In Japanese works, the use of the counter word for small animals instead of the one for people in order to show contempt for the target.
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope
One of the many ways in which Japanese differs from English is in its counting system. In order to count anything, it's necessary to add a special "counter word" to the end of the number. The counter for people, for example, is "人" (pronounced "ri" or "nin") [[hottip:*:hitori, futari, sannin, yonin, gonin, rokunin, shichinin, hachinin, kyuunin, juunin]]. In contrast, the counter "匹" (hiki) [[hottip:*:ippiki, nihiki, sanbiki, yonhiki, gohiki, roppiki, nanahiki, happiki, kyuuhiki, juppiki]] is used for small animals such as cats and dogs.
So when a character refers to a human being or group of human beings with the counter "hiki", it's more or less equivalent to treating that person as an animal. This can be compared to the use of "it" for human beings in English. It usually indicates contempt for the person/people being spoken of and incredible arrogance. It can also be used to indicate Fantastic Racism toward humans.
Listen for it!
In an episode of InuYasha, Kagura tries to tell Goshinki that "one or two children" are beneath his notice, using the 'hiki' counter. He tries to eat them anyway.
In the Fate Zero anime, when Zouken taunts Kariya that Sakura is not worth saving, he refers to her as "ippiki no musume": "one daughter".