In a world where angels and demons live on Earth alongside humans, Gabriel Tenma White is one of the top students of Heaven, having come to Earth to help others. One day, though, she encounters people online in a net game who need her help. Being the kind soul she is, she agrees to help them. Shortly after, though, she goes from helpful and kind to a lazy shut-in slacker who spends her days in her room playing video games, only going to school for monetary purposes.
The rest of the series revolves Gabriel and her classmates, including the sweet-hearted demon Vignette, Gabriel’s hammy self-proclaimed “rival” Satanichia, and trolling angel Raphiel, among others.
Tim: And this was a show I was a bit hesitant to get into. I didn’t really click with Himouto no Umaru-chan! due to being more than a bit irritated by its selfish lead, so watching an anime from the same director with another lazy, selfish slacker wasn’t exactly something I was immediately attached to, even for a synchro show. Still, I thought it would make a good synchro anime with Stig, and it turned out to be quite a bit of fun at times.
Stig: My desire to watch this was more of a "positive word of mouth" thing. That, and I kinda liked Himouto no Umaru-chan, so I was curious how Gabriel DropOut fared compared to that. Positive words or not, though, I had absolutely NO expectations going into this, and it turned out to be... mostly fun.
Part of this is due to Gabriel DropOut’s approach to its comedy. Likely to go against the usually clean and happy “cute girls do stuff” shows (aside from an oddball fan service scene), this show’s sense of humor is a bit more, shall we say, dark? Heck, a running gag in the show is whenever Gabriel gets frustrated, she tries to blow the First Trumpet of the Apocalypse™, which would cause the destruction of Earth if used. (It’s even seen in the opening theme.) There’s also a scene near the end of the series where a salesman also dies on-screen. Yeah, it’s that kind of show. The kind that doesn't care about salesmen.
Its characters also encompass the jerkass spectrum more than your usual group of girls, too, save one of them. Gabriel herself is rude, selfish, demanding, petty, cynical and greedy, only helping others if she has something to gain. This is our lead character - who, if you recall, is supposed to be an angel. Granted, most of the humor is centered around poking fun at her vices, along with everyone else's idiosyncrasies. Rarely does she get away with her actions, but it doesn’t make her any more appealing a character, and schadenfreude can only take anyone so far. Most of Gabriel’s jokes can be a bit one-dimensional - she's basically the second (heavenly) coming of Umaru, after all - revolving around mooching off her friends, playing games, or being a complete ass to Satanichia often for no reason other than she can (or because Satanichia is being a bit annoying).
Tim: And I’m not gonna lie. I HATED her character for a grant chunk of the show. Enough to make me rethink my opinions on Umaru.
Stig: Weirdly enough, humor like this works better when people aren't getting away with it, and Gabriel certainly didn't. I didn't specifically like her, but unlike Umaru-chan, I never got the impression that the show wanted me to either. A lot of the trouble Gabriel found herself in were mostly of her own doing, and she usually had more than ample time to reap her rewards. She doesn't really give anyone the best first impression, but in fairness, most of the things she does -- or even things she doesn't -- are more out of apathy rather than malice, and she's really mostly harming herself rather than someone else, and in a lot of those cases, Raphiel is certainly amusing herself with the outcome.
But it’s the rest of the cast of Gabriel DropOut that makes this show a fun watch, particularly one of the members of the devil race; Satanichia, a devil girl who claims herself to be Gabriel’s “rival”. To say she steals the show with her loud, hammy, overly exaggerated voice would be an understatement. While she tends to be used as a (literal) punching bag a few more times than we would’ve liked, she’s everything Gabriel is not; impulsive, tenacious and inquisitive. She tends to be careless with her money, rushes into things without giving them a thought, while at the same time being careful of her surroundings, lest the neighborhood dog grabs her melon bread. (She even exercises, while Gabriel can barely run.) Yet, she tends to become the butt of most of the jokes the show has to offer, partially earned through her ill-advised TV shop purchases or being a dramatic pain in the so-and-so, but just as often she's at the mercy of Raphiel looking for some entertainment or a dog looking for some melon bread. She can be annoying, fair enough, but it just reached a point where we started feeling sorry for the poor overdrama queen. (She got that part of her personality from her parents, much to her little brother's chagrin.) Although the show saw fit to throw her a bone in the late end, so that's nice.
