Metahumans, lesbians, robots, and a crazy old lady with a gun all wrapped in a buddy cop show. What more could you ask for? If you’ve ever wanted the humor of Space Dandy in a James Bond universe, look no further than Double Decker! Doug & Kirill.
With an airtime that overlapped new seasons of Attack On Titan, One Piece, & a handful of other big releases, Double Decker, unfortunately, flew under a lot of peoples’ radar. The show’s low budget and lack of a prior manga also led to many giving it the cold shoulder, and let me tell you, they’re missing out.
There’s a reason Dandy gained the cult following it did. That delightfully stupid, easy going comedy is rarely presented, let alone well-written, in anime. Double Decker hit the mark perfectly while managing to maintain serialized plotlines. Several of the episodes are isolated enough that you can sit down and have a drink with your friends while watching, but it’s structured in a way that makes it a great binger too. So, let’s dive into it.
PLOT: An addictive street drug named Anthem enables rapid evolution in human genes. Its high fatality rate and a likelihood of turning users into out of control metahumans lead to the creation of a specialty unit dubbed Seven-O. Due to the extreme danger of the job, the chief implemented the Double Decker System, which dictates all Seven-O detectives are required to have partners. After an undercover sting goes awry, Doug “Veteran” Billingham finds himself down a partner. Through a lot of dumb luck and a little bit of heroics, rookie cop Kirill Vrubel (later codenamed Buzzcut) becomes the front-runner for the position. From there, the episodes showcase the development of their partnership and all the cop drama you’d want. From stakeouts and chases to informants and drug rings, Double Decker goes the whole nine yards.
I won’t deny, the first episode of this show is a little rough if you’re a seasoned anime fan. After so many series, going through the motions of setting up the universe and telling the origin story can get tiresome. Once it gets going, though, it’s a hell of a ride. The monster of the week formula feels nostalgic, while the adult humor gives it a new spice.
I’ve mentioned a similarity to Space Dandy already, but don’t misconstrue my message. While many parallels can be drawn between the shows, Double Decker is not a knock off or a clone. The characters and storylines are well thought out concepts far detached from the fumbling team of cosmic bounty hunters. It’s undeniable they share the same western style of comedy, but, more importantly, both shows unexpectedly have a lot of heart. The episode “Revenge is Mine!” in particular gave me flashbacks to Dandy‘s “A Merry Companion is a Wagon in Space, Baby” for its familiar and tear-jerking story. The cry you’ll get out of Double Decker is the kind that’s good for the soul, but you’ll be laughing it off soon enough anyway.
Where the show’s visuals are concerned, it’s sure to strike up a controversial conversation. Double Decker was created using a combination of hand-drawn panels and cel-shaded 3D animation. Typically, the inclusion of hand-drawn scenes helps earn forgiveness from those who despise 3D animation. For the most part, the show is good about only resorting to 3D when absolutely necessary for budget’s sake. 3D animation can offer far more mobility to the characters and make for superior action scenes. That’s not to say it’s completely unnoticeable or seamless, but it’s not a distracting eyesore. I should also note that the animation team made use of bold, static comic book panels to cut corners. With the addition of a blunt narrator, this time-saving trick gives Double Decker a great punk vibe.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about that whole lesbians and robots bit I mentioned at the beginning (light spoilers from here on out).
Doug & Kirill’s Ride Along style dynamic is entertaining in and of itself, but what really makes this show great is the supporting cast. Deanna “Pink” Del Rio holds your attention whenever she’s on screen, thanks to her ball-busting attitude and mod princess fashion. However, the duo I think most people will take away from the show will be Maxine “Boxer” Silverstone and Yuri “Robot” Fujishiro.
It’s no secret that LGBT+ characters are often downplayed or censored in anime. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see two characters so unapologetically gay. While we never do get the pleasure of hearing the taboo L word spoken out loud, I don’t see that as a case of censorship. Max and Yuri’s on-screen interactions focus on properly developing their characters and relationship instead of trying to push an agenda. (Also, Yuri’s straight up a robot—In case you didn’t figure that our already)
Much to my shock, they even included a scene of a trans woman’s coming out story. I applaud Double Decker and the show’s studio, Sunrise, for contributing to the normalization of LGBT+ representation. They go as far as to have a character that’s hinted to be gender fluid, but for the sake of not taking too many risks, it’s left a little open-ended. I’m referring to Milla Vrubel, who’s initially introduced as Kirill’s sister. Once she finally makes her first speaking appearance, the viewers will quickly realize, that’s a guy. Unlike most animes, however, Milla is unbothered by others assuming he’s a woman—A pleasant and refreshing take on the “Dude Looks Like A Lady” trope. A lot of great, lighthearted jokes come from this situation as well, most being at bartender Derick’s expense.
Derick, yet again, is another welcomed take on a classic archetype. Usually charismatic, built African American men are cast as one-liner brutes (ex.: Sid, Soul Eater). Instead, Derick is a kind, chill dude with a striking resemblance to Mat from Dream Daddy. I could go on for days about the unique personalities and quality designs of each character. Between pretty boy scientist Apple “Doctor” Bieber, the chief’s absolutely precious assistant, Sophie, and a slew of badass, cutthroat villains, there’s someone for everybody.
Oh, and if you’re curious about the old lady with a gun, well . . . just go watch the show, already.