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Nov 02 2018

Apocrypha: The Legend of BABYMETAL (Graphic Novel Review)

Apocrypha: The Legend of BABYMETAL
Art by GMB Chomichuk
Story by The Prophet of The Fox God
Published by Z2 Comics
Review by David Cirone

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Apocrypha: The Legend of BABYMETAL expands the epic, mysterious mythology of BABYMETAL at possibly the most turbulent moment in the group’s history. Artist GMB Chomichuk’s illustrations create a netherworld of scary action sequences and intensely emotional moments, but a few critical story choices cause the graphic novel to fall just short of a tale worthy of BABYMETAL’s incredible music achievements.

Description:
Discover the myth of the worldwide music sensation BABYMETAL. Tasked with defeating the forces of darkness and division, the metal spirits must travel through a variety of eras of time, assuming different forms and identities. What we are seeing is not the BABYMETAL of the present. It’s the original story based on BABYMETAL you’ve never heard before. The long-hidden metal spirit’s apocrypha of the METAL RESISTANCE will emerge.

**SPOILERS BELOW**

**SERIOUSLY BIG ONES**

BABYMETAL’s mythology has shifted and evolved over the past few years, with all roads leading back to their connection to the Fox God, the deity who granted special metal powers to three girls destined to save the world. The focus has always been on the trio of young dancer/vocalists and their dramatic embodiment of the Metal Resistance, with varying amounts of detail and explanations.

The publisher’s description above mentions BABYMETAL three times — and that’s three times more than you’ll find them mentioned in the newly-released 144-page graphic novel Apocrypha: The Legend of BABYMETAL. Preview images show a trio of young female warriors that sort of look like members Su-metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal, but there’s not a “Hedoban-ga” in sight.

Magical fighters Miko, Sayo, and Yoshino are introduced in 1640 Japan battling the evil Vulture God. The Fox God sends them on a mission to find the Agimat, the lost talisman that holds the Fox God’s soul. Only with that power can the Vulture God bring permanent darkness to the world.

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Searching through the folds of time, their fight continues in 1793, where they encounter the Vulture God as he brings war and disease to Europe. As Odile, Leala, and Elisa, they battle their nemesis with only vague memories of their past lives. In 1862 Canada, they take animal form to fight the Vulture God in the air above his horde of zombies. 1972 America positions the conflict in its most abstract form as Nicole, Toni, and Cassandra find dark malice hidden in a computer virus.

The story’s ending creates a puzzle more emotional than logical, setting the stage for a resolution yet to come. The BABYMETAL story seems destined to continue infinitely, and the climax feels abrupt, partly due to artist Chomichuk’s truly horrific imagery and expert visual pacing — the graphic novel gains momentum and really never stops… until it stops cold.

Chomichuk gave insight to his art style in a recent interview: “The hybrid quality of my work lends itself to the assembled creature quality of the gods in the story. They are made of different things and I made them from different things.” His unconventional approach to visual storytelling is the savior of Apocrypha, bringing an otherworldly tension and dread to the saga of eternal conflict.

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Apocrypha is positioned to add context to BABYMETAL’s on-stage storyline. In April 2018, Metal Resistance Episode VII “The Revelation” detailed the mythology in new terms (invoking “apocrypha”) — describing the legend of three metal spirits (BABYMETAL) on the side of Light and teasing the yet-to-be-revealed Chosen Seven who represent the Dark Side. Hundreds of theories were spawned: Would there be seven new members? Would the original three members be revealed to part of the seven? Would the Kami Band join the story in a more defined role?

Apocrypha: The Legend of BABYMETAL takes us no closer to answers, but rather makes the mythology broader and less defined. When we reach the final pages of the graphic novel, we’re heavy on theme but lost in possibility. The closing pages even teases us with numbers: “Maybe we are 3, maybe we’re 7, maybe we’re 10…” Only The Fox God Knows.

It’s hard not to suspect a strategic element influencing this story — if any three girls can be chosen by the Fox God to serve the Light Side, at any time in history, does the BABYMETAL story need Su-metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal to keep going?

Fan outcry over the absence of Yuimetal added fuel to the fire months ago, as did the music video for “Distortion”, which removed BABYMETAL members for the first time to showcase seven powerful figures instead. The music video for “Starlight” revisits the seven figures now shrouded and poised to attack the light from their place in the shadows.

VIDEO: BABYMETAL – Starlight (Graphic Novel Image Song)

Apocrypha succeeds in creating a spooky mythology for the next chapters of the Metal Resistance, but fails to deliver the heart of the story — BABYMETAL. Fans are hungry to learn more about the girls’ connection to the Resistance, how and why they were chosen by the Fox God to join the world together as One. With so many different incarnations through history, why is metal the best weapon to unite the modern world? There’s only one page that even hints at the current incarnation of BABYMETAL, but it’s unsatisfying and too little too late. Without the three main characters, Apocrypha‘s story is haunting but hollow.

Re-reading the graphic novel for the second time, I appreciated it more and took a slower approach — I realized that I had turned the pages a bit too quickly the first time around, looking for the three personalities I wanted to see most — the brave metal warriors who created a new genre and topped music charts worldwide.

The absence of Su-metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal from these pages is a fatal flaw, and with Aprocrypha‘s release coming just a few days after YUIMETAL’s announcement of her departure, it stings even more.

The true story of BABYMETAL is fascinating, but Apocrypha misses the chance to propel the story forward. For hardcore fans interested in collecting every bit of lore, the book will certainly have worth, but for dedicated followers who want to experience one last moment with their favorite metal trio, or for casual readers who still haven’t been converted, the magic of BABYMETAL is better found in their best live concert moments — that’s where the Legend truly lives on.

VIDEO: Apocrypha The Legend of BABYMETAL Trailer

Now available via Amazon, A!SMART, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million. For more updates, follow the graphic novel on Twitter and Instagram and follow BABYMETAL on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.