Our other devil girl is Vigne, who is ironically much, much nicer than the other three main characters put together. Studious, friendly, sweet-hearted, and even tolerant of her best friend Gabriel, she could’ve been the bland nice nice girl of the group. But even Vigne has her darker perk; for one, she takes events very seriously. One later episode - in which Satanichia declares she won’t celebrate Christmas - results in her and Raphne literally kidnapping her for their party. She also has her limits with Gabriel, much to the latter’s worry (and let’s just say that pissing her off in a kitchen class - with knives on stand-by - probably isn’t the best thing to do). But overall she is a sweet girl without being a doormat, which is very much welcome. (Pun not intended.) So much so, she barely breaks even with the money she needs to live on Earth, leading to her attempting in one episode to try to be more evil, with humorously disappointing results on her end. Why Heaven doesn't just recruit her on the spot, we have no idea.
And yes, that’s a thing we’re introduced to a good chunk into the series - angels and demons apparently get paid for their services. That is to say it's not as much a job as the fact that girls get allowances that's based on their behavior while on earth: the angels have to be nice and helpful, while the devils have to do bad or wrong...badong things. And because Vigne is such a sweet girl, she barely makes any money at all from, well, Hell. Gabriel similarly makes little money, and only goes to school at all to get more; that, and for her games. Satanichia apparently DOES make money (a later episode show she has a MUCH nicer apartment than Gabriel or Vigne), but she tends to blow it on random crap from a devil shopping network (hey, at least they’re being honest). We assume this is a commentary on society and social classes, but we could be thinking a bit too hard on it.
Our last lead is Raphne, a trolling, morally questionable angel girl who apparently has high connections to Heaven, enough so that she can even makes phone calls to do things like change the weather when she so pleases. She’s mostly an overseer of the antics of the other girls, but occasionally likes to mess with them as well. And by "occasionally", we mean "a lot". Her favorite target, by far, is poor Satanichia.
Tim: One of my personal favorite moments of the show was one episode where Satanichia learns that Raphne is TERRIFIED of frogs, and uses one to scare her away. One of Satanichia’s very few victories with no repercussions in the whole show, and it is kind of glorious.
Stig: Raphiel didn't make the best of first impressions with me either, although admittedly, many of the jokes tended to be her outright bullying people. To my delight, however, the latter half of the show had her lean more towards trying to escalate someone's bad decisions, while just sitting back and enjoying the situation imploding all over itself while barely holding back her laughter and/or sarcastic commentary.
As for the series itself; Gabriel DropOut’s episodes tend to be small segments that make up a whole episode. Each episode takes place over about a month of the year, so we see the characters’ antics over the course of a single school year. And while the show does feature the usual slice of life schoolgirl anime comedy tropes at times, it manages to throw in a few surprises here and there. For one, the beach episode has ZERO jokes about chest sizes. Not a one! It was actually quite refreshing to see that. In fact, the closest this show gets to breast size jokes is when Raphiel finds out her bra is getting a bit small... on the same day the school has its Physical Fitness Exam. Which begs the question; does she really have only one bra, or even just one type? A sports bra is called a "sports bra" for a reason, right? Granted, she's probably the…biggest…of the girls, but aside from the show not having all that much fanservice, Raphiel doesn't strike us as the kind of girl who'd really care all that much if she had to go around without a bra for half a day. Well...if it hadn't been for Physical Fitness Exam day, that is.
Another fun episode is when the girls go home for winter break, so we get to see what Heaven and Hell are like. And well... let’s just say Gabriel’s behavior and situation is more understandable, albeit with some caveats; it's not that her hobbies are bad, it's just how far she's taking it. She only wants to work one day a week, which isn’t so bad since she *is* still a high school girl, but it still remains one of her primary traits that probably wouldn't change when she's out of school and has to support herself in another way.
