How the Crunchyroll Anime “Odd Taxi” Casually Uses Technology

From what I’ve seen, most people vaguely agree that modern technology causes problems, ranging from reduced attention spans and self-esteem to a lack of interpersonal communication skills. The weird thing, though, is that no one likes to hear it criticized, especially if they’re in their twenties or younger. We are defensive and laugh at anything bad that is said on phones, social media, TikTok, etc.

That’s partly because it’s repetitive. The same criticisms of modern technology and the Internet are constantly repeated; normally this would be seen as a model that should be listened to. In this case, it is rather perceived as an annoyance, because it almost always comes from people older than us and the classic generational divide prevents us from taking it seriously.

It also doesn’t help that it’s not well delivered, often sounding more like ignorant bashing than constructive criticism. This makes sense to me, because I don’t think there are many people alive who truly understand how modern technology, especially the internet, has changed society and human beings in general. There are thousands of studies and articles on how it affects the brain, psychology, politics, economics, and every other facet of society, but it’s become so big in a short time that I feel like we haven’t yet absorbed all the ways we engage with her.

All that background is what makes “Odd Taxi,” a Japanese anime television series, such a marvel. It looks like it was written by someone who really understands the relationship between people and technology. And he does it with the story of an anthropomorphic walrus.

“Odd Taxi” centers on Odokawa, a misanthropic, world-weary taxi driver, who spends his nights driving through Tokyo picking up customers. Through a series of coincidences, he finds himself in a tangled web of pop stars, social media influencers, gangsters, corrupt cops and troubled comedians, all of whom have taken a ride in his taxi at a given time. He must use his wits to play them off against each other and get out of this mess alive.

Aside from a reference to a social media influencer, you’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned technology in this plot synopsis. This is mainly because the series is not tech-focused. it’s a surreal crime thriller that treats modern technology as part of the narrative, rather than a focus. So why did I use my first three paragraphs to talk about technology? Because even though “Odd Taxi” isn’t trying to say anything about technology, it does understand that technology is part of everyday life and it’s honest about how and why people use it.

For example, Odokawa’s best friend is an aging bachelor who lies about his annual income on a dating app profile. This gets him a date, but also causes him financial problems, as he takes out loans from the yakuza, the Japanese mafia, to maintain his wealthy facade. He wants to be admired and loved so badly that he is ready to ruin himself for the fun of it.

There’s also Tanaka, a guy who not only fell for an online scam that cost his family a fortune as a child, but became addicted to a mobile game as an adult. , sending him into a downward spiral. He was so obsessed with winning that he did something stupid when he was a kid. This stupid decision was going to, in a roundabout way, ruin his life when he grew up.

In both of these cases, the series doesn’t entirely blame the technology; it’s just another step in the personal tragedies of these characters. Odokawa’s friend downloaded a dating app and needed attention so badly that he chose to lie and take loans instead of waiting for a real connection. Tanaka didn’t know he was trapped by an online scam, but he let his competitive pride get the better of him as he stole his father’s credit card as a child and emptied his bank account at home. ‘adulthood.

Even the social media influencer isn’t in the habit of constantly bashing the internet. He uses it because he has low self-esteem and his accomplishments are used for commentary, but it doesn’t feel forced. It feels less like a public service announcement about the dangers of social media and more like we’re just watching someone’s already terrible self-esteem get worse. It looks like a real situation rather than a textbook example.

The difference between “Odd Taxi” and something like “Black Mirror”, a Netflix show described as “a sci-fi anthology series (which) explores a twisted, high-tech near future where the greatest innovations of humanity and the darkest instincts collide”. is that technology is only part of the story rather than the center. Also, while there are comments about people’s relationship with technology, it’s less fatalistic and judgmental. It doesn’t feel like there’s a program behind it, it’s just natural.

Let me put it this way: what most modern media does with cellphones and the internet is usually minimal or for commentary purposes, making something seem dangerous and out of the realm of normal, even if they were an important element. part of most people’s lives for over a decade at this point. It would be like they started making movies about how new or dangerous cars were when the Model T came out and then barely had them in movies that didn’t focus on how dangerous or new they were by the time everyone had one.

And the show is a reminder that the human element exists. Technology not only presents corruption problems, it presents them to already corrupt people. If Odokawa’s friend hadn’t lied in a dating app, he would have lied in a newspaper ad. If Tanaka wasn’t addicted to a mobile app, he’d be addicted to gaming. If the social media influencer didn’t have the internet, he’d seek validation from anything else.

In “Odd Taxi”, the technology isn’t weird or new or even particularly dangerous (though Odokawa doesn’t fully understand it); it’s just there, like a car. This casual acceptance and integration into the story is unusual, which is strange in itself. Why do so many stories ignore modern technology except for occasional phone calls?

It’s very strange, don’t you think?

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