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Webcomic / Sleepless Domain

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Team Alchemical.

The time is now 10 PM. All citizens should be indoors, and all magical girls transformed.

By day, a nameless, isolated city is safe under the Great Barrier. Every night, however, monsters come in from the surrounding lands and terrorize the city. The first line of defense against these monsters are young magical girls, such as the five teenagers that make up Team Alchemical. Practically celebrities, these girls are regarded as champions, are honoured and respected above all else, with all the support that implies, especially if they are registered.

It would be almost perfect... except for the part where they have to risk their lives every night.

One night, that risk becomes tragedy and one of the girls of Team Alchemical, Undine, also known as Alchemical Water, decides to find out why it happened. Even if that means she has to do it alone.

Sleepless Domain is a Hiveworks original webcomic written by Mary Cagle, with Oskar Vega drawing the first two chapters and Cagle taking over drawing from that point on. The comic is edited by Jojo, the head of Hiveworks, and Isabelle Melançon.


Sleepless Domain provides examples of:

  • 555: On Interstitial 2, which is the poster shown in Chapter 6: Page 26: The phone number on the poster is in Roman Numerals: V.V.V-IX.VI.VI.IX, or in Arabic Numerals: 555-9669.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Mocked in Chapter 13 Page 13, where Zoe saves Rue's hide from a giant monster. The alt text notes that evidently two thirteens make a very lucky double negative.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Tessa, after Sally's outburst that the rest of Team Alchemical could handle things just fine if Tessa didn't show off, decides to "sit this one [patrol] out". She is worried about her friends, so this ends up being a 10-Minute Retirement and she goes after them.
  • Adult Fear: Putting aside the magical aspects of this comic, there are still some solid examples here:
    • Someday your daughter may not come home from what is essentially war (that they were more or less drafted into, no less). Particularly poignant in Zoe's parents' case: since they had no idea Zoe identified as female, they genuinely thought they'd never have to worry about this again after their older daughter aged out.
    • Advertisement:
    • Even if your daughter DOES make it through her tour of duty (as it were), she may not make it completely unscathed, such as Mingxing, who's implied to have lost her arm.
    • Tessa shows signs of PTSD after three of her friends are killed, and her parents are at an utter loss at how to help her since she won't admit to it and she fakes being happier than she is.
    • An intruder got in your house and did something to your son.
  • Adults Are Useless: Bud notes that it's pointless to go to the teachers about Cassidy attacking Undine because they want the magical girls to keep coming to Future's Promise, so barely punish them for any infraction.
  • Aerith and Bob: Team Alchemical consists of Tessa, Sylvia, Sally, Gwen, and Undine. This is an early clue that Undine, the only "Aerith" in the group, is the real protagonist. Side characters include Mark (and his pet rat Nicodemus), and a Fourth-Wall Observer named Anemone.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Tessa to Undine, by playfully tapping her head with her fist.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Sylvia Skylark as Alchemical Air.
    • And her team leader Alchemical Aether.
    • From Team Outrageous:
      • Outrageous Lemon's attack, Lemon Lace Laceration.
      • Outrageous Apple's attack, Awesome Apple Ollie.
      • Outrageous Lime simply uses Lime Home Run, prompting Undine to lampshade that it's not alliterative.
  • Alliterative Title: Some of the chapter titles:
  • Alt Text: Present for most pages, but cuts out during the darker scenes of the story, such as any time "Goops", the purple blob-like girl, is on panel. This is even pointed out in in Chapter 8, where on page 32, since Goops is just off screen the alt-text reads "I'm pretty sure she's still around, so I'm gonna lay low for now." The next two pages are just "Oh" and "Hmm".
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • In-Universe. Undine expresses surprise at hearing about the losses Heartful Punch has experienced because HP is usually so positive she would have never guessed she had endured such tragedy. HP admits that wasn't always true and that she angsted about it so much at thirteen that her costume had black in it for a while.
    • The appearance of this trope in Undine sets off the events of chapter 14. In it, Cassidy and Undine are paired for sparring during club. Cassidy then proceeds to attack Undine, expressing suspicion that she was somehow responsible for the fate of Team Alchemical. Among the reasons she cites for this is just how quickly Undine seemed to bounce back after the events of chapter two, joining the Magical Girls Power Training Club "like nothing happened".
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Most characters avoid directly discussing Heartful Punch's obvious interest in Undine. But not Harley.
    Harley: So... Do you think you like her?
  • Art Shift: During Undine's dream in chapter 9, the art shifts to a lineless style.
  • At Arm's Length: Sally's introduction has her swinging her arms at Sylvia while Sylvia holds her back with one hand.
  • Bequeathed Power:
    • Heartful Punch believes something like this happened when she was born as a side-effect of her mother still being an active magical girl when she gave birth. HP's powers are distinctly her own, as all Magical Girls' are, but she states because of the circumstances of her birth, her overall level of power got a boost.
    • It's implied that (some of) Tessa's power was passed on to Undine—like HP, she inherited eye coloring from a magical girl who lost her own powers. She has a highly unusual second instance of the power-granting dream after this incident, and later pulls off a powerful finishing move similar to Tessa's signature attack, which she had attempted in the past but wrote off as impossible.
