Follow TV Tropes


Webcomic / Sleepless Domain

Go To
The city never sleeps.note 
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 honored 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. Mary is also the series' lead artist, though Oscar Vega (previously the artist of Olympus Overdrive) illustrated the first two chapters, and Cheryl Young would later provide environmental design and background assistance. The comic is edited by Xellette Stillwell (current head of Hiveworks Comics) and Isabelle Melançon (co-creator of Namesake).

The first print volume of the comic, which includes the first four chapters, was published in French in 2018; following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the book would see an English-language release the following year. In late 2021, the English version of this volume was picked up for publication by Seven Seas Entertainment, with the subtitle "The Price of Magic".

Sleepless Domain provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • 13 Is Unlucky: This is referenced and inverted on Chapter 13, Page 13, in which Zoe narrowly manages to save Rue's life in Big Damn Hero fashion. The Alt Text notes that evidently, the two thirteens cancel out to make a very lucky double negative.
  • 420, Blaze It: Chapter 13, page 24 has the Alt Text:
    This is page 420 of the comic, so time for everyone to calm down with some weeeeeeeeeeee—
  • 555: Interstitial 2 shows a magical girl recruitment poster, with a phone number written using Roman numerals: V.V.V.-IX.VI.VI.IX. In Arabic numerals, that's 555-9669.
  • 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.
  • Acting Unnatural: Kokoro attempts to "casually" talk to Undine. She quickly admits that she was going to come up with an excuse for why she was walking around there, but couldn't think of a good one.
  • 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 they 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.
  • Afraid of Needles: Since all of the monsters in the comic are based on common fears and phobias, one that appears in Chapter 19 embodies trypanophobia, or the fear of needles. The monster has six sharp, spindly legs, and its arms are two Giant Medical Syringes that can shoot out massive needles as projectiles.
  • 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:
  • Alternative Calendar: The City uses an alternate calendar that labels years with the prefix "C.Y.", which presumably denotes the length of time that has passed since an event known as "the Collapse". The only specific date given is C.Y. 127, but as this date is mentioned in the context of a history lesson, there's no real frame of reference that can be drawn from it — this year might have been a decade, a century, or a millennium before the story begins.
  • 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 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". There was one exception to this rule though, during Cassidy's Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • 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".
  • Arc Symbol: The alchemical symbol for gold — ☉, a circle with a dot in the center (also the astrological symbol of the sun) — shows up in various locations, such as a news camera, the power button of a television, and a C.D.D. officer's belt buckle. Most conspicuously, this emblem is incorporated into the design on a Foundationist street preacher's shirt and leaflets, implying a connection between the symbol and the Founder.
    • When the Big Bad takes on a Magical Girl form after the unnumbered chapter ????, she uses the alchemical symbol for platinum, which combines the astrological symbols for the sun and the moon.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Piercing the barrier covering Anemone is actually the entire point of Tessa's attack on her in Chapter 19. This is because Anemone is a literal Barrier Maiden, who creates the Inner Barrier every night to protect the City from monsters. When her Barrier is broken, it goes down across the entire City, leaving them vulnerable to monster attacks.
  • 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.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Tessa is in charge because she has the strongest powers; the other girls' resentment of this kicks off the plot.
  • Asteroids Monster:
    • In Chapter 8, Undine and Heartful Punch fight an amorphous Blob Monster that has breached the Inner Barrier. After they manage to take it down, its remains promptly pull themselves together to form several smaller monsters that surround the girls.
    • In Chapter 13, Rue seemingly takes out a large worm-like monster with one of her explosive potions. However, not only did the monster itself survive, but Rue's attack caused its back half to split off into a separate, smaller monster, with a ring of teeth just as sharp as the original.
  • At Arm's Length: Sally's introduction has her swinging her arms at Sylvia while Sylvia holds her back with one hand.
  • Attack on the Heart: Tessa attempts to kill Anemone in her sleep by shooting a massive needle clean through her heart. It doesn't work — Anemone promptly wakes up and pulls it out.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The cover page of Chapter 9 shows main characters Undine and Heartful Punch standing back-to-back, both ready for battle, as water swirls around them courtesy of Undine.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Vedika admits she knew about the purple girl because she accidentally picked up on it while communicating with Undine's mind. Bud then asks what, exactly, Vedika told Cassidy that got Cassidy thinking Undine was potentially responsible for Team Alchemical's demise. A flashback showed Vedika mentally communicating with Cassidy and her stating... Undine probably has a lot on her mind she can't talk about. Thus, while Vedika vaguely mentioned something was going on with Undine, Cassidy largely jumped to conclusions on her own.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: At one point, Kokoro mentions her ex-girlfriend Outrageous Lime being "too hardcore" for her, which is accompanied by a brief flashback of Lime writing 'Prof Parker Sux' on the bathroom door.
