Gabriel Dropout Review - Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Jared Popelar · March 29, 2017

Alright, fine! I’ll review a 2017 show! Put the Molotov cocktails and pitchforks away!

Yeah, it’s pretty well established by this point I found the Winter 2017 lineup banal at best. Outside of one or two high points, there was almost nothing out there I could see myself watching. I gave Chaos;Child a couple episodes before I had to step out and make sure my hair wasn’t messed up by the breakneck speed the plot was screaming at. There was a second season of Super Lovers for some reason, and before you ask, I’m not touching that show with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole; not until I finish off Love Stage at any rate.

Also for some reason, and I honestly do not have a good explanation for it, we’ve been getting absolutely slammed on the “groups of cute girls” front. I mean, not that I’m complaining, but just traipsing through MAL I’m noticing that none of these shows really have a ton going for them. There’s your restaurant show that will never be quite as clever as Is The Order a Rabbit?. There’s your music show that will never be as catchy or memorable as Angel Beats. There’s a gender-swapped Yowamushi Pedal for some reason. Really, the only thing that looked immediately appealing that flew under my radar in the wake of KonoSuba 2 was Little Witch Academia, and that’s mostly on my to-do list so as a subliminal reminder that My Hero Academia has a second season on the way.

But then I found a strange little series calling itself Gabriel Dropout, done by the same guys who did Himoto! back in 2015. The description I found was actually kinda charming as well: a high-school comedy centered on a set of two angels and two demon girls come down and up from Heaven and Hell respectively as a sort of immaculate interdisciplinary study program. That might seem a bit confusing to some, so I’ll put it like this. It’s Diablo if it was a slice-of-life anime with cute girls as opposed to two constantly warring civilizations ripping apart the entire world and destroying humanity as we know it. Or at least, if the latter is an element in the story it’s been stuck in so far in the background I wouldn’t be shocked if I turned around in my seat and saw the battle taking place in my refrigerator.


A new contender for Most Horrifyingly Cute Screenshot of the Year.

Anyway, our four main characters all have some supernatural background and despite half of them having a really good reason to hate the other, they all seem to be pretty decent friends regardless. There’s the titular Gabriel (Miyu Tomita), who was at the top of her class at Angel School (no, really, that’s what they call it), then spent one day on Earth, uncovered MMOs and turned into a NEET. So she’s pretty much the embodiment of my first two years at college (haha, I have no social life). She’s joined by her classmate Raphiel (Kana Hanazawa), and I swear whenever she’s on screen I can hear Eduard Khil singing his world-famous “Trololol” song in the background, because her sole purpose in life is to screw with the two demon girls: Vigne (Saori Onishi), the show’s straight man who despite being a demon girl is arguably the nicest and most altruistic of the group ironically enough, and…really, this her name?…no joking?…Satania McDowell (Naomi Ozora), who, despite her megalomaniacal delusions, is so ineffectually evil that her grasp on the title of “group troublemaker” is shaky at best.

I won’t lie, I was skeptical putting this one on for the first time. Indeed, as I watched the first five minutes of this show, I was paranoid that my roommate would walk in and ask what I was watching, and I wouldn’t have an excuse. Let’s be real here: I’m a 22-year-old straight white guy going to college. Shoujo is never really going to be up my alley genrewise (or not from the onset anyway; I’m very fond of shows like Madoka and Rabbit). So you can understand why I was getting iffy after the first few minutes showed Gabriel graduating from school, hugging her friends goodbye, and then descending to Earth to do so many good deeds she’s one bake sale away from being a one-person Girl Scout troop.

“Uh oh,” I said to myself. “Dangerously toxic levels of cutesy and twee imminent. And I haven’t had time to get into my hazmat suit either!”

And then I saw post-MMO Gabriel teleport her panties into her classroom in one of the most angelic shots in the entire series, and I laughed so hard I’m shocked I wasn’t cited for a noise violation.


I get how that fish feels. I’m terrified of that cutting technique too.

“SnYves, doth my ears deceive me or did you find a new show this season that you actually liked?”

That I did, reader, although I’d advise you to pump the brakes on your conclusions a bit. Gabriel Dropout is not a perfect show for reasons that I’ll get to in a moment, but it is one of the more creatively funny shows that I’ve seen recently. It subverts audience expectations, lands punchlines at a very healthy rate, and…okay, there’s no other way to put it: this show is frigging adorable.

Everything about this show is cute, charming, but not overdone. It’s a very fine calibration and I’m pleased to report Gabriel Dropout hits just the right amount of cuteness to keep the humor going without feeling monotonous. From Satania’s evil laugh to the chibi Cerberuses to the character designs themselves (as much as I’m picking on Satania this review, I would not be surprised if I saw cosplay of her in the near future), there is a lot to love in the visual department for this series.