  • Blade on a Stick: There have been at least two incarnations of "Team Spear" within two decades of the story's present day. Heartful Punch's mother was a member of the earlier incarnation as "Moonlight Spear". She wielded a naginata while her teammates, Sunlight Spear and Starlight Spear, used a halberd and guandao respectively.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Steffi's speech in the background of this page is rendered as "nonsense nonsense".
  • Bland-Name Product:
  • Blood Knight: Sally seems to enjoy fighting. Gwen to a lesser degree as well: she doesn't revel in it as Sally, but she did run off with Sally the moment they heard where the enemies were to fight them.
  • Blow You Away: Sylvia, a.k.a. Alchemical Air, uses air to fly, providing aerial surveillance, and can also perform a potent combo with Sally's fire.
  • Bollywood Nerd: Vedika has the highest GPA in the school and volunteers at a hospital.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Volume 1 (chapters 1-4) starts and ends with one of the nightly P.A. announcements for the beginning of magical girl hours.
    • Chapter 13 starts and ends with the viewers seeing a magical girl transform on screen for the first time: Rue and Zoe respectively.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: One flashback at the beginning of Chapter 9 shows Sylvia researching new ways to apply her powers and stumbling upon something that might help Undine. Discussed by Heartful Punch's training group—apparently it's unknown whether physical fitness influences magical powers, but it's probably beneficial for combat either way, for obvious reasons.
  • Bratty Half-Pint:
    • Forte Drums/Debbi "thinks she can get away with anything just cause she's cute" and her classmate Swing Blitz shows similar mischievousness.
    • Sally, especially when compared to Sylvia, can come off as this in some of her moments, especially during the fight when she says Tessa looks down upon them.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Undine performs her Water Jet at the end of Chapter 8, she makes the exact same pose as Tessa did in Chapter 1 when she took out the boss monster of the chapter, both attacks are called with the single word "bang", and even the nature of the attacks is similar, with Tessa's attack being a giant energy beam and Undine's being a giant water beam. To further highlight the similarities between the scenes, Undine's pink pupils are extremely wide when she does this, thus more closely resembling Tessa's pink eyes.
    • Some of the masks in the Fright Night interlude resemble past monsters: the two tone mask looks like the face of the monster that killed the Team Alchemical Girls, Anemone's resembles the monster that Rue and Zoe fought, and the one in the back looks an awful lot like the Purple One herself.
  • Calling Your Attacks:
    • The Team Alchemical girls like to do this when combining their elements for attacks.
    • Team Outrageous are seen doing this with their regular attacks.
  • The Cameo: Steffi, Benzene, 42 and Raccoon from Kiwi Blitz show up as Team Blitz, one of the teams that Undine talks to in chapter 5.
  • Catching Some Z's: Chapter 8 - Page 5: First panel, is Undine, when she's sleeping. She emits Z-s.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Chapter 5 - Page 28, Mark is wet, and Undine hopes he doesn't catch a cold.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject:
    • When Outrageous Lime sees Undine and Heartful Punch together for the first time and gets told by HP that they're together, she remarks to HP "So that was your type." Heartful Punch responds by sweating bullets and asking if they could not talk about that, while Undine stands there completely missing the implication.
    • In chapter ten, when Heartful Punch is telling Undine about how her mother died, she remarks that the monster responsible was still in the room and attacked Starlight Spear, the Magical Girl on the scene who told HP the story later, with the implication that Starlight lost an arm in the process of defeating it. HP goes quiet at that point and, when Undine expresses concern, HP declares "Anyway!" and continues with her story.
  • Child Soldiers:
    • Namechecked: Chapter 5 - Page 30: Mark tells Undine that he'd assumed the magical girls only choose to be child soldiers because they were too young to truly understand their own mortality. Undine actually agrees, up to a point, but deflects the deeper implications with Someone Has to Do It.
    • Heartful Punch describes the trope while talking with Undine about how the City Defense Department doesn't like to acknowledge things like the consequences of an active Magical Girl becoming pregnant because, among other things, it potentially tarnishes the image of Magical Girls people have.
      Heartful Punch: Foundationists aren't the only ones who want to pretend we're these perfect warriors. The idea that we're just as flawed as anyone else... I don't think they like that. Because then we don't exist just to fight and die for them.
  • Combination Attack: Team Alchemical has some:
    • Sylvia (air) + Sally (fire) = Firestorm
    • Gwen (earth) + Undine (water) = Fertile Soil
    • Gwen (earth) + Sally (fire) = Lava Whatever
  • Competence Zone: Apparently Adults (and boys) Are Useless when it comes to fighting monsters, so the city's defenders are all girls whose powers expire roughly when they enter adulthood.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: One interstitial glance at an unknown journalist's notes reveals that he's completely appalled by the "business as usual" attitude the locals exhibit towards the dangers faced by their adolescent protectors.
  • Confused Question Mark: Chapter 3 - Page 26: They appear around a Heartful Punch, when she's confused by Undine asking her, "Wait, you don't know?"
  • Conveniently Seated: Referencing how Tessa is seated in the center of the non-window side of her classroom, the Alt Text for Chapter 7 - Page 1 says:
    Window seats are for main characters only
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Downplayed; some magical girls engage in this, but it's mostly in the background. Popular girls or groups often have a cameraman follow them around while hunting monsters, apparently getting TV footage, and occasionally a character-themed product will show up, such as when Heartful Punch eats some of her own branded cereal.