    Kokoro: Permanent marker...
  • Beach Episode: It's only for one page, but a piece of guest art between chapters has the girls of Team Alchemical visit an indoor swimming pool, the closest thing their domed City can provide to a beach. At Sally's request, the girls have a bit of fun with Undine's Making a Splash powers.
  • 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.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: At the end of Chapter 15 (here), Kokoro and Undine share a big kiss and hug in a huge splash panel.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: While Undine is talking to Forte Lead at school about the former's unsuccessful attempts to find a new team, Pop Blitz rudely jumps into their conversation — only for Lead to ask her, "Um, have we met?". Undine walks away, amused, as the remaining two continue to argue in the background, where Blitz's dialogue is rendered as "nonsense nonsense." Lead responds with a confused "I don't care?"
  • Bland-Name Product:
  • Blank White Eyes: Blank white eyes are used on occasion to show that a character is shocked or exasperated. For example, here, when Undine gets frustrated with trying to exercise, and here, when Zoe is shocked by Rue falling unconscious.
  • 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, though that's partially because her powers are ill-suited for combat.
  • 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.
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: A system of flower-shaped loudspeakers is set up across the City, which is used to announce the beginning and end of the nightly curfew and the magical girls' shift.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Tessa takes just one night off, to show her teammates how much they need her, even coming out of her 10-Minute Retirement to help them just after they've gone out to fight, and it gets all but one of her teammates killed, and Tessa depowered. It's later implied Goopy wanted Tessa specifically alive, meaning the attack wouldn't have happened until they were separated.
  • Cardiovascular Love: Through a Heart Symbol, when representing Melty Flame and Melty Frost's romance when Undine notices her would-be Third Wheel status if she joined them.
  • 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.
  • Cheated Angle: A signature element of Undine's hairstyle is her swirly wave-like bangs, which always appear swept to the same side she happens to be facing (as can be seen here). This is as opposed to other characters like Kokoro and Tessa, both of whom have prominent bangs that always face the same side.
  • 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.
  • Club Stub: While Undine and Kokoro are Sitting on the Roof of their school, they end up being caught by a member of the school Gardening Club, who berates them for using the roof without permission. The page's Alt Text clarifies that this girl is the Gardening Club's only real member. Later Alt Text suggests that club participation as a whole is rather low at Future's Promise, as magical girl duties keep much of the student body understandably busy.
  • Color-Coded Speech: The color of the text in any magical girl's speech bubble is always the same as their theme color, and all non-magical characters have black text. When Tessa is depowered, her formerly-pink text becomes black. When Tessa then merges with Goops, her speech bubbles become inverted, white on dark purple/magenta. After reverting to human form, her speech bubbles are black while her speech is twinged very dark purple.
  • 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: Interstitial 3 shows a snippet from the notes of an outside observer, who is completely appalled by the "business as usual" attitude the locals exhibit towards the dangers faced by their adolescent protectors. Undine also expresses sadness at how quickly everyone got over the deaths of her friends, with her staring in wide eyed horror at a storefront sign proudly touting that all the Team Alchemical merchandise was now half off.
  • 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?"
  • Convenient Cranny: During Rue's fight with a massive insect-like monster, she ducks into a narrow alley to escape its reach. Unfortunately, this doesn't do her much good — the monster had split in two when she attacked it, and its other half was now blocking Rue's only way out.
  • 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: When Tessa changes schools, series author Mary Cagle makes a cameo as her homeroom teacher, Miss Cable. If the name doesn't tip you off, she's almost identical to Mary as she appears in Let's Speak English, her autobiographical comic about teaching in Japan. She's described by her students as being "kinda goofy," and apparently wastes time during class talking about "life or dogs or something."
    Alt Text: Woops I tripped and fell into my own comic, such a klutz.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: Chapter 11, "Flotsam", and chapter 12's original title, "Lagan". They highlight the different directions Undine and Tessa's lives have taken since the start of the comic. Flotsam is wreckage that is floating on the sea or has washed ashore, and lagan is wreckage lying on the bottom of the sea; both girls' lives have been wrecked, but Undine has had more support and is in a relatively better place emotionally, while Tessa is more isolated, and becomes more so during the course of the chapter.
