Odokawa is a 41 year-old walrus taxi driver in Japan who meets/knows quite a few people in his taxi-driving job. These include a nurse, a college student who just won the lottery, a man whose life has been broken by a fraudulent online auction as a kid, idols, and even criminals. And somewhere within this, a story of a girl who has disappeared...
Tim: Don't be fooled by its simple, Animal Crossing-esque art style; ODDTAXI is another in a long line of "cute looking shows that deal with heavy stuff" anime. Which means, yes, there are plenty of goofy jokes, but there's also darker subtext to it all. Stuff that starts off as throw-away jokes become harder to laugh at upon further viewing/rewatch. It's that kind of show.
Stig: There is a certain worldweariness about ODDTAXI that's hard to explain. The show does start with two sinister-looking dudes tossing a body into the water, after all. Of course, it never gets truly jaded, which is the main reason why I'm willing to stand behind this show at all. ODDTAXI is a cavalcade of poor impulse control, the criminal underworld of the big city and whatever innocents gets pulled into everything, AND it even has a few surprises in store for you.
One neat thing about ODDTAXI is how, with only a few characters' exceptions, everyone is connected in some way to other characters. Even when we focus away from Odokawa for as much as an entire episode, you never feel lost or subjected to filler. And even when the series gets into Hajime Tanaka's storyline of how he got scammed as a kid out of his money for a super-rare eraser he wanted to get to show-off to his classmates, it still connects not only to his adulthood, but also to several of the other characters' in the present day. We can't say much without spoiling, but needless to say, Hajime did not grow up quite right. Arguably the closest ODDTAXI gets to "throwaway" characters are a comedian giant panda/cheetah duo by the name of Bonnou Illumination, whose interaction with the rest of the cast is strained at best. In fairness, their struggles and happenings very much tie in with how some people just want to do what they love, but still get caught up in a mad scramble for big fame.
Not all of ODDTAXI's characters are created equal, though, and two really got on out nerves throughout the series' run. The more irritating of the duo is Odokawa's monkey friend Eiji Kakihara, who's also 41 and gets way too excited over dating a girl 23 years his junior, even to the point of proposing marriage to her with a ring with money he borrows from mobsters. He's basically just an idiot who (much like about half the cast of this show) doesn't consider the consequences of his actions until he's knee-deep into it, only to get himself into more trouble.
Funny enough, Eiji ties directly into the other irritant of the show; one of the the loaners' bosses, a porcupine criminal boss named Yano. He speaks 95% of his dialogue in rap rhyme, and unless you've seen the show, you have no idea how aggravating this becomes to listen to. Whether it's to the show's credit or demerit that the majority of ODDTAXI's cast just rolls with this due to Yano's power making him largely immune to criticism for his lame ryhmes, it's still telling that the people who works for him just act like he's talking to them normally. He only breaks out of his ryhming scheme a few scant times in the series, and that's all we can say without spoilers.
ODDTAXI also takes a stab at the whole "shades of gray" ideology as much as it utilizes it. With that, we mean that the characters are indeed shades of gray, but not in the sense that most of the times people use that expression. They'd like to be able to do the darker shades, without having to think too much about the consequences. ODDTAXI puts those people front and center, maybe most notably with Taichi Kabasawa. We first meet him when he throws himself into Odokawa's taxi looking for the perfect viral success. He eventually paints himself a hero when he starts focusing in confronting known yakuza member (and orangutan) Dobu, which brings him the fame he always wanted. But it also serves him an unhealty portion of the other side of fame; the online haters. His story arc ends surprisingly anticlimactic, and it's to ODDTAXI's credit that this is actually a good thing.
OLM is not a studio known for the best of animation and art (you'd know that if you ever watched a single episode of Pokemon, their most profile series), and sadly it applies here as well. While the variety of designs of characters makes them easy to tell apart, animation is used quite sparingly; expect a lot of talking heads in taxis or in buildings. Fortunately ODDTAXI is more focused on its writing than its aesthetic, so it still works. It's also helped by its direction, which takes a very interview-like approach at times, seeing as the show is literally driven by its conversations (pun intended).
Tim: ODDTAXI is a lot of things: comedy, drama, action, crime drama, slice-of-life, idol music. And for the most part, it works. The characters, while annoyed, frustrated, and sometimes even cynical, also feel human, ironically for a show about talking animals. There's a lot of other small little plots that add up over time that we can't get into it due to spoiler, but eventually you learn about just about everyone and their backstories. Everything at the end comes together. And again, it does so without that damn second season hook vibe so, so many anime do today. I don't care how many times I need to repeat it; it's nice to see an anime TV show that ends. (Which does make me curious where In The Woods goes, but that's for another time well in the future.)
Stig: I'm not entirely sure when the whole "make something look like a children's show when it's not" thing started -- and no, it's not Madoka, but she's certainly the most famous one, since I only need to mention her name for you all to know exactly which show I'm talking about -- but ODDTAXI does this with style. For a show where almost all the characters suffer various cases of immaturity in a very believable, and -- in some cases -- very understandable reasons, the show itself approaches everything in a mature, sensible manner. There are so many people involved in this ridiculously multilimbed monstrosity of a story, but at no point did I feel lost about what was going on beyond what the show didn't want me to know yet. And, more importantly, ODDTAXI is also not a jaded, cynical catastrophe of a show, and I really applaud it for that.
Its animation and art are mediocre at best, and its characters aren't the easiest to love, but still ODDTAXI manages to tell a long web of stories with barely a skipped beat. And for that alone it should be applauded. — Stig Høgset and Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: ODDTAXI starts off realtively light, but as the series goes on, and its characters explored more, it gets darker. Not like Re:ZERO dark, but some of these characters go through some really rough times. Older teens and up only. Do NOT be fooled by the art style, parents!
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
ODDTAXI © 2021 P.I.C.S. / ODDTAXI partners
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