OP: 「killing bites」 by fripSide
「牙の鋭い方が勝つ」 (Kiba no Surudoi Hou ga Katsu)
“The One With the Sharper Fangs Will Win”
My expectation going into this was that it would be filled with shameless fanservice and bloody bouts, and it’s pretty much that. The question, then, is how well it’s doing that, because I don’t think anyone is going to be tricked into watching this is they’re not down for some gore or gratuitous sexy bits. And the answer: pretty darn well.
The censorship is nonexistent, for one. And I’m not talking about for the flasher scene, though that’s cool if you were hoping for that. It’s just that you can easily convey a ton of titillation without actually showing the naughty bits, whereas for gory action, show the blood or WTF is the point. (This employs ecchi after all, not full-on hentai, i.e. it’s not porn, but its main feature is gory action.) And they showed it. That’s good mostly because the censorship would have been distracting, but they also don’t go overboard either (this isn’t a splatter film, not really). Or at least the blood on display was never enough to turn my stomach, and I’m not the most hardened in that manner.
But this first episode also does a lot of simple storytelling right. Starting off with an attempted rape sure does set the tone in a hurry, and the way it goes from horrifying sexual violence to Uzaki Hitomi / Brute Ratel (Amamiya Sora) calmly speaking to audience PoV character Nomoto Yuuya (Hatano Wataru) makes her all the more menacing—not showing the violence there was a savvy move. I also—well, I don’t like Yuuya, he’s a sniveling coward and nobody a viewer would be jealous of his situation, but I do understand who he is, and we got there quickly. It even made sense why he tackle hugged Hitomi, he was so relieved that he temporarily forgot his fear, which is also to why he showed concern for her wounds even though she was still in Therianthrope form (though I think that benefited mightily from being shown after we saw him freak out upon waking, making it clear that his fear of her is still there, he just forgot about it in the adrenaline rush of not dying).
Speaking of Therianthropes, the simple premise of “Humans, but spliced with animal genes and made to fight” is simple and solid. The Killing Bites zaibatsu proxy war stuff is less straightforward, but it’s still much less complicated than many an anime premise, so it’s easy to pick up in a single episode (the instant jump to the kidnapping also helped, since we wasted zero time on boring setup, and instead saved that for when we were already invested). As for choosing the Ratel, or Honey Badger as Hitomi’s animal half, as meme-y as it is, I’ve gotta admit that it’s a good idea. Small but brutal, tireless, and fearless are good attributes for a main character, and they’re why the Honey Badger so fascinated the internet in the first place. I mean, there’s a reason Wolverine has been such an enduring (and popular) character for the X-Men—a lot of reasons, really, but tying him thematically to a ferocious little fucker of a carnivore was wise. Starting Hitomi off against a lion—Tani Yuigo / Brute Leo (Ono Yuuki)—was also smart, because it’s like having her punch out Worf (trope!), or even Wolverine himself. It instantly shows how tough she is, because they don’t even need to tell us that lions are badass predators. We already know.
I also really appreciate that Hitomi’s guardian, Shidou Reiichi (Koyama Rikiya), gave us a reason for why he’s bothering with Yuuya, even if it’s cryptic and mysterious. At least they’re promising us that there is a reason other than “We wanted an audience PoV character and someone who needed exposition explained to them,” which is probably the true original reason, but at least they’re wrapping some story around it. (Though I still wonder why no one else is betting on such a clearly powerful fighter—though presumably that has something to do with all this zaibatsu business. They’ve bought themselves more time to explain that.) Honestly, all of that + the ever-effective trick of ending the chapter/episode on a cliffhanger point to a story that’s really well told, either in the original manga, in this adaptation, or both.
I’m not going to say this is a world-beater, it’s still a gory action show that’s aimed squarely at our base instincts, and anyone who doesn’t like that or the shameless fanservice isn’t going to vibe on this no matter what. It’s not aiming especially high, but it is doing what it’s doing well, and I respect that. About the only other thing I can say is that of course the girls show more human skin, because of course. But hey, I don’t hate this kind of show, it only really becomes a problem if it’s all we’re getting, and in a season as rich and varied as this one, that’s not the case. Killing Bites is all right with me so far.
I don’t know if this will get blogged any further—I’m about to go on a two-week vacation, and I’m not sure what the others are thinking–but I’ll keep watching it as long as it keeps up this level of quality. Thanks for reading, and have a good one!
- Another thing I like: it doesn’t feel like Hitomi is the speedier fighter because she’s female. It feels like it’s because he’s the bigger animal, and she’s the smaller one. Though he’s not slow, he’s just not as quick on his feet; dude still reacts quickly. It remains to be seen if the other female characters are all speedsters, in which case yeah, the usual trope is probably rearing its head. But it doesn’t feel like it so far.
- Hitomi seems like a fun role to play.
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ED: 「ケダモノダモノ」 (Kedamono Damono) by Kitsunetsuki