What’s the show? Killing Bites, Episode 1 to 6 (2018).
And what’s it about? “The one with the sharpest fangs will win. That’s what Killing Bites is!”
Huh? It’s just something that our protagonist Hitomi says in every episode. It’s kind of become a meme, at least in my household.
Okay, so what is it really about? Surface level synopsis, it’s about a bunch genetically engineered humans called ‘Therianthropes’ who fight to the death for their wealthy investors.
Aha… and what’s a ‘therianthrope’? Basically a furry. Okay, that’s not true at all, yes some of the girls grow tails and cute ears relevant to the animal that they have been genetically engineered with but they also grow claws and sharp teeth too. Also there’s men, but a lot of them are more ‘full body’ or ‘full head’ transformations rather than just sprouting animal parts.
And who are our main characters. Well the series starts with a high school girl getting kidnapped by a group of rapists in a van, the college student driving the van, Yuya Nomoto, didn’t realise when the ‘cool kids’ asked him along to “pick up chicks”, that they meant “kidnap and assault”, mortified by the situation he finds himself in he tries to help her only to find that the high school girl was very capable of handling the situation herself and has ripped the men limb from limb. Her name is Hitomi and she has the ferocious abilities of the Rattel.
Rattel? Yeah I didn’t know what it was either, it’s another name for the honey badger.
Honey badger?! Not exactly an apex predator. You’d be surprised, the show does a very good job dolling out information (courtesy of a sporadic narrator) on the various Therianthrope abilities as they become relevant throughout fights.
So it’s a fighting/action anime? It’s a lot of things, it’s pretty ecchi at times but the only actual nudity so far is in the first three episodes, after that it kind of focuses a bit more and concentrates on the plot.
Oh so it’s got a plot? Don’t sound so surprised just because I said the e-word, it’s got a very, um… ‘interesting’ plot.
Uh-oh, what do you mean by ‘interesting’? Well it’s got one; I just don’t know how many other shows and movies it stole it from.
So it’s derivative? Well, okay I’ll hash out the basics, so there’s four Zaibatsu Conglomerates in Japan that host underground death matches on an uninhabited island in the Philippine sea. Each of the investors from said conglomerate has a team of three ‘brutes’ that they move around the board like chess pieces, when two or more brutes come into contact on a space they battle each other to the death, if they fail to listen to the instructions given by their investor or are somehow unable to move, a collar around the brutes’ neck will explode in three minutes.
So it’s bit Hunger Games-y? I don’t know what that is; I was going to say it’s like Btooom!
I don’t know what that is. Anyway, despite its derivative plot elements I think what really shines here is the characterisation and the writer’s willingness to let the women be in control. Like so often the show looks like it’s about to have the male be the one in control of the situation, or let the male save the day, and then the show upends those antiquated gendered expectations and has the women be the ones in control.
How do you mean? Well aside from the fact that Hitomi is always saving Yuwa’s ass from danger since he is pretty much a useless protagonist (he’s a nervous, nerdy college student, but is kind and naïve to a fault). There’s a scene in Episode 4, where we are first introduced to the island fighting game, and how the investors (of which Yuwa is cajoled into becoming) must ‘control’ their ‘pieces’ on the board. And immediately I was like, “oh good, the show’s going to go all ‘Metroid: Other M’ on us and have a powerful female character be subservient to a man who’s calling the shots from above”. But like the cool show that this is, it’s quickly revealed that Hitomi is actually giving him hand signals to Yuwa via the video feed, telling him where she wants to move!
Well that’s good to hear. Also this show loves killing rapists, spoiler alert, well more of a spoiler than the above stuff, but one of the other teams has a rapist cobra and he tries to rape Hitomi with his twin barbed penis and she just straight up chops it off, it’s so cool!
Trigger warning rape then, huh? Big time, like it’s not just all used for the sake of shock value, it is explained in the context of the show that many of the ‘brutes’ who have undergone the Therianthrope conversion used to be horrible criminals so it stands to reason. Occasionally it feels exploitative, through only due to ‘male gaze’ and all that, but it’s always presented like it’s the worst crime, and anyone who does it is also the worst, so no mixed morals here, which is something to be thankful for.
And the other characters before we wrap up? Well there’s a lot of them so I’ll just name the more prominently featured ones. There’s Eruza, a frisky cheetah hybrid from a rival Zaibatsu. There’s Ichinosuke, a burly hippopotamus hybrid with a heart of gold who joins Hitomi’s team. And there’s Ui, an adorable Rabbit hybrid who has never even won a fight and who ends up becoming the reluctant final member of their team.
So final rec— Oh! And stay past the end credits of every episode because there’s a hilarious and adorable comic relief character who only features in these post credit scenes, her name’s Oshie and she’s a classmate of Hitomi’s and well these scenes are just the best.
R—Right, so verdict for the first half of the season? I don’t see a lot of people talking about this show, and what I do isn’t positive which is a shame because it’s a show that while derivative in some respects is one that could inspire conversations, not just about its content but about its plot and characters, the latter of whom run the gamut of entertainingly likeable to detestable as intended. It’s no masterpiece, and it’s probably not going to be remembered, but while I’m watching it it’s entertaining, action-packed, violent and yes, fan-servicey. The shows knows what it is and it never takes itself too seriously, tonally and aesthetically in some ways it reminds me of High School of the Dead (2010), but it’s a lot better than that show. At the end of the day though I would recommend it for fans of the genre, as long as you don’t go in expecting anything revolutionary. “That’s what Killing Bites is!” (Trust me if you watch it, you’ll be quoting that line too!)