Image source: avex pictures on YouTube

The new Dance with Devils recap movie, Dance with Devils -Fortuna-, has six different endings depending on the showing you go to. While this may seem like a cash grab, there’s actually a very interesting narrative reason why this is so.

Dance with Devils -Fortuna- recaps the events of the Dance with Devils 2015 anime series. Ritsuka Tachibana is a 16 year-old high school girl who’s being courted by six different boys. Five of those boys have a dark secret, though. They’re demons who’re after a powerful grimoire Ritsuka possesses. But, they want more than just her grimoire. They also want her love. However, Ritsuka’s loving cousin steps in to protect her from the boys.

However, we’re being told the story from the perceptive of a mysterious narrator named Marius. He watches Ritsuka’s story unfold through a “wheel of fate” and gives his commentary every so often. But, what he wants is an ending to Ritsuka’s story that satisfies him—an ending where he winds up with Ritsuka instead of any of the boys we seen on screen.

The inclusion of the new character Marius in Dance with Devils -Fortuna- is a very interesting. Although it seems like all he’s doing is guiding us through Ritsuka’s story, when we pay close attention, we realize he’s actually playing with fate. This comes from how he talks about Ritsuka fate being intertwined with the six boys in the story. But, rather than just sitting back an enjoying the show, he’s in essence engineering the story so the six boys are fated to be with Ritsuka. In other words Marius is trying to create a situation where six possible outcomes arise.

Image source: Dance with Devils公式‏Verified account on Twitter

But, why create a situation in which there are six possible outcomes? It’s not to entertain himself, but to see if there’s a way for him to possess the grimoire Ritsuka has. Yet, as a narrator it’s impossible for him to interact with Ritsuka’s story. However, by setting up a situation where Ritsuka has a fated relationship with so many boys it creates the possibility he, too, can somehow be with her. Thus, Marius is trying to affect Ritsuka’s ever so subtly. And we see this through the comments his comments about fate interjected throughout his narration.

But, consider this from Ritsuka’s standpoint. From her point of view her relationship with the six boys is random chance, not any sort of fate. In fact, throughout the movie she doesn’t know whom she should be enamored with, let alone wants to be with. Yes, there are hints of who she places her trust in, yet not necessarily who she loves. So, for her it appears she has agency in the boy she wants to be with. But, fate does plays an outcome of whom she falls for. It’s the Japanese idea of the red ribbon of fate tying people together. In Ritsuka’s case, she’s tied to six people.

This begs the questing what’s the solution to Marius’s conundrum of who Ritsuka ends up with. As the a narrator there isn’t much he can do to affect the story except keep finding different versions of the story. Ultimately this means, we’re left with Ritsuka choosing one of the six boys or Ritsuka getting a harem. Here in lies what makes the movie fascinating. There are actually six different endings to the movie and they change depending on the screening you go to. While this may appear to affect the singular nature of Ritsuka’s story, it ties beautifully into Marius’s quips about fate. On the surface he talks about fate as a set of predetermined outcomes. Underneath that, though, he implies it may be possible to change one’s destiny provided we see changes in the story. 

Image source: Dance with Devils公式‏Verified account on Twitter

Thus, the six endings to the movie become a conduit for Marius to see where the story diverges, not a method for us to see Ritsuka end up with our favorite character. It’s a truly fascinating concept because it means the endings weren’t meant as some sort of cash grab, but a serious attempt to create a narrative surrounding Marius. It’s easy to overlook this too because we focus on Ritsuka’s story more than anything else. We forget Marius is looking for a way to be with Ritsuka because we’re lead to believe she’s fated to be with one of the six boys throughout the movie. But, when we remember what Marius wants, the logic of six endings becomes clear. He’s looking for a way to be with Ritsuka and the outcomes of her story shows him where he needs to look. Unfortunately, in this movies Marius isn’t fated to be with Ritsuka. But, the act of looking for a solution suggests the possibility of a sequel of some sort. Thus, it’s important narratively and for the physical movie to have six endings.

This is the ingenious nature of Dance with Devils -Fortuna-. We want to see one ending. But, Marius forces us to examine all possible outcomes to the story since he, to, wants to be with Ritsuka. So, ultimately six endings are required to create a story around Marius.

Dance with Devils -Fortuna- premiered on November 3, 2016 in Japan. The first week features the Lindo Tachibana and Rem Kaginuki endings. There is no word on an international release.

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