Odd Taxi: In the Woods – Review

Odd Taxi was 2021’s sleeper anime hit, telling an intricate, original mystery that kept viewers guessing every week. Now it’s back as a (mostly) recap film, which mainly serves to tie up some loose ends from the TV anime’s ending. Is it worth the full price of a cinema admission ticket? Well, perhaps not, but it’s a fun way to revisit the series if it ends up streaming on Crunchyroll.

The original Odd Taxi was a meticulously plotted television serial, which slowly built up its mystery over the course of its run. Obviously, a film retelling can’t capture the deliberate sense of pacing, nor can it recreate the atmosphere inside Odokawa’s taxi, where the characters have hesitant, rambling, and inadvertently revealing conversations. Nevertheless, by cleverly reframing its narrative around a series of interviews with the supporting cast, Odd Taxi: In the Woods succeeds where most recap films fail: it’s an artistically cohesive film in its own right.

Yew Odd Taxi was a crime drama, then Odd Taxi: In the Woods evokes the feeling of a true crime documentary. The characters offer their subjective commentary on the events, recontextualizing the accompanying footage from the original TV anime. It’s also a deft way of providing a coda to the saga without engaging in an extended epilogue sequence. “What are these characters up to now?” is answered in how they carry themselves in the interviews: whether they look back on their involvement with shame or confusion, or if they’ve come to terms with themselves in the meantime. Little details like how the characters sit or what kind of beverage they order add to the non-verbal storytelling.

Under this format, the film zips along at a good pace, telling a digest version of the story without spoiling the mystery. It makes its intentions clear from the start that it’s about finding answers regarding the incident (ie the original anime’s climax). Instead of teasing viewers for weeks about where all of these seemingly disconnected events will eventually lead to, the film quickly and efficiently begins threading it all together—but not so obviously that all the answers are immediately evident from the start.

The omissions and abridgements aren’t too glaring in this narrative structure. Character interactions inevitably suffered the most cutting, but enough banter remains that the emotional beats still land. Even returning viewers who are reluctant to revisit a mystery they already know the answers to will probably find something fresh about the presentation here. The most disorienting part of the film is probably the start, as it flits rapidly through multiple character perspectives before eventually finding its pace. It’s two hours long, but the time goes by in a flash.

As for the new epilogue, it shows what happens immediately after the TV anime’s final scene. The ending credits also show snippets of the characters’ lives afterwards. It’s a bit of extra closure to a series that originally had an open-ended conclusion, but not anything that a viewer couldn’t have imagined for themselves. Those who go into this film expecting surprises will probably be the most disappointed.

Ultimately, a recap film with only a bit of extra new footage is hard to evaluate. It’s a perfectly reasonable way to experience the story of Odd Taxi for the first time, which is the most one could ask for. While it gets maximum mileage out of just a handful of new drawings, it still mainly exists as an alternate revenue stream for dedicated fans to support the series. New viewers should still default to the TV anime as the most complete telling, but by all means, check out this film if you’re in the mood to rewatch a great series with a fresh perspective.

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