The concept of “good” vs “bad” is at the heart of most stories. Whether it’s illustrated in such simple terms as a superheroic “good” person attempting to stop a “bad” person from taking over the world, or something more complex, media consumers have an understanding of the concept, regardless of the subjectivity of respective definitions. Of course, I am oversimplifying the terms, as some of the best stories blur the lines between what is “good” and “bad” for additional layers of conflict, but I also think that when I mention “angel” and “demon,” readers can pretty easily assign “good” and “bad” to those words. This month’s anime completely upends those preconceived notions.
Gabriel Dropout is an anime about a few female angels and demons who live on earth and navigate their daily lives as high-schoolers. Certainly, one would expect that the angels are wholesome and helpful, or “good,” and that the demons are evil and hurtful, or “bad,” but one would be wrong. Gabriel Dropout plays with the viewer’s expectations and simultaneously makes quite an interesting statement about human nature. Don’t call me evil – I’m warning of spoilers now, anime-niacs.
The titular character, Gabriel, has graduated at the top of her class from Angel School and is sent to earth to live amongst humans and help in any way that she can. She briefly lives a peaceful, productive life until she discovers an MMO, then quickly devolves into a lazy slob. The angel, who is a teenager, is annoyed that her neighbor and classmate, Vigne, a demon, forces her to go to school. Rather than help humanity, Gabriel desires nothing more than to play her MMO unbothered, but reluctantly attends class. Gabriel and Vigne aren’t the only angel and demon at school, however. Satanichia, a demon, is introduced recycling a plastic bottle with its cap still on, thinking this to be an evil act the caliber of which will make her ruler of hell one day. Raphiel, an angel, meets Satanichia overdramatically trying to stop a dog from stealing her melon bread. Delighted at the ridiculous sight, Raphiel is determined to manipulate and antagonize Satanichia. Raphael convinces Satanichia to speak the dog’s language to get it to stop, so the demon barks at him.
Gabriel Dropout is aptly described as a slice-of-life anime as the situations and conflicts vary each episode but range from Gabriel struggling with a job at a local café to the four characters’ inability to follow a recipe during cooking class. Typically, whatever conflict arises in an episode is resolved by the end of each episode with perhaps one exception, but the conflict is never very serious – this show is incredibly lighthearted and humorous. It is clear pretty quickly that none of these girls are good at what they are supposed to be doing.
Gabriel is an angel, yet incredibly lazy. Raphiel is an angel, yet manipulative. Satanichia is a demon, yet inept in every conceivable way and her most evil plans tend to be nothing more than minor inconveniences. Vigne is a demon but is a model student, polite, and wants to help others. The angels and demons within Gabriel Dropout seem to have their respective expected mannerisms completely juxtaposed, and that quickly had me consider how this applies to real life.
Certainly, there are people who consider themselves religious and attend church, but are bigots. Conversely, there are atheists who fight for social justice. Obviously, the opposite is true – I am not making a blanket statement that all who are religious are hypocrites and those who are not religious are inherently good people. I believe that Gabriel Dropout simply illustrates that labeling oneself as “religious” or “righteous” does not that make it true, nor does labeling someone with a different belief system “evil” mean that is true. (ED: “Anything is possible”) Regardless of their labels as angels, Gabriel is lazy and Raphael relishes in deceiving others. Regardless of their labels as demons, Satanichia is little more than a prankster while Vigne is helpful and caring. Labels mean nothing – it is a person’s actions that define them.
Gabriel Dropout is as funny as it is adorable and the way I’ve read meaning within this show is nothing more than my opinion – it is possible that the writer didn’t create the concept of the story with a statement about religion and/or labels in mind. I do not write this with any intent to insult anyone’s belief system – I have my own just as you may have yours. But I think there are people all over the planet who have their own belief systems and are occasionally lazy, laugh at the expense of others, but also may help others in need and commit selfless acts regularly – this is all part of the human experience.
Whether or not Gabriel Dropout was made to stir thoughts of touchy topics, it is cute, funny, and stars very endearing characters. Those simple qualities make this anime a high recommendation, especially since it is only 12 episodes, as it does not require a lengthy commitment of time. However, that is my chief complaint – I could easily have watched another 50 episodes of Gabriel Dropout without tiring of it. Definitely watch Gabriel Dropout if you like cute characters and a silly tone in your anime.