2021 has been a difficult year for all of us.
From the ever-present loom of the pandemic to other troubling factors that stem from it, it can be hard to remain positive and keep our head held high.
But, at least for me, anime has been my one saving grace – always waiting for me after a tough day so I can relax and watch my favourite protagonists defeat evil and woo their crush (or at least attempt to).
While there has been so many fantastic new releases – notably Jujutsu Kaisen, 86, Horimiya, Tokyo Revengers and Sonny Boy – as well as new seasons of our favourite ongoing shows like Boku No Hero Academia and Beastars, there is one particular anime that stands out from the rest.
Last year, JUICE recommended On-Gaku as it’s anime of the year and this year, we would like to introduce you to…
Odd Taxi is the best anime you will watch in 2021
As an avid anime watcher, we come across some weird characters within the anime-viewing community.
I think you can relate when I say that there are a lot of people who watch anime to satisfy their fetishes – the most prominent being big-titty waifus and furries.
So, when I came across Odd Taxi on my weekly search for new anime to watch, I was a tad skeptical since it revolves around anthropomorphic characters which can tend to lean towards fetishisation sometimes.
But, as you can already tell from the context of this article, this anime quickly became my favourite watch of the year and I would recommend it to just about anyone.
What is Odd Taxi?
In short, I would describe Odd Taxi as if Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan shook hands and decided to make an anime about a crime-fighting walrus with awkward social skills.
Let me explain…
Odd Taxi starts off in – you guessed it – a taxi with a walrus named Odokawa as our main protagonist.
On a busy night in the streets of Tokyo, Odokawa picks up a customer who is obsessed with becoming the next viral hit. Constantly scrolling on social media, the customer is analysing all of the most shared posts on his timeline, trying to replicate it so he can make headlines the next morning.
The customer then takes a quick selfie of himself with Odokawa and makeshifts a fake heartwarming exchange, saying that society eats wholesome shit up like it’s breakfast.
What he doesn’t know is that his post would go viral, but for all the wrong reasons…
What ensues next is an enthralling cat-and-mouse (no pun intended) chase that exposes the dark underbelly of social media and the entertainment industry, specifically idol culture.
Don’t be fooled by the cute animal characters because Odd Taxi is one of the darkest anime I’ve seen and yes, I’m well-accustomed with Death Note, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Attack on Titan and all anime of the same twisted vein.
Combining corruption, drugs and murder, each character has their own hedonistic motives and Odokawa is determined to rise above it all and fight crime head-on when the case of a missing girl is suddenly linked to him, which leads to his entanglement with the yakuza.
Since Odokawa is apathetic and blunt in nature, he quickly becomes the easiest pawn to manoeuvre in the chess game of organised crime in Tokyo.
The question is: Who will claim the checkmate?
Why is Odd Taxi our pick for Best Anime of The Year?
When it comes to criticising anime, I like to think of it in three ways:
- How good is the story?
- How good is the animation? and
- How did it make me feel?
Remember when I said Odd Taxi feels like a Scorsese-Nolan union birthed into the form of Japanese animation? I wasn’t kidding.
The grime of Odd Taxi is akin to Scorsese’s masterpiece, Taxi Driver (doesn’t seem like a coincidence) and the intricacies of its storytelling feels very reminiscent of Nolan’s older work, Memento.
Every scene is integral to the plot and filled to the brim with information that will either bring us laughs later on or have us picking our jaw off the floor when new revelations happen.
Odd Taxi is categorised as a mystery and it’s a damn good one. With every character playing their shady roles, you never really know who the bad guy is which makes for a heart-racing watching experience.
So, when you get to the half-way point of the anime, you’re basically glued to the screen and all you can do is sit down and watch it all unfold masterfully – work and real-life commitments begone!
This spiderweb of manipulation and corruption is juxtaposed with the immensely adorable animation. Like I mentioned before, Odd Taxi has anthropomorphic characters and even when they’re doing some shady shit, you can’t help but go “Awww” because they’re so darn cute.
But apart from the character design, the animation itself is spectacular with its textured background, giving it an almost retro feel. It almost looks like it was drawn with crayons with acts as a stark contrast to the crisp animation of the characters imposed over it.
Since the majority of the anime is set within a taxi, when you finally get out into the world these characters live in, it’s a sight to behold.
Finally, we reach the last criteria. How did Odd Taxi make me feel?
Despite being a dark anime with a Russian doll of endless mysteries as its cynosure, Odd Taxi has a slew of wholesome and hilarious moments without being jarring.
Odokawa’s stunted social skills makes for some incredible back-and-forths between him and a gorgeous alpaca as well as the antagonists who he may or may not be working hand-in-hand with.
I found myself laughing at the comedic scenes and clutching my hair in anticipation at the more thrilling moments, illustrating just how well-written and solidly-constructed the anime is.
There is not a single dull moment and when you finally get to the end, you’re a shaken-up can of Asahi waiting to explode.
It’s safe to say that Odd Taxi has the best season finales of any anime I’ve ever seen.
It’s the perfect concoction of tear-jerking, shocking and downright satisfying. For a lack of a better term, I’d call it epic.
What kind of person do I have to be to like Odd Taxi?
I’ve already said that I would recommend this anime to anyone since I feel like it can be enjoyed across the board but that wouldn’t be very helpful.
So, to properly recommend this to you, I’d say that if you enjoy anime that doesn’t take itself too seriously despite its serious subject matter, then Odd Taxi is perfect for you.
This anime is for watchers who enjoy mystery, comedy, childlike romance, grey characters and plot twists.
It’s best to go into it blind so you can come up with your own theories surrounding the mystery of the missing girl and even the main character himself.
An overall well-rounded and extremely well-done anime that deserves your attention, catch Odd Taxi before it becomes too hyped-up on Tik Tok that you will lose that sense of novelty having upon discovering it yourself – or at least, through this article.