just some average teenage highschoolers

Finally, it’s the Max-centric episode. After a string of attacks on prom queen candidates at Primus Academy, Max, Yuri, Doug and Kirill are sent to the school to investigate, suspecting Anthem. Acting as policemen, they also give an anti-drugs presentation to the kids. After they realise it’s likely one of the students behind the attacks, they try to narrow it down – could it be the Obvious Red Herring girl who is militantly anti-prom? Could it be the most likely prom queen Elle, trying to take out the competition? Or could it even be the the male student, who ends up in suspicious circumstances? Actually, it turns out to be another potential prom-queen who wants Elle to win no matter what, who made herself more beautiful using Anthem. When she is eventually confronted, she turns into a giant mutant bee, as one does.
During the proceedings, the others notice that Max herself has a distinct hostility towards proms, and eventually Yuri tells them the reason – it was because of the harsh discrimination her and her prom date were subjected to for not meeting correct cis-heteronormative standards. Allegedly her date afterwards became depressed and turned to Anthem, presumably meeting a sticky end – while Max joined the police force.

Max and Yuri have such a nice apartment.

A younger Max, looking like Fuu from Magic Knight Rayearth.

…is Max gonna appear in a suit again at any point, cos damn did she look sharp.

So I really need to address something here. Double Decker really does try, it seems to me, to be inclusive. It actually tries pretty hard, but there’s always something slightly off about it, something that reveals that the writer is approaching the subject a little oddly and so it comes across as not quite getting the point. We saw this with Valerie (Milla?) – I feel like the writers genuinely thought they were portraying her respectfully, and yet the delivery is somewhat off – there’s no outright statement as to how she actually identifies and the other characters definitely treated the ‘secret’ like an amusing joke. And here, in this episode, it happens again, although to a slightly lesser extent. Exactly what Max’s date’s ‘secret’ is is not stated – we only see a very masculine looking guy that she has a crush on, who then makes a request to her and later appears femme’d up. Whether the secret was that this character was a closeted trans woman who wished to come out as prom, a cross dresser or exactly what isn’t really stated – but to be honest that’s not really the issue. It actually works a little better like that – we only see what happens and can draw our own conclusions, without the narrative suggesting any judgement (or anything at all, really). The problem is actually with Max – who, before her butch makeover for prom, is seen as extremely feminine and liking ‘feminine things’. Which also wouldn’t be a problem if the episode didn’t open with a flashback scene of her cutting off her hair while crying. Because…that really, really makes it seem like she’s some poor girl who made a terrible sacrifice, not because she wanted to, but because the person she loved wanted her to. Later in the episode after the characters throw their own prom for Max (which was honestly adorable), Yuri asks what the audience are wondering, why does Max keep that hair style if she apparently only did it for her prom date, and she simply replies ‘because it suits me’ – so there’s that at least. Who knows, maybe she was actually crying at realizing her date’s terrible plight at being a closeted trans woman. Maybe she had internalized homophobia and was struggling with the idea that she wasn’t actually straight, which she is clearly now over. Again, Double Decker gives us extremely little to go on with this kind of stuff – enough to be refreshingly different in a medium where this kind of stuff is regularly still treated like a punchline, but still not enough that it seems it actually knows what its doing.

Still, my major fear for the episode would be it saying ‘surprise, Max is actually Super Straight!’, so I’m glad that’s not the case – even if she was attracted to her date while thinking they were male, it really doubles down on the stuff with her relationship with Yuri just to remind you that they are clearly a couple, so Bi Icon it is.

As for the rest of the episode…eh. It was a pretty standard investigation/mystery/catch the culprit episode, and that part wasn’t terribly interesting. With the bee part, it was a little more on the ridiculous side even for Double Decker. I’m glad they included the explanation about wtf a prom and a prom queen even is for the benefit of Japanese viewers (although they were referring to it as the english ‘dance party’), because as a non-American the whole prom queen stuff confuses me as well.

