I like to think that some years ago, by some weird twist of fate, Kemono Friends and Deadman Wonderland got married and settled down together. They lived a happy life together, despite possessing quite different personalities. But somewhere along the way, they befriended Monster Musume and were introduced to all sorts of kinks. And through their polygamistic relationship, they conceived a child. But they wanted great things for this child, and so urged it to aspire to air on Animal Planet once it’s all grown up. And so the child was steeped in great levels of education as it matured in the hopes of achieving that goal.
AND THUS, KILLING BITES WAS BORN!
You know, I wasn’t there, so that may not be exactly what happened, but I’m sure it’s pretty close.
So what is Killing Bites, exactly? Well, as is stated in just about every episode, it’s where the one with the strongest fangs wins. That’s what Killing Bites is. Duh.
On a serious note, this show revolves around the concept of therianthropes, humans who have undergone procedures to imbue them with animal DNA, allowing them to gain both physical and instinctual traits of their respective animals. These therianthropes, known as Brutes, engage in killing bites, death matches where investors, particularly four Japanese conglomerates, bet on the outcomes of the matches to determine political and financial control. How this got started is anyone’s guess, but it’s apparently a somewhat solidified process. Brutes all over seem to be aligned with one of the conglomerates, and the strongest of them are the ones who will participate in the death match as representatives for their conglomerate.
The story comes into play when human lead Yuya inadvertantly assists in the kidnapping and gang rape of Hitomi. (Yes, you read that correctly.) It turns out Hitomi is part ratel, more commonly (and infamously) known as a honey badger. She can morph, growing a tail, claws, fur, and ears. Not only that, but her personality and actions reflect honey badgers’ general fearlessness and ferocity. So you can imagine how it goes for the scumbags who assault her. Through a typical exposition incident in which Hitomi battles one of the strongest hybrids, Yuya becomes Hitomi’s sole investor. She needs something to wager in her matches, and his organs fit the bill nicely. But as her sole investor, he’s dragged into the next death match (called the Destroyal) alongside her.
From that description, it should be obvious how cheesy and ridiculous this show is. And it knows it. If this show was going for serious, thrilling drama, it’d have a rough time. But Killing Bites knows not to take itself seriously. It’s full of clever visuals, animal jokes, and a wide enough range of fanservice to satisfy all sorts of fetishes. (You want sexy horned lizards? It’s got sexy horned lizards.) Normally, the latter would be a detracting quality, but in a show like this, all bets are off and anything goes. Whatever content can ramp the show up to maximum cheese levels each episode is what we get, respectability be damned.
It helps that the cast of Killing Bites is mostly likable. Hitomi’s badass attitude makes her a cool lead, the antics of Brute Rabbit are as hilarious as they are cute, and there’s just something entertaining about the comedically-sized Brute Hippopotamus and his awkward politeness. I say “mostly likable” because there are unfortunately some obnoxiously bad apples, though fortunately most are relegated to supporting roles.
It’s a sad truth that these characters are regrettably surface-deep in terms of their personalities, yet the show still manages to make each character feel unique, if not particularly complex. This is accomplished thanks to nuanced dialogue and stellar voice direction. It’s a rare case where even though the characters are razor thin, the show is able to traipse along just fine without engaging in any thoughtful character arcs or meaningful personal challenges. There are a few shards of backstory littered throughout the show, but most of them go to absolute waste aside from one. It’s safe to say Killing Bites was never concerned with character development in the first place.
For all of its trashiness, Killing Bites displays unexpected intelligence at times (though sadly not all the time). The show is jam-packed with animal trivia that helps clue the audience in on why characters are acting a certain way (like why Hitomi, a honey badger, is so unafraid of Brute Lion, or why Ui, a rabbit, is so gosh darn quick). Not only does it show that the brains behind the series clearly did some research, it’s a fun way to incorporate an educational aspect in the show. Another interesting point is how the Destroyal works. Human players, such as Yuya, move their therianthrope pieces, such as Hitomi, around a giant map to strategically engage or avoid enemy teams. As much as I do appreciate this twist on typical battle royale fare, it’s executed clumsily. Stated parameters for the death match are seemingly ignored throughout the game, Ui’s player is never explicitly revealed, the players themselves do little except sit back and laugh and prove how little thought went into writing them, and it’s unclear why Yuya remains Hitomi’s sole investor despite her being the new hot topic. There was clearly an attempt to break the mold with this setup, and while the novelty of it does make it entertaining, switching back and forth between action in the death match and people sitting around a table talking is a balancing act that doesn’t really pay off. Still, if you can avoid thinking too hard about it, it’s still an interesting subversion.
For all I said about “anything goes” earlier, Killing Bites isn’t for everyone. Hitomi spends a majority of the show in only a crop top and underwear (though bizarrely it’s a forgettable detail while watching). Rape is a very unfortunate recurring theme that ends up casting a negative shadow on the show a number of times.There’s one “lesbian” makeout scene that just feels incredibly contrived even by the show’s own standards for smuttiness. Furries are furries. And then there’s the unnecessary uncensored boob shot during the first episode. You could say that Killing Bites tries a bit too hard with its male-gaze content, but that’s not really the issue. A show can go deep without being in poor taste. And having a desire to rape women as a defining character trait of one Brute is most certainly in poor taste.
It’d be remiss of me to end this article without mentioning the post-credits scenes, one of the most charming aspects of the show. In these scenes, Hitomi is influenced over and over by a girl named Oshie, who has an enormous crush on her. Oshie’s helpful advice and protective nature mimic the actions of a greater honeyguide, a bird possessing a symbiotic relationship with honey badgers. These segments are irrelevant and unimportant, but something about seeing Oshie continuously try to win over Hitomi is endearing, not to mention humorous every time her plans go awry as the narrator reminds the audience that Oshie is not a therianthrope honeyguide. “Guide them, Oshie!”
From what I’ve heard, Smut of the Season is already taken by Citrus, so I guess Killing Bites has to settle for Trash of the Season. But, hey! Prison School was also Trash of the Season and look how well that anime turned out. Just goes to show what can be accomplished when a trashy show plays up its own ridiculousness, and Killing Bites turned out to be a blast despite its weak points. The show’s plot is basically an excuse to pit furries against one another in a battle royale. And that’s just fine. This isn’t a show that cares about narrative structure. It doesn’t care about character arcs or dramatic tension. It only cares about being outright entertaining. If furry-infused Dragon Ball x Battle Royale sounds up your alley, this is the show for you.
- Consistently good visuals
- Characters are likable, if bland.
- Stupid fun if you don't think too hard about it.
- Animal trivia is integrated nicely into the action.
- Histrionics are dialed up way too high.
- Personalities are pretty thin.
- The actual plot is lost.
- Destroyal rules are glossed over.
- Some content is in poor taste.