Odd Taxi Episode 8
Odokawa makes some big moves this week. He's driving his taxi. He's connecting the dots. He's tricking a baboon into incriminating himself. He's telling people to delete their Twitter. This walrus has finally flipped his detective switch all the way to turbo noir, and the tension keeps piling on in turn, ensuring that Odd Taxi remains this season's preeminent anthropomorphic thriller. This is, I believe, also the first episode that doesn't introduce any new major or minor characters. That tracks, because although we're still a good ways away from anything resembling a conclusion, this week we can feel the labyrinthine sprawl of plot threads start to pull closer together.
The big eureka moment arrives for Odokawa at the end, as he remembers where he recognized Shiho from, but the rest of the episode is also peppered with important connections. Most relevant is Imai's big jackpot, which becomes the center of the power struggle between Dobu and Yano. Dobu expects Yano to shake him down, at which point Dobu will swoop in and steal it after Imai's withdrawal but before he can hand it off to Yano. The heavy irony is that Imai is Mystery Kiss' biggest fan, and if Yano does nothing, then that money is already guaranteed to flow into his hands by way of Yamamoto. So naturally, that won't happen. It's nice, however, to see a different and more cowardly side of Yamamoto, who seems to genuinely believe in the idol industry's potential to lift him out of his life of crime. He's not too dissimilar from Shiho in that regard, but I doubt either of them will be able to pursue their dreams while Yano is still around.
Kakihana, meanwhile, sinks to his lowest point yet—and he didn't have that far to fall to begin with. The fact that he's tied to a pole, beaten to a pulp, yet still trying to delude himself is just incredibly pitiable. He still wants to be the hero. He wants to save Shiho and marry her and live happily ever after, even as she's telling him the harsh truth about their badger game. It's possible that there might yet be a happy ending for Kakihana (especially now that Odokawa has probably sussed out what happened to him), but I hope it comes paired with some personal growth. Even though his life wasn't all that great at the start of the series, every one of his attempts to embrace chauvinism and machismo has backfired spectacularly. Now he's crying to his mom on the phone while some mob goon laughs at him. I like Kakihana, and I want him to leave this dark tunnel a better person than when he entered it. I even kind of want him to reconcile with Shiho—I don't think they should date, but it'd be nice to see them bond over their mutual experiences with poverty. If Kakihana gets a big heroic moment at the end instead, I think that'll cheapen this journey he took to get there. Maybe Odd Taxi could make that work, though.
Speaking of wannabe heroes, Kabasawa keeps digging deeper into his internet vigilante hole. And it seems to be paying off. Obviously he has delusions of grandeur, but we can't ignore that he wasn't the only person patrolling the streets for Dobu on Halloween night. He has accumulated some legitimate online clout by now, and if it's enough clout to extract 100 bucks a month from his fanclub members, then that is a scary thought indeed. It's also, sadly, not all that unfathomable. I really can't fault any of Odd Taxi's old man cynicism about the internet, because at every turn it exhibits an understanding of how people use and abuse it. I don't think art should try to be didactic, but if your favorite moral grindstone is “don't tweet,” then that's a lesson I will gladly help you preach to the masses. Please, I beg of you (and of myself): when in doubt, don't tweet.
Even as it begins to twist its threads together, Odd Taxi keeps some cards close to its chest, stringing the audience along with the anime's cornerstone mystery: what's the deal with Odokawa? Goriki takes a more trial-and-error based tack this week, using photographs to pin down what makes the taxi driver so good at recognizing and remembering faces. He theorizes to Shirakawa that it may be a form of synesthesia, but I think any medical veracity to his hypothesis is purely secondary—the narrative just wants to keep the gears turning in viewers' brains. It wants us to doubt our eyes, so we can feel smart when the big twist comes, or feel even more shocked when the big twist turns out to be something else entirely. And if Odokawa does indeed have synesthesia, then I think he has the first recorded case of synesthesia that automatically assigns a fursona to every person he meets. That's far from the worst affliction I can imagine, but regardless, Odokawa has a lot of other stuff on his plate right now.
And speaking of actual heroes, Odokawa does some badass shit this episode. I love, for instance, how he throws Dobu's tactics back at him. When Dobu listens in on his conversation with Yamamoto, Odokawa later uses his phone to secretly record Dobu's robbery plans. When Dobu gets the Big Daimon in his pocket, Odokawa forms an alliance with the Little Daimon. And that says nothing of Odokawa's own negotiation skills; he can't stop Dobu from suspecting him, but he can use his gift of gab to smooth over those suspicions and extract the evidence he needs. I also respect how quickly he summons Imai, and how plainly he explains what Imai needs to do to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. This is exactly why I suspect that Imai will not do these things (because where would be the fun in that?), but you can't blame Odokawa for trying. And considering how suspicious and unhinged Odokawa himself appeared last week, these actions are a nice reminder that he's a perspicacious and compelling protagonist. This doesn't exonerate him of his involvement with the missing girl, of course, but that just makes him that much more interesting.
I've noticed that Odd Taxi has started using an abbreviated version of its OP and overlaying its end credits these past few weeks. These might be flukes, but they also hint that we're approaching the endgame, with the showrunners ensuring that they squeeze in as much high octane taxi action as possible per episode. I can't complain! The series' quality remains remarkably consistent, from the writing, to the animation, to the direction. Consequently, it does lack some of the standout, virtuosic episodes that tend to endear me towards passion projects like Wonder Egg Priority, but Odd Taxi's slow and steady burn still makes it my favorite anime of the season. With that said, I'll see y'all next week, when I'll apparently have to write about Kabasawa having sex.