The Winter 2018 Anime Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Killing Bites ?
What is this?
When college student Yuyu Nomoto was asked for a ride by a former coworker, he didn't know that he was going to be the driver for a kidnapping. These guys picked the wrong girl to kidnap, however, as Hitomi turns out to be a Therianthrope, a new breed of humanity genetically altered to turn into powerful hybrid animal forms. She has the powers of Brute Ratel (aka honey badger), and after offing his coworker and crew, she drags Yuyu along to be her “investor” in a 1-1 match called the Killing Bites against another Therianthrope named King Leo. Yuyu later learns that these matches are fought on behalf of a quartet of zaibatsu who secretly control Japan's economy, and that Hitomi is going to be living with him as his bodyguard at the behest of her beloved guardian. That's a good thing, since Yuyu is already attracting attention from another Therianthrope. Killing Bites is based on a manga and streams on Amazon Prime on Fridays.
How was the first episode?
I am almost shaking with desire to make a cheap honey badger joke, but I will restrain myself. Instead, I'll simply say that Killing Bites is schlocky as heck, but that's exactly what it says on the tin. If you're looking for a fanservice-heavy action show, this seems like it'll be a pretty reasonable time so ar.
The show starts off on the worst possible foot, opening with an attempted rape scene before heroine Hitomi butchers all her attackers with her honey badger powers. I already felt ready to tune out at that point, but the show quickly moves to a battle between Hitomi and Brute Leo, a lion-powered mountain of a man, and it doesn't really let up from there. Hitomi and Leo's fight isn't an exemplary spectacle, but it has a solid sense of back-and-forth, reasonable choreography, and a fine sense of weight as well. You can really tell that Leo is much stronger and heavier than Hitomi, while her speed and sharpness are her great weapons. It's a fine fight on the whole that does a reasonable job of convincing me this show will be able to hold up the action half of its action-fanservice bargain.
On the fanservice front, Killing Bites feels somewhat respectable relative to shows like The Ryuo's Work is Never Done!. Hitomi spends basically this whole episode in a cutoff undershirt and panties, but that pretty much covers the episode's salaciousness. That opening rape scene is mercifully brief, and most of the following fanservice is just the natural result of Hitomi's outfit. The show certainly prioritizes showing off its characters' bodies, but that never seems to come at the expense of its storytelling; it's just a battle anime starring nearly naked women.
On the whole, Killing Bites seems like a perfectly well-constructed entry in the battle vixens subgenre. Its writing isn't exactly enthralling, but this episode offers a serviceable platform for future battles, and it certainly succeeds in offering both relatively satisfying action and lots of fanservice. If this is your genre, Killing Bites is here to serve.
Killing Bites does indeed start off on the worst foot possible, greeting its audience with the threat of a high-schooler getting gang-raped in the back of a van. From its first moments, the show loses a lot of viewers who might actually be in the mood for fun horny trash in a season that's coated in slice-of-life goodness. Thankfully, the series' honey-badger heroine Hitomi metes out swift and brutal justice on her would-be attackers before anything horrible happens, and the show swiftly switches gears to a much more enjoyable sort of sleaze. If this were any other season, I'd be less forgiving of a show whose talents lie so firmly in the gutter, but a shameful side of me is honestly grateful to have something crass and shallow to enjoy between all these episodes of saccharine sweetness.
Outside of an inexcusable intro scene, most of Killing Bites falls firmly in line with what viewers will likely want might want from a cheesecake-filled action extravaganza, as one of Hitomi's kidnappers becomes an unwitting participant in the Sexy Honey Badger vs. Buff Lion street fight that exemplifies the Killing Bites tournament. Yuu is the closest thing this show has to an audience surrogate, which doesn't excuse his involvement in Hitomi's assault, but at least it's clear that he never expected to be accessory to such an awful crime. This makes it a bit easier to just sit back and enjoy the goofy yet propulsive brawl that goes down between the two Therianthropes, which will clearly make up a vast majority of the show's entertainment value.