  • Creator Cameo: Tessa's "kinda goofy" homeroom teacher, Miss Cable. In case you aren't convinced by her name and uncanny resemblance to the depiction of the author in Let's Speak English, there's the Alt Text:
    Woops I tripped and fell into my own comic, such a klutz.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The team minus Tessa versus the elevator/deer-shadow. Three of the girls end up dead before Tessa shows up and gives it a taste of this trope with a single blast.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Magical Girls' hair and eyes color typically match or, if they don't, fall into a matching color scheme, like Sally's gold eyes with otherwise red colors. One big exception to this is Heartful Punch, with bright blue eyes on an overall pink color scheme. HP herself notes this is unusual in chapter ten.
  • Darker and Edgier: The second chapter compared to the first one, as the first was a typical Magical Girl story and things seemed to go well, whereas the second one starts by showing inner conflict within Team Alchemical, and goes downhill from there.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Undine receives hints that there may be a magical girl working for the other side and guiding some of the monsters.
  • Dead All Along: Chapter 5 - Page 14: The dark magical girl taunts Undine by implying she's already dead. Of course, in the very next page she taunts her for taking that insult literally, so maybe we shouldn't read into it too much.
  • Death by Childbirth: Brought up in chapter ten, when Heartful Punch tells Undine about her mother. HP says her mom died shortly after she was born and, as a side effect of her mother being an active Magical Girl at the time, her powers left her and went into HP. Because of this, Undine hesitantly asks if HP's mom passed away in labor. HP assures Undine that was not the case.
  • Death Glare: In Chapter 13, Rue's baby brother Dill gives her an adorable death glare when she's caught out after hours.
  • Deconstruction: Of the grimdark subtype of the Magical Girl genre, which this wiki itself calls a Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction. Sleepless Domain uses elements specific to that subgenre (magical girls being called "magical girls" rather than a world-specific name, working under a system that cares little for the girls' actual well-being despite appearances, the idea that one person's Kid Hero is another's Child Soldier, and major character death). Even so, it avoids Gorn and even on-screen death, constantly underlines that (despite characters' Survivor Guilt) their suffering isn't their fault or karma for wanting to protect others, and allows characters to develop positively and resolve to be stronger and save others without that blowing up in their faces. In essence, it looks at the needlessly cruel world of the dark shows and says, in real life, support, hope, and dreams would still exist as a powerful force rather than something to be mocked or destroyed.
  • Decoy Protagonist: As the leader of Team Alchemical, Tessa appears to be the protagonist. By Chapter 3, however, it becomes apparent that the actual protagonist is Undine.
  • Description Cut: Sort of. Heartful Punch spends a whole page beating herself up over not knowing what happened to Team Alchemical and insisting that Undine must hate her now. Cut to Undine, wondering if the cafeteria has turkey today.
  • Destructive Saviour: In Chapter 1 - Page 21, Undine mentions the possibility of minimizing property damage, when using her and Gwen's Combination Attack, implying that it's usually more destructive.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Gwen, a.k.a. Alchemical Earth, can control the ground around her. While she can't fly like Sylvia, she can cause the earth to rise beneath her for much the same result. In her Combination Attack with Undine, the result is a Green Thumb, with the Fertile Soil attack that generates glowing plant-structures.
  • Domed Hometown: Interestingly enough, the dome only works during the day. It shuts down at 10:00 PM and resets at 2:00 AM. There is an inner barrier that protects the civilians in their houses while the rest of the city becomes a battlezone between the magical girls and the monsters.
  • Dumb Muscle: Heartful Punch. She doesn't pay any attention to the news and is implied to frequently skip school events. Her main concern is punching the monsters to death. Though the more we see of her, it seems she's not dumb so much as detached from anything she considers unimportant. On the other other hand, she does call herself a doofus.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first chapter is the only one where a regular human has colored text for his dialogue, as opposed to all following chapters where only magical girls have colored text and regular humans have black text (including Tessa after being depowered). This has been Retconned. The first two chapters have a noticeably different visual style in general, since the writer didn't start drawing the comic until chapter 3.
    • Mary Cagle herself has pointed out mistakes including roadways for nonexistent cars and gauge earrings on Heartful Punch's ears during her first appearance.
    • The big disastrous twist of three characters dying all at once in chapter 2 makes the case for an Anyone Can Die type of story; instead, the many chapters after this are spent dealing with the aftermath of that incident. No present-day characters have died as of chapter 10, though we saw how Heartful Punch's mother died in a flashback. This gets lampshaded in some Alt Text in chapter 7.
    • Undine had straight hair in her civilian form in the first two chapters, which can be quite jarring for people to look back on, which gets lampshaded here.
  • Elemental Hair: Most of the girls' hair colours match their elements. Undine (water) and Melty Frost (ice) have blue hair, Sally and Melty Flame (both fire) have red, Gwen's (earth) is brown, Tessa and HP (Heart Is an Awesome Power) are pink.
