At first, the plot appears simple: a couple of wannabe vigilantes with outrageous haircuts and little skill hit the streets of Los Angeles to fight crime. Still, behind the tongue-in-cheek nature of the show is a story which aims to bring awareness to human trafficking. Beyond that, it is difficult to tell where the show will take its viewers since only three episodes have been released.
If you want visual comedy, this web series has plenty of it. From thought bubbles to slapstick combat, Johnny Raikou takes classic comedy staples like facial expressions and gestures and churns into an entertaining show. Thought-bubbles and comic-book swipes can seem gimmicky, but clever writing mixed with quizzical stares make them worth plenty of laughs. Also, Raikou makes good use of otherwise normal objects. From staple-guns to microwave-safes, standard tools and appliances become comical objects in this creative show. Though the series does have a couple of serious moments (Jaden Adventure (Hana Mae Lee), is dragged by her hair through a hallway kicking and screaming), it never quite takes itself seriously, and that’s a good thing.
Jonathan Hance (Johnny Raikou) and Portis Hershey (Friend), do an admirable job as quirky justice-seekers. In truth, I can’t imagine anyone else playing these roles. Hance (who also directed the show) does a remarkable job playing the part of a clumsy but quiet hero, often using his character’s silence to emphasize his bizarre nature. Hershey, the talkative one of this dynamic duo, plays off his partner’s silent nature with some well-timed lines and funny faces.
The settings in the series are spot-on, set in slummy-streets perfect as a backdrop for our courageous characters. The direction and production value, while not flawless, makes the show a pleasure to watch. Finally, the music in the show, an almost-retro electric-guitar riff, sets up the viewer for smiles and a good time.
Still, the show could use some work. Johnny Raikou’s third star, Lee, has a lot to live up to in her role as woman held hostage by what seems to be a small crime ring. At times, like the above mentioned scene, she flourishes, but other moments her lines fall flatter than Wylie Coyote on the Grand Canyon. Even in comedy, especially one that focuses on such a hot-button issue, emotion from the actor must be captured and experienced by the viewer. The audience needs more here.
Speaking of needing more, the show simply feels too short. While leaving your audience wanting more is a good thing, clocking in around two to four minutes a-piece, each episode barely has enough time to fit in all of the action, dialogue and plot necessary for a complete series.