“Eccentric and blunt, the walrus Hiroshi Odokawa lives a relatively normal life. He drives a taxi for a living, and there he meets several unique individuals: the jobless Taichi Kabasawa who is dead-set on going viral, the mysterious nurse Miho Shirakawa, the struggling comedic duo “Homo Sapiens,” and Dobu, a well-known delinquent.
But Odokawa’s simple way of life is about to be turned upside-down. The case of a missing girl the police have been tracking leads back to him, and now both the yakuza and a duo of corrupt cops are on his tail. Set in a strangely familiar city filled with unusual individuals, Odd Taxi is a bizarre story about a humble taxi driver and the mystery of a lost high schooler.” – MAL
When I was making my spring list of upcoming anime this one wasn’t the last addition by any means, but it also wasn’t something that was guaranteed to end up on that list. As I was researching what anime was airing that season this caught my eye. I don’t like to be that “I told you so” type of person (I mean I also didn’t) but despite this being low on that list, I saw the potential for this to be one of the best anime this year. Fast forward to now, I’m writing this right after the last episode ended. This isn’t one of the best anime to come out this year. Odd Taxi is the best (at least right now). This show being a mystery I won’t spoil any reveals or plot points, although I will talk about episode 4 in some detail because it stands on its own and tells a great story.
Immediately this show gave me Zootopia vibes. There’s only a surface-level comparison there with anthropomorphic animals. Other than that they’re not similar at all. The first episode is a perfect setup for all the events that unfold through this anime. As a whole the writing is spectacular. The number one thing you need to nail in a mystery is foreshadowing. The great mysteries have amazing foreshadowing and let the audience learn alongside the characters. I, and a lot of other people, pieced together the solution to a lot of the mysteries. Some mysteries I thought I had the answer to only to be wrong. That is the mark of writing trusting the audience it’s going for. By not being overly mysterious while also not exposition dumping. Couple that with the fact that this show is very dialogue-heavy. Like very very dialogue-heavy. There are few anime that I’ve watched with this much dialogue. That can be a turn-off for some, personally, it kept me from watching more than 2 episodes in a sitting. I can’t deny though that once again the writing is sensational when it comes to dialogue as well. Every episode had a ton of monologues or character conversations that had me completely captivated. It felt real, it felt natural.
There are a lot of themes tackled here. From the perils of chasing clout and recognition online. To faking personas and online dating. Codependent relationships. How social status affects someone and their ambitions as they grow up. To idol culture in Japan. Also bad parenting among a host of others. All of these are tackled to varying degrees but they’re all handled damn well because the writing is superb.
There’s one theme that I want to talk about more in-depth, which is also the focal point of episode 4, titled Tanaka’s Revenge. You can completely skip this part if you want. So Tanaka’s Revenge is pretty stand-alone, it’s pretty much a prequel focusing on a character’s life before his short scene in an earlier episode. When I mean short scene, it couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds and I didn’t think we’d ever see him again. So to have an episode fully focused on him is kind of wild. It goes through his life starting with a story about his social status in class and his yearning to be popular leading him to do something very idiotic. Then it fasts forwards to his life now and his current addiction to a mobile gacha game also tying that back to the dumb thing he did as a kid. The way his life rots around him while he just continuously pours more and more money and time in this game is disgusting and eye-opening. His whole life and identity become engulfed by his addiction to this game. Look, the way our brains work it’s possible to be addicted to anything. But, certain activities are inherently way more addicting than others. The main one being gambling. The way gacha games, then mobile games, then games in general have implemented gambling and made it even more fun, addicting, and eye-catching, is deplorable and it does ruin lives. Episode 4 was the best anti-gacha PSA I’ve ever seen and one of, if not the best episodes of anime I’ve seen. Taking a step back from the overall themes of this episode. The storytelling and monologuing were amazing. The voice actor was on his A-game here. Tanaka’s Revenge is great.
The whole cast is great from top to bottom. Even the more minimal characters I liked and they all felt alive and real. Their dialogue and motivations were top-notch. The main character Odokawa is an interesting one. He’s a seemingly plain and simple dude who initially comes off as reserved but consistently over talks. As the person, we follow he was a great character and I loved unraveling more about him. He is hilarious whether intentionally or unintentionally his dry wit is great.
This whole show reminded me of an early Saturday morning kids cartoon. The backgrounds looked straight out of something like Blues Clues. It was slightly jarring at first, but it grew on me and it fits the show overall. The soundtrack is great. The opening is another great op this year, the ending is solid. The tracks that play during the episode are great as well, there’s one character who’s always rapping so when he’s speaking there’s a really clean hip-hop beat playing, I loved it. This show being as dialogue-heavy as it is, it’s kind of important to have a strong voice acting cast which this anime does, and then some. There wasn’t a standout per se, but everyone as a whole did great. Side note, there’s this ambulance/police car siren sound effect that gets played a lot throughout the show and its such an oddly satisfying sound and I can’t put my finger on why that is.
So yeah, Odd Taxi is great. It’s definitely the most unique anime to come out this year. It’s actually impressive how much it captures and tackles with a standard runtime and 13 episodes. Which is just another testament to this anime’s amazing writing. I’m glad that this got the recognition it did while it aired, I saw plenty of discussion around this show every week which makes me happy. Something like this could’ve easily ended up as the hidden gem of 2021 that no one really watched. Instead it definitely got it’s proper recognition as the great anime it is.
Odd Taxi – 10/10
Notes – Didn’t think I’d watch this much anime this month but here we are. There’s only a few more anime from that spring list that aren’t sequels that I haven’t watched so I guess imma get through those asap. To Your Eternity next.