  • Elemental Powers: Each member of Team Alchemical uses magic in line with their stated elements of Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Tessa, as Alchemical Aether, goes for Pure Energy. For this reason Melty Flame and Melty Frost can be assumed to be fire and ice users, respectively. Pop Blitz is specifically stated to have electricity powers she's still working on controlling, which is why they have to reject Undine's request to join them in chapter 5.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Heartful Punch's cat, Kicks, growls at the phone when it begins ringing. HP dismisses it as the cat getting worked up over nothing until she answers the phone and gets threatened by the Purple One. Conversely, Kicks does not react this way when Undine calls only a few moments later. HP picks up on this between the two calls and uses the cat's non-reaction to the second to judge it safe to answer.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Bud has eyes like this. When they ARE open they're Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • Famed in Story:
    • Heartful Punch is apparently one of the most famous magical girls in the setting, being a successful solo fighter. The idea she might have gotten a partner immediately prompts interest from Tessa's classmates, Undine's mother, and the news.
    • Undine is rather famous, too, if for all the wrong reasons. Mark, an apparent transient, realizes who she is and can only mutter "Jesus..." in response.
  • Familiar: Apparently they exist, as Tessa remarks upon the possibility of a creature being one:
    That doesn't look like a monster... Maybe a girl's familiar or something?
  • Fiery Redhead: Sally, and quite literally to boot. It's a genuine part of her (fire-based) magical girl powers as, prior to receiving the Dream, Sally's hair was black with reddish brown highlights.
  • First-Episode Twist: Sally, Gwen, and Sylvia are killed off and Tessa burns out her powers saving Undine.
  • Flashback to Catchphrase: When Undine uses Tessa's "Bang" line in a later fight.
  • Foreshadowing: The interstitial flyer after Chapter 1 contains a very sneaky hint to the upcoming Wham Episode. Only 70% less likely for registered magical girls to experience serious injuries or fatalities, is it?
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Played horrifically straight. Tessa is the most powerful member of Team Alchemical, and she completely burns out her magic trying to heal the one surviving member of her team. She flat-out says that healing is the most advanced form of magic while she's doing it.
    Tessa: They say healing's the hardest form of magic... but if my power's so damn great... then I should at least be able to manage this, right?
  • Hero Looking for Group: Undine looks for a new group at Tessa's request, after she gets depowered saving Undine's life and the rest of their team is killed in action. The first half of chapter five is dedicated to Undine's hunt for a new team. By chapter eight, while she doesn't join or form a proper team, she enters into a more informal duo with Heartful Punch, and joins the Magical Girl Power Training Club to get stronger. Rumours then fly that they're becoming an official team, which makes Tessa feel more alone despite Undine trying to reach out to her.
  • Hidden Depths: Sylvia's focus on the profits and money she can earn as a popular magical girl comes from her being the sole breadwinner of her family, which included two younger siblings, a boy and a girl, as seen in the 3rd panel of Chapter 2: Page 13.
  • Hidden Eyes: Undine when smashing some imps onto the ground from a height, like the elevator monster did to her friends.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: Chapter 2 - Page 3: Indicates they use a calendar that has some C.Y abbreviation, and it's been at least 127 years since then.
  • An Ice Person: Melty Frost doesn't show her powers on-panel when she and Flame meet Undine, but given her Magical Girl name, it can be safely assumed she has ice powers at her disposal.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • As of chapter 10, most of the chapter titles are One Word Titles:
    • Starting with Chapter 3, all the following chapter titles are water-themed:
    • Chapter 10 breaks the pattern of water-themed titles with a heart themed title, "Diastole", after the part of the process of a heartbeat when the heart expands. The cover page also displays only Heartful Punch, with Undine nowhere to be seen. The Alt Text gets in on Discussing the trope:
      Nobody said they all had to be Water Things
    • Likewise while fitting the water theme, 12's "Lagan" doesn't refer to water directly, but something left behind at the bottom of the sea. Tessa is the only one on the cover, and it fits her role in the story.
    • Another pattern-breaker: Chapter 13 is "Fertilizer", focuses on Rue and Zoe, and describes the latter's powers.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: In-Universe. Bud considers ship names for Heartful Punch/Undine: Heartful Wave or Water Punch?
  • Invisible Parents: Three years in, we finally get to see the main character's mother.
  • Jerkass: The news reporter who calls Undine a brat for refusing an interview on the day of her friends' funeral, and a magical girl who tells another girl she doesn't deserve to go to Future's Hope because she doesn't take part in the nightly patrols (despite the registration leaflet clearly stating that even registered magical girls are under no obligation to do so.)
  • Just Before the End: The main characters are largely unaware of it, but Anemone's monologues indicate that the rest of the world has been taken over by monsters, and this last remaining city may not last much longer.
  • Kill Steal: Chapter 1 - Page 13: Sally does it to Gwen, and Gwen notes it by saying "... Kill Steal."
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Elite Mook from the second chapter. It single handedly eliminates three members of Team Alchemical and indirectly removes a fourth when Tessa sacrifices her power to save Undine. This act marks a major shift in the comic's plot.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Whenever anyone thinks about the faceless magical girl who appears in the Dream and grants powers, their eyes go dull and they mention that they can't remember anything specific. There's even a statue of her at the graveyard, but everyone just thinks she's some vague generic magical girl. Anemone takes advantage of this by telling Tessa who the statue is. Tessa immediately zones out, and when she wakes up a few minutes later she can barely even remember she was talking to someone.