The other source of entertainment is going to be the fanservice, of where there is an overwhelming amount. Thankfully, none of the cheesecake approaches the ick-factor induced by the intro scene; it's mostly just Hitomi running around in her underwear. There's nothing classy about it, but it's absolutely in keeping with audience expectations. I could do without the dumb “accidental boob grab” gag that pops up not once but twice in this episode, though. It brings back the lazy and creepy vibes that Killing Bites absolutely doesn't need.
If you were to ask me if I enjoyed the portion of Killing Bites that wasn't morally reprehensible, I would say yes, but that comes with the caveat that this show is stupid, trashy, and will induce a lot of fully warranted dismissal. For me, this guilty pleasure is approximately 40% pleasure and 60% guilt. Killing Bites delivers the kind of shlocky entertainment that this season has been lacking.
I couldn't bring myself to give Killing Bites a number rating because this show is absolute blood-soaked lurid trash full of gratuitous panty and boob shots. It's that smirking kind of violence where a swipe just might tear the big-chested fighter's shirt off, and some girl is definitely going to precariously fall on some guy's face. Also everyone is an animal-human hybrid, so I guess this is a mix of last season's Jūni Taisen and the Animorphs books. This mashup sounds like a popcorn munching good time and I'd agree, but Killing Bites has its problems.
Killing Bites is selling itself as a sexy action show, and I mean selling itself hard. There's plenty of room in anime for titillation. The premise is already outlandish, more a means to introduce barely clothed girls with different animal attributes who'll stomp on their opponents (and the viewer, if that's your thing). The supposed lead is a pretty boring college dude named Yuya who's more than a little excited to shack up with a teenage girl. He's not an outright sex offender like his dead acquaintances in the opening scene so that's a plus, I guess, but the show could do without him. He's first introduced as the gang of rapists' patsy getaway driver, and that's when Killing Bites gets off on the wrong foot, which is to say immediately.
There isn't much levity to be found in a gang-rape scene, but that's how this episode opens. The first episode had all the potential for stupid sexy fun, but this left a pretty bad taste in my mouth that took me a while to get over even after Hitomi slaughters them all. This is the only instance of malicious sexual assault in the episode, but once that box is opened, you can't really close it again. It means that kind of content is never off the table as a narrative device, and it could return at any point the show wants to be “edgy” or “shocking” again. For some viewers like myself, that's a bridge too far, and I don't have much interest in finding out if the show is going to go there again.
I was okay overlooking animal bikini girls duking it out in an arena, but I'll have a hard time shutting my brain off for this one with that van scene sitting in the back of mind any time I tune in.
Alright. Let's all just say it together now: "Honey badger don't care! Honey badger don't give a shit, it just takes whatever it wants."
Now that we've gotten that out of our systems, Killing Bites is exactly what you think it is and more. By which I mean it delivers even more tasteless twists, tasteless violence, and tasteless tits than expected. (Amazon is streaming the uncensored version, so nipples ahoy! But again, these are tasteless tits, so they look more like peach balloons with bright pink Hershey's kisses glued onto the middle.) Honestly, it's better that way. I wish more ecchi shows were this beautifully blatant. If you're going to mash up the battle vixen genre with monster girls, you should definitely go big or go home. Everyone watching this show knows exactly what they're here for, and even though there's a lot of lore and drama ostensibly bubbling under the surface here, there's no "I read it for the articles" excuse to be had for enjoying story elements outside all the sleaze, because the execution is so baldly exploitative. You are here to watch kemonomimi girls kick each other's clothes off, or you're not here at all.
