Ritsuka Tachibana has always been a good student, so she is completely shocked when she is suddenly summoned by the student council. Even more, they seem to think of Ritsuka as a troublemaker. Led by the handsome Rem Kaginuki, the student council—also consisting of Urie Sogami, Shiki Natsumizaka and Mage Nanashiro—tries to question her, but it soon becomes clear that they have ulterior motives.
However, this is only the beginning. When her mother gets kidnapped, her life is turned upside down, and Ritsuka gets drawn into a world of vampires and devils. Both groups are searching for the "Grimoire," a forbidden item allowing its owner to rule the world. The return of her brother Lindo from overseas gives her hope, but even he appears to be hiding something. In a world filled with secrets, Ritsuka questions whom she can trust in this dark musical tale, while the handsome and dangerous members of the student council compete for her attention.
What an absolute waste of a neat concept. This is a musical, which fits rather nicely with the dark, supernatural setting. Unfortunately, the actual story is the worst kind of harem schlock, with a vapid, uninteresting main character and potential suitors that range from vaguely unlikable to horribly creepy. None of them even appear to be interested in Ritsuka, said main character, but only follow her because she may or may not possess some important knowledge involving a magic book.
The plot goes absolutely nowhere, with each episode involving somebody trying to woo Ritsuka and her blindly falling into whatever trap they set, even after multiple characters blatantly tell her she's dealing with devils and vampires. She complains about being left in the dark by the people trying to care for her, but she shows no indication whatsoever of using that knowledge at all. It's hard to side with her when everyone else clearly does know better.
The songs aren't particularly memorable or well-written either. They feature no memorable melodies and all have the same generic faux-symphonic metal arrangement that anyone who's watched a lot of anime in the last few years can probably fart out without even putting any thought into it. To make matters worse, the lyrics add absolutely nothing to the story. In a proper musical, these would delve deeper into the characters' emotions and internal struggles, but in Dance with Devils, they only regurgitate what you've already learned in the least poetic way possible. read more
Dance with Devils caught me by surprise. I typically prefer stories with characters being the main focus of the show, how they develop and how they deal with the problems presented to them. Although, I've always had a soft spot for reverse harems ever since I watched Amnesia. As I picked up this show, I expected it to be just like any other reverse harem where 4 or 5 men fall in love with the same girl who so happen to all know each other. Dance with Devils isn't as simple as that. There is a reason why everyone is 'after her' and there is a plot that is more important than the reverse harem itself. EXPLANATIONS.
Our heroine Ritsuka is just an average girl who gets caught up in this 'war' between Devils and Vampires. Both claim that she knows where the forbidden grimoire is, but she claims to know nothing about this. She has a tendency to be more curious than she needs to be, often getting herself in trouble. It does help advance the plot as we learn more about the characters.
One of the male leads is Ritsuka's brother Lindo, he is your typical big brother type who is willing to do anything to protect his sister. He even went as far as becoming an exorcist to protect her.
The other 4 male leads are part of the student council and make up the reverse harem by attempting to capture ritsuka, woo her, and give her (and us) information we need.
The plot is rather simple, there are Devils and there are Vampires, as well as the Exorcist agency that tries to monitor both. The Devils and Vampires are after our Heroine who they claim knows where the location of the forbidden grimoire, a book to control the world, is. At first we don't understand why she is being chased after by these people, but like any decent show it fills us in on the information bit by bit. The reverse harem tendencies are thrown in occasionally but they all help advance the plot somehow.
I really liked watching the show, it wasn't as painful to watch as some shows this season *cough* garo *cough*. It keeps the reverse harem appeal that I personally like, but also gives a good plot and story that progresses and FINISHES at the end of the last episode.
Great show, if you ever feel like you should watch a reverse harem anime, one that you will not regret when you finish. This is the anime for you, keeping reverse harem elements but not completely ruining the show for you by forcing those elements 24/7. I think everybody should give the show a shot, but do not watch the show if you think you will dislike it from the beginning. That is almost guaranteed to make you dislike a show. read more
The reverse harem genre is not one I particularly dislike. When decently executed and well developed, we have a show that can leap bounds with its potential. I had this same hope with the harem genre. Big surprise, I lost my mind after the hundred thousand and eleventh panty shot and gave up on it entirely. But by then, I still had high hopes that the reverse harem genre could possibly be a more fruitful experience than actual harems. I hadn't seen many shows in the genre but from the good things I've heard, I stood firm on my ground, ready to explore!
That was until I saw Dance with Devils.
