- Genre : Action, comedy, crime, science-fiction
- Episodes: 13 + 3
One thing that we can pretty much count on is that as long as humans have working brains, they will try to find ways to mess with them. The latest and most potent way is the designer drug Anthem, which goes way beyond just altering your perceptions, it alters your actual DNA. In fact, if you’re not careful, you could end up as something which is no longer quite human…or just dead. That’s why it’s outlawed! But how do you deal with criminals that are literally superhuman? You send in your “best”! The detectives of the Seven 0 unit risk their lives every day to keep the citizens safe and Anthem off the streets. Don’t call them heroes, they are just doing their jobs. And starting now, Kirill is one of them!
First Anthem is a great name for a drug. It’s poetic, symbolic, easy to say and remember, positive in connotation. I am putting way too much thought into the marketing applications of illegal drugs. Second, that synopsis I just wrote is very accurate and super boring. Don’t go by it. Double Decker is a fun, often very silly show. I kept thinking of Brooklyn 99 if that can give you an idea. But then also of Breaking Bad a little… It’s not as funny as Brooklyn 99 or as well written as Breaking Bad but it makes up for it in weirdness and colour! Double Decker is just a queer little show in the best way. Pun intended!
I have to say, the first thing that hit me as soon as I started this series was: whoa the colours! I haven’t been taken by such a sumptuous and prominent colour palette since No Game No Life. I figure this will probably divide viewers somewhat. The colours are rich and bright but they could also be called loud and potentially headache inducing. For me, that pop art palette is a selling point though and I must say my screencaps do not do it justice.
With such an in your face element, it’s sort of difficult to get passed the colours to the rest of the production. If you do though, the second thing you are likely to notice is the CG. The CG is… well, it’s ok. Some episodes are pretty CG heavy and it’s not incorporated as smoothly as it could be. But when used more sparingly it actually creates some very interesting dynamic effects that work well with the high action scenes. It’s actually heavier in the first few episodes and I was worried that it would end up being distracting but the 3D team seems to have found the proper balance as the series wore on and later episodes, which use it more sparingly, actually have some very good CG integration.
Wow, I really didn’t think I would talk this much about production. Fact is, Double Decker has a very distinctive look to it. Not only for what I’ve mentioned above but in actual design as well. Thankfully, I think the screencaps do a better job of showing those. Like anything that’s unusual, that can be a plus or a minus. I liked it, so it worked for me, if you don’t you may actually find it enough of a turn off to drop the show. This said, the sound is in fact quite good and the voice acting has a lot of chemistry even if individual performances don’t stand out as much.
Alright, so it’s a cool looking show. What else… I’ve come to realize that I am not the best person to review these types of series. What I mean is that I have a real soft spot for goofy action comedies with a criminal element. For instance, I rated much higher than average last year’s Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. I’m also a big Archer fangirl. It’s a very specific niche that happens to speak to me, so I’m by no means objective in this review.
I enjoyed this show a lot more than the average viewer, so my review is going to show that. But let me tell you why. The underlying organized crime story is in fact pretty solidly thought out. The organizations are described in enough detail to give you a real sense of everything that’s going on and the tension and danger are present despite the generally humorous tone of the series. If you like crime procedurals, there is enough groundwork in the storyline to keep you interested.
This said I started the series firmly believing this was a mecha show, and for the longest time, I had no idea why. There is a pretty drastic tonal and genre switch that happens in the last few episodes that I did not see coming. It’s not exactly seamless, there is a reason I called this show messy in my title. There are some plot holes and a few contrivances. The story could have used a bit more background to really evolve naturally. But it still works.
An effort has been put in to tie all the disparate genre elements together and give decent explanations for all the events of the series. Some are a little contrived but the whole thing holds together rather well and when you consider just how nutty things get, that’s pretty impressive, to say the least.
Although this isn’t an important element, I feel I should drop a line for all the nontraditional gender and sexual orientation representation in this series. A lot of characters and relationships do not follow social norms but both gender and sexuality are presented as incidental character traits rather than defining ones which I really appreciated. Double Decker is a very accepting show and I found it refreshing. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Kirill, the main character gets mistaken for a woman very regularly and although he is occasionally annoyed and corrects the misconception, in general, he never gets mad about it or considers it an insult or even a joke. It’s more of a catalyst for later events than a running gag. As for the clearly more traditionally masculine female character, it’s never even brought up and her femininity is never questioned despite her imposing physical strength.
That’s a long paragraph for something I thought was barely worth mentioning. I watched Double Decker in June when questions of sexuality and identity were all around me and I just thought the series presented it particularly well while keeping its sense of humour about it. Kudos.
The three extra episodes are side stories and slice of life events that happen in the course of the main storyline that for some reason weren’t included in the official season. I actually enjoyed them more and wish there had been more of those asides in the show as they fleshed out the characters beautiful and were just generally fun to watch. This is probably the first time I enjoyed the extras this much.
Overall, Double Decker is a well-made show with more than a few good moments. It’s not perfect and overreaches now and then but it succeeds more often than it fails. In my opinion, it’s worth a look. As the season stays fairly consistent throughout (the two background episodes on Doug and Max are particularly touching though), you should be able to get a good feel for the show from the first few episodes and decide if you want to see the rest. I would watch a second season in a heartbeat.
Side note : the frequent exposed brickwork and apartment interiors in this show were really beautiful. The hipster in me wanted to move there so bad!
Favorite character: the narrator
What this anime taught me: modifying a bacterial shell with a virus’ DNA rewriting potential could yield a very powerful drug
Whenever the brain and the heart fight, it’s always the liver that suffers
Suggested drink: Double Decker Daiquiri
- Every time Kirill talks to the narrator – take a sip
- Every time there are comic book panels – take a sip
- Every time anything is censored – gasp!
- Every time anyone says Athem – take a deep breath
- Every time someone gets called an idiot – get some water
- Every time anyone mentions Derick – pour some out
- Every time we see a cat – take a sip
- Every time we see the King’s Kane – raise your glass
- Every time someone gets drunk – join them
- Every time anyone calls Kirill feminine – stretch
- Every time Doug taps his temple – pay attention
- Every time we see a chocolate bar – get a snack
- Every time Doug talks about/does laundry – take a sip