Dec 23, 2018
papsoshea (All reviews)
There is always that one show, every season, that many people just sleep on. For Double Decker! Doug & Kirill’s case, it is one of those shows. Just like High Score Girl, Double Decker has turned out to be quite the gem after flying under the radar, and definitely an underrated title for the Fall season. This is Sunrise’s version of Rush Hour, a ‘cop-versus-crime’ action-comedy with impeccable timing and absurdity in its humour. Like Lee and Carter, the main protagonists are the total opposites to each other, there isn’t much they share in common, which is a good thing in this setting. Because, when the unconventional duo is together on screen, lots of the tomfoolery and hilarity ensue to follow thanks to the clashing of their differences and strong personalities.

Kirill Vrubel grew up dreaming of becoming a hero, he didn’t want to be an ordinary cop. As the story kicks off, an opportunity presents itself as he finally gets his chance when he stumbles into a hostage situation. Luckily for him, he has a fateful encounter with Doug Billingham, an agent of the investigation unit SEVEN-O. Doug comes up with a plan for Kirill to have that moment. Shortly after, Kirill becomes the newest recruit to the investigation unit and he becomes Doug’s partner. The detectives of SEVEN-O are tasked with hunting down users of the body-mutating drug called, Anthem, an extreme substance that has been plaguing the streets of the city-state of Lisvalletta. As straightforward as that sounds, what makes the story so interesting and fun is that the plot is progressive, there are new developments and twists in almost every episode that eventually they all tie to the main plot. And when you have fun characters with the addition of great comedy, it makes the experience all the more, better.

The detectives of SEVEN-O are very interesting, different and distinctive, especially in their designs. Kirill is impulsive, cocky, and dense. Very contrasting with his Doug’s cooler personality who is the most experienced member of the investigation unit. Doug is a skilled professional in the field but also displays a laid-back, deadpan demeanour. The chemistry between the two is the main selling point of Double Decker; they discover an almost instinctive synchronization that allows them to rest into their peak energy while easily batting back and forth the ball of interaction. Hello, banter! It’s so great that it lifts simple exchanges of dialogue or action beyond the status of basic information and into “entertainment.” The supporting cast is great and very fun as well that play important roles and contribute to the goofy slapstick and gags. Especially the Narrator, I count him as one because he plays the biggest part besides Doug and Kirill. There is a bit of breaking the fourth wall here and the Narrator doesn’t overplay his role so every time he’s injected into a scene, expect a good laugh.

The worldbuilding is surprisingly well done, all the characters are squarely operating within the world's rules. A lot of intriguing themes are conveyed and it’s also interesting how this futuristic steampunk world functions—from the law enforcement, government, politics, military and the criminal world. The Ezperanza are a powerful Anthem-related criminal organization and the main antagonists of the series. The way the gang is designed, and the methods they use to operate and take action results in counterbalancing the goofiness and absurdity in the show's humour. It does a great job of implementing the darker elements without making them artificially darker or feel out of place. It executes the irreverent fun aspect as well as proving that this series can do serious, and be taken seriously as a crime story. One thing I wished is that it references Tiger & Bunny a lot more since Double Decker is sort of a spin-off and exists within the same world. And just like its predecessor, it has the markings that separate itself from most anime titles; an adult cast, diverse character designs and personalities, a goofy sense of humour, and unexpected turn of events that make for great reveals.

Talented staff usually create great anime and prove to be quite versatile in its storytelling style. And what usually follows is great visuals. Sunrise is at the helm of Double Decker and they put a lot of heart into the art, layouts and designs. The characters are very stylistic and each character as their own eccentric trait. The female characters, most notable Deana and Max are superbly designed, every bit of detail from their hair, to the clothes they wear, oozes with a swagger that matches their charismatic persona. The background art is as great as the shot composition and framing. The animation shows that director Jouji Furuta and his team have a great understanding in timing and space, and breaking down the barrier between reality and fiction that immerse us as the audience into the fiction world of Double Decker. Even the use of CG, although, admittedly, there are moments where it becomes an eyesore but its consistently solid enough and even has amazing moments—especially car chase scenes that involve Doug’s personal vehicle, which is a modified sports car resembling a DeLorean DMC-12 that is loaded with gadgets and is able to assume a high-speed mode.

The score isn’t memorable apart from a very selective few tracks, its mainly jazzy beats and synth pop. I think the OP and ED are excellent and fit well within the themes of the series. "Stereo to Monologue” by Kirisame Undertaker is an excellent song choice to open each episode with, its energetic and lively and the visuals are amazing, pay close attention to the background art, especially the architecture. "Buntline Special" by VickeBlanka is my favourite track in Double Decker and this makes it one of the best ED’s of the Fall season. A rock anthem that's packed with attitude. The voice casting for each character is spot on. The underrated Satoshi Mikami as Doug, upcoming talent in Kouhei Amasaki as Kirill and Saori Hayami as the fierce Deanna del Rio—whose is known for her wide range, are standouts. I also can’t forget the legendary Koyama Rikiya as the head of SEVEN-O, Travis “Boss” Murphy and the Narrator. This doesn’t go to say the rest aren’t good, they are all excellent. Sound effects is another thing to appreciate.

I wish more people could give this show a chance, it's criminally underrated for all the wrong reasons. This is definitely the hidden gem of the season, it’s the type of anime that the fandom hopes for when wanting something different and refreshing but always seem to flock to the same old series that are hyped by mainstream public figures and publications. Combining a gritty cop drama with an absurdist sci-fi cop satire produces excellence, and that is essentially what Double Decker is—an overperformer.