== Story (3/10) ==
Dance with Devils is a series that uses unique concepts, an obscure structure (musical) and an above average production value to create, by far, one of the worst written series I've seen this season. Now those are pretty big words considering the amount of praise the show gets so allow me to make a few points without going into spoiler territory. So there's this Grimoire that supposedly has the power to control the world and that vampires and devils are in some big fight. Our main character, Ritsuka, who appears to have some connection to all of this, is thrown in the middle of it. Her brother, an exorcist, must now protect her from the evils and teach her about the whole thing while keeping his own secrets. Now, I don't know about you, but this just screams Star Wars. However, unlike George Lucas' magnum opus, Ritsuka does not side with her brother and train to defeat the bowels of vampire and demon scum continuously attacking her, but instead? REVERSE HAREM. WITH HELLSPAWN. Yeah, try to wrap your mind around that. But unlike most reverse harem I've seen, instead of a girl surrounded by horny well-groomed gentlemen, she's surrounded by horny, self-indulgent not-so-gentlemen. In short, it's a fetish series. Fine, you can say the same thing about GochiUsa or K-On but at least there was substance. At least there was meaning to their activities and relationships. Dance with Devils? It does nothing but take these bishounen figures whose priority lists consist of ways to seduce the main character. Of course, there is some romance to keep the critics happy but it's rushed to the extent of being fake. You can make it 'look' as romantic as possible but the lack of chemistry and meaningful dialogue other than "Remu", "Okasan" and "Grimowaru" make it, unfortunately, unbelievable. And no, "You'll be mine", "Chow-Chow", "Woof Woof", "Ritshukah" and disturbing groans and moans aren't romantic either. The element is almost if not completely non-existent. As for the story, though it started off, well, just fine, everything else was just pure bullshit. Aside from the usual bishie per episode formula, the story is full of plotholes, conveniences and, finally, deus ex machina. The lore is barely explored, the villain's motivations are not so much as glanced, the overall scale of the war is never measured or explored and, finally, the grimoire; the single most important thing in the series is never given an origin, an explanation, a thorough discussion other than what it does and its name, just about everything. Maybe I'm being nitpicky but, in all seriousness, the entire focus on this one powerful item makes it more interesting than any of the characters.
== Character (2/10) ==
And speaking of characters, the comparison doesn't say too much. Though I can simply say they're all terrible, let me go into further detail. Let's start with Ritsuka. Though she's praised to be 'different' than your Mary Sue, she's, really, no different from your Young Adult female lead stereotype. Only this time, retarded. Though she shows strong resolve, an independent will and the potential to actually be the next Luke Skywalker, she's retarded. How retarded? Let's set an example, shall we? We're set in a point in the story where Ritsuka's been tricked enough times to convince her that TRUSTING DEMONS, VAMPIRES OR THE LIKE IS DANGEROUS (She should have caught on the first time), TO LISTEN TO HER *EXORCIST* BROTHER AND THAT HER SCHOOL IS PRETTY MUCH DEMON HEADQUARTERS. One day, a creepy,tall, dark haired man with this tormenting look and aura is ripping flowers apart, openly admits he is a devil (-ish) and persuades her to come with him to some special place, the same exact way she's been tricked by everyone else. What does she do? SHE LISTENS TO HIM. HIM! THIS DUDE THAT CAN PASS OFF AS A ZOMBIE IN THE WALKING DEAD. Now, I get it, maybe she's overly trusting and it's a part of her personality, right? And that he may have actual details to what she's looking for, right? Yeah, keep that in mind the next time you interact with Hellspawn. As for everyone else? Again, this is a fetish series. Characters other than Emo Liar and Saint Onii-san (They're literally what I just called them), we have "Brad from the Football Team", "Man-Dog", "Masochist Zombie" and my personal favorite, "Chow-Chow". These four exist to trigger some sort of desire from the viewer and I see them as nothing more. Argue all you like about meaningful character and development but all I see are a bunch of Misexcuse of a male cast with hobbies that range from verbal seduction, singing, stalking and kidnapping. Dog man is slightly decent but not one I'd say that stands out from the rest of the stalkers. Like I said, the villains are pretty damp and lame with no other worthy motivation other than serving their leader or "GRIMOWARU" "GRIMOWARU". Heck, not even the Church faction gets a prolonging role in this series seeing as how they're the ETERNAL ENEMIES OF HELLSPAWN. But who cares? REVERSE HAREMS FTW.