  • Crossover Relatives: NYPD officer Reed Bahia from Kiwi Blitz makes a brief cameo in Chapter 13, in which he is shown to be the magical girl Rue's father.
  • 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.
  • Dangerously Garish Environment: While a normal city in most respects during the day, by night the City itself becomes a technicolor battlefield between monsters and magical girls. Between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M., deadly monsters flood into the City, while the Inner Barrier forms a seal along the walls of the City's structures to protect civilians. The appearance of the Inner Barrier changes from night to night, but its variations are often ominously vibrant — one particular night featured bright orange walls and a pink river, while another was succinctly described by the author as a "primary color hellscape".
  • 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: Tessa takes Goops' Faustian deal, (as well as some memories), which seems to result in her becoming one.
  • Dateless Grave: The markers within the magical girl memorial park are all of an identical design, inscribed with only the deceased girl's name and her sigil. In addition to concealing the timeframe of the comic, the lack of dates serves in-universe as a subtle way of brushing aside the reality that none of these girls lived to be eighteen.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The cover of Chapter 17 is an homage to the Film Noir aesthetic, depicting the main characters in a heavily desaturated private eye's office. The only splashes of color on the page are the girls' vivid hair, and the hint of purple light leaking in between the blinds of a window.
  • 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.
  • Did You Die?: Joked about in the Alt Text of the last page of chapter 17. In a flashback to when Heartful Punch was a baby, taking place just after H.P.'s maternal family has been killed by a monster, with H.P. herself the sole survivor, a magical girl, Starlight Spear, rushes the infant H.P. to the hospital despite having just been grievously injured herself and collapsing just outside the hospital herself. The flashback comes just after Heartful Punch and Undine have spoken to an adult Starlight in the present-day. The Alt Text reads "Dang I sure hope neither of them died!"
  • 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.
  • Disturbing Statistic: An early interstitial features a Magical Girl recruitment poster, which lists the benefits for active magical girls to register with the city's Board of Magical Girls. Among these, it cheerfully notes that registered magical girls have a 70% lower chance of experiencing serious injuries or fatalities than those who haven't registered. While this is all made to sound reassuring, note the lack of any absolute numbers in that statement — just how many registered girls are killed or injured on the job, and how many more are unregistered? This subtle bit of Fridge Horror invoked serves as an early clue that the comic is headed down the path of the Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The conversation between Undine and her mother in chapter 8 about Undine teaming up with Heartful Punch reads like a parent interrogating their child about a new girlfriend, complete with refering to it as "hooking up" and asking her to "be safe" in a manner that sounds like she's asking them to use protection.
  • 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.
  • Dramatic Drop: In Chapter 10, Kokoro recieves a threatening phone call from the Purple One. She's initially confused, but she drops her protein shake in shock when the voice on the other end mentions her mother.
  • Dream Intro: Chapter 16 opens following Undine and Kokoro's first kiss and Relationship Upgrade at the end of the previous chapter. At school the next day, Undine approaches Kokoro and begins to gently apologize for the previous night, saying that she "might have done something [she] shouldn’t have." Kokoro promptly awakens in her bed with a start.
    "AAAAAAARGH! Shut up, brain!"
  • 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 characters outside of flashbacks die until chapter 15, when Cassidy is taken out by Goops. 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.
  • Easter Bunny: While explaining their version of Christmas to the readers, Anemone hints that they have a You Mean X Mas version of Easter as well, with the Magical Girl Spring Rabbit taking the place of the Easter Bunny (much like how their version of Santa Claus is a magical girl called Holly Jolly).
  • Eaten Alive: In Chapter 8, Heartful Punch is caught off-guard by a monster, and it proceeds to pull her into its mouth as Undine looks on in horror. In the end, this is very narrowly averted, but only thanks to a massive Heroic Second Wind on Undine's part.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: In a rather dramatic case, Undine ends up eating her lunch alone at a bench in the school courtyard after three of her friends were killed on their nightly patrol, and a fourth transferred schools as a result. As a result, Undine doesn't have any friends left to sit with, and most of the school would rather avoid her after the incident. Fortunately, Kokoro offers to sit next to her after learning what happened, and eventually invites her to eat at a table with her and her friends.