Anyway. I found Kemono Enemies pretty entertaining for what it is, with brisk but comfortable pacing and better art and animation than usual for this genre (even if that isn't saying much), but "what it is" happens to be total trash. If you're the kind of anime viewer who holds out for at least one pure ecchi show a season even when pickings are slim (like The Seven Mortal Sins-level slim) you're getting a treat this winter, and everyone else can easily steer clear without missing anything. And hey, you won't even have to wait for the blu-ray to see the "good stuff." (Please google an actual boob at some point though, people. Nipples aren't like fridge magnets on the surface of the tit.)
Did you know that the honey badger is also known as the ratel? I count that as the one thing I learned from Killing Bites' first episode, apart from reaffirming that I'm not a big fan of shows like this. The best way to sum up the premise behind the series seems to be that it's like a dark version of Tokyo Mew Mew, where normal humans are treated with a “gene therapy” that gives them the ability to partially transform into animals with the express purpose of making them fight each other in gladiatorial matches for the delight of the bored rich. Also fanservice, because otherwise I can think of no discernable reason for the guy therianthropes to have furry chests while the girls' torsos leave all of the sexy bits hairless.
While Killing Bites isn't really on the same graphic level as DEVILMAN crybaby in terms of people having random sex and being ripped apart, it also lacks the artistry of that series and seems much more invested in the basic tropes of violent fanservice shows. After opening with a near-rape, our hapless hero Nomoto manages to accidentally grab heroine Hitomi's breast twice. She also wears the world's least effective sports bra and bikini undies for 90% of the episode (and somehow gets into a restaurant wearing only a dress shirt), and later Nomoto encounters a female flasher after his blood in the park. None of these are particularly bad things on their own, but they all just feel thrown in there to make up for the fact that the violence is fairly understated – the most gruesome bit is where a transformed Hitomi bites off a few of Leo's fingers and then spits them out. The episode runs like it's trying its darndest to impress its older sibling with how cool and extreme it can be.
None of that is entirely bad, although I have my reservations about the bunny girl we see in the opening and ending, who appears to have been created just for sexy reasons. If you've been feeling inundated with the sugary cuteness of most of this season's shows, this could be a pretty good antidote, and it does feel nicely different to use animals like the honey badger and presumably a porcupine in place of the more typical big cats and wolves. Killing Bites isn't going to be my cup of tea, but if you like your violent fanservice, this looks like it's all set to deliver.
Have you found this season to be too cutesy so far? Need a good infusion of sex, violence, and rock n' roll? Never fear – Killing Bites delivers!
In fact, that's pretty much all the first episode does; it wastes no time with the pretense of anything else. The opening scene lays out the basic premise, and within the next 90 seconds, we get a kidnapping and attempted gang rape, followed by the deaths of everyone but Yuyu, who's being directed to a body-strewn junkyard. We don't actually see the bloody violence takes place, but the stage has certainly been set, along with Hitomi's regular wardrobe of panties and a sleeveless crop-top. The real action comes a few minutes later when the Brute Ratel/King Leo bout takes place.
And boy, that battle doesn't mess around, either. It's quick-paced and intense as both change into their hybrid forms and exchange blows backed by heavy metal themes. The result is a battle scene that easily tops any other display of violence so far this season. I'll be a little surprised if the series can maintain this quality level, but this could be one of the season's best action spectacles regardless of the crassness of the premise. Complementing that are substantial doses of fanservice. Hitomi's apparel and Yuyu's accidental gropes are par for the course, but we also get another Therianthrope posing as a flasher and showing off her breasts, and the closing animation is basically one big display of cheesecake.
It also helps that Hitomi is a delight as a character. Her personality fits the fierceness of her honey badger nature, though how much she adores her “guardian” reveals a cute side too. It's not hard to understand why Yuyu would be utterly at her mercy in more ways than one. Though King Leo looks a little dorky in hybrid form, the character designs are otherwise sleek and sexy, which contribute to an overall high level of artistic merit from the same studio which gave us Terra Formars and Schwarzes Marken.
Is Killing Bites trashy as hell? Absolutely! But it promises to be a fun kind of trashy.
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