The anime “ODD TAXI” aired from April to June 2021, and has continued to spread explosively with its shocking final episode. The “Blu-ray Box Project” that was held after the end of the broadcast recorded 6,038 sets, which was more than the expected number of orders.
And on April 1, 2022, “ODD TAXI IN THE WOODS” will be released. In order to get a closer look at the behind-the-scenes story behind the film’s popularity, we interviewed Ito Hiroshi and Nakazwa Rina from Pony Canyon’s Animation Creative Division, who are working on the film! We’ll be bringing you behind-the-scenes stories that you can only hear here, the production status of the movie version, and other must-see content for all fans!
——First of all, what kind of work are you in charge of as a producer and Nakazwa as an associate producer in “ODD TAXI”?
Ito I was thinking about how to manage the whole project from a business perspective, and Nakazwa was executing the field work.
Nakazwa That’s right. I witnessed the dubbing process, in which the cast added their voices, the dubbing process, in which sound effects were added to the footage, and the video editing process, in which the final footage was checked.
——From the time this film was aired to now, there has been a lot of speculation and excitement about it.
Nakazwa From the moment I read the script, I knew it would be a high quality mystery work. I had expected that the story would be exciting, and I was glad that it turned out to be so. What was unexpected was that I thought the excitement would gradually increase after episode 4, “Tanaka’s Revolution,” but the response after the final episode (episode 13, “To Which End?”) was overwhelmingly positive. I was surprised to see the huge response after the episode ended. I was also impressed by the power of the work, as it spread by word of mouth to fans of music, comedy, and other genres, including celebrities.
Ito I expected it to come from episode 4 too. As a producer, I think it was an ideal hit in this day and age, not only because of social media and word of mouth, but also because it was available on Amazon Prime Video at any time.
——What would you say?
Ito In the past, even if you were excited about the last episode, you could only catch up on it through DVDs or rentals, but now, even after the broadcast is over, those who are curious can catch up by watching all the episodes on Amazon Prime Video, etc. I think this environment has led to word of mouth.
——The “Blu-ray Box Project” has become a rare success story in the anime market. What prompted you to launch this project?
Ito In the latter half of May 2021, I felt the momentum for “ODD TAXI” was growing. We hadn’t planned on it, but we thought it would be a good idea to release a Blu-ray box, and if that was the case, we thought something like crowdfunding would be a good idea, so we got together and started it up. We thought it would take months to get the 300 sets, but with the excitement of the last session, we were able to reach the target by the first day of ordering, and we were able to release the product successfully.
–What is the fan base like for your work?
Ito Looking at the orders for the Blu-ray boxes, the ratio of men to women is almost 50/50, with 70% in their 20s and 30s. Of those, many were in their early twenties, which I think is very unusual for a package business. I think there were probably a lot of people who were attracted to the essence of the work through the various social networking services. We didn’t advertise the work in a way that focused on the target audience in terms of age or gender, but I’m again glad that we were able to develop it in a steady way in all directions because of that. I think it was a good thing that we were able to reach out to people who might like this movie.
——Is this the first time that a project like this has been successful at Pony Canyon?
Ito As far as I know, this is a rare case in the made-to-order production of Blu-ray boxes. We have the anime mail order site “Kyanime” which is operated by the Sales Solution Division, so we have the advantage of being able to send information directly to anime fans. We had already started selling T-shirts, caps in collaboration with NEW ERA, and other goods on the special website before the release of the Blu-ray box, so I think we had a good base for the core fans of “ODD TAXI”. We also received orders for the Blu-ray box, which was a good storytelling development.
Nakazwa That’s right. The “canime” team put a lot of effort into setting up the special website and the banners in “canime”.
——So the “co-creation” among the departments led to the success of the project. Incidentally, Director Kinoshita said, “In the beginning, 3,000 sets was an unreachably high goal.
Ito Me, Nakazwa, and P.I.C.S., the author of the original story, were brainstorming ideas for the achievement rewards, but we didn’t set a specific number between 2000 and 3000 sets .
Nakazwa Later, we added the 2,500 set bonus, which we assumed would be difficult to do in a box set, since selling 3,000 copies of a Blu-ray would be a hit.
— So, 6,038 sets is a great number.
Ito It’s really outrageous.
Nakazwa The 3000 set bonus Kotogawa figure was set as a dream because Director Kinoshita had always wanted to make it.
——In the end, they even set up a 4400 set offer, but it’s hard to decide what to include. But it’s hard to decide what to include, because it can’t be too cheap or too costly.
Ito Surprisingly, we decided on a flippant approach. But I was conscious of the fact that I wanted to make sure that the buyer would be happy with the product when they got it! I was conscious of that.
——How do you feel about this result?
Nakazwa The order period lasted until September 30, and I was surprised to see that the number of orders doubled from 3,000 sets on the 27th to 3,000 sets on the last day.
Ito Yes, there was a sense of elation from about a week before the deadline. On the last day, I was communicating with a group of people including those from P.I.C.S., and just before 23:59, I got a call saying, “We’ve reached 6000 sets! I was so excited. I was so excited, and it was an invaluable experience.
——Just thinking about it makes my hands sweat. By the way, I’m sure you’re still working on the specials, but what are some of the items that are currently looking good or that you’re looking forward to seeing finished?
Nakazwa The “newly drawn staff art book” contains illustrations by director Kinoshita and the rest of the gorgeous staff, but they were drawn with spoilers in mind, so you won’t be able to see them in the movie.
——Wow, that’s curious!
The “Character Song EP” will include five new songs, and they are rich in variety and fit the characters. Also, I’m planning to include audio commentaries in every episode. Natsuki Hanae, Souma Saito, Miki and the rest of the gorgeous cast and staff will appear, so I’m sure it will be a great listen.
