Gabriel Dropout – Angels and Devils Highschool Edition [Review]

Amongst the strong lineup of easygoing comedy shows, Gabriel Dropout proved to be an enjoyable show that broke from its initially lukewarm premiere. Playing on tropes and ideas that have been covered before does hinder this show’s creativity and sense of worth but is not an entirely diminishing factor in its release. It’s effective presentation of gag comedy and unpredictable writing gave viewers a series that never seemed to disappoint.


Gabriel Dropout

ENGAGE IN THE ENERGETIC AND UNPREDICATABLE LIVES OF ANGELS AND DEMONS

SLICE OF LIFE, COMEDY, SCHOOL | ANIMATED BY DOGA KOBO | DIR: OOTA, MASAHIKO

Airing in a season where a multitude of similarly structured shows definitely had an impact on the viewership of Gabriel Dropout. With fans opting out of the show seeing its apparent use of the Cute Girls doing Cute Things formula, more well-known and reliable shows took a hold of the season leaving this show in the dust. That’s not to say that this show has no fans, it’s difficult to argue that people didn’t enjoy Gabriel Dropout, just somewhat lacking when compared to its Winter 2017 brethren.

The Premise of Gabriel Dropout

Gabriel Dropout takes place in an ordinary high school of Earth, inhabited by three different species. Among the regular humans of the world, there live Angels and Demons wishing to leave their mark on the planet in any way they can. Whether it be aiding mankind in its never ending quest for peace and unity or to wreak havoc among the commoners and ruling as the human’s new demon overlord, everyone has their dreams. For one fallen angel however, her dreams are less extravagant as she falls prey to the addictive lifestyle of video games and junk food.

As anime has tried to tell us for years now, dreams spark from a humble place we humans like to call High School. Gabriel Dropout follows the everyday antics of a dysfunctional group of high school ‘friends’. Within this band of dorks are Two Angels: Gabriel, Raphiel and Two Demons: Vignette, Satania. Although their names seem convincing, to say that these characters represent their species would be far from the truth.

Gabriel Dropout is Not Himouto Umaru-chan

Okay, this is more of a disclaimer for anybody who has seen this comparison be thrown around – regardless of whether or not it was in a positive or negative light. Himouto! Umaru-chan aired in 2015 and followed a young highschooler living a double life. In public, Umaru was an A Grade student who was insanely popular but at home, was a shameless Otaku who lazed in front of her computer for hours on end. As a result of their similar personality traits and admittedly similar appearances, many have (very crudely) labelled this show as “Umaru-chan 2”.

Not only is this a confusing comparison as a concept and lacking in any real depth, but it has proven to stop viewers from trying this show outright. Don’t get me wrong, Umaru-chan was a fine show and I actually enjoyed it more than most, but the relation between the shows end at what I’ve said earlier. The style of writing is completely different, the emphasis on the Otaku trope is much less significant in this show and the two are just generally different.

Exceptional animation quality and impactful visual direction

Truly standing out since its first episode, Gabriel Dropout’s animation quality is fantastic. With a lot of shows that take the comedy-high school route, they can fall into the pit of simply presenting the same images that audiences have seen for years now. However, setting this show onto the backdrop of such a regular school does wonders for the show’s juxtaposition and comedy as a whole. Seen most clearly in the character of Satania, the main cast really stand out from the baseless background humans through their excessive movements and dialogue.

From an industry standpoint, it is clear that this show has outsourced a lot of its animation and it does show. Animation techniques do vary from each episode which some could say that it disrupts the consistency but is arguably a strong feature of Gabriel Dropout. This show’s off the wall nature and over the top visuals only help to enhance the madness and produce some exceptionally comedic sequences.

A key strength of the show is its ability to combine the cartoony elements of its characters and present them effortlessly into the world. Often animated through its smears, each of the main characters are so constantly fluid that gives them an otherworldly style which works wonders. Again, Satania’s character is the main culprit of this as her energetic and unbelievably confident demeanour must have been painstakingly difficult to animate. Often contrasted with the more calm and collected character of Raphiel, the frame is almost constantly focused on her and leads audiences enthralled in her performance.

It’s very clear that each episode has been created with care and that the staff behind the show are being sure to implement their own flare into each sequence. I’m no expert in the behind-the-scenes aspect of anime, but I would hazard a guess that there are a lot more people responsible for the majesty of this show than currently credited. I was just happy to see Nobuyuki Mitani produce some more content, Satania’s eccentric entrance above is apparently his own flair that wasn’t in the initial storyboard. Gabriel Dropout is a really fun show to look at and, I personally think that, it deserves a lot more attention.

The idiocy and ignorance of living in a foreign world

Contextually, this is the first time that any of these angels and demons have lived in the human world – and this concept is played on quite a lot. Akin to the social boundaries a foreigner would come across visiting a new country, imagine that the travel distance is across entirely different worlds. With these characters displaying such out-there personalities and a tendency to drive away potential friends, some of them adapt to these changes better than others.

During the first few episodes of the series, the focus is on the two already established friends (Gabriel and Vignette). With the demon acting like a regular studious and courteous highschooler to begin, her transferable skills come in handy in terms of fitting in. It is with the other two of the main cast that their eccentric personalities establish a gap in their social abilities.

In some ways, there is a link that can be drawn between this and another show of the season: Demi Chan wa Kataritai. Although their genres and general structures are varied, they both play on this theme of isolation in very different ways. While Demi Chan presents its narrative in a more hard-hitting and introspective manner, this show plays it off for comedic effect and creates quite a parallel in the season. Being able to watch this show as it aired really created an interesting level as a viewer, jumping from a variety of shows with similar themes in contrasting genres. Less of an analytical point than an observation.

Sleeper hit of the season

Gabriel Dropout is without a doubt, the most overlooked show of this season. In writing, the show’s premise accompanied by the key visuals don’t actually convey the true enjoyment you can receive. There is a reason why this article has made prominent use of media in comparison to other reviews, and that’s because of how frequent these memorable scenarios come up. When first forming my opinion on a show, I personally give a rough score for each episode within the series. For shows like Urara Meirochou, these scores are all over the place and explain why it’s such a variable series.

However, with Gabriel Dropout, these scores were consistently high and each episode had at least one key sequence that immediately sprung to mind. This isn’t the kind of series that I’m likely to sit down and marathon multiple times, but it is one that I can see myself re-watching singular episodes at a time. Although other shows of the season had me on edge – waiting for each episode to air – Gabriel Dropoutprovided an enjoyable and easygoing source of comedy that would never drop the ball.

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Conclusion

Highschool slice of life shows have become over saturated and very rarely provide fresh ideas to the otherwise bloated genre. Despite airing in one of the strongest seasons to start a year, Gabriel Dropoutdefinitely earned its spot in my top three – among Little Witch Acadamia and Kobayashi-san Chi no Dragon Maid. Conveying the theme of adjusting to a foreign world through its engaging comedy has immortalised this show in my mind. Complimenting its comedic writing, extra-ordinary soundtrack with stunning visual direction and animation quality, this show is an all-around pleasure to watch.

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