***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Odd Taxi. Reader discretion is advised.***
As a taxi driver in Tokyo, Hiroshi Odokawa (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) interacts with a wide variety of people. From college students trying to make it big on social media to up-and-coming pop idols to thugs and ruffians, Hiroshi has seen it all.
However, in recent days, Hiroshi may have seen too much.
The news buzzes over the mysterious disappearance of a young girl. The only clue authorities have to go on is the cab she took the night of her disappearance – which happens to be Hiroshi’s.
The truth of what happened hides beneath a deep web of interconnected lives, motives, and goals. Hiroshi’s once quiet life takes a sudden and dramatic turn.
This will be a short review.
Now, when I have said that in the past, it has tended to mean the show in question is something I want to forget as quickly as possible, be it because it was bland, dull, and/or unmemorable. But there is another, less frequent, much more compelling reason why I must restrain myself – the series I am reviewing is fantastic.
On occasion, an anime comes along that is so good, it would be a tremendous disservice to discuss and dissect its most vital aspects; I wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment. It also doesn’t help when a show is also a mystery story; the chances of accidental revelations go up significantly.
Without beating around the bush any further, Odd Taxi is one such anime.
Oh, mah Gawd! Odd Taxi was excellent. Without exaggeration, this series is among the best, if not THE best, thing I have yet seen come out of 2021 (this review released August 2021).
We are all familiar with the phrase “the tip of the iceberg.” Well, in the case of Odd Taxi, its “tip” is a world populated with anthropomorphic animals. A concept not dissimilar to the also excellent Beastars series; albeit, Odd Taxi’s animation and cuteness-factor are superior. Perhaps it would be better to say this show’s visual style was more in line with the 2016 Disney film Zootopia.
Although I could continue to list other productions with human-like animal characters, the point is, if you only look at Odd Taxi and think you know what you are getting, you are sorely mistaken. Saying this series is similar to the other mentioned stories because they have a similar narrative hook is like saying an apple and a chili pepper are the same things because they are both red.
Again, “tip of the iceberg.”
When labeling Odd Taxi as a “mystery story,” we have to take the word “mystery” at face value. Like solving a puzzle without the image on the box for reference, this series provides us with all the information we will need. It is slow going at first because we aren’t sure what the end goal is; we don’t know how everything goes together. Over time, the pieces begin to connect, patterns form, realizations click, and a picture starts to emerge. But only when we finish can we appreciate the final product.
I won’t presume to speak for you, but for me, Odd Taxi went in a direction that caught me off guard. And having been reviewing anime for as long as I have (six years as of this post going live and well after watching over 700 different anime), any show that can surprise me is a rare treat indeed.
And while I don’t want to reveal too much, I also want to ensure this next bit makes it into the review. My jaw legitimately dropped at episode thirteen.
There are so many avenues of praise I could go down that will result in a spoiler, regardless of how careful I am. I only went into Odd Taxi knowing its premise, and I wish for you to have the same experience. Still, it would be wrong of me if I failed to mention this show’s protagonist, Hiroshi Odokawa. It is a bit cliché to say he is a hero like no other, but I’m also not sure how else to phrase it.
Although Hiroshi was quick on his feet and possessed an excellent memory for faces, he was no super genius. He wasn’t a fighter, a strategist, or a person of any note. His personality lacked charm, he was perpetually grumpy, and his total disinterest in basic inter-personal diplomacy rarely did him favors.
Nevertheless, Hiroshi was loyal to a fault, he cared for his friends deeply, and he wasn’t a person who could turn a blind eye when someone needed help. Although he didn’t have a death wish, threats of violence couldn’t scare him into action; he was not a guy thugs could intimidate. And in a narrative with dangerous individuals, murder, and conspiracy, Hiroshi’s calm common sense allowed him to be an unexpected force no one could ignore.
In other words, Hiroshi was the only sort of hero a story like Odd Taxi could have. Of everything this series did well, Hiroshi was one of its best.
And we haven’t even taken into account the phenomenal performance of Hiroshi’s voice actor, Mr. Natsuki Hanae, who is probably most well-known for his current (as of this review going live) role as Tanjirou Kamado from Demon Slayer.
To conclude this section, allow me to ask myself, what was my favorite aspect of Odd Taxi?
Despite this entire series being brilliant, that question is surprisingly easy to answer. Odd Taxi was never boring.
This show had a lot going on; there were so many different characters doing their own thing. And yet, the vast majority of these separate plotlines held weight and were critical to the overall story. At the very least, there was never a moment where I was anything less than 100% glued to the screen.
If you want to know what might prove to be one of 2021’s top anime, then I highly suggest giving Odd Taxi a chance.
Two. There were two aspects about Odd Taxi I…noticed? I’m not sure what the correct way to say that is.
I could have gone with the words “mistakes,” “faults,” or – probably most aptly – “negatives” to explain myself. But the thing is, all those terms feel too harsh since nothing I am about to say broke, detracted, or even tripped up Odd Taxi.
Be that as it may, let’s dive in.
First, there were the two comedians Kensuke Shibagaki and Atsuya Baba (voiced respectively by Yuusuke and Atsuhiro Tsuda), a.k.a., the Homosapiens. Of all the characters in Odd Taxi, these two felt the least consequential. But like many other characters in this show, they got a complete story arc.
For the record, I didn’t dislike Shibagaki and Baba; as I said, they didn’t take away from Odd Taxi’s enjoyment. That doesn’t change the fact that if we were to remove them from this show, nothing would change; they had no bearing on the plot.
Sure, the Homosapiens had connections and interactions with many of the principal actors in this series. I’m just left wondering why Odd Taxi deemed it essential they got as much screen time as they did.
Second, on occasion, Odd Taxi would rely on convenience.
And so we are clear, “convenience” in this series is not the same as “coincidence.” Heck, “coincidence” was the name of the game for this show. Through a series of unlikely, interconnecting events, we got this story.
No, what I mean by “convenience” is something – usually a character – would appear in a deus ex machina fashion. Someone would arrive in a place where they had no earthly business being, and they would then save a character from an otherwise inescapable situation.
These types of circumstances did not happen often. I could count all the instances on one hand and not even use all my fingers. But seeing it happen once was disappointing, especially given how well-written the rest of the show was.
Even if we consider these two aspects, it’s simply mountains out of molehills; they are ultimately meaningless.
I have never seen a flawless anime. Nor have I watched a movie, read a book, or played a game without some blemish. When we get right down to it, did the story in front of us hold our attention and deliver something worthwhile?
Some shows have trouble doing that. Odd Taxi was not one of them.
This one was good; like, really, really good.
It is foolhardy to begin this series thinking you can guess where it will go or what it will do. This show was one of those special gems that come about every so often and engrosses you with its story, characters, atmosphere, and uniqueness.
Without question, Odd Taxi has earned itself a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Odd Taxi? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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