Double Decker has a strong enough start with ridiculous episodic adventures and a cast of lovable idiots, with an over-the-top narrator as a nice cherry on top. However, the comedy and characters that are the show’s main selling points become less inspired toward the mid-point. An example would be that only a small portion of the characters get any kind of backstory, and the team-work they need to form as cop duos rarely gets any focus.
The action doesn’t help in elevating the experience either, due to the odd mix of 2D and CGI animation that makes the action too clumsy to be enjoyed on its own.
Double Decker’s greatest downfall however is the plot-twists. Comedies love to subvert expectations and go for the less expected outcome, which is great in exploring stories and characters. Doing something unexpected is however not enough in and of itself. Twists need to either be equally as fun or even more interesting than what you normally would’ve expected. It’s the difference between ‘playing’ with expectations, and ‘betraying’ expectations. Examples would include rushing out answers to mysteries in anti-climactic ways, robbing characters of their agency by trivializing their goals, awkwardly changing genre from crime comedy to sci-fi action, among other things I won’t mention to avoid spoilers.
Double Decker is ultimately a bumpy ride, not without its merits in the first half, but I can’t recommend it due to untapped potential with the characters, a plot that becomes a train-wreck in the second half, and the comedy and action that fails to shine compared to other shows one could be watching.
I can’t really imagine a society in our world today without laws. Hell, I can’t even begin to fandom what would happen if the police force disappeared in my neighborhood. As a police story, Double Decker runs with a plot that managed to capture the essence of crime fighting. I’m not going to lie, this show made me realize that sometimes, we can make the simplest ideas and turn it into a blockbuster.
As an anime original, Double Decker may look familiar especially those who have experienced a show in the past known as ‘Tiger & Bunny’. Produced by studio Sunrise, it didn’t take long to realize the familiar character designs by Masakazu Katsura. Even after all these years, it feels like his talent never left us with these T&B aesthetics. I would also assume the setting of the show takes place in the same universe although that’s not clear. Regardless, watching Double Decker is a profound experience that I did not regret.
Initially, the first few episodes introduces us to the main character cast. The most prominent characters consists of the SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation. It shouldn’t take long for viewers to understand the experience level between investigator Doug Bilingham and rookie cop Kirill Vrubel. To me, they are like Batman and Robin. In other words, Doug plays the role of an action hero while Kirill presents himself as a sidekick. I don’t want to undermine Kirill’s credibility because he does have some potential. However, my impression of his character in the beginning was not enthusiastic. He lacks experience and often ends up being the butt monkey for feminine jokes. It doesn’t help that he looks like a bishounen rather than a cop. This is an antithesis to his partner Doug as he looks much more mature, experienced, and always gets the job done. There’s a lack of chemistry in the beginning due to their conflicting personalities. However, the two does get along on a professional level and Kirill begins to learn more on the job.
Joining them includes Deana, Katherine, Maxine, Yuri, Travis, Sophie, and Apple. Each of them play a different role that compliments the team overall. For instance, Deana’s sniper skills is valuable during missions that targets dangerous individuals. Yuri possesses computer skills that provides intelligence to the team. Apple is in charge of maintaining the team’s equipment and works well with technology. You get the idea. In order to fight crime, it’s definitely important to establish character roles so this show managed to get that point across from the start. On individual levels, each character has also personalities that sometimes clashes with one another. Because let’s not forget one thing, it’s not always easy for everyone to get along on such a dangerous job. Being part of a crime fighting force is not easy when you have a group known as the Esperanza who deals with a powerful drug known as the “Anthem”.
That actually takes to the core plot of the story. Initially, I had thought the show would involve monster of the week format episodes. The plot evolves more and more as conspiracies, corruption, and the dark side of Lisvaletta is revealed. Esperanza also begins to show to the world more of their dark ambitions that clashes with law enforcement. To me, Double Decker managed to make its antagonists marketable as an international threat in their world. Slowly but surely, their sinister plans come together that really throws off SEVEN from their ordinary cases. Speaking of cases though, I regrettably admit that most of them aren’t as executed as I had anticipated. Most of them uses recycled ideas such as investigating clues, following up on leads, tracking down the suspect, and bringing them to justice. If you’re familiar with media like Batman or even Spiderman, you can probably get a sense of these cases are like. Not to mention, the criminals they deal with often resort to using dangerous chemicals and experimentations. It’s only later in the show we how far the plot deepens to test the limits of our crime fighters.
It would be unfair to say this show is a poor man’s Tiger & Bunny to be honest. Double Decker works as a successor by using its character relationships to sell its story. We find out more about some of the main characters’ past too in order to understand them more. And while this show may be goofy at times, it manages to work well for its character partnerships. There are moments where I couldn’t help but feel attached to them. Make no mistake, you don’t need to understand law enforcement to watch this show or see Tiger & Bunny. In fact, jumping into Double Decker is perfectly fine with its playful humor and oddball set of characters. It still contains its emotional content as the main characters tackles on social issues. An elephant in the room also exists with the same gender relationships. However, it’s far off from a shounen-ai and works more as a buddy cop police tale.
You probably noticed that character designs in this show looks stylish with their looks. Some of them don’t even look like detectives or like they belong in the police force. An easy finger to point at is Kirill as he’s often made fun of for his feminine features. Sunrise managed to make Kirill into a comic relief in the beginning for his lackluster skills. It’s not until later that he becomes more useful to the team. But still, I do applaud the director and studio for recreating a society of these colorful characters. Not to mention, I feel the setting of Double Decker runs well with its technology concepts; namely the Anthem used by criminals and their consequences.
It’s been around 7 years since Tiger and Bunny made its premiere. This isn’t really an upgraded or downgraded version as Double Decker is fully a show of its own. What this anime managed to do is creating a story in this fictional society that makes us believe in. Here, we have characters that risks their lives to deal with criminals and showing the dark side of their society. Yet at the same time, it also shows how partnerships can truly be meaningful when the right people work together.