Odd Taxi: In the Woods is a film adaptation of last year’s hit anime series Odd Taxi, which I admittedly never got around to watching. It’s the enthralling story of a walrus taxi driver who gets dragged into a far-reaching conspiracy that involves pop idols, the Yakuza, dirty cops, and gacha games. I truly didn’t know what would happen from moment to moment, though that might be because I didn’t watch the show.
How much you enjoy Odd Taxi: In the Woods will likely change depending on if you’ve seen the anime series Odd Taxi. Since this is primarily a sort of recap (or reconstruction, as the synopsis says), the story is simply that of the series from the perspective of various witnesses with a bit of an epilogue. Understandably, this would make the film less worthwhile if you’ve recently seen the show, as you’ve experienced all of the main plot beats – barring the epilogue. If you haven’t seen the show, In the Woods is quite thrilling.
I was intrigued throughout the entirety of the story, though there was the occasional part that felt confusing at first – likely due to the 13-episode story being turned into a two-hour film. It’s still cohesive enough, it just takes time and some thought to follow along. What starts as a murder mystery turns into a far-reaching and wild journey full of double-crossing, conspiracy, and twists. Through this angle, it examines various social issues, from social media clout to how one’s life can spiral out of control. These themes never feel shoehorned in or half-baked; rather, Odd Taxi: In the Woods honestly and thoughtfully looks at what life can be like for different people (or animals.)
Despite all the danger and timely topics, In the Woods has a lot of heart to it. Even the silliest characters have a layer of realism to them, while the main protagonist Odokawa feels like a complex and likable guy who’s just trying his best and doing what’s right. The harsh world of Odd Taxi slowly grinds away at its characters, but Odokawa remains the heartfelt core of the series — one who enriches the people around him. As dark as the film can get, it never loses this heart, and the moving epilogue further demonstrates this.
The characters are all distinct and interesting, and their animal designs are both charming and fitting for each character’s personality. The reasoning behind these designs is revealed towards the end, which greatly changes your perspective on the story. It might be worth a rewatch with the ending in mind, as there are some neat hints throughout the story that point towards the narrative’s true nature. That might not be enough to make a rewatch appealing if you already know the story, but it certainly helps.
Odd Taxi: In the Woods might be less worthwhile if you’ve recently seen the anime series, but if you need a refresher or haven’t seen the show, this is a great way to get a condensed version of the story. The film is now streaming on Crunchyroll and I’d recommend checking it out if you haven’t watched Odd Taxi. It’s a story that is unlike most anime out there, so while it doesn’t do too much different from the series, it’s a suitable and quicker way to experience this pleasant oddity of a story.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.
Disclosure: The critic received a screener link for ComingSoon’s Odd Taxi: In the Woods review.