Helena dons a hospital gown and head bandage for most of the series. Giving up her former life as a fashionista, Helena becomes reclusive and rarely shows any emotion besides her annoyance towards Kaz. She even steals and pilots Charles the mech-butler to escape Neo Yokio at the end of episode 6.
  • Rivals Team Up: After Helena blows up the Bachelor Leader Board Arcangelo offers a peace treaty to Kaz. Later, after Kaz promises to be homie, Arcangelo sacrifices himself to help his new "homie" win the Neo Yokio grand Prix.
  • Running Gag: Kaz is repeatedly told about his dark midnight blue tux in episode 2.
    • Kaz's thing for enormous Toblerone chocolate bars, which spans multiple episodes.
  • Sailor Fuku: Subverted. The Easton Prep School's female uniforms were heavily implied to be this by Kaz. We never actually get to see the uniforms, however, because the only 3 female students we see in the school are rebelling against the dress code. After the Helenists' demon summoning ritual is foiled, the Headmaster disbanded the uniforms.
  • Science Fantasy: Demons and magic share the same world with flying mechas and robots.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The Magistocracy, the families of magic and psychic users, have "Magisticratic Immunity" from the law enforcement of Neo Yokio and will only answer to the Lord Mayor. Aunt Agatha uses this to save Kaz from the Remembrancer's interrogation.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Kaz uses this often.
  • Secret Diary: The Remembrancer shows Helena's diary to Kaz and begins read an entry that states Helena's emotional connection and romantic interest in Kaz. But before The Remembrancer could finish reading the entry to Kaz, Helena, disguised as Mila, "accidentally" knocks her glass over.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sunken City: Parts of Neo Yokio are submerged, mainly 14th Street. The top of two skyscrapers poke out of the harbor of Battery Park.
  • Surreal Humor: The show will frequently make off-beat jokes with weird comedic timing and the show treats the incredibly strange premise as realistically as possible. It's easy to compare it to more comedic versions of Magical Realism.
  • Tentacle Rope: During Helena's dream a pile of fan letters morphs into a mass of tentacles, which strangle and crush the big Toblerone Kaz had gifted to Helena. Despite it being made out of paper, the tentacles make wet, slimy noises when they move.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Although we do not see her before her demonic possession in the firs episode, Helena's personality has certainly undergone a massive change. Her interactions with Kaz following her recovery are terse and confrontational — she criticizes his complacency with Neo Yokio's shallow, materialistic culture, while Kaz rebukes her newfound cynicism as hypocritical.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Sadie, the secret pilot of Charles the mecha-butler. Despite the fact she is actually an old woman voiced by a man with a heavy cockney accent, she has the stereotypical stature, mannerisms, and sexualization of the modern loli.
  • Theiss Titillation Theory: The 3 club performers from episode 5 wear blue bikini top and loincloth strapped together by strings of beads.
  • Those Two Guys: Lexy and Gottlieb, Kaz's friends that are rarely seen without each other.
  • Totally Radical: There's regular use of "dope" and "radical" in the script, as well as other trendy phrases like "fuckboy".
  • Upper-Class Twit: Essentially the entire cast, including Kaz and his rival Arcangelo.
    • Kaz's cousin, Jeffery, is one despite dressing and acting like a Lower-Class Lout.
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Mila Malevich had no qualms about going on a pub crawl the night before an important race. This was most likely a ploy to get Kaz wasted so she could escape and defect to the U.S.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Helena Saint Tessero blew up the Bachelor Ranking Board in the center of Neo Yokio. She saw the board as part of Neo Yokio's culture of greed and subjugation of the working class.
  • Wrongfully Attributed: A common mistake is people thinking that Jaden Smith is the one who created, or helped create, this series when in reality he simply voices the main character. It was actually created by Ezra Koenig.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: When Kaz offers a local fisherman $400 for the jumpsuit he is wearing, the man smiles, slowly unzips his suit, and gives a wink to Kaz.
  • Worldof Technicolor Hair: Uncommon hair colors seem to run in the family for magistocrats like the Kaans. Kaz has pink hair, Agatha's is a faded mauve, and Kaz's cousin Jeffery has lavender hair. The tourism video in the first episode provides further evidence for this being a genetic trait, with various closeups of unnamed magistocrats sporting pink and purple hair.