I guess I’ll get the bad out of the way first. Doug & Kirill’s opening episode has a lot of exposition, to the point where the otherwise intentionally comedic narrator started grating on my nerves – I just kinda wanted him to shut up and let me enjoy the show after a while. By the second episode, the sheer amount of exposition at least subsides a little, although there’s still enough of it going on that it becomes a bit of a third wall-breaking joke, with our main character at one point explicitly pointing out the weird timing for an explanation. I’m generally pretty good with self-referential humour, so I didn’t mind the gag itself, but I also have to admit that at the end of the day, for any work of fiction to pass off clumsy and/or ill-timed exposition as an openly acknowledged joke is still just lazy writing.
The story and manner in which it’s told could be either a pro or a con, depending on your preferred style. Personally, I find the show leans a bit too hard on its humour for my tastes, although there are a few grains of seriousness thrown in there too – these largely sewn through quick flashback shots of a clearly less than stellar childhood as experienced by our main character (poverty and classism hinted at playing a large role). Otherwise though, the series seems a lot more interested in the back-and-forth character dynamics. As most of the characters don’t seem particularly inclined to seriousness themselves, this results in something very reminiscent of Tiger & Bunny in terms of story and American comic book style, but with an atmosphere running more towards the likes of Kekkai Sensen (minus the absurd, all-in frenetic craziness for which the latter is known).
All this being said, Doug & Kirill is an undeniably entertaining show. Both episodes feel remarkably short despite having a normal runtime, which is probably a good sign, and it’s the characters who really make it work. There’s a truly excellent balance of gender (and in fact, at this point I’d say the women are looking far more competent than their male counterparts), no sign of anything but the very mildest of fanservice, and in general everyone bounces off each other fairly naturally. If the OP is anything to go by, we may even be lucky enough to get a lesbian relationship that’s neither made fun of nor even treated as an especially big deal by any of the characters, which would be just fantastic.
Speaking of characters, I’m really digging the pop art style going on here. The animation, with conspicuous yet fairly well integrated CG, obviously lends the series a modern look, but the characters’ wardrobe and colour choices look like a bunch of models from a late 60s/early 70s fashion shoot accidentally wandered onto the set of Japanese cyberpunk movie from the same period. It’s honestly a bit of a mess, but it’s also bold, distinctive, and entirely unapologetic about it; always something I love to see. I don’t really know what’s going on with the music either, but again, it weirdly works. We’ve got an OP that sounds like it’s channeling Bump of Chicken, an ED with a heavier rock vibe, and some jazz-infused pop background music that wouldn’t sound terribly out of place in Baccano!.
Take from all this what you will. Overall, I’d say Doug & Kirill, while far from perfect, is well worth checking out – especially if you’re getting tired of the same old high school-themed dramas or male-pandering grimdark fantasy material, of which there are plenty to choose from this season.
Question of the post: What did you think of the first couple of episodes of Doug & Kirill, and will you be going back for more?