Whether it was fan recognition, critic reception, or its Anime Awards win, ODDTAXI is easily one of the sleeper hits of 2021 Anime. Currently streaming on Crunchyroll, the series is a mystery all told from the perspective of anthropomorphized animals, namely Odokawa. At Crunchyroll 2022, we got the chance to talk with the animation director, character designer, and illustrator Baku Kinoshita about the series, the fan response, and what it’s meant to him as a project.
If you’re unfamiliar with ODDTAXI, the series is produced by OLM and P.I.C.S that follows the eccentric and blunt walrus, Hiroshi Odokawa. He lives a relatively normal life, and drives a taxi where he meets several unique individuals. The series takes us through these meetings, including the jobless Taichi Kabasawa who is dead-set on going viral, the mysterious nurse Miho Shirakawa, the struggling comedic duo “Homo Sapiens,” and Dobu, a well-known delinquent. But Odokawa’s life is about to be turned upside-down when the police track a missing girl back to him. Now, with both the yakuza and a duo of corrupt cops are on his tail, he has to prove his innocence.
BUT WHY THO: Did you think that Oddtaxi would be such a fan-favorite series during its production? How has it been to hear the response and love from fans?
BAKU KINOSHITA: In production, I didn’t really think that it would take off and become super popular as it did. But after the fans watched it, I got a lot of messages about how they loved the series and saw a lot of fan art online. When I saw the response from the fans, it felt like just a great project that I worked on and it made me very happy.
BUT WHY THO: Oddtaxi is fantastical, given the fact that all the characters are anthropomorphic animals, but it’s also very grounded. How do you balance the character designs against the series’ larger themes?
BAKU KINOSHITA: In terms of balancing, I did the cute animal designs beforehand but I also liked crime and suspense movies, so matching them up has given ODDTAXI its uniqueness. It wasn’t something that was hard to do, for me it was a smooth process.
BUT WHY THO: Do you identify with any of the characters in Oddtaxi? Who and why?
BAKU KINOSHITA: I feel like I identify with Odokawa the most because he’s kind of cynical. Something I also do is, is that I look at people and apply animal characteristics to them. For me, Odokawa is the most identifiable.
BUT WHY THO: What has been the most fulfilling part of directing Oddtaxi as a series and now a film?
BAKU KINOSHITA: The most fulfilling part is that I got to meet different people who said that they really enjoyed the series. I felt that I was able to give them great entertainment from the series and I’m very happy and thankful that I was able to give that to them. For me, personally, I’ve been able to meet and work with many people, so that’s been fulfilling.
ODDTAXI isn’t done yet, with ODDTAXI: In the Woods, a feature film told from a different character’s perspective, there is going to be much more fans to fall in love with.
ODDTAXI is streaming now on Crunchyroll.
Interview was conducted via translator and was edited for clarity.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.