Heaven, as it is presented in Gabriel DropOut, looks nice, but is also a very stifling place. It looks kind of boring there, and even backwards in its technology. While computers are available in public areas like libraries, video games seem to be outright banned, and so are PC’s at homes. Most angels seem to follow a “all work and no play” policy (Tim: And yes, there’s the usual trope of all the girls being blondes in Heaven as well. I was hoping the show would make a joke on that, but sadly it doesn’t.), and when Gabriel visits her home and plays with her little sister, she plays with toys that would’ve been outdated even 100 years ago.
Hell is much more colorful, with darker tones of colors, red rivers, and monsters for pets. The highlight of the episode is definitely seeing the cast interact with their families, and of course the best of the bunch is Satanichia’s, whose family are a bunch of evil, hammy, dark... pastry makers. Her parents act like they are rich and powerful and have butlers and maids on standby, when in reality they live in a tiny house right behind their bakery. They drink blood (tomato juice) and are constantly planning the downfall of the world (except not really). As mentioned, this is also where we learn Satanichia’s hamminess came from her parents, who are just as big hams as they are, though her little brother just deals with all of this with his usually exasperated manner. (With some amazing deadpan delivery. Kudos to his voice actress.) We also meet Vigne’s parents, who are also quite sweet and nice like she is, and her gigantic pet dog Chappy who sure grew up while she was gone. We don’t get to meet Raphne’s parents in this episode, but instead, we are introduced to her perverted female butler, whose joke is that she wants to repeatedly see her naked in the bath, and generally takes sexual harassment to new, heavenly levels. (As much as Raphiel likes trolling people, even she won't stoop to that point, so... good for her, we guess?)
It’s a good thing this series is for the most part entertaining, because Gabriel Dropout certainly won’t win any awards for its art. While the character designs are for the most part pleasant and cute, animation is relatively mediocre at best, and background scenery is plenty bland and nondescript, aside from some of Hell’s color schemes in the New Year’s episode. Hope you like watching characters interact in buildings, because that’s what most of the series’ scenes are based in outside of the beach and Christmas episodes. At least the voice acting is decent for the most part.
You know what’s not funny (aside from Raphne’s female butler)? The ending of the show, which introduces us to Gabriel’s demanding, strict older sister (voiced by a wasted Miyuki Sawashiro), who proceeds to take Gabriel back to Heaven. Said episode includes brainwashing, a forced speech by Gabriel herself (complete with more pointless Satanichia violence because why not), and a really, really half-assed resolution to it all. It may very well one of the biggest examples of status quo ass pulls we have ever seen in a cartoon in our lives. Period. We can still recall the slaps in our faces to this day, and the marks to prove it.
Tim: Overall I enjoyed Gabriel DropOut for what it was; mindless school girl antics. The attempt to mix it up with angels and demons works well enough, and I definitely got a few laughs out of it (especially from Satanichia). If they make a second season, I’ll probably tag along with Stig to watch it. These kinds of shows are what the synchro sessions were made for.
Stig: In a way, I'm relieved that most of the humor in Gabriel DropOut isn't of the mean-spirited variety, like I had to endure in Gugure! Kokkuri-san, except maybe the level of how Satania is being dumped on by the show. Honestly, shows starring NEET or NEET-wannabe main characters are getting a bit old, but Gabriel DropOut does mix up the formula enough to be enjoyable, even if you have to endure awful puns. (She's a FAILlen angel. Because she's a failure as an angel, see? And she's fallen? Sort of?) I don't really regret watching it -- it was generally fun -- but I don't think there's enough about this show that makes me want to buy it.
Despite a weak, unlikable lead and a half-assed finale, Gabriel Dropout can be fun at times as well. Those who don’t mind the lead’s antics as much can probably bump this up to four stars. — Stig Høgset and Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Very mild fan service and some tasteless jokes at times. Overall, nothing any teen couldn’t handle.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Gabriel DropOut © 2016 ukami / KADOKAWA AASCII· Media Works / Gabriel DropOut Production Committee
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