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Neo Yokio doesn’t add diversity to the world of anime, it creates a perfect picture of tokenism.

Neo Yokio, the Netflix original anime, was a mess. It took itself too seriously to be a parody and included too many disjointed factors to really work very well as a true parody of anime tropes. By now, I’m going to assume that everyone has seen it. Despite its failures in the genre, one thing really stuck out: The main character and his buddies are people of color but this world is very, very white. Neo Yokio doesn’t add diversity to the world of anime, it creates a perfect picture of tokenism. The creator of the show is Ezra Koenig, who is known most for his work with his band Vampire Weekend. However, much of the hype around the show was created by the attachment of Jaden Smith and his portrayal of the Black lead, Kaz Khan. Although Kaz is featured in nearly every shot -- he is the main character after all -- all other characters of color, of which there are few, or side and background characters. Kaz is part of an order of mages in the city and is considered nouveau riche by the other high-class families who made their money in normal non-magical ways. Of course, this concept plays into the real life set up of Black people gaining wealth in single generations due to music, acting, and sports. Their gains in society are deemed “less” because it was earned not by “hard work” or inherited on the basis of a prestigious name, but by “getting lucky.” This is made even more apparent as throughout the series Kaz is shown working whereas his arch nemesis, Arcangelo, seems to have endless time on his hands to harass Kaz.
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