Each of our four leads is distinct, memorable in their personality, and probably most important, they are likable. And yeah, that sounds like a sentence straight out of my KonoSuba review, but actually, the two shows are dangerously similar to one another. I guess the major difference between the two is, whereas KonoSuba felt more like a sitcom in how it handled its comedy, Gabriel Dropout feels more like a good episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.


I can’t be the only one who wants a plush of this.

Let me explain. KonoSuba, as wacky and as off-the-rails as the show got at times, had a fairly fixed structure in most of its episodes. Kazuma and friends go on an adventure to an unknown territory or dungeon, something bizarre happens, Darkness gets turned on somehow, Aqua flips out, Megumin explodes everything, crisis averted. I think I just explained 60% of the show’s episodes in that sentence if not more.

Gabriel Dropout, in contrast, doesn’t have a rigid story structure across all twelve of its episodes, and in many cases its arcs don’t even span one. Quite a few episodes are actually comprised of multiple separate “skits,” the length of one would be fitting for an episode of a short series like Comical Psychosomatic Medicine or I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying. These episodes treat us not only to a variety of settings and scenarios for our main characters, but also show us how different combinations of characters interact with each other on a routine basis. Watching these episodes play is kind of like watching an improv group in that we don’t necessarily know how each character individually will react to a given situation, but we can take pretty educated guesses as to what types of reactions will occur between characters, and that’s where Gabriel Dropout shines in my opinion.

To give you a taste, Satania is laughably evil and believes that every living thing that is not her is inferior and hence subservient to her. However, she’s also very uncultured when it comes to human life on Earth, since she never seems to take time off from scheming or chasing pastry-stealing dogs. Meanwhile, you have Raphiel, who on the surface is just another angel out to do good, but is also a first-class troll who enjoys screwing with demons in particular. The potential here is not hard to make out, and the good news is every set of characters has interactions like this. And much like a good chemical reaction, the results are predictable but always exciting and consistent.


You may not have seen the show yet, but you probably already know how this laugh sounds.

I do feel like Vigne’s character gets a little strained at times since she’s to this series what Shinpachi was in Gin Tama, and we all know how much trouble he had wrangling two comparatively out-of-control characters. Vigne has to put up with three, and although it’s nice to see Gabriel fill in part-time occasionally, it’s hard to shake the feeling that a lot of the wackiness in this show happens because there isn’t enough Vigne in it.

“SnYves, please don’t drag your waifu for this show into your review.” Quiet your libelous mouth, reader! Although I will admit, if I was ever stuck on a long train ride, Vigne would definitely be the one I’d want sitting across from me. And to be fair, the fact Vigne doesn’t have as much control as she wants over the show’s events actually works to its favor from a comedic standpoint. That said, amidst all of the chaos and hilarity, it’s easy to forget there’s one character who’s ardently trying to keep everything from falling apart on itself, and it’s a little scary to think of what would’ve happened to Gabriel Dropout if Vigne wasn’t as committed to the “straight man” archetype as she was. It feels like a role her character is almost forced into, and that directly limits what she can do as a result.

Also, for a show that’s predicated on the interactions between angels and demons in the human world, there’s not as much angeling and demoning as I was expecting. Outside of the pilot episode and the last quarter or so of the series, the show keeps the supernatural stuff mostly contained to the characters just reiterating that they are angels and demons. And considering that the first episode shows Vigne zapping Gabriel’s internet router with one of her demonic spells, I think the series' main selling point - the premise that makes it stand out from other similar shows - was very underdone. They do make up for it starting in Episode 10, when the cast goes home for a school break, but up to that point the series does very little with its characters' abilities, with the exception of a couple sight gags. I’m left wondering how much this show could’ve benefited had the show just committed to the gimmick.


Also, the coffee house bit is a little more Tokyo Ghoul than I think the studio intended.

And while that certainly hurts its final grade, I’d be lying if I said I had a bad time with Gabriel Dropout. This is a charming, witty and very funny show that I warmed up to surprisingly quick. The writing is great, the character designs are excellent, and yeah, I’m still a little disappointed that the show didn’t go nearly as far with its setup as I would’ve liked, but when it does decide to mix in those heavenly and hellish elements, the show really takes off to almost A+ level material in my opinion.

If you felt like me during this winter season and just couldn’t find anything new to watch, well, here’s the show to keep you busy in between the second seasons of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia this spring. In retrospect, I’m glad I stumbled upon Gabriel Dropout, and I’m confident you’ll feel the same.

The Eternal Conflict can wait in my opinion; as long as Gabriel Dropout is around, we probably have a few more centuries to go before Pandemonium arrives.


Provided it’s not here already, of course.

Next time: More live action shenanigans for a series I love.

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