  • Elemental Fusion: The members of Classical Elements Ensemble Team Alchemical can combine their powers to form new elemental Combination Attacks in battle. Alchemical Air and Alchemical Fire can combine their powers to create a raging firestorm, Alchemical Earth and Alchemical Water can restrain enemies with vines, and Alchemical Earth and Alchemical Fire can summon and control molten lava.
  • Elemental Hair Colors: Most of the magical girls' hair colors 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. This happens after they have the Dream that grants them their powers.
  • Elemental Personalities: 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.
  • 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.
  • Elevator School: Future's Promise School for Magical Girls is a prestigious private academy for the exclusive education of magical girls. Because magical girls don't necessarily awaken or lose their powers at the same age, it functions effectively as a combined junior high and high school. The school's classes aren't divided by age or grade level; instead, students are placed into classes according to their individual proficiency in each subject, meaning that several classes contain students of multiple different grade levels.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: In Interstitial 5, between the status quo changing with the appearance of "the Purple One" and "the Golden One", Anemone muses that "our situation may finally become unsustainable".
  • 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.
  • Evil Elevator: Word of God invoked has stated that all of the monsters in the comic are based on specific phobias; one that appears prominently in Chapter 2 embodies the fear of elevators. The creature appears to have an elevator car embedded within its head, and an unnaturally long neck resembling the exterior of an elevator shaft. It also has what appears to be a floor indicator dial protruding from the back of its head; as it moves the needle from one side to the other, its victims are thrown into the air and slammed into the ground, as if they were experiencing a particularly violent elevator ride.
  • Evil Overlooker: The cover for volume 1 of the Seven Seas edition has the Purple One looking out menacingly from the top, behind the title.
  • Evil Phone: At the beginning of Chapter 10, Kokoro receives a phone call, and is threatened by the seemingly inhuman presence that had previously been stalking Undine. At first, she assumes it's some kind of joke — until the voice mentions her mother. This unsettles Kokoro, as her mother was killed in a monster attack shortly after she was born, and the CDD forced Kokoro to cover up their connection.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: After dealing with a night's worth of strong monsters in Chapter 15, Bud and Harley are both looking the worse for wear. Bud is clearly exhausted, and has heavy bags under her eyes; still, she insists to her teammate that she's fine.
  • Extra Eyes: The monster that breaches the Inner Barrier in Chapter 8 is a massive, amorphous mass of body parts, with large red eyes covering most of its body.
  • Extranormal Institute: Future's Promise School for Magical Girls is the city's exclusive private school for girls with Magical Girl Warrior powers. It is said to be very well-funded with a strong education, and accommodating school hours to spare its magical girl students from being Triple Shifters. The school is only open to girls who have registered with the Board of Magical Girls, and attendance is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended that active magical girls take advantage of the academy's benefits — as one magical girl puts it, it's a reward for the potentially lethal work the girls do every night.
  • Eyebrow Waggle: When Undine learns that Lime was "too hardcore" for HP, she imagines her offering HP drugs while waggling her eyebrows.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Bud has eyes like this. She opens them when transformed, and they're glowing and solid white.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Generally, the last page of a chapter is marked with an "End of Chapter [#]" text box in the bottom right corner. Chapter 18 page 33 ends on one of these, except that this time the text box is broken into pieces. This is followed by a sequence labeled Chapter ???. After that, it goes back to chapter 18, this time with the actual final page with an unbroken "End of Chapter 18" box.
  • 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:
    • In Chapter 2 Tessa remarks upon the possibility of a creature being one:
    That doesn't look like a monster... Maybe a girl's familiar or something?
  • Feed It a Bomb: In Chapter 13, this is how Rue ultimately takes down the massive worm-like monster with a gaping mouth and rings of sharp teeth. While the creature is flipped on its back and immobilized, Rue lobs an explosive potion into its maw, destroying it in a massive explosion.
  • Fictional Field of Science: Sally at one point mentions an "Outer Science" class, which presumably relates to the study of what — if anything — is on the other side of the Great Barrier.
  • 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: In chapter 2, Sally, Gwen, and Sylvia are killed off and Tessa burns out her powers saving Undine.
  • Flashback:
    • In Chapter 3, Undine revisits the scene where her teammates, and very nearly herself, were killed just days ago. As she does, the scene begins to play itself out again in her mind. This time, however, there's one crucial difference that the audience wasn't shown the first time — a mysterious purple entity appeared to taunt her as she lay dying, before slinking away into the shadows.
