Double Decker! Doug & Kirill

Double Decker! Doug & Kirill

In the city state of Lisvalletta, the citizens live peaceful lives by day while crime and illegal drugs permeate the area at night. A highly lethal drug “Anthem” has taken hold, casting shadows in pockets of the city, and the SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation Unit is tasked with stopping it. Members of the unit operate in groups of two called the “Double Decker System.” Doug Billingham is a seasoned investigator, and joining him is new recruit Kirill Vrubel, whose abilities are mysterious and unknown.

Double Decker started off quite slow, and I wasn’t sure I understood what it wanted to achieve. Was it a police action anime? A comedy? What was the real driving force behind this one? Thankfully, I stuck with this one for a couple more episodes, and I’m glad that I did. After the third episode, I could see that there were a few things that were setting it apart from the other shows this season. The story was a bit more mature, the character designs were a little more detailed and the cast is diverse and interesting. To establish the role of the SEVEN-O, a special department of Lisvaletta’s narcotics division focused on dealing with Anthem trafficking, we begin with Kirill starting as a new recruit with Doug. He feels like he’s finally found his calling, and his fantasies of being a hero are finally becoming a reality… until he’s told that he was employed in error and needs to be let go. Devastated, but determined not to take his foot out of the door, Kirill asks for one week to prove his worth to his boss and new partner and keep his job in the department.

To help build Kirill’s adventures and set the scene for SEVEN-O’s ongoing battle with Anthem and those that use it, we start off with a few episodical stories showcasing a villain-of-the-week type of theme. Not only do we get to see the effects that Anthem can have on users and how the criminal underworld is trafficking it, these confrontations show the developing dynamic between Kirill and Doug. Kirill want to get closer to his new partner, probably keen to establish a Lethal Weapon-style relationship where they have each others’ backs and roll into a crime scene with cool poses. Doug, however, is a bit more withdrawn and generally uninterested in forcing a bond with his new partner. He’s got his eye firmly on wiping out Anthem from Lisvalletta and doesn’t entertain Kirill’s somewhat naive ideals.

The music in Double Decker is some of the strongest this season. In particular, ‘Buntline Special’ by Vickeblanka, used in the ending credits, is incredibly catchy jazz/pop number that wouldn’t be out of place heard when chasing down an Anthem user. We also have ‘Stereo to Monologue’ by KiRiSaMe as the opening credit song, which isn’t bad, but does pale in comparison to the song that closes the episode.

This anime makes a target of tropes and archetypes of crime dramas and ‘buddy-cop’ stories and the third-party narrator that interjects at certain points of the story increases the amount of gags in this motif, particularly when we see very stereotypical elements popping up, such as Kirill taking on board unsolicited bar advice from acquaintances and mysteries surrounding Doug’s previous partner. It’s very amusing, and a constant reminder that this anime isn’t taking itself too seriously, but sometimes I fear that it’s going to fly too close to the parody sun and the story will start losing substance and unravelling. I think Kirill and Doug’s relationship is pivotal to this one. Whilst trying to establish their characters and personal and professional convictions, they are also playing the overzealous newbie and world-weary veteran combo without completely exhausting this somewhat overused trope.

On a visual level, Double Decker looks more like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure than having the washed-out colour palette you’d expect of a crime thriller anime. The uniforms of the main cast are loud and bold and they’re colour-coordinated like crime-solving power rangers. It’s a bit of a clash against the Western-style drawings, backgrounds and otherwise realistic surroundings, but the interesting aesthetic really draws your eye.

Although the relationship between Kirill and Doug is meant to be one of the main draws, what I’m really invested in is how Kirill himself grows and if he’ll find himself his own niche in the SEVEN-O. He’s slowly getting to know the other members and how they work and how things get done. On an episodical basis, I’m enjoying the combination of action and humour with some memorable and diverse characters.