A Partial Review
(NOTE: Manga is rated 17+. This is an NSFW review.)
I feel like a shill nowadays whenever I review or talk about a Seven Seas-published manga. (I've done so many! I've talked about so many!) On the other hand, it's deserved as Seven Seas is the only one making waves when it comes to licenses, especially shoujo and josei licenses, right now. Whenever Seven Seas holds a licensing event, I need to see it unfold in real-time. You just never know what the company will trot out next.
For every manga I pass on (it's just not for me) like the award-winning My Girlfriend's Child by Mamoru Aoi (definitely check it out if you're looking for a romance drama about teen pregnancy), there are interesting, out-of-left-field manga that begs the question, "Who asked for this!?" like My Primitive Boyfriend by Yoshineko Kitafuku or My Secret Affection by Fumi Mikami. (If I get to them, I get to them, and those are library reads.) Then, there's stuff I knew about and wanted like Love is an Illusion! by Fargo. Then, there's the last category, manga that I didn't know existed before it was licensed, but now that it is, I want it. That's the slot Bite Maker: The King's Omega occupied when Seven Seas first announced it back in August 2020.
Publishing-wise, Bite Maker is special. It's the first omegaverse Seven Seas published. Also, as of this review, it's the only m/f omegaverse manga in PRINT. More options can be had digitally via online subscription services and storefronts like Renta, MangaPlanet, and CoolMic. Finally and most impressive of all, Bite Maker is the first omegaverse manga to be published in English and in PRINT. Key words: in print. (It's also billed as the "first omegaverse in shoujo manga" in Japan judging by the author's notes in the back of the first book.)
Seven Seas released volume 1 in May 2021. The manga was shortly followed by the Yen Press-published BL I've Become an Omega Today several months later in December 2021. (LOL. The first omegaverse BL to be published in print did not come from SuBLime, KUMA, or Juné, go figure.) If you're a connoisseur of BL omegaverse manga or omegaverse in general, you have a lot more print options to choose from today. However, if you're only interested in m/f omegaverse manga and you want it physically, then you only have this title. So about this title...
Serialized in &Flower between 2018 and 2022, Bite Maker: The King's Omega (Bite Maker -Ousama no Omega-/Bite Maker ～王様のΩ～) by Miwako Sugiyama is a m/f omegaverse school romance following one girl and three, possibly more (judging by the covers), guys. Yep, it's a reverse harem. The manga recently concluded in Japan at 11 volumes. However, due to its popularity, the manga is getting a sequel called Bite Maker: AK (Area Kanazawa), and it will debut in May 2023 in Manga ONE and a new Shogakukan manga website according to Anime News Network. This is troubling news as we rarely get sequels and continuations in English so...fingers crossed.
Seven Seas describes the series:
A sexy josei manga series where desire and destiny meet head-on!
Nobunaga won the genetic lottery and was born an alpha (α): his beauty, intelligence, and talent drive everyone wild with lust. Despite his seemingly perfect life, Nobunaga is unsatisfied–until he meets the woman of his dreams, who can sate his every desire. Enjoy a taste of the supernatural in this Omegaverse tale about love, lust, and the power of attraction.
Alright, a lot to unpack here. Let's start with the thing that trips people up: omegaverse. What is it? To put it simply and in my own words, omegaverse is an erotic subgenre that features a fantasy world with rules (and tropes) to justify dudes, dudettes, and everyone getting horny and pregnant based on bad wolf science. If you're still confused, don't worry about it. A lot of omegaverse manga explains the rules and its universe in story and in an index, and Bite Maker is no exception.
Here's what you need to know before trying the genre. Omegaverse is notoriously #problematic, super problematique, and it's all about the smut. If you're not a fan of consent issues, possessive and overprotective "alpha male" characters and tropes, breeding talk/breeding kink, and smut, tread carefully in the genre or avoid it entirely, and definitely skip Bite Maker. (Yes, there is a rape attempt in vol. 1 and vol. 4, and casual sexual harassment is present throughout the story thus far. Some of the harassment is played for laughs while other attempts are taken seriously.)
