Double Decker! Doug & Kirill
Episodes 1-4

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?

How would you rate episode 4 of
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill ?

Double Decker! Doug & Kirill got off to an early start compared to the rest of the fall season, so it has a fair bit to cover in its first four installments. Thankfully, these episodes paint a pretty complete picture of how the series works as an episodic buddy-cop anime, with the gimmick that there are multiple cops being buddies. The first three episodes focus on the titular Doug and Kirill, while the fourth gives spotlight to Deana and her own new partner, Kay. We get some information on other characters along the way as well, but they're likely waiting in the wings for their own focus episodes to really be developed.

The actual plotting of these episodes will be familiar if you've ever consumed any variety of prime-time police procedural. The detectives of Seven-0 are specifically focused on drug busts for one particular kind of drug, but the regular beats are all there: initial suspicions and investigations, a seeming dead end, a twist that reveals what was really going on, and a big dust-up at the end to send everyone home. Maybe a character (usually Kirill) has something to prove along the way. This rigid adherence to genre formula is most apparent between episodes 2 and 3, which could almost pass for the same episode if you watched them far enough apart or just weren't paying attention. Episode 3 at least adds Kay into the mix of Kirill and Doug's shenanigans, which also helps transition to a story focused on her the next week, but overall it makes the show's reliance on expected narrative beats already come across as limiting its scope.

So it's a good thing that the actual ‘story’ isn't generally the main reason to follow a show like this. No, much like this project's nebulous forebear Tiger & Bunny, (Is this a sequel? Takes place in the same universe? Who knows!) the main attraction is seeing how the colorful cast of unique characters play off each other. Just the sheer enthusiasm with which the show runs through all these people is kind of infectious; they're constantly being reintroduced to the audience, with candy-coated cutaways displaying their snappy Masakazu Katsura character designs and goofy designated nicknames (which no one but their boss actually uses), blared forth by an over-excited narrator. The narrator's practically a character unto himself, and honestly one of the best parts of the show. He's the sort of presence that could be annoying if handled wrong, but instead he comes off quite funny, contributing to terrific gags like 'Derick Returns!' being barely a short part of the fourth episode despite providing its title. It's all part of the sharp irreverence the series has presented itself with that helps the characters not take themselves too seriously.

Kirill has gotten the most to do in these episodes, as the first three all focus on him. His schtick of trying to prove himself to Doug is pretty standard stuff, and a large part of why the second and third episodes feel so repetitive. What makes it work is Kirill's raw moxie. He'd probably be insufferable in real life (not to mention dangerous as an officer), but it definitely makes him an endearing character to watch. His ridiculous time-traveler improv in the first episode was what won me over to this whole series, and the show would do well to lean into that sort silliness as it goes on. He's complemented by Doug's straight-man schtick, which makes the wry reveal that he's actually a goofy jerk who likes screwing with Kirill land even better.

We get to see how the other power-couples in this show might function with Deana and Kay in the fourth episode. Kay was a character I already liked, since she has a sharp design and a fun personality, and the story's way of clashing her against Deana has unique beats compared to Doug and Kirill's chemistry. Deana does well herself in terms of characterization in the fourth episode, and it's entertaining that she turns out to be a loose-cannon cop on the edge who plays by her own rules. For all its sticking to genre structure in storytelling, Double Decker's characters feel entertainingly unique, though not three-dimensional yet.

Of course, they do get overtly three-dimensional during the action scenes. Yes, Sunrise's propensity for breaking out CGI models of the characters when they put on their fancy costumes seems to be the main carryover from Tiger & Bunny. It honestly comes off more as a visual gimmick than necessary, with Kirill even using his computer model in short scenes where he's wearing his coat in the office just screwing around. The look generally works at least, not being too distracting, especially if you were already expecting it given the series' pedigree. It lends the rest of the series to have a slickly polished look, with great complex city backgrounds, imaginative structures populating them, and dynamite direction tying it all together.

Double Decker doesn't have much in the way of ongoing plot or themes so far, so if you come looking for those, you're going to be disappointed. What it does have is fun entertainment in spades, as a spit-shined popcorn buddy cop piece. The characters are carrying all that energy well so far; even if they do feel somewhat manufactured for marketability, at least they're plenty entertaining for it. It's just a cool show so far, but I am hoping it'll find a little more depth as it goes on.

Rating: B+

Double Decker! Doug & Kirill is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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