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...
- And I Must Scream: Though she completely deserved it for everything she had done, Lily does not get off lightly, even sans head, after the members of Persephone Protectorate are freed from her brainwashing and realize what they've been doing. She's placed in a cell where the wild girls had been kept, a steel cap attached to her neck so she can't regenerate properly to wake up, and stripped to her undergarments, all while under the effects of a drug that place her under constant nightmares and hallucinations. And since she's dead and unable to wake up...yeah, pretty brutal.
- 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.
- Big Sister Worship: Ticky Nikki towards her sister Annabelle Lee and Oblivion for Kyoko.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The leechers are all suffering from this
- Butt Monkey: Annabelle Lee and Ticky Nikki. The poor girls have it quite hard.
- Came Back Wrong: Kyoko views Oktavia as this to Sayaka. Though Oktavia's evidently quite sane and nearly identical to Sayaka in personality, this just makes the differences between the two even more painful to Kyoko. It's hard to accept someone when they look and act just like your Only Friend... only they don't remember you, they don't like it when you call them by their real name, they keep humming that really creepy song, and they're part fish.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: According to the Madam, if it wasn't for the fact Reibey is the controller of the single most important resource the afterlife has to offer (true and complete death, he would have been disposed of long ago by vengeful Mahou Shoujo, due to the fact no one knows what would happen to said source if he did die. As such, this makes interactions between the two of them (from her side) more than a little aggravating.
- Compelling Voice: Lily, leader of the leechers Persephone Protectorate has this as her main power. She uses it to force others to follow her willingly, and they don't even realize they're really under her control. She got Mami, Charlotte, Kyoko and Oktavia with it, and while all of them eventually got free, that was after the later two were handed off to the Brothel. The only way to forcefully free someone is to kill her.
- Continuity Nod: The spinoffs get a lot of play here, with Nie and Arzt and Margot and the Madam. Mami at one point references Michiru Kazusa as an example of someone who's probably dead as a result of her actions (she's right). The way Charlotte arrives into the afterlife (hooked into a mannequin with a tray covered in cake crumbs) mirrors the backstory in the production notes.
- Combo Platter Powers: Oktavia is a musical prodigy, a powerful swimmer, and can conjure wheels.
- 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.
- Creepy Twins: Nie and Arzt. Later we learn that this isn't the case because they're both really Airi and Yuri from Puella Magi Kazumi Magica.
- Cross Over: Several characters from Kämpfer, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, and Touhou make appearances. As well as some characters from Puella Magi Oriko Magica and Puella Magi Kazumi Magica.
- Cure Your Gays: Inverted; being cut off from your hormones and surrounded with people of the same gender results in the opposite.
- Cute Monster Girl: All witches who die are here too, but they're much more human-like.
- Cuteness Proximity: The Twins, for Ticky Nikki. They always treat her like a pet, and the thing left her so traumatized that when they're around she hides under the bed.
- Dead to Begin With
- 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.
- The Dragon: Reibey to Oblivion, he is also...
- 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. However, 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.
- Fictional Documents: A fan, for fun, offered a collection of flavor texts for Afterlife articles and books. The author's response? "Holy freaking wow. Okay, yeah, a lot of this is now canon."
- 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.
- Gender Bender: Natsuru, born male, was contracted by an Incubator who decided to get around the issue by turning him into a girl as part of his Transformation Sequence. Upon entering the afterlife, he was Mode Locked into his female form.
- Ghost Amnesia: For witches again.
- Graceful in Their Element: Oktavia's tail renders her nearly helpless on land, but underwater, that same tail makes her a powerful swimmer.
- Happily Married: Mami and 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.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Genocide City.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Oblivion's eyes are often mentioned as being this color, and she certainly fits the type. Odd, given that she's supposedly the red-eyed Momo Sakura...
- Insanity Immunity: Ticky Nickki is the only person that Elsa Maria can't get a read on. The Madam has more success.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Kyoko keeps hoping this will happen. It doesn't... until the Elysian shows up. Kyoko admits it's close enough, or at least a good consolation prize.
- 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.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Anabelle Lee seems to be developing into this, especially given her actions in helping against the leechers. Granted, part of it was because there was no other way out, but of her team, she's the one who has the most moral qualms about abandoning the resistance and has the strongest reasons to help them.
- Knife Nut: Ticky Nikki really wants to turn Sayaka into sushi.
- Magi Resources: The slave trade exists in the darker corners of the Afterlife. Soul essence is commonly extracted like a reusable, limitless supply of Drug!Soylent Green. Much like kidnapped girls, those that are taken into this life a generally stuck there for the rest of eternity. Assuming they still have the will to try and escape.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: In chapter 3 it's implied that the twins were doing this off-screen in their boat.
- Meaningful Name: Reibey. Like Kyubey and Jubey, the first syllable of his name is a number, but in his case, it's "rei" - zero.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The snowball war in the Christmas Special Gift of the Puella Magi.
- Naked First Impression: Oktavia to Kyoko. Charlotte to Mami.
- This is apparently a regular occurrence. First Time mentions a superstition that any witch and Puella Magi to die together are destined to fall in love.
- Naked on Arrival: Evidently all witches when they first come to the afterlife. Then again, as they were mindless Eldritch Abominations when they died, they wouldn't have any clothes to base a mental image on.
- 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 and that Reibey is an idiot for continually going for this choice.
- 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.
- Power Perversion Potential: There is no other reason for Mami to blush when talking about how useful ribbons are.
- 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.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The small team of Void Walkers Reibey sends after Kyoko and
Sayaka Oktavia: Anabelle Lee, Ticky Nikki, Nie and Arzt.
- Red Right Hand: Witches retain traits of their original forms, varying from a small tattoo to their entire lower body.
- Religious Bruiser: Elsa Maria.
- Required Secondary Powers: Oktavia can speak underwater and has gills. Kyouko found the latter to be quite unnerving.
- Scenery Porn: In written form: the description of Cloudbreak is... stunning, to say the least.
- 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.
- 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.
- Starfish Aliens: The calliopes.
- Third-Person Person: Ticky Nikki and Oblivion. Much to Annabelle Lee and Reibey's displeasure.
- Twincest: Nie and Arzt are very affectionate with each other. Though they claim that they aren't twins, nobody believes them. They were telling the truth.
- Unholy Matrimony: Arzt and Nie, and possibly Margot and the Madam, who have both long since consummated their Les Yay.
- Warrior Therapist: Elsa Maria's power is very useful for this... if the people she tried to use it on weren't suffering from Death Amnesia.
- 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.'"
- 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.
- Your Head Asplode: Arzt kills Lily like this, freeing everyone from her Compelling Voice.