If you're looking for the manga to change your mind about omegaverse, a story that uses the genre to its fullest potential, skip Bite Maker. Instead, you might want to read the m/f story Junkoku no Alpha: Omega de Versailles (殉国のアルファ～オメガ・ド・ベルサイユ～) by Ako Shimaki, which is presently running in Cheese! magazine and unlicensed in English. (Yes, it's on my personal licensing wishlist. No, I can't read Japanese, but judging by what I can see via the link above and Bookwalker Japan previews, it looks right up my alley 🙈, and IDK, it looks good to me.)
Finally, if you're looking for the best omegaverse manga physically released in English, skip Bite Maker. Instead, check out the BL Megumi & Tsugumi by Mitsuru Si. Gamer, streamer, and blogger Blerdy Otome wrote a glowing review of the first volume back in February of this year. You can read her review here.
Well damn. Is Bite Maker any good? Well, no. It's cringe. Cringe AF, but there are interesting and "fun" things about Bite Maker that makes it worth reading to me and having in my collection.
Honestly, the art is the first thing that drew me in. From the magazine covers to the book covers and pages themselves, Bite Maker is gorgeous. All of the boys and girls are handsome and pretty. Who wouldn't fall in love with any of them at first sight?
Additionally, the setting appealed to me. Take the familiar animanga setting of the elite high school with its overpowered student council, who just happen to be male and all have a thing for the transfer girl, but make it omegaverse. Omegaverse just ramps up what would have been lowkey teenage growing pains and hormones in any other story to 11. In betwixt and between the random acts of horniness, characters mule over gender, love, destiny, class, control, and dominance.
Like most omegaverse tales, the second genders, known as alpha, beta, and omega, are stratified over social and economic class. In Bite Maker, alphas are rare and the elite ruling class. They have beauty, intelligence, everything. Betas are essentially average people and the most common second gender. Economically, they make up the middle and lower classes. Finally, omegas are endangered or thought to be extinct. They are treated like property. The second gender has sway over many aspects of people's lives, including who they can marry or "mate" with.
Alphas mate with other alphas. Betas mate with other betas. Omegas can only mate with alphas. Alpha and beta pairings work in Sugiyama's universe (oftentimes they do not in omegaverse fiction) but are frowned upon socially. Also f/f alpha and alpha pairings are frowned upon socially. It's cool that Sugiyama added the f/f pairings to her universe. Most omegaverse stories I've read inside and outside of manga deal strictly in m/f and m/m pairings. Also, these stories tend to deal with the woman in the omega or lesser dominated (and being impregnated) role. Not here. Women can impregnate male omegas and women of any gender. Of note, Love is an Illusion! - The Queen by Fargo is a mature webtoon/manwha story (and spin-off of the BL Love is an Illusion!) that centers around a dominant female alpha. (Sadly, I do not know of any f/f omegaverse manga or stories.)
Furthermore, Sugiyama gave her alphas special abilities called "Chosen Number." Chosen Number or just "Number" is a special ability that only a few alphas possess, and it stems from one of the five senses. Our three main male characters Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Yukimura are Chosen Numbers. Their abilities enthrall everyone around them except for the main female lead Noel. Finally, the alpha boys have elite beta students as servants befitting their historical and royal names.
It's a lot, and there is even more that I haven't explained. Plus, Sugyiyama leaves out some info that will hopefully be revealed and fleshed out in vol. 7-11. For example, Bite Maker takes place in Shinjuku, which is the bougie and wealthy area compared to the ruins of Kanagawa. In vol. 3, we get a brief glimpse of rundown Kanagawa and some shady characters in a gang that will interact (?) with the main cast, but as of vol. 6, nothing has been done with this plot point. Instead, more mysterious characters appear, and still, no answers.
Well, let's talk about the characters we do know. I said that this story is a romance about a girl and her suitors, but really, this story is about the "undisputed king since birth" Nobunaga. Nobunaga kick starts this story when he uses his power in a crowded street. He's also has the most development in the story, and his actions drive the story forward. Character wise, Nobunaga is the "alpha male" trope incarnate. He's possessive, arrogant, antisocial, extremely beautiful, and obsessed with finding his "fated mate." He's powerful and wills everyone to do his bidding with just a look. He's a spoiled rich lordling with a big sweet tooth and a bad attitude to boot. Throw in a few heart melting moe moments and a trigger warning sad back story, and you have the book boyfriend girls swear they can fix.
