Gabriel Dropout, Vol. 1

By Ukami. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dengeki Daioh “g”. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Caleb Cook.

We’ve seen a lot of comedy manga lately from various publishers, but it’s been very hit and miss, which is not surprising given the nature of the beast. Comedy is hard, and comedy is also subjective. Sometimes something that’s enjoyable for a volume or two is going to be tiresome in the long haul (I’m looking at you, Aho Girl). Sometimes something that other readers find funny is going to rub you the wrong way, or you end up sympathizing too much with a group of characters who are clearly meant to be complete asses. That is, I suppose, theoretically possible with the cast of Gabriel Dropout, but I for one welcome a series that is not afraid to show us that both Heaven and Hell are combining to produce angels and devils that seem to specialize in being lazy, unproductive, pathetic, cruel, and completely unable to fulfill their original mission. If only as I find it very funny indeed.

Once again, the title is the premise. The girl on the cover is Gabriel, an Angel who graduated top of her class in Heaven, and is sent to Earth to learn how humans work so that she can help them in the best way possible. We do not, thankfully, see her arrival and fall – that would ruin the comedy. Instead, we simply cut to her, months later, down on Earth in a filthy apartment, playing RPGs, manga and rubbish stacked high, lazing around in her underwear. Her explanation for how this happened is as vague as it is self-serving, but I don’t care, as this sort of character is simply funny. She has a good snarky monologue in her head, can be the boke or tsukkomi as required, and clearly has the ability to be noble and upright but chooses not to. She’s assisted by Vignette, a demon who is essentially her mirror image – she needs to be doing bad things but has wound up being the student council president type.

These two alone would be a decent enough comedy, but we then add the ludicrously over the top Satanya, also a demon but far more egotistical, dramatic, and stupid. She’s the sort who brings her own downfall on herself, but it’s her reactions to everything that are wonderful. Then we see Gabriel’s fellow Angel Raphael, who is basically Mugi from K-On! if she were totally evil. Raphael lives to tease and troll, and therefore we see her most often with Satanya, who is the perfect victim. The premise of the series seems to be that the Angels and Devils would function much better of they were on each other’s team, though nobody is actually trying to do anything genuinely bad – Satanya regards throwing away a bottle without taking off the cap first as the height of villainy, after all.

Again, comedy is subjective, and I think some people might not enjoy this as much as I did. Certainly if you take Satanya’s suffering seriously the entire cast might simply be giant jerks. But I found Gabriel Dropout very funny, and am definitely adding it to my list of ongoing comedy manga. Whether it can survive the long haul… is a question the next volume will have to answer.

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