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FEATURE: Head Space - "Gabriel DropOut" Virtuoso of Villainy, Satania

Satania, the future queen of Hell, is the greatest disaster and true star of Gabriel DropOut!

Where most moe girl slice of life series follow a cast of ordinary characters either enjoying life's simple things or striving for greatness, Gabriel DropOut stands out for featuring an extraordinary cast in the midst of very mundane failure. It tells the story of of angels and demons just don't fit into their preordained roles in the conflict between Heaven and Hell. While this could be a considered a complex dialogue on individuals struggling against the circumstances of their birth, it’s more likely just a comedy about people who are terrible at their jobs. In this narrative dynamic, it may be tempting to say that Satania comes out on the short end for working so diligently but finding the same amount of success as people who are actively avoiding their obligations but, in a story focusing on failures, I argue that Satania stands head and shoulders above her peers. A spectacular tragedy that shines brighter than all others. Where Gabriel and Vigne are unable to perform their duties because they can’t reconcile themselves with their roles in the world, Satania fails entirely on her own terms and embraces what she is. Satania is an unparalleled villain in her heart.



Gabriel is a self-described fallen angel, content to play videogames and avoid her responsibilities for the rest of eternity, claiming that she was simply denying her true nature when she existed as the proudest aspiring angel in heaven. Vigne is a demon utterly incapable of even contemplating evil deeds, preferring to support others and live a wholesome a productive life, causing one to wonder how she even made it through school in hell. Raphe might be the devil incarnate, a sadist who takes no greater pleasure then relentlessly tormenting the weak and putting others into compromising situations while she watches them unravel, who was unfortunately born(?) an angel. Even the seemingly innocent angel Tapris has an unhealthy obsession with Gabriel which has been hinted at being less than chaste. Despite their apocalyptic power, each of them seems satisfied with a life of mundanity and the pursuit of pleasures at odds with their true nature. Their lack of aspiration reflects their dim prospects for the future. Not so for Satania, who will settle for nothing less than becoming the queen of Hell itself.



Despite the latitude the girls are offered in acting directly against their divine roles in their time on Earth, it has become apparent there are some expectations regarding their activity. In the first episode Vigne warns Gabriel that if she continues on her road of unchecked indulgence, she would be called back to heaven. A brief glimpse of Gabriel’s tar-soaked halo also indicated some metaphysical ramifications to her selfish life of squalor. The most recent episode implied a more active process of review as both Gabriel and Vigne’s monthly stipends were reduced. Since it doesn’t seem like tormenting demons earns you any points in heaven given Gabriel’s deduction, it’s safe to assume Raphe isn’t receiving much either. While the purpose of this MacGuffin was for an episode following Vigne’s awkward attempts to act evil, it also demonstrated Satania’s value as a member of her proud demonic race. In the very same episode, like luminaries before her such as the great Wile E. Coyote himself, Satania mail-ordered a ridiculously expensive .44 revolver to make clever use of in one of her schemes. Their allowance must be based on intent rather than outcome, but Satania's expendable income is proof that someone values her efforts.



Although Satania’s results are mediocre, she refuses to settle for mediocrity. She attacks her work with everything she has, living and breathing her role as a demon. Satania spent an entire morning flying into the depths of hell to collect a demon fish for a mere school cooking assignment. She shamelessly proclaims her status as a lord of the underworld with in complete seriousness where lesser demons like Vigne would literally expire from embarrassment. She proudly defies the laws of humans such as school dress codes and class conduct and sows discord by celebrating those who do the same. Her pleasure at having the upper hand in an exchange with angels is obvious as she lords her position as a patron over Gabriel by forcing her to serve coffee, even photographing Gabriel to commemorate the moment. So consumed is Satania with her work that she doesn’t have the time to make friends, forcing her to eat her lunches alone. This suits her just fine, friends would be nothing more than a distraction from her grand designs and inappropriate of a demon whose sole source of pleasure is the suffering of others.



Although she is still young, Satania already has a growing list of accomplishments, having faced off against three angels, Gabriel on multiple occasions, and tasted sweet victory over two of them. Despite their antagonistic relationship with the angels Satania has cleverly integrated herself into their social group to gather information and keep them nearby should an opportunity to earned another victory for her race arise, even using her close contact to surreptitiously take compromising photos of Gabriel (which is actually pretty evil) to later taunt Tapris. Sure she may be the regular victim of Raphe’s pranks, lose to Gabriel far more than she wins, and remains in a constant state of fear that a mundane dog will steal her lunch, but Satania remains undeterred by her defeats and schemes onward.



Even if you don’t appreciate her work, it cannot be denied that Satania is a true virtuoso of villainy. Sure, she is unquestionably the most awkward, tragic mess among the girls of Gabriel DropOut, capable of only the most rudimentary schemes and woefully ill-equipped not only for the life of a demon but even the more mundane existence of a mortal, but she doesn’t let that bother her. Her plans may be rudimentary but her execution is as impassioned as the greatest performers. It’s as if she is entirely unaware unaware of her own shortcomings in pursuit of excellence. Many artists go unappreciated in their lifetimes and this may be Satania’s fate, but she is a demon to her core, dedicated to her craft, and basically the only character in Gabriel DropOut who is willing to actually do their job.

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Peter Fobian is an Associate Features Editor for Crunchyroll and author of Monthly Mangaka Spotlight. You can follow him on Twitter @PeterFobian.

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