Killing Bites Collection (Cert 18)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 300 minutes approx.
Release Date: July 19th
We humans, as Darwin proposed, are descended from animals, well mostly primates, but that might explain why we have such affinity with them as pets or marvelling at them as wildlife. Ideally, the connection should end there but fiction has shown that some people are a little more curious about a possible scientific crossover than is healthy…
University student Yuya Nomoto has been unwittingly roped into an evening of salacious activities by some of his classmates to abduct schoolgirls and have their way with them. It backfires when the girl they grab murders them all except Yuya. Forcing him to drive to an abandoned scrap yard, the girl, Hitomi Uzaki, surprises Yuya again by transforming into a beast and fighting a huge lion man who arrives at the scene.
Hitomi reveals she is a Therianthrope, a human whose genes have been modified and fused with those of an animal to compete in a sponsored battle game called Killing Bites. Four huge businesses operating as the Zaibatsu Conglomerate have been supporting the Japanese economy for centuries, which the winning sponsor of each game gets control of. Ahead of the next round of games, Hitomi’s guardian, Reiichi Shido, gives Yuya a ton of money and tells him to be Hitomi’s sponsor.
Killing Bites comes from the apparently depraved mind of Shinya Murata – I say that as this has the potential to be a sort of Battle Royale with furries but unfortunately, the content is hindered by being gratuitously oversexed. I understand that furries are a sort of fetish for some but that doesn’t mean Murata had to prioritise their satiation when the concept of genetically modified fighters is capable of standing on its own merits.
This isn’t me being prudish either – inside the opening two minutes, we have our first of four attempted rapes of the series, with even more tasteless material to come. I mention this because it sends a confused message about its depiction of women. Hitomi as the kick ass lead should be, despite her sexualised appearance and lack of suitable combat attire, an inspirational totem for females. How can she be viewed as such when so much of the presentation is unashamedly prurient.
Parking this discussion for the moment, the rest of Killing Bites is a fast-paced action show with a unique science fantasy twist via the hybrid fighters or Brutes as they are referred to by their sponsors. Depending on the character and the animal, they start off with simple traits and visual references such as their ears and hands changing into that of the animal, but one the fight starts they can turn into their final form in which their humanity is all but obscured.
Aside from utilising these combative traits and adopting them into their personalities, it seems the animal was specifically chosen for the person, as demonstrated by ditzy schoolgirl Ui Inaba. A rabbit hybrid who has never won a fight, her special skill is, erm, digging tunnels. But she is cute and has big boobs so… Similarly, the hulking Ichinosuke Okajima is a hippopotamus, and entitled long haired Yugo Tani is a lion.
Something the show does right is educate us on the various characteristics and fighting prowess of the animals, in case we find it hard to believe a gecko can outfight a gorilla. Hitomi is a Ratel or Honey Badger, a fearless mammal with razor sharp claws and teeth, speed, stamina, and capacity for taking punishment. During the course of the games, Hitomi takes on a lion, tiger, cheetah, bear, snake, gecko, lizard, and pangolin, animals you ordinarily wouldn’t expect a badger to stand chance against.
Meanwhile Yuya is out of his depth back the Zaibatsu headquarters where arrogant fat cats send their Brutes out in teams of three to fight for control of the economy. There is a caustic message about plutocracy and the rich controlling the lives of others for their own amusement, although this isn’t visible until the last two episodes. Yuya is I guess the proletariat representative in all of this, being sneered at by the others not just for his inexperience but his clear lack of disdain for expendable people.
But business and politics are just as cutthroat as any physical battle, and whilst it seems random that Yuya would be picked as Shido’s proxy in the war room, it would prove to be a shrewd move behind the scenes. As is the case with many anime, the writers tend to weigh up what they think will thrill the audiences, so instead of pursuing this subplot a little more, early episodes are wasted on cheesecake fan service.
Director Yasuto Nishikata has storyboarded and even directed episode of Bleach in the past and a influence of that is found in the structure of the fights. Some are blink and you miss them affairs, others last longer, with the protagonist taking a beating but able to mount a comeback. Or there is the staple of the third fighter stepping in at a crucial moment to shift the balance of power, but whose side are they on?
Certainly not for the easily squeamish, the ecchi material isn’t the only reason this has an 18 certificate, the fights are gory, brutal, and often horrific. Liden Films is a relatively new studio, barely a decade old, yet their work here is impressive, a definite strength of the series. Just to quickly mention something quite unusual, the omake features a human girl Oshie Nodoguro who doesn’t feature at all in the main story, apparently there just for comic relief.
Given the potential of the human/animal hybrid concept as an action series and platform for social commentary, Killing Bites is a disappointment for following the ecchi route instead. Thankfully, the battle element is exciting and well executed that it goes some way to compensating for its egregious tawdriness. A second series is teased at the end which could be interesting if it ever appears.
Japanese Language 2.0
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ***
Man In Black