What’s it about? Several zaibatsus (Japanese business conglomerates) run an underground betting ring based around genetically enhanced animal fighters called Therianthropes. Yuya Nomoto is drawn into the world of these fights when he becomes the sole investor of Hitomi, a ratel hybrid. Unable to fight without a backer, Hitomi is forced to become Yuya’s bodyguard.
CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of sexual assault; NSFW screenshots.
Remember when this season started, and there were so many good titles with promising characters and unique premises and the world seemed shiny, new, and full of possibility?
Anyway, Killing Bites opens with attempted gang rape.
Last season I praised JUNI TAISEN‘s premiere for going above the usual battle royale anime with its over-the-top camp, clever fight choreography, and designs that at least attempted to put ridiculous fetish gear on both the men and the women. If JUNI TAISEN was attempting to rise above the standard genre fare, then this is what it was trying to lift itself away from: a battle show numbly moving through the motions on tracks bathed by an invasive tongue.
I mentioned that the show started with the attempted rape of the female lead to set the tone, but it’s much worse than that. The male lead and spineless meatpustule that will serve as the love interest is the guy driving the van.
The show bends over backward trying to reassure us that he would’ve definitely intervened when he stopped the car had Hitomi not already killed her assailants, and that he didn’t know them that well, and is in fact A Nice Guy. But if all you can think to do to make your male lead look good is to put him in the same vehicle as an assault-in-progress, metaphorically wringing his hands and saying “Aw geez, guys, oh man, this might not be such a good idea” while a human being’s personhood is being violated less than two feet away, then pardon me if I’m less than sunshine and roses about rooting for him going forward.
It’s a seriously sad statement that “not a rapist!” is the best the show could come up with alongside the fact that he does plenty of hi-larious accidental groping and drooling at the prospect of getting to live with a high school girl. He’s in college, by the way—it would be potentially skeevy but nowhere near the level of certain shows this season if not for how often this premiere bangs on about “high school girls” in a very specific and fetishy way.
Hitomi, sadly, doesn’t have much going for her as a protagonist either. She’s a pretty stock tsundere with a weird daddy complex around her original handler, and her put-downs of Yuya’s awfulness are hard to enjoy with the knowledge that she’s going to fall in love with him. Also her monster form is a majestic honey badger, and she enjoys ordering sweets. I think she may give a fuck, but it’s all right because I don’t at this point.
Oh, and did I mention Hitomi’s daddy/maker assigned her to be Yuya’s bodyguard specifically hoping he might have “what Hitomi is missing”?
“But this is a battle anime, so how’s the fighting?” I hear you asking.
“Bland and largely uninspired!” says I. The fight scenes lean hard on flashy freezeframes for special moves and unintentionally hilarious cutaways to tiny National Geographic lessons on each fighter’s animal counterpart. The central fight here was 70% standing and yelling before making the big final move.
This is the kind of series where male fighters become hulking, hairy monsters whose whole heads transform into beasts, while the women grow cute ears, tails, and some big paw gloves. Nothing that would impede the view of their breasts or vulvas though. Hitomi is unexpectedly muscular, which was a nice change from the usual design for breasty monster girls, but if the designs in the episode previews are anything to go by she’s a decided outlier.
I’m so tired.
Killing Bites never stood a chance. Last season’s JUNI TAISEN was a better anime. DEVILMAN crybaby has more stylish violence and is at least trying to say something. The sexual assault and lame ecchi slapstick leech every inch of charm it could’ve had as a hyperviolent cheesefest. All that’s left is a hollow, sleazy ghoul subsisting on the discarded scraps of better shows.