Studio: Brain’s Base
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.
…Why do I even trust Rejet anymore?
That is enough to express myself, right? You guys don’t need any more clarification, right? Right?!…
….No? You do?
Well…FINE! Let me put on my reviewer-glasses and give this a try.
I’ll be serious and straightforward here; I can’t generally really find anything redeemable in Dance with Devils, at least when it comes to the plot, mostly because it tends to suffer from the same problems that Diabolik Lovers had. And by that I do not mean the guys treating the heroine like a Masochistic-Blood-Pack-On-Two-Legs, not entirely at least, but it’s all the plot points put together that just makes me ponder why did I just watch 12 episodes of this. I felt like most of the story tried to insult my intelligence ; it is quite a simple story generally, but the execution of it is cringeworthy. My problems start with the overall decisions of the heroine, then how little it took for everybody to fall in love with her despite her not being anything special (typical reverse harem though), the said-“protection” that Ritsuka had to have at school and the quality of that “protection” which makes me question the overall quality of the forces of “God” and how did they manage to even last this long, the vampires convenient villains being strong at convenient times, horny demons, horny vampires, horny dhampyrs and it finally ends with an unsatisfactory climax and some pink sparkles…for the most part. I at least did manage to appreciate Ritsuka’s choice in the end, must not lie.
The plus that I DO give it though is the main reason why I even considered to finish this anime over many others that I have on my list: the musical aspect of it, and I say “musical” referring to the actual theater genre of the “musical” (not UtaPri or StarMyu style).A musical is when the story gets conveyed and progressed through several songs at climatic times, either to express the resolutions of the characters and their inner feelings as well as a good chunk of the action. Dance with Devils actually managed to do quite well at that part and even if sometimes it was quite cringing and cheesy, I really did appreciate the “theatrical” take on it, where the characters genuinely seemed to want to act like “actors” and not “anime characters”.
Now, the part where Dance with Devils actually does a pretty good job at compared to Diabolik Lovers (and only in this context), are actually the character relationships (some of them). They have a lot more thought put into them, overall. I think the relationship between Lindo and Ritsuka was particularly well-made (I put the emphasis on “compared with DiaLovers“; normally, a good relationship base would be the least that I could expect in a fiction, so I’m already bringing my bar down a lot). Lindo was really one of the best thought-out characters in the whole anime. He had a defined backstory, an actual cute day-by-day interaction with Ritsuka, an actual purpose to which he strove for from day 1 to the end, an actual REASON to fall in love with Ritsuka to begin with and lastly, he came to terms with his own nature. I feel that he comes closer to a “character” that I can actually feel empathy for and actually being able to cheer for.
The others? …Not so much. Rem started off interesting only to fall in the usual “main guy trope”; he gets a crush for Ritsuka out of nowhere, makes an issue out of it for the whole show, then at the end realizes that nothing matters in front of love (…not even his Demon King daddy almost blowing his head off, but RIP Demon King-daddy and him disappearing into thin air when it was convenient for Rem to stop brooding).
Urie and Mage can just take eachother by the hand since their purpose literally resumed to “hentai flirt” and “impulsive bad guy“. These two are the main reasons why I was actually more interested in Shiki at the beginning because of his creepy-sado-masochistic-self-mutilation fetishes (which is literally a combination between Kanato and Azusa, but I’ll let that go). I was especially sad to have no type of backstory on any of these guys. Not even Rem got any and that plays a big role into my feelings for him, mostly when it was revealed Urie is Rem’s childhood friend, yet I can’t say I can point out any moment of genuine closeness between them, in any way.
But now concentrating on the positive aspects, I liked Roen and I was surprised he could actually make a very valid villain…only if he were given an actual chance, but the authors preferred to ignore him for the sake of the vampire threat…But back to positive! I also liked the teasing moments between the demon guys; they clearly seemed to dislike eachother, but in reality it’s just simply what happens when you put together a bunch of guys with too much pride to sell.
And I have realized that I did not speak of Ritsuka yet. Well, she’s not the worst reverse harem heroine that I have ever seen. She tends to be “louder” than most, though her naivety and tendency to have stuff spelled out for her annoyed me quite a bit at one point.
If I had anything to complain about, regarding the musical aspect, it would be for the “cheap” animation choices during some of the songs, which almost seemed flashy for the sake of covering the overall lack of diversity and inspiration (or maybe laziness or lack of budget, I don’t know. I want to believe it’s the later).
Then, I would also like to point to one moment of brilliance which was the final fight with Jek. Despite not being able to care any less for Jek in the first place and despite the actual fight being quite short, it’s the only moment that I can think of right now where I praised the angles and the actual “fall” moment, which actually did give me quite a bit of shock because I did not expect for it to go that way.
Lastly, about the OST, most songs are cringe-worthily cheesy, but I did appreciate the vocals, mostly Hirakawa Daisuke, Saito Soma and Hatano Wataru. I do see myself in the future humming one of the Dance with Devils songs, like I do with the Diabolik Lovers ones.
I think they could have done way better.
And I’ll ask myself again: Why do I even trust Rejet anymore? This might be a subject for a Let’s talk post, but I think it’s important for the review to actually summarize why I keep coming back to Rejet whatever they end up making. It’s their guts. Yes. It makes me feel like they have realized that if they dive into the “controversial” and specifically into otome “fetishes”, then whatever they make, whatever the reaction, it’s always a strong one, which can only bring them profit. There will be those that love it and hype it. And there will be those that hate it and try to do everything to discredit it, which will attract other haters and more discussions will be made. This is how Diabolik Lovers still didn’t manage to just “die out” up to today and it will probably get a third season and who knows how many other otome game extras and merchandise. Dance with Devils probably won’t have the same effect for its more “innocent” nature, but I think that it’ll still be remembered, seeing how it’s getting a real live musical and a PSVita otome game already (and Singles were already teased from before the anime was even released and there’s an actual manga for it in the publishing). Rejet are smart when it comes to promoting, I give them that as well.
Also, I have the suspicion that Dance with Devils is going to get a second season based on the last scene with Roen and Maksis. So what I have said above will probably prove itself even more true, if it’s the case.
Last note: This anime contains incestuous romantical feelings. Personally, I did not have a problem with it and, on the contrary, I considered it one of the good points of it, but if you’re uncomfortable with “incest feelings”, I recommend you do not watch this anime.