    • Chapter 9 opens with a flashback sequence showing Undine attempting, unsuccessfully, to make a high-powered water jet with her powers. Said flashback sequence is placed right as Undine successfully manages to pull off the attack in a burst of Herioc Resolve in the present.
    • In Chapter 10, Kokoro reveals her backstory to Undine in the form of a flashback to the night that her mother was killed (as related to her by Mingxing, since Kokoro was too young to remember it herself). This same flashback is continued seven chapters later from Mingxing's own perspective, revealing a part of the story that she never told Kokoro — that Mingxing had burned out her own powers to save Kokoro's life that night.
    • Chapter 13 ends on an ominous cliffhanger, as Tessa discovers a threatening message left on her window just as the scene ends. Several weeks later, when Tessa prepares to finally confront the author of the message, a brief flashback shows the rest of their conversation, revealing the entity's true intentions in contacting her.
  • 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?
    • When Heartful Punch and Undine get help from Team Outrageous in Chapter 9, Outrageous Lime seems very interested in Heartful Punch's love life and casually mentions her own new boyfriend. In Chapter 17, Heartful Punch spells out that she and Lime dated at some point.
    • In Chapter 17, Harley idly wonders what would happen if Vedika used her psychic powers on a monster. In Chapter 20, we find out. It isn't pretty.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: After becoming friendly with Undine, Heartful Punch says that Undine can call her by her real name "Kokoro", despite H.P. herself regarding it as an Embarrassing First Name. Indeed, when Undine uses the name around Heartful Punch's friends for the first time, they react with surprise, referring to "Kokoro" as "the forbidden name".
  • Frustrated Overhead Scribble:
  • Funnel-Mouthed Cephalopod: One such octopus appears in a one-off joke about Bud's distinctive flower-shaped hairstyle. When Kokoro mentions her hair being shaped like flower petals, it takes a moment for Zoe to make the connection — as a thought bubble shows, she initially thought her hair was supposed to resemble a cartoonish octopus of this variety.
  • Fun with Acronyms: A Magical Girl informational pamphlet gives five tips for staying safe on patrol, summed up by the acronym "P.A.R.T.S.": Patrol in a familiar area, Awareness is key, Rest when you're tired, Team up for safety, and Stay home when needed. According to the Alt Text, somebody wanted to word the first step as "Find a cool place to patrol", but was turned down for obvious reasons.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Only girls can receive "the Dream" that turns them into magical girls. However, this is not strictly tied to biological sex; it's shown that transgender girls can also become magical girls. This can even occur before they transition, as Zoe was still living and presenting as a boy when she got her dream.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: When Zoe tells the Magical Girl Power Training Club about being teammates with Rue and mentions the latter goes to another school, she soon has to correct Bud's assumption that she's making her teammate up.
    Alt Text: She lives in Canada and her dad works at Nintendo.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Implied during flashbacks to when Mitsuki was pregnant with Kokoro. Kokoro said a member of the C.D.D. explained to Mitsuki what happens when an active magical girl gets pregnant — namely, that she loses her powers prematurely when they're passed on to the baby during childbirth — but Mitsuki decided to keep Kokoro anyway.
    Kokoro: I guess she had her own reasons.
  • G-Rated Drug: When Kokoro mentions her ex-girlfriend Outrageous Lime being "too hardcore" for her, Undine has a brief Imagine Spot of Lime offering Kokoro a package of generic drugs resembling cigarettes, helpfully labelled "The Drugs".
  • Grave-Marking Scene:
    • Tessa is shown to visit the graves of Gwen, Sally, and Sylvia, the fallen members of Team Alchemical, throughout the course of the comic, and is implied that she visits them every day, to the point where she keeps coming home from school late. The first time we see her at their graves, she begins Talking to the Dead, and expresses her sorrow and her Survivor Guilt that she was unable to save the other members of Team Alchemical, save for one second survivor. Later on, as her mental health deteriorates, she comes home later and later, and it becomes one of the only places where she can (temporarily) regain her sanity.
    • Said second survivor, Undine, also twice visits the scene of the event that killed her teammates; the first time to try and piece together what happened, and the second after a fight with Cassidy, who falsely accuses Undine of being behind the deaths.
  • Gravity Master: In Chapter 2, Team Alchemical (sans their leader Tessa) encounter an exceptionally strong monster with the ability to alter the force of gravity on its victims, lifting them high into the air before slamming them forcefully into the ground. Sylvia notes that even her own control over air is of little use against 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 from near-death. 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?
