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.