  • Last Bastion: The inhabitants aren't even sure if there are other humans outside of the city.
  • Late for School: One girl, in the bottom right corner of the first panel of Chapter 6: Page 6, is running toward the school with a piece of toast in her mouth.
  • Little "No": At the bottom of Chapter 2: Page 31, although it may be a Big "NO!", as it's as tall as its panel, but doesn't have any exclamation marks.
  • Lovely Angels: Undine and Heartful Punch work their way towards this little by little over the course of the comic. The two work well together, both respecting and supporting the other, and Heartful Punch eventually offers to form a team with Undine. This is remarkable as HP is best known for fighting solo.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Emphasis on war. All wars have casualties.
  • Making a Splash: Undine, a.k.a. Alchemical Water. Her water can be used for mobility similarly to Gwen's earth, which Heartful Punch thinks is a great way to get around. She can top HP's ability as a Sensor Character if the night is foggy enough and combine with Gwen's earth for a Green Thumb. She struggles to use her powers offensively once she's on her own, something Heartful Punch helps her with.
  • Meaningful Echo: In Chapter 1, Tessa's finishing move on the monster features her pointing her finger like a gun and saying "Bang." as the attack fires. In Chapter 8, in a moment of desperation, the pink in Undine's eyes flares up and she performs her own version of the same attack, complete with a "Bang."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The girls names are Theme Named based on Alchemic Elementals of their corresponding elements. Undines are water spirits/nymphs, Sally is derived from Salamanders (fire-breathing dragons), Sylvia is derived form Sylph (Air counterparts to Undines) and Gwen is derived from Gnome. Tessa (full name: Tessa Quinn) is not derived from an elemental, but the element itself: aether is also known as quintessence.
    • Magical Girl Heartful Punch eventually reveals her real name is Kokoro, which means heart.
    • Kokoro's mother's magical girl name was Moonlight Spear and her real name was Mitsuki, which can have various meanings depending on how it's written, one of them being "light, moon". Mitsuki's teammate, Starlight Spear, had the civilian name Mingxing. Together, this can mean "star/celebrity", but the characters separately read as "bright" (ming) and "star" (xing).
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: When not going full Aerith and Bob, this tends to happen; Heartful Punch and her mother have Japanese names (Kokoro and Mitsuki), and one of her mother's teammates had a Chinese name. This is alongside more Westernish names like Gwen and Sally. 10 chapters in, the location and origin of the city everyone lives in remains a mystery, but this implies that people from many parts of the world ended up there.
  • Mercury's Wings: In magical girl form, Tessa wears a headband with wings, and at the very least she can make great leaps In a Single Bound.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Outrageous Lime mistakes Heartful Punch's statement that she and Undine are "together" (as in, working together) to mean that they're a couple. Undine completely misses the implications, but HP immediately demands they change the subject. Lime agrees, saying she's "got a guy now, anyway".
  • Modesty Shorts: In Q&A Time!, some of the cast members are asked questions. When Zoe is asked how she's adjusting, she notes that she had never worn skirts, like those in her school uniform, before being out as a girl. As a result, she's unused to them and wears shorts under hers. At that admission, Heartful Punch and Outrageous Apple appear. HP is surprised to learn other girls don't wear shorts under their skirts, while Apple dismisses those girls as fools, as one's clothing should always be prepared to do sick skateboard tricks.
    • Gwen and Sylvia’s transformed uniforms both include shorts, as does Harley’s outfit
  • Modesty Towel: In Chapter 4 - Page 27: Used to show the scar on Tessa's chest where her Power Tattoo used to be.
  • Mundane Utility: As seen in the third panel of Chapter 2: Page 13: Undine uses her water powers to wash dishes.
  • Never Trust a Title: Ironically, unlike most cases of schoolkids having nightly superhero adventures, these magical girls go to a special school that starts late in the day so they can get a full 8 hours of sleep (from 2 AM to 10 AM). The only chronically "sleepless" character is Rue, who goes to normal school because she doesn't trust the government. The title apparently comes from an in-universe magical girl celebrity magazine, though this never comes up in the story. This page makes fun of the inconsistency:
    Kokoro: A good night's sleep is the first step to kicking ass.
    Alt Text: It's called SLEEPLESS DOMAIN! You're all doing it wrong!
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: Reversed; the main religion of the city, "Foundationism," revolves around magical girls and how they supposedly come into existence. So, essentially magic is religion, though none of the main characters are serious believers. Several parody versions of fantasy beings including Holly Jolly (Santa Claus), Spring Rabbit (the Easter Bunny), and the Tooth Fairy (ditto) are all magical girls, though much like their real-life counterparts, only children believe they exist.
  • Odd-Shaped Panel: Partway into chapter 12, the panels become cracked around the edges (example) whenever Tessa, the star of the chapter is on panel, reflecting her stressed mental state. Some panels also have a rough brush stroke effect around the edges to reinforce this. It returns to normal when she goes to the Memorial, likely reflecting how she wants to be alone.