    • Rue has a more "typical" healing ability that takes the form of a green Healing Potion. When she uses it to treat burns and scrapes from one of her exploding potions going off a bit too close, it seems to use up almost all of her magic supply for the night, as it only takes a few more attacks for her to go over her limit and pass out.
  • Heart Symbol: It shouldn't come as a surprise that Heartful Punch is heavily associated with the classic heart symbol. Her Sigil is in the shape of a heart with an explosion inside of it, and stylized heart shapes are also incorporated into her costume and her magical attacks. On occasion, they can even be seen very subtly in her eyes.
  • 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.
  • Holiday Personification: In a society where Magical Girl Warriors are a part of daily life, it's no surprise that major holidays have their own magical girls associated with them. The most prominent of these is Holly Jolly, a Santa Claus-inspired magical girl who embodies the winter holiday of Crimmus. It's implied that several others exist as well — one that's mentioned offhand is named Spring Rabbit.
  • Hydro-Electro Combo: This is discussed and ultimately defied when Undine is searching for a new team to join, and runs into Team Blitz. Pop Blitz, who can control electricity, is initially excited to team up with her, but Ben points out why they can't take her in — since water conducts electricity, and Pop Blitz is still getting the hang of controlling her powers, the two of them together would only be a danger to themselves and their teammates.
  • 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:
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: In-Universe. Bud considers ship names for Heartful Punch/Undine: Heartful Wave or Water Punch?
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
  • Insult Backfire: Outrageous Apple calls Bud 'Gossip Girl'. Bud insists on being called Doctor Gossip instead.
  • Intangibility: Kokoro temporarily becomes intangible after coming into contact with a strange monster. She also becomes invisible to her girlfriend Undine, causing no small amount of panic (though the audience is still able to see her). She even starts to disappear from reality after a short while, but is returned to normal after the main antagonist takes the monster for her own use.
  • Intermission: The comic usually has one or more Interstitial pages between each chapter. The content of these pages varies — they often include Anemone explaining details about the comic's world, televised interviews with the cast, flashbacks giving hints of backstory, and checking in on characters currently Out of Focus.
  • Internal Reveal: In chapter 16, the rest of the training club are made aware of Cassidy meeting a bad fate in the previous chapter as she never made it home and her parents reported it to the police and the school.
  • Invisible Parents: Three years in, we finally get to see the main character's mother.
    • A full year and a half after that, we finally get to see her dad.
  • Is It Always Like This?: Zoe joins the Magical Girl Power Training Club right when the plot is getting into full swing and questions far outnumber answers: girls are being stalked in the night by a mysterious rogue magical girl, and the Inner Barrier has completely shut down last night, inciting mass panic. When Zoe asks the rest of the club if this is just what it's like to be a magical girl, the other girls are quick to reassure her that the recent events are definitely out of the ordinary.
  • Japanese School Club:
    • Undine becomes a member of the Magical Girl Power Training Club, a club for Magical Girls to train and become stronger. The club meets on most days after school in their school's weight room, both to exercise physically and to hone their magical powers. The captain of the club is the famous magical girl Heartful Punch, who ends up befriending Undine and inviting her to join.
    • Among other clubs mentioned are the Gardening Club (of which there's only one member), the Math Club, the Outer Science Club, the Art Club, the Soccer Club (no magic powers allowed), and the Magi Soccer Club (some powers allowed). The Monster Studies class would like to emphasize that they aren't a club. The Alt Text for the panel that introduces the latter clubs notes that club participation as a whole is rather low because of the whole 'Magical Girls defending the city' thing.
  • 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.
  • Killer Teddy Bear: On one particular night, Kokoro and Undine encounter and fight a group of several puppet-like monsters, all wearing white horned masks with perpetual Slasher Smiles. The following day, Rue shows up at school with a black eye courtesy of "some teddy bear-lookin' arse," implying she had a run-in with these creatures as well.
  • Kill Steal: Chapter 1 - Page 13: Gwen attacks a monster, then Sally toasts it before Gwen can finish it off. Gwen notes it by saying "... Kill Steal."
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Elite Mook from the second chapter. It single-handedly kills 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.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Chapter 19 contains an arc in which Kokoro is temporarily Trapped on the Astral Plane by a monster, worrying her girlfriend Undine immensely. In a non-canon Crimmus outtake, she reveals to Undine that the monster had actually turned her into a ghost — a ghost of Crimmus Present! She promptly gets a jet of water to the face in response.
