The Fall 2018 Anime Preview Guide Double Decker! Doug & Kirill
How would you rate episode 1 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?
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How was the first episode?
It's always nice to start the season strong! With a coming lineup full of highly-awaited sequels and intriguing new productions, Double Decker wasn't really on my radar going into this one. This energetic first episode definitely got my attention, though, and I'll likely be sticking around to at least get a handle on where these capers are headed.
This first episode serves as a pretty conventional “partners origin story,” as the starry-eyed young police officer Kirill ultimately finds his way to the mysterious SEVEN-O division. In a future where everyone has amazing hair and a drug known as “Anthem” grants its users superhuman abilities, Kirill dreams of becoming a true hero. Unfortunately, he's currently just a screw-up, and his boss is basically just waiting for a chance to fire him. But when Kirill stumbles across SEVEN-O officer Doug Billingham, he ends up helping with a hostage situation that steers his career in an unexpected new direction.
Double Decker's narrative beats are buddy cop staples, but that's not really a flaw - the show is happy to seize on what works, and offers plenty of personality outside of its overt narrative. That personality comes through most clearly in the show's snappy, creative transitions, expressive faces, and generally strong humor. Though the show's most obvious point of stylistic comparison is Tiger and Bunny, its array of comic book cutouts, funny asides, and bombastic narration also echo JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, while the big-band soundtrack plays perfectly with the show's stylish detective narrative. Double Decker isn't afraid to get silly, and understands that if your narrative beats are compelling and characters engaging, it's okay to occasionally have a character just get stuck in a pipe or something.
So far, outside of the admittedly familiar narrative, my main point of complaint with Double Decker would be its awkward CG characters. It feels clear that the characters in this show were visually designed to allow for easy CG modeling, but every time the show slips into CG, its usual sense of style and cool evaporates. Additionally, both the opening and closing action sequences of this episode didn't really demonstrate much of an eye for action cinematography or choreography; I was all in favor of Doug's hammy-as-heck “time for your medicine” catchphrase, but wasn't really engaged by his battles.
Still, between its already-likable characters, unique sense of style, energetic storytelling, and expressive characters, there's already a lot to celebrate here. Double Decker's premiere starts off the season with a bang, and I'm happy to give it a general recommendation. Go get 'em, Kirill.
Double Decker! is part of the greater Tiger & Bunny project and shares some key staff members with that series, including the series writer and original character designer. That there's some kind of prominent connection between the two titles would be pretty obvious to anyone who's seen Tiger & Bunny even if they didn't know that up front. While this series doesn't use CG in the same way, both its general look and feel – especially in character design, attitude, and the use of color – are very reminiscent of its predecessor. In my book, such a comparison is definitely not a bad thing.
Neither are the first two episodes of this series. Kirill is your fairly typical hero wannabe in a lot of senses, but he's almost instantly likable because of his attitude about things, the embarrassing situations he gets himself into, and his vast range of expressiveness, which make for a welcome contrast to his more straight-laced partner Doug. For all that, he's not entirely used as the butt of jokes, he's creative (the riff on The Terminator franchise was inspired), and his intuition is competent; he's just too raw to be fully effective at this point. The rest of the Seven-0 squad (meant to be a nod to Hawaii Five-O, perhaps?) show a lot of potential, too, especially the flaky “Boss” who loves assigning nicknames and may be cleverer than he lets on or – as the narrator asserts – may be every bit as much of an idiot as Kirill is. I greatly look forward to seeing what we learn about the other cast members.
The story content isn't anything too special: the Seven-O is tasked with crimes specifically related to the potentially transformative drug Anthem, which assures contact with all sorts of mutated individuals and criminal screwballs. Doug also has some special contraption that can generate anti-Anthem effects on the spot to depower those empowered with Anthem. That looks more like a backdrop to the fun characters than the actual point to the series, but that's totally fine; with what's been shown so far, a grand overarching plot isn't a priority.
The look of the series is also a strong point in its favor. Whether male or female, all of the major cast members introduced so far are either handsome or beautiful above and beyond the norm for anime characters, creating eye candy for all genders and sexual preferences. Doug and Kirill seem tailor-made to be shippable as a male duo and the opener suggests that one of the other “Double Deckers” may be a lesbian couple. Background art and lighting effects provides top-of-the-line renditions of cityscapes and sharp depictions of time quickly passing, and CG renditions of vehicles, while not perfect, are better than the norm. Use of color is also extraordinarily vivid and the animation should help boost this to being one of the season's upper-tier titles on visuals. A lively, jazzy soundtrack also helps.
