The Eccentric Driver
How To Spend a Long Night
Beware of Borrowed Plumes
Don’t Call Me an Idol
Let Me Hear You Say
Trick or Treat
The Hero’s Melancholy
We Have No Tomorrow
If We Could Go Back to That Day
Odd Taxi is quite simply brilliant. It’s not only one of the best anime this year, it’s actually one of the best TV shows of 2021 as well. While you could easily write this off as another furry anime, Odd Taxi dispels that myth with a dark storyline, several subplots that interweave together and some brilliant twists along the way.
In its simplest form, Odd Taxi takes place in a world of anthromoprohic animals. At the center of this story lies 41 year old Odokawa, a quiet taxi driver going about his business. He’s notably asocial, thanks in part to his parents abandoning him as a child.
As he drives his taxi, Odokawa ends up engaging in small talk with various different animal inhabitants around town, who hop in for the ride and leave a lasting impression. Interestingly, a handful of these go on to have fully-fledged subplots that run parallel (and sometimes cross over) with Odokowa’s journey.
When he’s not working, Odokowa frequents a clinic run by Gouriki who suspects something is not right with our walrus driver. As he starts to dive into Odokowa’s mysterious past, a young alpaca nurse called Miho grows ever-closer to Odokowa. She also studies capoeria too, which certainly comes in handy late on in the story.
Away from this are an idol group “Mystery Kiss” and the various characters around that, including bodyguards, bosses, number 1 fans and the girls themselves. In fact, a missing group member forms the crux of the mystery running through this, with a baboon gangster called Dobu the most likely suspect.
However, throwing a spanner in the works is a loose cannon called Tanaka, who declares vengeance on Odokawa. He’s not the only one after the taxi driver though, as a Yakuza family run by a guy called Yano (who amusingly only talk in rhymes) ends up becoming more integral to the story as the episodes progress. And that’s before even mentioning comedic duo Homosapiens who show up from time to time.
As you can see, there’s an awful lot going on here and given the anime’s run of 13 episodes, these chapters could so easily have buckled under the weight of expectation. Not only does Odd Taxi handle this load, it confidently juggles all these different subplots in a beautifully artistic way, balancing themes and allowing the plots to complement one another perfectly.
Each subplot serves a distinct purpose too, branching out to explore the dark underbelly of Japan and Asian culture as a whole. Depression, crippling work schedules, the pressures of fame and social media and even in-game gambling are explored in unflinching detail. In fact, episode 4 does such a perfect job of capturing the horror of gambling in video games.
The story twists and turns its way through a number of different ideas too, with the finale lifting the veil and uncovering the shocking truth about what’s really going on. It’s a great reveal too and despite the open conclusion, actually works really well as a standalone one-and-done anime.
Given the popularity of Beastars and Aggretsuko, it’ll undoubtedly be difficult for Odd Taxi to stand out in this crowded anthromoprohic market. However, if you can go in with an open mind Odd Taxi will blow you away.
The writing is sharp, the characters are endearing and the entire anime balances comedic quips with dark and gritty themes to perfection. This is easily one of the best anime of 2021 and a tough one to beat going forward.