  • Lamprey Mouth: In Chapter 13, Rue encounters a a worm-like monster whose "face" appears to be an outer shell with six eyes and a set of large mandibles. She promptly throws some of her explosive potions at it, only to discover that it not only survived, but that the explosion destroyed its shell to reveal a gaping maw with a ring of sharp teeth underneath. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the back half of the monster had split off from the rest of its body and had a ringed mouth of its own.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: There is an effect that prevents people from remembering certain things, characterized by static and/or the person's eyes turning dull and gaining a fuzzy static effect.
    • Whenever anyone thinks about the Dream, the fuzzy eyes effect is triggered and they mention that they can't remember anything specific.
    • This amnesia effect applies to the topic of the faceless magical girl who appears in the Dream and grants powers. She is aware of this, commenting that "Some dreams are meant to be forgotten." There's 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 static intrudes on Anemone's dialogue. When she snaps out of it shortly afterward, she's left with only the vague impression that she was having a conversation at all.
    • Chapter 17 introduces one more piece of protected content: The Outer Barrier. All above a certain height is the same static from Anemone's explanation of the statue, seemingly growing out of the same white plant from the graveyard. When Bud and Harley happen upon a side alley leading directly towards the Barrier, the fuzzy eyes effect is triggered, and they apparently don't see anything out of the ordinary.
    • Chapter 20 introduces a rather disturbing example. Vedika, who has the power to read the mind of anyone who touches her, is briefly grappled by a monster. What she experiences when it does this is the same thing that Tessa did when she merged with Goops. Namely, what appears to be a lot of screaming. Right after she sees this....static appears in her eyes and she completely forgets what she perceived.
  • Last Bastion: The inhabitants aren't even sure if there are other humans outside of the city.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In chapter 20, one of the hospital workers changes her wording at the last second to avoid swearing in front of Vedika.
    Devin: Yeah, I've never seen this shi— uh, something like this.
  • 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.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Following RWBY killing off the author's favorite character (in fact the only character who still deserved nice things according to her), Penny Polendina, for the third time in Volume 8, a background character on invokedthis page in Chapter 17 bears a suspicious resemblance to her. Mary Cagle confirmed on the Discord that this was intentional.
    Cube Watermelon: Penny mine now
  • Lemony Narrator: The alt text hits a lot of beats associated with a typical Lemony Narrator, commenting on the ongoing events with tongue firmly in cheek and with little to no regard for the fourth wall.
  • 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.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: When Anemone is explaining the Crimmus holiday, she emphasizes that their Santa Claus figure, Holly Jolly, doesn't really exist and the presents come from friends and family. She then says that that's why she never gets Crimmus presents... and in the next panel, finds a present under her Crimmus bush addressed to 'Anemone'.
  • 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. Her surname of Aichi can vary depending on kanji used, but "love" is one of the options.
    • 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). Later it is shown that Mingxing's surname is Guan, matching her weapon choice of a guandao.
    • The Blecher family's surname is derived from the German word for "tin", and they're on their second silvery metal-themed magical girl.
  • 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.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: There is an effect that prevents people from remembering certain things. When a person is actively being affected by it, their pupils disappear and in their place is a series of horizontal lines like screen static.
  • 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.
    • Sort-of averted by Cassidy/Flash Cut’s transformed outfit, which includes a bell skirt underpinned by a seemingly solid mass of petticoats.
  • Modesty Towel: In Chapter 4 - Page 27, Tessa is seen in one, revealing the scar on her chest where her Sigil used to be.
  • Monochrome Past: An interesting diegetic variation on this is used during a flashback sequence in Chapter 10. There are no explicit Flashback Effects, but the Inner Barrier on that particular night happened to have a pattern of washed-out grey and brown tones that give the impression of an in-universe sepia filter.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • This page, a kitchen appliance advertisement starring Team Melty, is followed immediately by Tessa crying at the graves of her three dead friends.
    • This page, showing Cassidy's death, is followed immediately by a sequence of lighthearted pages, including Undine and Kokoro's first kiss. Alt text even lampshades the whiplash by commenting "Huh, guess this night was totally fine after all!"
