A cool “pro” detective is partnered with a young, hot-blooded kid aiming to make a name for himself, while they battle against a dangerous new drug…that grants superpowers. Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. It’s dangerous to assume the first episode of a show means much of anything for a series as a whole–some shows have killer first episodes only to descend into inanity by the end of their run, while others have garbage first episodes and pull it together by the end. That said, Double Decker’s first episode is incredibly strong thanks to strong character designs, beautiful animation, and some wonderfully subverted tropes that I’ll get into in a moment.
First, let’s set the stage: Double Decker takes place in the city of Lisvalletta where criminals have leveled up, thanks to the use of a drug called Anthem. A patch which acts kind of like a super-steroid, Anthem has multiple stages, the third of which induces “Overdrive”, making its users mutate and gain superpowers. When that happens, a special group of detectives under the group name SEVEN-O are allowed to take the stage. This group, forced to work in pairs known as “Double Deckers”, are outfitted with special technology to bring down Anthem users.
Our story opens with a group of cops trying to bring down one of these Anthem users long after he’s hit Phase III, where he’s displaying super strength, speed, reflexes, and a weird matter transference ability that lets him change the size of his limbs. It’s here, amidst this crisis where the cops are helpless, that we’re introduced to two different narrators. The first is Kirill, one of the main characters of Double Decker, explaining how this is the story of him becoming a hero. And the second is the classic omniscient narrator, who quickly (and hilariously) informs us that Kirill will NOT be becoming the hero of this story, and that this story isn’t about heroes at all–but a story about detectives.
The rest of the episode is spent playing on your expectations of how a story like this should unfold. Even during the initial police crisis, when our other main character Doug steps onto the stage, it’s not him who succeeds in taking down the criminal. He’s too busy trying to be cool, with his .38 handgun he uses because he thinks that’s what a detective uses. Instead, it’s his temporary partner Pink who uses a sniper rifle and doesn’t concern herself with being impractically cool at all, who gets the job done. Even Kirill’s selection later in the episode as a member of SEVEN-O is itself a subversion–he isn’t meant to be chosen, and is actually the choice of a far more heroic/protagonist looking guy who’d rather stay out of the spotlight.
All of this gives me confidence in the series as a whole–the truth is, whether we like it or not nearly EVERYTHING has been done before. Nearly everything is some manner of trope. But at least if the writers are aware, they can hopefully either execute those tropes at a high level or use the viewer’s knowledge of them to play with our expectations and create something unique.
2. For all Kirill’s talk of wanting to be a hero, he’s actually not very good at his current job of being a police officer. When we finally get a chance to see him, he’s being chewed out for frequently abandoning his job of crowd control in search of a moment of glory where he can take the center stage. Later in the episode, we see him arguing with his landlord because he doesn’t care to go finding her cat on his day off, even though getting cats from their odd, kitty hiding places seems like Heroing 101. It’s probably a good thing this show is about being a detective.
He does manage to find the cat, though–and learns she runs away in order to take care of her children in secret. Rather than collecting both the cat and the kittens, he decides to nap in the abandoned factory he found them in until he can get the cat later, and wakes up to a hostage situation. I’ll take, Signs You’ve Become a Protagonist for $400, Alex.
3. In the middle of the episode, we learn the city of Lisvalletta is battling against the mutated grip of a criminal organization known as Esperanza. Esperanza is responsible for dealing in Anthem, and SEVEN-O’s struggle against them has already caused the loss of one of their members. The hostage situation Kirill wakes up to in the factory comes from one of their number, Cyrus Martinez, demanding the release of another member.
It’s here Kirill is given his big opportunity to be a hero, as he meets Doug for the first time. Going back to that bit about subversion of tropes, while you’d expect Doug to always be the coolest guy on the scene, here Doug’s actually unable to do anything with the crisis because he snuck into the building via one of its many pipes, his foot is stuck inside the pipe and he can’t free himself. Worse, SEVEN-O is only allowed to intervene when Anthem usage is proven, so he’s useless twice over. He uses Kirill’s long-held desire of becoming a hero by sneaking into a hostage crisis and stopping the terrorists and has him pop up in front of Cyrus to confirm his usage of the Anthem patch so Doug can finally do something.
Now despite Kirill having always dreamed of stopping terrorists in this EXACT fashion, it’s unfortunately only ever been a dream, and he never worked out HOW he’d stop them. So he jumps out in front of Cyrus–who I should clarify has a gatling gun for an arm like he’s Barrett from FF7–completely naked, claiming to be a time traveler from the future. …Well, no one said you had to be smart to be a main character.
4. Kirill’s stupidity provides the distraction Doug needs to take Cyrus out, and Doug vanishes just as quietly as he appeared on the scene, leaving Kirill to deal with the fallout. While Kirill expects to be treated as a hero for rescuing the hostages, he winds up getting mistaken for the criminal because he wasn’t authorized to infiltrate the situation and he’s a creepy naked weirdo.
Still, his actions don’t go unnoticed by SEVEN-O, so just as he almost gets fired from his job for “embarrassing the department”, he gets transferred over to their division. This sets up a pattern here, with perception versus reality. Kirill perceives himself as a hero, but he can just barely keep his job. We perceive Doug to be the Big Good who does all the work, but both times he needs crucial help to actually take the criminal out. And Kirill almost loses his job because his appearance in the newspaper is an embarrassment, even though without him the hostages would likely have been killed. This could still very much be a first episode thing, but I like where it’s going.
5. Next Episode: Wait, he’s already being kicked out?!
After a brief epilogue where we’re introduced to the rest of the SEVEN-O organization (made up largely of women, which is neat), we get to see Kirill argue with the head of the department over his nickname. Because the chief is a giant dork who gives everyone on the team nicknames, with Kirill’s being either perm or “okappa”. After deciding he’d rather be called okappa since he wouldn’t have to get a perm, we close the episode out. …And learn that next week he’s getting a sweet new costume…and probably getting fired. Well, it was a good run! Can’t mess up off your first episode if you’re ending things in your second, I guess?
Double Decker! Doug & Kirill is available on Crunchyroll and Funimation.