How would you rate episode 7 of
This week, Odd Taxi delivers its most nakedly menacing installment since its premiere. You can practically hear the gears grind and groan as its plot clockwork inches these characters closer towards their inevitable collision. This sinister edge has little to do with the Halloween theming of the episode title, and a lot to do with Odd Taxi‘s usual modus operandi: expanding and enriching its universe through banter and implication. It’s as slow a burn as ever, but with a pronounced emphasis on the “burn” part this time around, with characters finally beginning to reap what they’ve sown.
Let’s begin with poor Kakihana, because I neglected to mention him last week despite his depressing downward spiral into debt. This thread continues into the seventh episode, but juxtaposed even more cruelly against his hopes. It’s bad enough seeing him don his only nice suit to look dreamily at the expensive ring he bought with predatory loans. Odd Taxi, however, twists the knife by pulling the camera back to show his dingy apartment, his pile of unopened collection notices, and the two goons pounding at his door. And of course, as the audience, we already know his romance with Shiho is a farce, well before he finds himself kidnapped by Yamamoto and tied up before Yano. While Kakihana definitely brought all this upon himself, it’s still hard not to feel bad for the guy. I like, too, that Shiho is portrayed sympathetically—her circumstances are not all that different from Kakihana’s, considering that she’s clearly uncomfortable acting as “bait,” and that she’s only doing this because she’s been pressured into earning money for the group.
Odokawa is also in a precarious spot. However, he’s not quite as far out of his depth as Kakihana, because this walrus makes some clever waves behind the scenes this week. His alliance with Little Daimon is the most surprising development, and a fun one on top of that. The willfully ignorant idealist cop makes a perfect contrast with the jaded realist taxi driver. Their scene acts as an excuse to let the audience catch up with the increasingly complex web of relationships, which I really appreciate here at the show’s halfway point. I just joked last week that I wanted some kind of visual diagram to keep all these characters and motivations straight, and here’s Odokawa drawing one on the back of a flyer. Thanks, bud! Not every story can get away with this much exposition and recap, but I think it’s both earned and warranted here. It helps too that Odd Taxi injects its usual conversational comedy into their scene together, and it fleshes out the Daimons with a brief look into their past. In fact, most scenes in Odd Taxi accomplish multiple things at once, which is another reason why the anime feels so rich and full of momentum, in spite of its low simmer of a plot.
Odokawa’s chat with Little Daimon also leads to one of the tensest scenes in the series so far. The mystery bullet hole is ominous enough, but once the two of them reach an understanding regarding Dobu, the small cop dog insists on following up the missing girl case. It’s a great reminder that we still have no idea what happened to her, and no idea what the extent of Odokawa’s involvement is. Is she still in that closet? What would Odokawa have done if Little Daimon had found her? If she isn’t there, then who has Odokawa been talking to? Whose body did they find in the river? And what did Odokawa mean by “Now you can’t escape”? There’s still so much we don’t know about him, and that’s another reason why I love Odd Taxi so much. Our hero might be a delusional murderer who sees people as animals and hides women in his closet, and we might not know that until the finale. What a hook! Granted, I doubt the truth will be quite so grim and grisly, but the possibility alone adds some chilling flavor to this offbeat thriller.
While I’m here, let me also direct you to this interview ANN just did with the show’s director Baku Kinoshita. I’m bringing this up primarily because it confirms my prior suspicion that at least some of the dialogue was prerecorded. This runs counter to how anime production usually works, but it makes sense if you want to prioritize a more natural-flowing dialogue, tailoring the animation to the rhythm of speech instead of the other way around. While this is more work, I think it pays off spectacularly here, because Odd Taxi‘s unique identity stems from its idiosyncratic flow of banter. It’d still be a good thriller without it, but it wouldn’t be Odd Taxi.
On top of the prerecording, if you check out the cast, you’ll notice a lot of actors who have no prior credits. This supports Kinoshita’s comment about getting actual comedians to sustain the series’ sense of humor. Both members of Homosapiens, for example, have no prior anime roles, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of their dialogue echoes improvisations from their real comedy act. This speculation doesn’t have much bearing on the finished product, of course, but it’s obvious that some odd craft went into making Odd Taxi look and feel like it does. Look no further than Yano, the rad porcupine who can only speak by rapping, voiced by a rapper named METEOR. I love that we’re still meeting new and weird characters this far into the season, and in that respect (and beyond), I can definitely understand why Kinoshita names Satoshi Kon as one of his influences.
The episode concludes in the middle of Halloween night, with the hunt for Kabasawa and Tanaka still very much on. In spite of my suspicions towards Odokawa, I am reassured by the way he stands back and winces while Dobu whales on that poor kid. He’s smart, and he’s good at playing tough, but Odokawa is still scared and sympathetic, and there’s little guarantee that his machinations with Dobu will end the way he wants them to. People are going to get hurt. Kakihana is about to be hurt extremely badly (and rhythmically). One girl is already dead, and more may follow. However, it’s not all horrible. Shirakawa apologizes to Goriki, and it’s genuinely nice to see their relationship repaired, even though I don’t trust Dobu to stay away from her for the rest of the season. For now, though, there are any number of painful and darkly comic ways this Halloween headhunt can continue, and I’m excited for all of them.
Odd Taxi is currently streaming on
Steve is hungry for anime and on the prowl for Revenge this season. Learn about this and more (i.e. bad anime livetweets) by following him on Twitter.