Doga Kobo might not be the absolute biggest name in the anime industry but if there is one thing they have truly made a name for themselves for, then it is their aptitude at making moe comedies. With an repertoire including the likes of Himouto Umaru-chan, New Game and of course the legendary Yuru Yuri among others, this is truly the studio's specialty. Adding to this lineup, this season we now have Gabriel DropOut, which once again showcases just how to make this genre shine at its very brightest.
Gabriel DropOut can briefly be described as role-reversed angels and demons turned moe. The story mainly follows two angels and two demons, who all end up moving from Heaven and Hell respectively to the human world upon starting high school. The catch is that the angels in question are a lot less admirable than you might expect, whereas the demons are not particularly evil. It is a simple twist on paper, but it ends up working to great comedic effect more often than not in this rather mean-spirited comedy show.
Given the nature of the anime, it is unsurprisingly largely character-driven. First of all there is the show's supposed main character Gabriel, named after the archangel. She is someone who used to be a picture-perfect angel with the most pristine, beautiful smile whose sole intention was to spread as much happiness as possible in the human world. That is until she one day randomly ends up playing an MMO as a healer in order to help the other players (how the game ended up on her laptop in the first place is never explained but whatever), only to find that people were dying when she ran out of mana, causing her to purchase an exclusive premium healing staff for real money in desperation. And this turns to be the starting point of Gabriel quickly going down a slippery slope until she eventually becomes a self-centered game addict and a hikikomori. In other words, basically a lost cause and in this case a fallen angel. She is rather reminiscent of Doma Umaru from Himouto Umaru-chan in this sense, but Gabriel is even more hopeless since unlike Umaru she 1) does not put in any effort in school or try to keep up appearances either, and 2) fully embraces the NEET lifestyle and does not even try to improve herself whatsoever, much to the dismay of her friends.
Speaking of which, her best friend is Vigne (who I think is supposed to represent the demon Vine but I am not sure), a very diligent and kind-hearted demon who only wants to help people. Her devotion manages to get Gabriel to at least get out of her room and attend school sometimes, but unfortunately that is not the way demons are supposed to behave, and thus she sometimes finds herself in just as much trouble as Gabriel regarding lack of financial support from back home. The poor girl just cannot find it in herself to be evil as much as it is expected from someone in her position.
Someone who most definitely wants to be as evil as possible though is the so-called "future queen of hell" Satanichia—more commonly known as Satania—which is quite obviously a feminized version of Satan. She is perhaps the real star of this show as most of its funniest gags revolve around her... or rather her misfortune. Put simply, Satania is an idiot, and her attempts at being evil always end in complete failure. Also, the other girls are generally pretty mean to her in return for all the nuisances she creates. This is undoubtedly the most mean-spirited part of the show as Satania is most often treated as the butt of everyone else's jokes, but it works out surprisingly well because of the light-hearted nature of it all (and let us be honest here, quite a lot of the abuse she is given is well deserved).
Although pretty much everyone has a piece of Satania every now and then, the main culprit behind Satania's torment however is the fourth and final of our main characters: Raphiel (named after the archangel Raphael). She is a former classmate of Gabriel's from their days up in Heaven, and whilst she may look like a model honor student at a glance, she is actually both a sadist and a huge troll whose favorite pastime is manipulating and toying with Satania in various ways. As she already proved in Prison School, HanaKana is surprisingly adept at voice acting sadistic girls, and the case with Raphiel's character is no different.
There is not much in the way of actual plot progression throughout the show. There are a couple backstory segments showcasing how Gabriel and Vigne first met, and in some of the latter episodes we also get to see some more glimpses of what Heaven and Hell look like when the girls temporarily go back home on vacation, which also lets us meet their families. Beyond that though, the show mostly consists of standalone skits (usually like four segments per episode or so), however that is totally fine because this is purely a comedy show at heart, and quite a lot of the time it is actually legitimately hilarious. I cannot actually label it as the comedy of the season for the simple reason that KonoSuba 2 happened to be airing simultaneously, but during any normal circumstances it certainly would be. Granted, humour is very subjective so I cannot promise anything, but at the very least I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed every single episode of the series.
Gabriel DropOut is not a complicated series, but it executes its own premise excellently and delivers a consistently enjoyable and momentarily hilarious experience. Combined with Doga Kobo's typical clean and shiny moe art style (and a fantastic ED I might add), it all amounts to one of the best moe comedies I have seen in quite some time.
PS: For whatever reason, Crunchyroll's subtitles for this anime are absolutely cringeworthy. In what universe does "Itadakimasu~" translate to "Through the Dark Lord Amen" if I may ask? Keep your 4chan memes away from my subs please, because if you think you are being funny I am sorry to disappoint you. Hopefully some fansub group will pick this show up and retranslate it from scratch sometime in the near future so that it might actually be bearable to read.