What comes after death for a girl who's sold her soul? Quite a bit, as it turns out, and almost all of it unexpected.A Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic by Taker Foxx (of Imperfect Metamorphosis fame), Resonance Days picks up immediately after Kyoko sacrifices herself to destroy the Witch that was once Sayaka. Both girls suddenly find themselves in an afterlife populated exclusively by magical girls...and Witches. They must learn the rules of their new existence while on the run from the mysterious Oblivion, and her right-hand Incubator, Reibey.Oh, and there's one other problem: Sayaka is, for some reason, a mermaid. A mermaid with no memory of her life, and who insists her name is Oktavia von Seckendorff...Can be read here, commentary provided by Spacebattles here.Spoilers for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the fic itself follow.
Tropes Used in Resonance Days include...
Back from the Dead: Technically, nobody's back from the dead, but Mami showing up was a welcome surprise.
Battle Butler: Margot switches gears from (im)mortal combat to fetching tea and coffee on a dime.
Big Bad: Oblivion is played as this for everyone. However, the readers are shown pretty quick that it's Reibey that is the true baddie.
The Corruption: Though it's very rare, it's possible for a witch to revert to their pre-afterlife monstrous form. It's far simpler to reverse than it was in the series, since such a witch would have to battle an entire civilization of beings who are just as powerful, and killing them causes them to revert to their humanoid form.
Crapsaccharine World / Wretched Hive: Think Genocide City and the Withering Lands are the only rough patches in an otherwise idealic afterlife? Oh goodness no. For example, slavery and prostitution (child prostitution by default) are things. Bertha's Brothel, for example, is a town that has more or less been taken over by The City Narrows.
Death Amnesia: Inverted for Witches, who have no memory of their Pre-Freak Out! lives, and only a few snippets of their lives as a witch. A few readers have commented on how that, yes, this is probably for the best. Kyoko however, is of the opposite persuasion.
Death Equals Redemption: Elsa Maria thinks so. And she IS kind of right, seeing how the Puella Magi afterlife works.
Do Not Call Me Paul: Sayaka insists her name is "Oktavia", which understandably disturbs Kyoko. Turns out, Witches do not identify with their original, human names at all, and insisting on using their original names can eventually drive them insane.
Also, a more comedic example is Nikki who keeps calling her sister "Annabelly". It annoys her to no end.
Early-Bird Cameo: Sidestories First Time and Gift of the Puella Magi both introduced elements of worldbuilding before the actual story. For instance, the alien races and the remaining Kämpfer characters make their proper debut in the latter, while the superstition of "dead together = destined lovers" was introduced in the former.
Even Evil Has Standards: Word of God is that Reibey was banished to the Puella Afterlife by the other incubators for unspecified reasons. Given what we've seen, we can certainly make educated guesses.
Everyone Is Gay: Surprisingly for a Puella Magi fic, it's a Justified Trope. Lacking the necessary hormones (being living souls and all), girls can actually flip orientations, and with no men around, most of them do exactly that. The ones who don't do so obviously can't demonstrate it, so all the pairings in the story are lesbian.
Fallen Hero: The Madam views herself as one, describing herself as going from an upstanding Puella Magi who sought to bring peace and order to a brutal crimelord who rules over a slum. Given her prior appearance, it's not clear how much of this is true.
It should be mentioned that this version of the Madam never got to do any of the things she did in said prior appearance because it's heavily implied Homura shot her dead.
Fandom Nod: Some readers on the Spacebattles thread wanted to know how Oktavia, being a mermaid, pooped. They got their answer in chapter 6.
Foregone Conclusion: The story has a bit of a timer counting down over it: At some point, Madoka in the living world will make her reality altering wish. What consequences this creates for the afterlife can only be speculated upon ( and for the characters it won't come up for a few years), but the fact that there will be consequences is probably inevitable.
Four Is Death: Reibey's Miniboss Squad? Guess how many members it has. Go on, guess.
Gayngst: The main plot of the prequel First Time centers on Mami trying to come to terms with her feelings towards Charlotte.
How Do I Shot Web?: Oktavia takes a while to get the hang of her powers, as a consequence of both her amnesia and Kyouko's limited knowledge of what Oktavia could do. She doesn't figure out how to make her signature wheels until twelve chapters in.
Instant Expert: One of Oktavia's main powers is a natural musical talent, even with instruments she doesn't know how to play. Kyouko is disturbed by the fact that Oktavia's favorite song appears to be her own Leitmotif.
Ironic Echo: Anabelle Lee and Ticky Nikki debate on the plural form of octopus, a few chapters later, and Kyoko muses on the same topic.
Knife Nut: Ticky Nikki really wants to turn Sayaka into sushi.
Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: When Oktavia gets a harmonica, her favorite arrangement is apparently Symposium Magarum, which has been stuck in her head. Kyoko wastes little time in asking her to play something else.
Obviously Evil: Though the Void Walkers have a semisympathetic motive, they tend to veer in this direction when it comes to just about every design decision or name that they choose. The Madam thinks they need a new image consultant.
Our Ghosts Are Different/Our Souls Are Different: People in the afterlife are basically unconscious Energy Beings. Consequentially, they don't age, have no organs, regenerate from lethal injuries, and can understand any language. However, they still need to eat and sleep, can get poisoned, and retain a "phantom limb" sensation of what they've lost.
Psycho for Hire: Oblivion has a veritable army of these consisting of witches and magical girls who, well... Let's just say they aren't happy with this afterlife, and want out. Ticky Nikki is an especially unhinged example.
Sherlock Scan: The Madam does this to intimidate Annabelle Lee's team upon their first encounter, expositing their names, purpose, and character traits in great detail, apparently with minimal foreknowledge. Subverted in that the Madam is Oriko, a powerful Seer.
The title itself is a Shout-Out to a Touhou album, which the writer notes to be an unofficial soundtrack for the story.
Silk Hiding Steel: The Madam, head of a powerful criminal organization, is noted to look more like an office intern. She claims to think of herself as a businesswoman first and foremost.
Soiled City on a Hill: Reibey's Genocide City and it's associated areas my be depressing, but it's a High Living Standard sort of corrupt evil you'd expect from The Empire. Bertha's Brothel however, is less a city and more of a morality black hole, one so far into the red that even the worst of crimes are openly carried out on the main drag, and anyone who willing goes there has crossed the Moral Event Horizon, the Despair Event Horizon, or both.
Wham Line: "Tradition. You see, my dear marionette, this isn't the first time this sequence of events has happened. And as I just learned, in each and every reiteration, Kyoko Sakura and her mermaid companion have always refused the Compact." with that line we know Reibey is at least aware of time being looped somehow.
From chapter 1: "'No, I know my name,' Sayaka said. She smiled in triumph, happy to have remembered that at least. 'It's Oktavia. Oktavia von Seckendorff.'"
White and Grey Morality: The heroes are very much in the right, while the main Void Walkers often Pet the Dog and usually receive sympathetic treatment. Reibey is probably the only important character to be considered outright evil.
What about everything to do with the slave and "drug" trade?
Word Salad Title: Neither "days" nor "resonance" figure much in the story. The story takes its name from a music album.
Year Inside, Hour Outside: Mami and Charlotte have been in the afterlife for seven years by the time Kyoko and Oktavia show up. The time between the two death events was a couple weeks in the real world.