by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Killing Bites ?
I'm sure many other viewers had the same thought I did at the end of this episode: what the hell is a pangolin?
Turns out that pangolins are armored mammals native to Africa and Asia, somewhat similar to armadillos (though they come from a different family in biological classifications) but with armor that consists of overlapping scales rather than a contiguous hard shell. All eight species of pangolin are endangered to some degree because of deforestation and poaching for their meat and supposed medicinal qualities, which might justify why Brute Pangolin – aka Kido, Yoko's Therianthrope playing piece – is cast as a hard-edged conservationist. Or it could just be because a nature-lover makes for an amusing contrast with a physical powerhouse. Either way, I'll be curious to see whether the long tongue that pangolins are known for will ever come into play, but so far it seems like the emphasis is on his spiky scale armor, muscular tail, and overwhelming strength; he's a big bad dude even without his Therianthrope powers.
His character and behavior within this setting raises several questions, some that were doubtlessly intended and some that may not have been. Supposedly he was suspended at one point, but given what the Therianthropes are allowed to get away with, what could he have done to get suspended? Assault a master, perhaps? It's also odd that he considers Brute Ratel any more of a crime against nature than any of the other Therianthropes, including himself. Of course, Brute Pangolin is so simple-minded that logic is probably irrelevant in this case. What matters most is that he represents a formidable challenge that even Hitomi and Taiga will have a tough time combating, since his armor resists their claws. He also provides a convenient excuse for them to not kill each other at this time. That's good, because Taiga was clearly coming to begrudgingly respect Hitomi despite his deprecating comments last episode.
This episode was also clearly intended to be Yuya's opportunity to shine, as his backstory shows that he's always been a “go with the flow” guy who lets others make decisions for him. His big stand in this episode is trusting Hitomi by not moving her out of harm's way, making himself willing to accept responsibility for making a choice for the first time. The music tries too hard to make this scene dramatic, thus overplaying it into melodrama, but Yuya still comes off at least a little better afterward. However, the real star of this episode was Ui. It was amusing to see her suddenly pop out of the ground to accidentally distract Taiga during the fight, and her rabbit nature leaving her vulnerable to even a faint trace of Brute Civet's aphrodisiac seems fitting, since rabbits are prone to breeding all the time. For all her weakness and blundering, Ui gets her most glorious scene of the whole series by luring Brute Civet into a pitfall, jumping on her to make her fall, and then rapidly covering up the hole. Something about the way she moves is endlessly entertaining, but it's heartening to see her actually be useful too.
After a weaker entry last week, the series is starting to pop and sizzle once again, with the musical score making up for the less-than-spectacular animation when it isn't overdoing things. This practice of dragging the fights out just feels less odious this week.
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