== Sound (5/10) ==
Now if there's anything remotely good about this, it's probably the music. Since this is a musical, there are surely a lot of songs. Well guess what? There's one every episode! Though some of them are great, particularly the first and last songs that did add a bit of an impact, others were typical and boring pop-bishie seduction songs that I don't even want to recall. The overall soundtrack is a snore but the voice acting was pretty top notch, if to bring the character to life was the goal. The OP song was... okay. Not something I'd listen to again as it has this very ominous tone that tries to clash with modern day rhythm that completely misses it. As for the ED, I can't say much about it as I always skipped it. If about five bishies singing is your thing, I'm pretty sure you'll like it.
== Art and Animation (6/10) ==
As usual, Anime Studio Brains Base, known for work like SNAFU and Durarara, far excels at creating above average art and animation. Though most of the design is silly, it has a sort of flare to it. The animation is smooth, the expressions feel natural and nothing felt wrong with it. Smooth and crisp as can be.
== Enjoyment and Overall (3/10) ==
As much as the technical was good, this was, honestly, a chore to watch. I had to push it several hours out just so I don't have to watch it and when I do, it's always so slow. If you like reverse harems and think highly of the genre, this could be an unbearable experience for you.
Dance with Devils is a great example of a "reverse harem" done right. I will admit that going into Dance with Devils it doesn't appear to be much different than the average, but this was easily the biggest surprise of the season! No it's not perfect by any means, but if you're looking for something unique in the genre, then you've come to the right place!
The story follows a girl named Ritsuka and her run in with the members of her school's student council, who aren't exactly who they seem to be on the surface... Ok let's be honest given the name and synopsis it's already obvious they're all devils/demons of some sort, and something special about Ritsuka draws them all to her. One of the elements of Dance with Devil's story that's very refreshing is the surprising lack of forced romance in the first part of the story. A fault many seem to have with reverse harems like this is the main female's sudden and undeveloped affections for the love interests, but Ritsuka shows little to no romantic interest in anyone for majority of the show. That said eventually romantic development with the "winning man" (and yes, she does pick someone at the end) does occur before the finale, albeit a wee bit more development between them would've been very welcome.
The story outside of the romantic elements is also quite well done. Since there wasn't tons of wasted time throwing senseless romance from the MC in our face, the show had a bit more time to focus on the other story elements. A few pieces of the puzzle seem to be missing by the end, but nothing major that takes away from the experience too much or creates massive glaring plot holes. It isn't the most original story ever conceived, but not dreadfully generic either.
This would definitely be the weakest factor of the show. Nothing really stands out as amazing when it comes to the art and animation. There's nothing jarring about it either, and it does it's job as well as it needs to. What keeps me from giving this category a 5/10 however is the animation during the musical sequences. Speaking of which...
If you were not aware, yes Dance with Devils is a musical. Each episode has at least one character song that lasts about 2-3 minutes long, and I must say they are some of the best parts of every episode! It's apparent that a lot of effort went into each song, as each one has a different and unique sound from the last, ranging from sad and somber to fast and full of adrenaline. These moments are generally used to express to the viewer how certain characters are feeling or their motivations, just like that of a traditional musical or rock opera. And don't worry, all the effort that went into the music was not spent on just these moments. The score of the show is just as strong, with a variety of music with all sorts of tones and styles. By far one of the best soundtracks for an anime I've ever experienced!
Another complaint often directed at reverse harems is that the main girl tends to lack in character depth, and is far too much of a blank slate and a push over for the love interests to have their way with. Well I'm happy to tell you this is another problem Dance with Devils does not suffer from. Ritsuka has a refreshing amount of character depth to her, and the reasoning for her actions and emotions make sense. There are a few moments sprinkled in that may seem a little questionable, but as her character develops they do end up all making sense... mostly.
As for all the love interests, while two stand out much more than the others, they all have their own unique characteristics from one another that keeps them from being carbon copies of one another. Each have their own somewhat trope-ish feel, but not to the point that they're completely uninteresting. Unfortunately like many reverse harems, as well as regular harems for that matter, Dance with Devils does suffer from under-developing some of it's characters simply due to not having enough time to give everyone a fair share of the spotlight.
While Dance with Devils undoubtedly has it's weaknesses, it's strengths make this an extremely enjoyable anime! The story and characters keep you invested in what's going on, the music does well to add the right amount of emotions and suspense to the scenes it needs to, and getting to the character songs in every episode is a major highlight to the overall experience. If you're a fan of reverse harems already, or maybe a bit skeptical about the genre and want a strong entry into the genre, Dance with Devils is exactly what you're looking for.
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