Right from her early childhood, Rui knew she was born to be a star. Even her first teachers marked her as someone overflowing with ambition, and since then, her unerring pursuit of excellence has led her to the lead position in an idol group. Working hard every day, she has brought her group to the brink of their formal debut, while also saving just enough time to maintain a relationship on the side. In both her personal and professional life, Rui has grabbed the horns of the modern era, and triumphed over the turbulence of the social media age.
So why isn’t she happy?
Well, there is the slight matter of her helping to cover up her costar’s murder. But as Rui herself admitted, she herself was ready to murder in that moment, after learning that her coveted lead position was being handed to another. In spite of her lifetime of effort, there was ultimately someone better than her, just as there always will be. And to someone like Rui, who defines herself by her unparalleled excellence, playing second string to another might as well be a death sentence.
To those who don’t wish to compete in a zero-sum game of personal commercialization, social media is an inauthentic nightmare, a game show where you are directed by cattle prods to smile at the camera. You cannot promise as much as it demands; to master it is to embrace the dreams of Icarus, only to tumble like Kakihana and Taichi. But even to those who love competition, and see it as the natural state of being, the modern world’s continuous demand for insincerity and excellence is a source of perpetual erosion, grinding down your energy day after day. Rui is now fighting to defend a position she’s not even sure she wants, having been condemned for the very measures she took to be publicly adored.
But even if the internet cannot make us happy, there’s always the chance it can make us rich. So trend the hopes of ODDTAXI’s remaining contenders, as the day of reckoning continues to unfold. Let’s get right back to the action, as we explore the penultimate episode of ODDTAXI!
Nice to see the full OP return for the first time in a while. Also, Yamamoto and Imai cheering together feels a tad more poignant now, when we know both of them are sincerely committed to Mystery Kiss
Also, we now know the vaguely defined figure falling into the water is likely Odokawa himself, just after his parents’ suicide
Given that, the transition from this figure floating in the water to the taxi cab driving into the city feels like a metaphor for Odokawa’s process of shielding himself from pain. The city and sky are all presented in deep blue, echoing the blue waters of the previous shot- given this juxtaposition, Odokawa’s taxi cab feels like a shelter from both the city and his memories, as if the city as a whole still represents the waters that nearly swallowed him
We cut back in as the suitcases are being loaded, without Yamamoto there to make a fuss over their contents. Odokawa prays for Iwai to play his role, but it’s ultimately Yano who’s careful enough to want to check a second suitcase. This result is actually better for our team; Yamamoto is miles away, and thus can’t really be implicated in this affair
Unfortunately, Sekiguchi responds that they should check it later, away from the bank. He’s annoyingly thoughtful for being the muscle of the group
At the police station, we pan in on poor Donraku, still waiting for news of his daughter. Even in this situation, I appreciate ODDTAXI’s commitment to establishing a haze of background commotion, with the chatter of these police officers evoking the murmur of the radio or bustle of the city. This production is committed to evoking a perpetual sense of public exposure, making its moments of genuine privacy that much starker
It seems one of the brothers has lost his gun. Is that the same gun Dobu lost to Tanaka?
Donraku is on the phone with the mob boss, who’s apologizing for this whole situation
He calls the boss “Kuro-chan,” clearly they’re close
Donraku’s grief acts as a neat segue to the comedy losers’ bracket, where audience members are discussing him stepping down as a judge
The Homosapiens perform their time machine routine, which is, predictably, about regretting their choices in life
After genuinely getting a laugh, Shibagaki seems to forget his next line, before storming into a monologue about his genuine regrets. Oh boy
Aw shit, now Daimon’s gonna check the cases. There’s too many variables at this point, the plan has spun too far from Odokawa’s projections, and things are liable to get messy
The fraud is discovered, and Yano gets so mad he even stops rhyming
Odokawa is quiet at the meetup, which Dobu interprets as him remaining sharp until they’ve picked up the rest of the money. I’m sorry Dobu, but he’s focusing on how to get you captured, too
Odokawa continues to act weird though, and Dobu quickly suspects betrayal
“The boss has only one rule for us.” “What?” “I’m not telling you.”
