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In 'Neo Yokio,' Dystopia Looks All Too Real

The new Netflix show depicts New York City's problems in their most extreme, playfully modeling how the city shouldn’t be.
The streets of Neo Yokio.
The streets of Neo Yokio.Netflix

Imagine, if you can, a city starkly divided by class, living in constant fear of terrorism. An out-of-town pop star is the official cultural ambassador, and climate change leaves much of the city underwater. Such is life in Neo Yokio, the setting of Netflix’s new anime show by the same name, created by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig.

Following a long tradition of allegorical cities in anime—think Metropolis, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Akira—“Neo Yokio” provides a setting that is finely attuned to the issues facing contemporary New York City. Infused with ironic pop culture commentary and adorably twisted narratives, the show’s relationship to its city forces viewers to ask: How can New York avoid becoming any more like Neo Yokio than it already is?