This series hasn't gotten a lot of fanfare but it has enough going for it and a broad enough potential audience appeal that I can easily see it being one of the season's breakout hits. Looks like the season is off to a strong start.
Apart from the fact that I spent most of the episode worried about the kittens and reading one of the protagonists' names as “Krill” rather than “Kirill,” Double Decker! Doug & Kirill looks like it's could be a lot of fun. A large part of that is because it never takes itself too seriously and is always aware of the conventions of both the buddy cop show and the self-important cop drama. Doug is the super-serious veteran officer who just lost his partner in a tragic apprehension gone wrong, and now that the man responsible for it is out of jail, he's ready to take his revenge. Kirill is the hot-to-trot rookie who just happens to be in the right (wrong?) place when Doug needs him, and manages to show that he's got what it takes to be Doug's new partner, thus fulfilling his dreams of becoming a hero and getting to join the super-elite, kind of secret Seven-0 unit.
Handled differently, this would be just another self-serious show, which probably would have been entertaining as well. But the fact that Double Decker lampoons its tropes even as it uses them makes this much more amusingly goofy than not, and that's really working here. That it also isn't overplaying its hand (yet – that does feel like a risk) certainly helps. The scene of Doug half-out of a pipe while he gives Kirill his marching orders because he took a wrong turn and got his leg stuck forms a very funny juxtaposition, and the fact that Kirill decides that his “distraction” for the villain is to strip naked and pretend to be a lost time traveler may be my favorite part of the episode. Add in the chief of Seven-0 and his obsession with dumb nicknames for his squad members and the ludicrously complex bullet system for taking down a bad guy hopped up on Anthem and you've got an episode that's not only downtime-free, but also pretty darn funny.
There are some issues, of course. I'm not loving the narrator, although I admittedly soured on the concept with Cells at Work!. In this case, however, it feels like some of his lines could be better served as simply on-screen text or played up more, Norio Wakamoto-style. The abrupt shifts in art and tone also make it a bit difficult to truly get into the episode, as I found them a bit jarring and not entirely necessary, although artistically interesting. This is, however, just the opening sally, and it's going to be worth giving this another couple of episodes to see if it irons out its wrinkles and settles into a full-on cop story parody. I'm looking forward to finding out.
I'm glad this show managed to get through two episodes in time for the start of the Preview Guide, because my rating would have been at least half a point lower if I'd only seen the first one. Double Decker gets off to a rocky start, and the first impression is makes is colorful but messy. It feels like an awkward tonal hodgepodge of Blood Blockade Battlefront and Tiger & Bunny, the latter of which it's directly tied to. Thankfully, by the time the second episode rolls around, some of the many ideas Double Decker throws at the wall begin to stick.
Right from the start, it's clear that this series is going for the self-aware kind of coolness that allows it to mock genre tropes even as it relies upon them. We get not one, but two “this isn't the main character” misdirects in the opening scenes, and the third-person narrator goes out of his way to contradict the claims that Kirill makes in his inner monologue. This too-clever-by-half writing is paired with a sensory overload of stylized costumes and a setting that mixes aesthetics from a variety of times and places. It's all a little too overt in its pursuit of that western-style action anime vibe, and it runs the risk of descending into chaotic self-parody.
By the end of the first episode, Double Decker starts to settle down and focus more on its plot and characters than on its tone and visual style. That trend continues in the second episode, as Doug and Kirill start working together and Kirill learns the basics of his new job. The contrast in their perspectives is interesting, even if it does stick closely to the standard veteran-rookie dynamic, and there are some signs that there's more to Doug than what we've seen of him thus far. In the process of developing its two protagonists, Double Decker also gets a better handle on its comedic side, with its occasional jabs at specific genre tropes working better than the constant flow of jokes employed early on.
While Double Decker has yet to establish a narrative direction beyond its basic premise of eccentric cops fighting super-drug users, it's starting to find a comfortable niche for itself as an action show that doesn't take itself too seriously. Its action scenes are reasonably well presented, and the visual style is growing on me. Doug and Kirill are starting to display some decent chemistry, and if the rest of the cast can back up their colorful character designs with compelling personalities, then this series could be a fun ride. I wouldn't necessarily expect much in terms of thematic depth, but it has potential as an entertaining genre piece.
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