Ito It was very difficult for the cast and crew to keep up with the schedule since we started working on the project after the orders were received. ……
Nakazwa I didn’t think I’d be producing all the benefits.
——Fans are eagerly awaiting the re-release of the Blu-ray box. Is there any plan to do so?
Ito Since this is a product with three-dimensional objects, unfortunately there are no plans to resell it. However, in the event that stock becomes available due to cancellations, etc., I would like to create some opportunities for fans to get their hands on the product, even if only for a short while.
——Then I’ll have to check the SNS of “ODD TAXI” on a daily basis. Also, Ito is currently appearing as a personality on the web radio “ODD TAXI RADIO – I’m feeling good right now” to commemorate the achievement of 4400 set orders.
Ito I’m doing it in a relaxed manner. The script is written by Mukai of Amatsu, and for the free talk, I ego-surveil SNS every day and compile it in my story book.
——For the second episode, we invited a capoeira teacher to show his skills in spite of the fact that it was a radio show, and I thought his planning skills were excellent.
Ito Because it’s me and Daisuke Hiraga of P.I.C.S., a salaryman producer, we’re doing an interesting project that’s hard to do anywhere else. Also, I’d like to make an announcement about the Blu-ray box I mentioned earlier.
——And it was just announced that on April 1, 2022, the movie ODD TAXI IN THE WOODS will be released!
Ito I wanted to do it in a movie, but I was wondering what to do. That’s when Asmik Ace contacted me, and I was convinced that there was a demand for a movie version.
——What is the current progress (as of December 2021)?
Ito I’m still working on it. I’m still working on the scenario.
Nakazwa But new cuts are coming in.
Ito Well, I think it’s going to be interesting. The story written by Kazuya Konomoto, the scriptwriter, is absolutely interesting, so we don’t have any worries.
——I’m going to take this a step further, but it’s not a simple sequel, is it?
Ito Yes, it’s more like a “movie”. However, when P.I.C.S. gave me a presentation on the contents, I thought, “Wow! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Nakazwa I think that both people who have seen the anime and those who haven’t will enjoy the content.
——We’re looking forward to it! Lastly, please tell us what you think is the appeal of “ODD TAXI”.
Nakazwa It is a highly accomplished mystery work, and Konomoto’s script is an attractive part of it. Towards the final episode, various incidents are scattered as foreshadowing, which is shocking and interesting. Plus, I think the black but sympathetic and realistic dialogues and settings that sting people today make it even more interesting.
——So, were there any lines that you could relate to?
Nakazwa I’ve been thinking about what Dove said to Kabasawa in episode 9, “Hero’s Melancholy”: “Extreme denial and dislike of yourself. That’s what I mean by narcissistic. Ordinary people are not that interested in themselves,” I really understood that line. I think the appeal of this story is that it can be taken in a mild manner because it looks like an animal, even though it has something to do with the difficulty of living in modern society.
——That’s the power of the script, isn’t it?
Nakazwa Konomoto-san’s conversational drama is very appealing, and his lines are very powerful.
——So, Ito-san, please.
Ito For me, the appeal of ODD TAXI was the fact that it had so many stories from its birth to the time it became a hit.
Ito Originally, I was approached by a different TV station, and then TV Tokyo took over. That doesn’t happen very often. Also, it’s not easy to make an original work, and it took many years to make this one. But we were able to make it happen because there were many people who were fascinated by the quality of the scenario. That’s why we were able to take on various challenges such as the “Blu-ray BOX Project”. From a producer’s point of view, I think the appeal of this project is that we were able to enjoy the people and environment surrounding the work.
——I’m really curious about the other side of it.
Ito If you’re curious about it, I talk about it in detail on the web radio, so please listen to it (laughs). The staff and I have the same kind of tension as in the theme song “ODDTAXI” (by Skirt and PUNPEE). It feels like everyone is just being themselves, or doing their best. Director Kinoshita and Konomoto-san are going to give us something absolutely great, so let’s do everything we can to deliver this film! That’s the formation that I think is in place.
Nakazwa At first sight, I thought many of them were fashionable.
Ito Ah, indeed. Maybe it’s because it was the first anime work for the main staff, director Kinoshita and Konomoto-san, and also the first anime production for P.I.C.S. In their works, they’ve done cool things that you wouldn’t do in an anime, and I feel like that’s what made them accepted. I think it was the accumulation of the fact that the creators in each section expressed their work in a natural way, saying, “This is what I would do if I were asked to do it,” rather than saying, “I have to do this because it’s anime.
——I guess that’s what made it so innovative for the viewers.
Ito I think this is because it was a project in which not only the animation industry but also many other players participated. I also feel that this work was made possible because we are a company that does both animation and music. If you want to make a work like “ODD TAXI”, I would like you to join Pony Canyon (laughs).
『Movie ODD TAXI In The Woods』
April 1, 2022 (Friday) Public release
■Special Report Video
■The anime “ODD TAXI” is now available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video for all 13 episodes.
Sir, where are you going? The city should be familiar, but something feels a little different about this town. Kotogawa is a cab driver who leads an ordinary life. He has no relatives, doesn’t get involved with many people, and is a bit eccentric and quiet. His hobbies are listening to rakugo before going to bed and listening to the radio while working. The only friends he has are his family doctor, Tsuyoshi, and his classmate from high school, Kakibana. The only customers he brings in are somewhat peculiar. Kabasawa, a university student who can’t wait to be buzzed about, Shirakawa, a nurse who is hiding something, Homo Sapiens, a comedian duo who is not selling well, Dobu, a street thug, and Mystery Kiss, an idol who is on the market… The conversations of these supposedly ordinary people eventually lead to a girl who has disappeared.