[Review] Killing Bites – Episode 1

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.

Hitomi in her underwear in a van, surrounded by the bodies of her assailants
The murder makes it a little better, but not much. Not much at all.

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.

Yuya holding Hitomi's bloody claw. Caption: No! You're still a girl after all.
The context of this is that Yuya is insisting Hitomi go to a hospital because she’ll scar otherwise, even though she’s said she’ll heal on her own. I hate him.

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”?

Hitomi jumping backward, dragging Yuya by the collar.
Hitomi. Please. Murder him with your eight pack. For me.

“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.

Hitomi surrounded by a purple glow with ears and a tail. caption: That's what Killing Bites is
As you might have suspected, there is no way for these women to fight except in their underwear.

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.

 

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  • TheSojourner

    When I saw the trailer I thought ‘oh, this looks awful’… and now I know I was right.

    But I’ll give it half a point for putting some muscle on a lady. Don’t see that in anime often.

  • GreyLurker

    I have actually read some of the manga….it doesn’t get any better.

    and she ends every damn fight with the same line

  • bojak90

    My only hope for the show going into it (I tried to not read up on any of the new series before watching this season so I could go in surprised) was that it would be over the top trash, the kind where it’s either so bad it’s good that it can be laughed at or so over the top that it can’t be taken seriously or pokes fun at itself…I was way off. I mean, I didn’t like Juni Taisen because it tried to be a bunch of things without succeeding but at least the characters had cool designs and I wanted to know more about them…I just feel nothing towards any of these characters (except loathing towards the male lead…all the males in the episode really except Leo since he was just doing his thing)

    And yeah, the male lead is just the worst. Like, someone you barely know asks you to drive a windowless panel van with a bunch of guys to “pick up girls” and have you drive slowly at night alongside a high schooler…no jury on Earth is going to buy that you didn’t know. Then the “but you’re a girl” talk in between groping and motorboating a high schooler. Why is he still alive???

    Even for trash this is bad. The only part I enjoyed was the post credits comedy bit since I found the punchline and delivery funny.

  • CatLaCat

    I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. Killing Bites reminds me of one of my favorite video games – Bloody Roar. Fighters turining into animals was pretty rad for my teenage brain back in the day and I like that little bit of nostalgia.

    Also – Hitomi is a honey badger. She’s so badass. Look at her, taking apart that lion guy like she doesn’t give a damn (I swear, there is so much meme potential in this one :)).