  • Oh My Gods!: Vedika refers once to a group known as "Founder Worshippers", who have raised the city's Founder to a level of godhood and believe the dreams giving Magical Girls their powers is the Founder speaking to them. When Heartful Punch discovers how Innocently Insensitive she had been to Undine, she exclaims "Oh Great Founder" in the same tone as "My God, What Have I Done?". At the same time it's not universal, as Mark mutters "Jesus..." on meeting Undine and realizing who she is.
  • One-Gender School: Future's Promise Academy for Magical Girls, the seemingly default choice of education for girls with Magical Girl Warrior powers, though a Magical Girl is allowed to stay in the school they attended before their powers manifested. It's said to be very well-funded with a very strong education and accommodating school hours to spare Magical Girls being Triple Shifters. As one magical girl puts it, it's a reward for the potentially lethal work the girls do every night. Referenced in the Alt Text for Chapter 4 - Page 9's:
    Where's the Boy's Room— oh right
  • One-Man Army: Heartful Punch. She's also a one-person team in a setting where even going in teams of four or five are no complete guarantee of safety.
  • One-Word Title: Most of the chapter titles up to chapter 10:
  • Only in It for the Money: More like "also in it for the money" with Sylvia. Yes she wants to help people, but she also makes sure to remember Magical Girls are celebrities and earn money and makes the most of it. She brings a cameraman to a patrol, appears in the registration leaflet, keeps tabs on which team earned how much, and has ideas on how to earn more. Also justified since she is the oldest and as it turns out, the sole breadwinner of her family.
  • Only Sane Man: Interstitial material implies that the city contains at least one outside observer commenting on the insanity of the place, despite the inhabitant's belief that they may be the Last Bastion of humanity.
  • Orphaned Etymology: At one point, Mark invokes the name of Jesus despite there being no indication that Christianity exists in the setting.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: Undine, in the last panel, when she trying to be the voice of reason while Sally is angry at Tessa.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • Magical girls' speech bubbles are Color-Coded for Your Convenience (both the text and the bubble itself), even when not transformed. Non-magical humans have normal black-and-white speech bubbles. This sometimes identifies characters as magical (or muggles) before an official reveal.
    • The main antagonist has special spooky-looking ones.
    • When Zoe's thinking while transformed, her thought bubbles look like flowers, Zoe's symbol.
    • Undine telling her manager about Heartful Punch is rendered as speech bubbles with pictures of the previous scenes in it...and the parts she didn't tell him about (such as The Purple One) are shown as thought bubbles with those previous scenes in it, and a big red X next to them.
  • Personality Powers: Gwen and Sally's personalities fit their elements to a T. Gwen is a Stoic girl with power over earth and Sally is a Fiery Redhead. Turns out to apply to other characters later on; the tomboyish HP and Harley both have physical-combat-related powers, and Vedika, the most book-smart kid in their school, coincidentally has psychic powers. The characters themselves have noticed this pattern, but the exact explanation is unknown.
  • Playing with Fire: Sally a.k.a. Alchemical Fire. She can use fire and burn enemies to a crisp. She can't fly or gain height the same way her teammates can, but it's not for lack of trying. The Alt Text notes she once tried to use her fire for "jet boots", only for the result to be her swearing "Never again." Given her name, it can be assumed Melty Flame is also a fire user but her powers aren't displayed on-panel when Undine meets her and Melty Frost.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Being a magical girl is known to cause a haircolour-change for as long as the powers last, both transformed and not. None of Team Alchemical have their original hair colours (visible in the photo that is the title card for chapter 2). Tessa's hair returns to its normal dark brown/black after losing hers.
  • Power Tattoo: All magical girls have a unique symbol on their body, in the colour of their hair and speech. A quick tutorial exists in Chapter 7's Interstitial page.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In the first chapter, by Sally as she uses her fire attacks ("You guys sure are working hard— but you're all FIRED!") and Tessa just before firing off her charged attack ("Bang.")
  • Propaganda Hero: Magical girls enjoy a celebrity status and there are television shows, such as the Daylight Update, dedicated to their exploits. Rue calls the D.U. propaganda, controlling public perception of what magical girls do to downplay how serious it is. The slightly more grounded Heartful Punch expresses a similar sentiment, that groups like the Foundationists and even the City Defense Department have a vested interest in keeping magical girls perceived as perfect warriors when explaining why things like the effects of an active magical girl having a child aren't public knowledge.
    Heartful Punch: The idea that we're just as flawed as anyone else... I don't think they like that. Because then we don't exist to just fight and die for them.
  • Proper Tights with a Skirt: Undine's preference off duty, most notably at her friends' funeral.
    • Rue and (possibly) Bud’s transformed uniforms include this
  • Public Secret Message: A blocky code, known simply as The Code, is seen in the background of various strips, always near Undine and usually on buildings after 10 PM (except that one time).
  • Pure Energy: Tessa, a.k.a. Alchemical Aether, doesn't have a specific element to her own. She instead attacks with raw magical energy. Her full name, Tessa Quinn, plays on this as one name for Aether is Quintessence.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Chapter 10, page 29, courtesy of Starlight Spear as she discovers her friend and former teammate dead from a monster attack, flashback panels are shown as she does so, to make the sight of what she looks like now punctuate the moment even more.
  • Sacrificial Lion: By the end of the second chapter, Sally, Gwen, and Sylvia are all dead. Undine only avoids the same fate because her powers kept her from bleeding out before help arrived.
