DOUBLE DECKER! DOUG & KIRILL – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: The city state of Lisvalletta. Two suns rise above this city, and the people here live peaceful lives, but in the shadows crime and illegal drugs run rampant. Among them is the dangerous, highly lethal drug “Anthem” which casts a dark shadow over the city. The SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation Unit specializes in cracking down on Anthem. This unit operates in two man “buddy” teams in what’s called the “Double Decker System” to tackle the problem. Doug Billingham is a seasoned investigator, and joining him is Kirill Vrubel, whose abilities are mysterious and unknown. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Double Decker is really Kirill Vrubel’s show, no matter how you slice it. Double Decker tries to present itself as an ensemble piece, purporting to focus on the entire SEVEN-O branch. But what one off episodes it does offer for the rest of the cast never feel meaty enough. These additional characters often feel just as thin by episodes end, making their focus feel shallow at best. Kirill himself remains a fun, silly, yet likable lead as his moronic tendencies stay at the forefront of his characterization, always bumbling around like a fool with a couple hints of greater ability. But whenever focus is pulled away from him and to the rest of the cast, even his partner Doug, things fizzle out.Often characters feel like little more than their overt visual designs and by six episodes I don’t feel particularly attached to anyone besides Kirill and his quest to find his sister. This isn’t a huge issue, but for a series that boasts this wild cast of characters it feels like so many are underutilized.
Linny: It’s unfortunately true that so many characters mostly feel like shallow caricatures. As Tom mentioned, Kirill is the only character that gets to really showcase his ‘personality’ and most everyone else feels secondary to him thanks to the minimal exploration. Whatever storyline we get that’s focused on anyone not Kirill always end up being plot heavy and character development light, making for a poor opportunity to get to know the rest of the team.
Tom: Part of the problem stems from Double Decker’s insistence to rush things, which it often obfuscates by making everything one big gag. One example is an early sub-plot about the loss of Doug’s former partner, who Kirill is replacing. The show admittedly cuts out explanation to the character’s reappearance to make it all one giant, 4th wall breaking, joke. But that’s Double Decker, a series with an overly pervasive quirky, jokey atmosphere that’s going to be very YMMV. If you’re a fan of that bombastic, zany, comedy with no appreciation for the rules then it works wonders. But when the show asks us to get moody alongside the characters, to try and draw out some actual emotion for a couple heartfelt scenes, it really damages the tone. Even just asking us to get engaged in the mysteries, which frequently feel underwritten, becomes a tall task.
Linny: The deeper we get, the more it becomes obvious that publicizing this show as a spin off of Tiger & Bunny was borderline pointless, if not instead a desperate attempt to try and generate buzz for what could be considered weak material, unable to be sold on its own merit. Yes, the aesthetics and style of animation as well as the humour are likely to feel familiar to fans of the popular franchise but beyond that, you’d be hard pressed to establish this show within that universe. It’s all surface level and ultimately speaks to how Double Decker is best enjoyed as a light watch, one that will not hold up under heavy scrutiny.The show’s tongue in cheek narrator injects fourth wall breaking humour as he constantly takes potshots at inept protagonist, Kirill but it’s the kind of humour you will either take to whole-heartedly or soon grow weary of. All in all, Double Decker is best meant for those seeking a goofy, action packed plot heavy show. It’s targeted at someone who doesn’t need deep storylines or character development and is perfectly content with stylish visuals and fast paced entertainment.
Tom: Linny is right that your enjoyment of the series’ zany comedy entirely decides how you’ll feel about Double Decker. Six episodes in and we’re only just starting to truly explore the main plot that’s been teasing itself through the first half of the season (although it hardly feels compelling.) The series’ use of character leaves a lot to be desired, but if you like how spastic and carefree the comedy can be, it helps to overshadow the series’ other deficiencies. As a spiritual successor to Tiger & Bunny I think Double Decker falls far short. As a quirky comedy in and of itself? It’s a modest offering for an otherwise dry season.
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.