And of course, Tanaka’s waiting at the parking lot, looking more frayed than ever
Ah, right. Odokawa took the tracker that Tanaka was using and planted it in Dobu’s van. A real dangerous play, relying on Tanaka of all people to save him from Dobu
Dobu demonstrates some great presence of mind here, counting off the six bullets Tanaka has already used
Noir tends to stretch the presence of violence into an overall haze of danger, relying more on the implication of violent tension than overt action until the hammer falls. As a result, a dramatic conceit like the number of bullets remaining in a gun can serve as a genuine cornerstone of their narratives, embodying the coiled, back-against-the-wall tension of the genre as a whole. In the Coens’ neo-noir debut Blood Simple, a gun with precisely three bullets serves as the fulcrum of the drama, sustaining the film’s tension from beginning to end
Tanaka admits that at first he wanted revenge, but eventually got bored with that, and now doesn’t know what he wants. He’s gone too far to see any return to a normal life at this point, and his prior normal life wasn’t giving him any satisfaction, either. Long before losing the dodo, he’d already lost connection with reality
“I want him to apologize”
“By losing something precious, you mean your phone?” “Spare me the old man lecture about young people loving their phones too much.” What a cheeky line to place here. It’d be easy to disregard ODDTAXI’s lessons as more griping about “kids and their phones and their internet,” and ODDTAXI’s own writers understand that perfectly well. Tanaka and his unfortunate costars embody a much savvier critique of the modern era, one written by people who understand that you can’t simply tune out the modern age, and who actively sympathize with anyone seeking connection through social media. This whole show is constructed as a simultaneous lament over the inhumane nature of social media, crossed with a beleaguered acknowledgment that you can’t avoid our modern era’s problems, with a dash of reflections on how human nature and capitalism have always worked this way to some extent. Tanaka is oversimplifying, but ODDTAXI’s writers sympathize with his frustration, and are happy to take a cheap jab for his sake
Odokawa makes a heartfelt apology, and when he bows, the Donraku eraser falls out of his pocket. Goddamn this show is tightly constructed; when a show’s scripting is this carefully interwoven, its finale proceeds like a graceful sequence of dominoes falling, each conclusion naturally implying its successor
Tanaka begins explaining his grand tale of woe, but Dobu just wants his gun back
Holy shit, Dobu was his nemesis. And it turns out Tanaka had a bullet to spare after all
Unsurprisingly, Tanaka is terrified by his own violence, and runs screaming once he’s shot Dobu. Unfortunately, he’s still carrying the gun
Meanwhile, Yano’s taken Daimon’s car, and begins to pursue Odokawa
“I have to arrest you too, because you’re evil.” “Yeah.” Aw, what a good moment. None of Daimon’s crimes really bothered him in any moral way, but seeing his brother’s tears fall on his face, he can’t help but agree with Little Daimon’s assessment
“They give it to you once you stop receiving payments from the foundation for kids orphaned by traffic accidents. The person who gave this to me is Dobu’s boss.” Dobu’s mob boss seems like the only leader in this whole damn show who actually cares about the people working under him, beyond how their brilliance can accent his own glow. In this world where everyone is so isolated and afraid of sincerity, he seems like the only supportive, parental figure we’ve met. Why wouldn’t characters like Dobu or Daimon to be loyal to him, if the alternative is all the pain that Rui and Kakihana and the rest are suffering through?
“I won’t forgive you! No, I’m your brother, so I will. But the law won’t forgive you! But I wish it would!” Little Daimon’s justice collides with the painful ambiguity of the real world
Ahhhh, what a beautiful disaster of an episode! Odokawa’s plan was disrupted in half a dozen major or minor ways, allowing nearly all of ODDTAXI’s remaining players to stumble into Operation Oddtaxi. Odokawa got his revenge on Dobu, but pretty much nothing else is going right, and that sets us on the ideal trajectory for an explosive conclusion. With Goriki entirely absent this week, I’m guessing that Odokawa’s notebook will serve as the series final bombshell; but at this point, my thematic demands for this series have been largely sated, and I mostly just want to see these characters I love turn out okay. Bring on the final episode!
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