Double Decker! Doug & Kirill
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?
Double Decker at least seemed to be riding the genre rails this week at first. The entire first third of the episode is a familiar send-up of real-world police documentary shows like COPS. This type of media convergence has been done in many other fictional cop shows, to the point that the narrator just points it out to the audience. It would seem to be a means to an end, since some elements from the documentary segment end up fueling the more major plot developments that have come up by the end of this episode. But that segment still goes on for quite a while, and coupled with how many steps those late developments take to actually manifest, sometimes it feels like this episode giving the audience the run-around, even if that's supposed to be the joke.
The police-documentary segment is at least committed to its gimmick. It comes complete with blurred-out faces and distorted voices for all the characters, captions for dialogue, and it's even dutifully shot around just a few basic camera angles. That the whole affair with a possible crime boss ends up being nothing more than dealing with a random drunk is also in line with how these shows can sensationalize their own content. But all this does make the viewing experience odd as you come in accustomed to more dynamic anime direction, especially Double Decker's particular energetic style. It's fun as a gag, but it maybe drags on longer than it needs to at nearly nine minutes.
So thankfully, the anticlimax of the video's end doesn't turn out to be the true resolution of this little detour, although as the episode goes on, it does seem to have a recurring fixation with anticlimaxes. The main plot that gets kicked off by Kirill's observations of the video is a sudden lead on finding his long-lost sister, but there are several ups and downs and false-starts to follow. It sometimes feels like Double Decker is leaning harder into its desire to be a comedy than necessary given the situation. Yes, Kirill's all-too-familiar backstory of trying to find his sister has already been rightfully mocked by the show for its stock aspects, but it's still perhaps too engaging a hook to throw out and then keep delaying in the name of misunderstandings and dunking on Kirill.
Granted, the show is still good at playing this tragedy for comedy. When Kirill first tries to talk to Doug about what he spotted in the video, and his partner seems to understand what he's talking about, it's obvious that there's some sort of misunderstanding being set up for a punchline. And sure enough, the narrator jumps in within a few minutes, congratulates the audience for noticing the setup, then just cracks jokes about how obvious it is for the rest of the scene. Is it maybe too self-aware for its own good? At least it still got a bigger laugh out of me than just letting the bit play out as usual.
Those starts and stops seem to be setting us up for the final stretch of the episode, where Doug and Kirill really do end up knuckling down to try and find Kirill's sister Milla. There is some odd glossing-over of their abuse of in-city surveillance systems to track people; Doug barely acknowledges that Apple Bieber's peeping habits are unsavory. On the other hand, it is nice to finally get the full story on Kirill's missing sister now that Doug's actually willing to listen. This also sets up some idiosyncratic questions surrounding the character's disappearance that will seemingly be answered in the next episode. But more on that at the end.
The comedic string of anticlimaxes does seem to follow this whole episode, with the security-camera search for Milla becoming another dead end. So of course right when it seems we're being left hanging for later, in the most contrived-yet-unexpected way, she just shows up working at Derick's bar where the team is letting Kirill drown his sorrows! In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that the character would turn up with Derick, who himself was subject to a brilliantly anticlimactic reveal. And the absurdity of the whole situation does play up the show's comedy priorities well. It seems like things have been set up in an amusing way that Kirill and the others can follow up on later, until the literal last minute of the episode.
Interestingly, the beats in the build-up to Milla's gender reveal make it as easy to see coming as the misunderstanding halfway through this episode. The issue right now is exactly what the implications of this reveal will be for the storyline next episode, to say nothing of how nebulous the exact nature of Milla's identity seems to be. It remains unknown whether Milla (who claims her real name is Valery) is transgender or a crossdresser and how that factors into the character's situation, to say nothing of how the writing will integrate this into its comedy.
Double Decker has seemed to be decently LGBTQ-friendly on the surface so far, winkingly shipping several of its main power-couples together and playing up their romantic chemistry. But media can be fraught with issues depicting character types that Milla/Valery may fall into. These are all points that could be a make-or-break factor for some audiences in the future, but I think it says something about this episode's many runaround plot elements and false starts that this last-minute reveal is the most interesting thing to discuss about it.
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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