Spring 2021’s Odd Taxi stood out among a crowded year of excellent anime as one of a kind, because it was a completely original anime that’s wasn't a part of any popular genres like sci-fi or fantasy. It was a sophisticated character drama that thrived on excellent writing and a tightly-knit mystery, and it is a perfectly resolved and self-contained story. This is why when news came that Odd Taxi is getting a movie on April 1, 2022, it seemed a bit odd…no pun intended.
It was never a given that Odd Taxi would become a hit, and it really didn’t garner too much attention when it was first released. But over time, the intriguing plot began to draw more viewers, and it became the sleeper hit of 2021. Its Blu-Ray sales went from a very modest goal of pre-selling 300 copies to selling 6,048 copies by the end of September. This was an incredibly impressive record given how little physical copies of anime have been selling in recent years and cementing its cult-favorite status. It was even mentioned by The New Yorker as one of the best TV series of 2021.
So, it is not really a surprise that a movie was announced as a way to please its fan base. But those that have watched Odd Taxi might understand why this might not be the best idea. First of all, there's the fact that the central premise of the anime, and the thing that makes it unique, is that its characters look like animals but are set against a real-world background. There was a very specific reason why characters looked the way they did, and it was very cleverly integrated into the structure of the anime and into its characters’ stories. The writing elevated this seemingly gimmicky premise beyond a stunt, into a very important piece of the puzzle.
However, this premise was also done away with by the very end of the anime, so it is arguably no longer needed for any future stories within the world of Odd Taxi. This begs the question of what happens when one of the most important elements of the anime is taken away? Is it still Odd Taxi without all the anthropomorphic animals? Most importantly, what stories are left to tell within the world of Odd Taxi?
There are a few ways the anime movie could still retain this iconic element. A prequel is always possible, given how well the dialogue is written. It would be fun to just watch a slice of life series with the protagonist Odokawa and his conversations with his various eccentric passengers and friends. Alternatively, a story about the origin of the orange Lucky Pen, and who’s behind this mysterious item could also be an intriguing story, though this wouldn’t necessarily involve any anthropomorphism.
The most likely scenario is, of course, the biggest loose thread left at the end of the series. The finale revealed who killed the missing high school girl that’s at the center of the whole series but the killer was still walking free and was shown targeting Odokawa at the end of Episode 13. However, making a movie out of this would ruin the intentionally ambiguous ending of the anime, where it was left up to the viewers to determine whether Odokawa survived, or if the killer is eventually caught. This would also make the movie a much more conventional thriller rather than the cleverly planned riddle that’s the anime. This story also wouldn't need to make use of the anthropomorphic elements.
There is a chance that the movie could subvert the ending of the anime, and continue with the anthropomorphic element as if nothing had happened. This would be a much more convenient way of continuing with the premise. But it would be a very lazy and sloppy way to get around the issue, and the writer of Odd Taxi Kazuya Konomoto is nothing if not extremely diligent and detail-oriented. He will most likely be able to come up with a reasonable explanation as to why characters might be back to their animal forms and integrate it back into the story, but ultimately, everything hinges on the writing and the story.
In the end, given how little information we have about this movie, it is still too early to speculate about what’s in the story. But if the anime series is anything to go by, the movie should still offer up some interesting character exploration juxtaposed with sharp social commentaries and witty dialogues, even if the story might not be entirely necessary.