  • Scarf Of Asskicking: Heartful Punch, the epitome of kicking ass and having a scarf. A guest comic whose script was written by Mary Cagle features HP discussing it on a talk show. She explains she doesn't control the scarf's fluttering and it just does its own thing. She doesn't think it's sentient...
  • Scars Are Forever: Tessa is shown to have a scar on her chest where her Power Tattoo used to be.
  • Schizo Tech: The city has a magitek forcefield to protect citizens from monsters, but besides that the technology seems behind the real-world present day. They have trains, but no cars. Personal computers don't seem to exist, and in chapter 10 the main characters call each other on old-fashioned corded landline phones. The mythical "founder" may have been the last person who understood the more advanced tech.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Will, an old schoolmate of Tessa's. He used to be nerdy-looking with braces and pimples. Now he's clear-skinned, tall, and "kind of cute".
  • Shipper on Deck: Bud ships Heartful Punch with Undine.
  • Shock and Awe: Pop Blitz is stated to have electricty powers that she's still getting a handle on. This is a big part of why Team Blitz has to reject Undine's request to join them. They'd love to have her, but water and barely controlled electricty make for a poor combination.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • A meta example regarding the humorous Alt Text: Starting with the strip where the monster that kills Sylvia, Sally, and Gwen attacks, and continuing for roughly a chapter after that, the comic stops having any alt text.
    • Despite alt-text first appearing with the Purple One, since Chapter 5 her appearances have caused the alt-text to stop temporarily
      Alt Text: ...Is that weirdo gone? Phew, I can talk again.
    • This page originally had humorous alt text which was later replaced, presumably because it's supposed to be a serious page. The original alt text was: "you could say she's truly sleepless".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silent Snarker: Forte Bass is mute, but when Undine is self-consciously trying to leave she grabs Forte Lead with a clear 'pay attention you idiot' look on her face.
  • Shy Finger-Twiddling: In Chapter 1 - Page 12, Undine does it, when embarrassed to reveal that Gwen and Sally ran ahead.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift:
    • Apparently possible to various degrees in magical girl costumes, whether it be due to outside or psychological reasons. Heartful Punch admits she used to be so torn up about her mother's and grandparents' fates that her costume, which is full pink normally, had black in it.
    • Undine gains Tessa's big fancy bow after Tessa heals her, and, as of Chapter 14, Undine's costume has sleeves that match Heartful Punch's costume, indicating that she's become more comfortable with the idea of teaming up.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Mentioned in Chapter 4 - Page 20. Well, more Napping On The Roof. Heartful Punch does it at school, even though it's apparently locked off.
  • The Stoic: Gwen, who rarely spoke save for the odd one-liner and focused on increasing her strength. Runners up: Outrageous Lime, Forte Keys, and of course Gabby.
  • Sole Survivor: Subverted. Chapter 2 ends with a disastrous fight and the line "Our team went from five members... to one." Tessa implies she will make a Heroic Sacrifice to heal Undine. The three other team members die, and Tessa loses her powers, but she and Undine both survive. The latter is the one remaining team member not because everyone else died, but because she's the only one left who still has magic.
  • Supernaturally Validated Trans Person: Transgender girls are able to have the Dream and become Magical Girls. In Zoe's case, this happened before she'd even come out.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Undine and Heartful Punch first meet, Undine is shocked the other girl is genuinely ignorant of what happened to Team Alchemical. When Heartful Punch reacts to this shock by wondering if the team broke up, Undine goes with it and HP doesn't press for details when Undine says she'd rather not talk about it. Undine later says she got to feel like things were normal again for a little while.
  • Survivor Guilt:
    • Undine thinks she's horribly selfish for wanting to feel normal after what happened, while Tessa is a full-blown Broken Bird. Heartful Punch hints at this when she tells Undine that some things frighten her more than fighting alone. She also tells Undine "I think you're allowed to want to feel better" when she confesses her survivor's guilt.
    • Heartful Punch reveals in chapter ten that she had a bout of this herself. She's past the worst of it by the present day, but when she was younger she blamed herself because her birth caused her mother to lose her powers, which ultimately left her and HP's grandparents vulnerable to a monster attack that killed them. She's well aware of Undine's counterpoint, that Kokoro was a newborn at the time, but also points out it's easier to know that intellectually than to really take it in.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Heartful Punch and Undine fall into the "Fighter and Glass Cannon" version of this trope, as HP focuses primarily on hand-to-hand melee combat and Undine has, since partnering up with Heartful Punch, been focused on increasing her offensive power. A guest comic in chapter 9 highlights the dynamic, featuring Heartful Punch as an armored knight and Undine as a staff-wielding mage.
  • Teen Pregnancy: In Chapter 10 - Page 19, it's revealed that Heartful Punch is the result of such a pregnancy. More specifically, it's pointed out that giving birth while still a magical girl is the reason HP's eyes match her mother's magical girl color and not her own pink. Between the fact that magical girl-ness ends at around 18 and the topic is one that the City Defense Department doesn't like to talk about, the implications are clear. Heartful Punch confirms on the next page that her mother had her at age seventeen.