Nobunaga is the most powerful alpha of the school and member of the student council. However, Hideyoshi is the most intelligent and serious student and member. Nobunaga is plastered on the cover of vol. 1, and vol. 1 was all about Noel and Nobunaga. Vol 2 shows Hideyoshi on the cover, and it's about Noel joining the elite academy disguised as an alpha and meeting Hideyoshi, Yukimura, and the servants. Hideyoshi is mature, rational, and calm. Like Nobunaga, he comes from an elite and wealthy family. Whereas Nobunaga looks forward to finding his "fated mate" and getting busy, Hideyoshi is not so enthused. He's fearful of losing control when he goes into heat. He has a powerful, sensitive, and animalistic sense of smell. Physically and emotionally, his powers affect him the most.
The final member of the student council Yukimura is the most popular kid in school, and he's plastered on vol. 3. Vol. 3 is Yukimura's story as he's spotlighted in the front half of the book. The volume also explores his and Hideyoshi's backstories and ends with Noel and Nobunaga's date. Regarding the cover model, Yukimura is a "mutant Number." He was living his life as a beta until he learned he was an alpha.
If you've read a few omegaverse stories, you'll notice that characters learning they're a different gender is nothing new. It's a well-loved trope. The only twist here is that usually this trope is used for characters going from beta to omega, not beta to alpha. In addition to becoming a newly awakened alpha, Yukimura has to also navigate new social circles and high society as he's poor and the main caretaker of his younger brothers who serve him, lovingly and willingly, in his new role. Yukimura takes everything in stride as he's not the serious type. He's a playboy. He's athletic and a soccer star. And, so damn charming. He can get anyone to do anything by whispering in their ear like he's one of the Ying Yang twins.
Last but not least, there's Noel. Noel is the lead female character of Bite Maker, and she's...the "girl next door." Noel knows she's an omega and tries to hide her true nature and live as normally as possible by taking suppressants and changing her appearance. However, all of her hard work goes out the window as soon as Nobunaga comes into her life. Once he awakens her omega powers, she can no longer be with her childhood friends and attend her basic high school. She has to join Nobunaga and the others disguised as an alpha. Only Nobunaga knows that she's really an omega, and he wants her to himself. All of this unfolds between volumes 1 and 2. By volume 3, Noel warms up to the others, especially Nobunaga. She lets her guard down and goes on a date with him only for that to end horribly. Vol. 4 deals with the aftermath of the date, and more of Nobunaga's shenanigans leads to events and consequences that unfold in volume 5-6. Fair warning, volume 6 ends on a cliffhanger.
In summary, Bite Maker spices up what could have been a normal school romance story about a girl transferring to an elite high school and being pursued by some guys, one of which is extremely selfish and troublesome. I'll be honest. If omegaverse wasn't a factor in this story, would I read it? No, I wouldn't. I've never been super excited or interested in school romance tales, and the few that I've either watched, read and enjoyed always had a gimmick, something extra to them, or like Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori and Kiss Him, Not Me by Junko, they were comedic.
I enjoy Bite Maker for what it is, but I can't seriously recommend it to a lot of people. So to the happy few who enjoy the omegaverse genre, this series may be for you. If you're looking for something different but not serious in the school m/f romance genre and you enjoy smut, this series may be for you. Finally, if you can stomach the content warnings that come with omegaverse (not limited to consent issues, sexual harassment, breeding talk/kink, smut) and this story specifically (mostly via backstory like prejudice towards f/f alpha pairings, child neglect/abuse, and spousal abuse), then you may enjoy Bite Maker: The King's Omega.
Vol. 7 is out now, and vol. 8 will be released in July. Vol. 9 will be the last book released this year in October. This series will be fully released in English next year 2024. I will be looking forward to reading the next volumes, and I hope this series ends strong.
Check out Bite Maker: The King's Omega via Seven Seas' website here.