Anyway, I’m glad to know more about Max. But…Yuri is still kind of a mystery. You can’t just introduce a character as a robot and then not elaborate on that! 

why is this the -second- time I’ve seen an episode of an anime set in an American-style high school where a ‘queen bee’ literally turns into a ‘queen bee’…?

aww Kirill’s face

So Apple is for some reason DJing classical music, and nobody seems to actually be dancing to that, but this is absolutely adorable.

Out of 5,
1/2

 

Episode 9

I wonder if  Apple made these things in Kirill’s colour on purpose.

After Apple Bieber shows off a bunch of new products he invented – jet skates, a jet pack and a surveillance device – SEVEN-O receive a new mission. One of the candidates for mayor in the upcoming elections has just had his daughter kidnapped by Esperanza and are demanding a ransom, so the entire SEVEN-O team devise a plan to have Doug deliver the ransom money, but back him up so that they can catch Esperanza. Unfortunately, a bunch of things go wrong and none of the others are able to actually fulfill their part of their plan and give Doug any backup, which leads to him being found out and kidnapped by Esperanza himself.

It turns out that the kidnapping was a sham orchestrated by the candidate himself – and he had arranged with Esperanza to be able to gallantly rescue his daughter himself and boost his approval rating. With the daughter already safe, SEVEN-O has to rescue Doug instead…and, naturally, do so with the products from the start of the episode, with Kirill leading.

Doug’s disguise makes him look like a hipster. Also, is this the first time Kay has worn her uniform?

The cutesy control room sure is an aesthetic.

hey uh…is there a reason they took off Doug’s shirt to interrogate him…

-slams fist on table- THIS! THIS IS THE DOUBLE DECKER I SIGNED UP FOR! Just the right blend of goofy and action, and characters playing off each other well! And most importantly, Kirill actually getting to do something! And rescue his own damn partner! And not just being the butt of all the jokes! This is how the shonky episode 7 should have gone!

The plot was simple and Esperanza are still too ridiculous for me to take seriously, but that doesn’t matter, because for the first time in a while I was actually having genuine fun watching Double Decker. (that’s not to say episode 8 was bad, it just wasn’t ‘fun’.) The climactic scene with Kirill using the jet skates and jet pack – something I waited the whole episode to see (I mean, it was obviously going to happen), ending up with Doug riding on his shoulders and culminating in them both launching themselves at a helicopter, was one of the best action scenes I watched this year. Not because it was well-animated (it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either and had a lot of awkward CG), but because it was fun. It’s just a shame that it took that long to get to this point after starting out so strong. Because seriously, for a show that is literally titled ‘Doug and Kirill’, it’s almost absurd how little Doug and Kirill actually do together – so giving them such a ridiculous yet fun action scene together (where Kirill plays the hero, too), feels welcome and yet extremely overdue.

On the more plot-relevant side of things, Kirill’s weird catchphrase ‘dont think, feel so good’ (or should I say donto shinku, fiiru so guddo!, I am still trying to figure out if the bad pronunciation is on purpose or not) – also the title of this episode – finally gets acknowledged by an unlikely character, Brian Cooper of the Lisvaletta Military. (His presence in the episode seemed odd at first – it initially seemed like a way just to remind the viewers that SEVEN-O is apparently directly under the military as opposed to the regular police force). According to Kirill, it’s something that his late grandfather used to say, but according to Cooper, it’s a condensed and mistaken version of something called ‘Nikai’s prayer’. (‘Prometheus’s fire is there when you don’t think, feel so. Good gift and blessing shall be given to you then.’) I looked this up, and it does not seem to be a thing, so if that is intended as an original prayer, I wish they’d made it sound less awkward. We don’t know who Nikai is yet, but Cooper expressed some surprise that Kirill, or Kirill’s grandfather, would have known this. So perhaps there actually is a greater mystery surrounding Kirill’s family. …Either that or we could be in for another fakeout where its revealed that Kirill’s grandpa actually just said ‘i dont think I feel so good’ before he died.

I’m glad Double Decker has returned to form, and I really hope that’s a sign of good things to come in future episodes.

Esparanza look like shitty steampunk LARPers

honestly this was so much better than a car-chase

those stupid gloves…

Out of 5,