  • Theme Naming: Alchemic Elementals are the motifs for Team Alchemical, though Tessa is the Odd Name Out somewhat, her name coming not from an elemental, but Aether/Quintessence (hence her family name is Quinn).
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • They're present, but there's no actual requirement to make use of them. Zoe thinks she'd be bothering them if she went to them about the bullying she was dealing with, despite Undine pointing out being bothered like that is literally their job. Undine, meanwhile, has not seen them despite what happened to Team Alchemical. In the second case, Zoe's shocked seeing a therapist isn't required.
    • Subverted with Heartful Punch, who mentions both having a therapist and taking anti-depressants.
  • Third Wheel: When the Fire/Ice Duo Undine considers joining forces with turns out to be a Sickeningly Sweethearts Battle Couple, she gets the mental image of a burning wheel, a frozen wheel and a wheel engulfed in water (herself). The burning and frozen wheels have a heart between them.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Heartful Punch and Undine. HP is a brawler who's magical girl outfit is described in an interstitial as spunky and sporty and also features a Scarf Of Asskicking. Undine is all frills, bows, and curls, usually fights at range, and until she had to start toughening up usually played a support role. Ironically, their color themes are the opposite of this trope, with HP being pink because of her association with hearts and Undine being blue because of her water.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Undine has become much more assertive since the death of her teammates, if only because she no longer has any patience dealing with people or situations that remind her of her pain.
  • Tranquil Fury: Undine tends to act this way when pushed to the limit. Examples: an insensitive reporter pushing her for answers soon after attending her friends' funeral or another student using her decision to keep fighting to bully another student who's reluctant to do so. In both cases she's unfailingly polite while making it clear she's displeased, either by throwing water on the reporter or putting her hand over the bully's mouth to shut her up. Undine doesn't break into true anger until chapter 14, after Cassidy accuses her of being responsible for Team Alchemical's fate, declaring that she doesn't owe any explanations to anyone she doesn't know. Even then, Undine takes the time to acknowledge that, under other circumstances, she might have agreed with Cassidy.
  • Transformation Sequence: Gets a full page depiction in page 7. We see transformations in various detail throughout the comic. Though in a chapter where Heartful Punch and Undine transform one after the other, only HP gets the full transformation while Undine's is abbreviated with the Alt Text stating only one full transformation per comic.
  • Transgender: The author notes on Chapter 9 - Page 17 explain that in the setting, any girl can become a magical girl so, yes, trans magical girls are a thing. However, she also notes that she will not be going into "the physicality of it" and that, whilst she feels there's certainly room for non-binary magical girls too, she doesn't plan to go into detail about the topic as that issue is too complex to feel she can tackle without dictating to others. The concept is introduced in that page, where Claire, a little girl Undine is protecting, talks about how a cousin of hers (implied and later revealed to be Zoe) recently got her magical girl powers. She explains that was a real surprise since everyone "still thought she was a boy".
  • Twinkle in the Eye: Sally in page 13 as she grins menacingly at a monster.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Not hard to blame Tessa for nuking the shadowy deer-thing that curb-stomped the team, and later Undine in a similar situation, even using Tessa's "Bang" as she does so.
  • Visual Pun: Undine meets Team Melty and envisions herself as a literal Third Wheel to them.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: An entire society built around this trope, with a citizenry that's remarkably sanguine about casualties amongst their adolescent protectors while giving them a strong support system like a strong and well-funded school, a personal therapist for everyone, earnings and a choice to stay out of the nightly patrol that can be renewed every day.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 2. Tessa's entire team is utterly defeated during her 10-Minute Retirement, and even when using up all her power Tessa is only able to save Undine, who was the only one still alive when Tessa got to the scene.
  • Wham Line: After many chapters of the Tessa segments acting mostly as lower-stakes relief from Undine's story, she drops a big accusation on Rue, who walks off without proving her wrong.
    Tessa: Are you really... a magical girl?
  • Wham Shot: At the end of chapter 12, the night following Tessa being directly questioned about the Purple One by Anenome, Tessa opens her blinds to find a message left on her window implying further sinister intentions.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Magical girls gain colourful hair colors with the manifestation of their powers. Undine's photo shows that even those with more natural colors like Sylvia's yellow and Gwen's brown aren't exactly the blonde and brunette they once had.
  • You Mean "Xmas":
    • According to The Rant on this page, Valentine's Day exists in Sleepless Domain's city, where it's known as Hearts Day.
    • An interstitial has Anemone telling the readers about their equivalent of Christmas, Crimmus — starring a magical girl with a fuzzy red coat and hat who delivers presents, but she's called Holly Jolly, not Santa — and she also mentions an equivalent to the Easter Bunny, Spring Rabbit. Alt Text on the next page mentions another holiday called "Honkah."
    • A Halloween comic reveals their equivalent of that holiday is called Fright Night.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Tessa walks into a serious case of hero worship at her new high school. A case of which she believes she does not deserve because of her Survivor Guilt.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Just not in the Mortality sense: all of the magical girls are aware that their powers won't last forever, so it's up to them to make the most of their powers while they still have them.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Grade A, as generally required for magical girls. However, their school uniforms are more indicative of their personalities, with Sylvia, Sally and Tessa wearing grades A, B, and C respectively, Gwen wearing 3/4 gym socks, and Undine wearing Proper Tights with a Skirt.

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