  • Moving Beyond Bereavement: Themes of bereavement and trauma recovery are at the story's emotional core. The setting and world are a dark take on the magical girl genre, wherein teenage girls with magic powers serve as society's only line of defense against nightly monster attacks. Since in this universe, "magical girl" is basically shorthand for "Child Soldier," grieving and how to heal from loss are majorly present in the narratives of several characters.
    • Undine: Chapter 2's big disastrous twist establishes those themes early on for protagonist Undine when three of her four closest friends and teammates die in battle. Undine takes center stage as protagonist from Chapter 3 onward, at which point it's clear to the audience that grappling with the aftermath of that incident will be her first major arc.
    • Tessa: Relegated to supporting character status from Chapter 3 onward, her grief does not get quite the same level of detailed exploration Undine's does; however, it's still abundantly clear that their friends' deaths had just as devastating an effect on her life as it did on Undine's.
    • Kokoro: Whereas Undine and Tessa are actively mourning the deaths of people close to them, Kokoro's mother was killed in the line of duty when she was only a few months old. This, of course, prevents her from really being able to grieve the memory of her mom; however, her father struggled with the loss in ways that had very poignant, formative effects on Kokoro's development as a person.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The monster that breaches the Inner Barrier in Chapter 8 is a massive, formless amalgamation of body parts, with any number of arms attached to its amorpheous "body" at any given time. What's more, each of these abnormally long limbs branches off into a web of numerous smaller arms, constantly shifting and reforming and extending to pull its victims in closer.
  • 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!
  • Nightmare Face: When Tessa relives her Dream, things quickly start going off the rails as Goops inserts her own memories, causing the Girl in the Dream's face to melt away into her own terrifying Slasher Smile.
  • Noodle Incident: Sally can't use her powers to enhance her movement like the other members of Team Alchemical. The alt text of that page noted that she had once tried using her fire abilities as a jetboot, but "never again."
  • 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.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: In chapter 20, one of the hospital workers is about to say "shit" while talking to the teenaged Vedika, but then changes her wording at the last second.
  • No Title: With few exceptions, each individual chapter is given a name on its title page, either at the beginning of the chapter or following its Cold Open. Those exceptions include Chapter 1, whose cover page doesn't give a name for the chapter, and Chapter ???, which lacks a cover entirely.
  • Odd Name Out: There are a few chapter titles that break the pattern of water-themed titles. These are usually chapters where a character other than Undine takes the spotlight — for example, Kokoro's chapters are associated with hearts, while Tessa's are themed around light and shadows.
    • Chapter 6 is "Refraction", as in light changing direction when it passes from one medium to another, such as from air to water. Part of the chapter is dedicated to Tessa's first day at her new school — she and Undine are now headed down different life paths. To reflect this, the cover is divided in half — Undine in the bright top half, smiling and surrounded by friends, and Tessa alone in the dark bottom half, the two of them facing and walking in opposite directions.
    • Chapter 10 has 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."
    • Chapter 12 is "Penumbra", which refers to the region between light and shadow, befitting Tessa's gradual descent into depression during that chapter. The chapter's original title, "Lagan", referred to a wreckage left behind at the bottom of the sea, playing into Undine's water theming despite her absence in the chapter.
    • Chapter 13 is "Fertilizer", focuses on Rue and Zoe, and describes the latter's powers.
    • Chapter 19's "Atrium" once again refers to the heart — specifically, the atrium is the chamber of the heart through which blood enters.
  • 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:
  • 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:
    • In Chapter 1, Tessa makes a finger gun with her hand and quips "Bang." as she finishes off a monster, and Undine later imitates the gesture and catchphrase during her own moment of Heroic Resolve. This is all despite firearms explicitly not existing within the City — although, given that the story is implied to take place on Earth after some sort of collapse, it's not impossible for them to at least know what a gun is.
      Mary Cagle: in any case it's easier to explain than how their names work
    • During Undine's encounter with Mark, the latter mutters "...Jesus." in shock, despite there being no indication that Christianity is present in the setting. The inconsistency is intentional in this case, and it serves as one of several clues that Mark is from somewhere else — while some further-removed minced oaths like "jeez" do appear in the story, most other characters invoke the name of the mythical Founder as their deity of choice.
  • Orwellian Retcon: Very rarely, Mary will modify earlier pages after initial publication - she doesn't like doing this normally, but if a page is particularly confusing, a typo or continuity error was present in the original version, or if how it looks weirds her out in some way, it will be fixed.
    • In the panel where Rue asks Zoe if she has a title yet, her eyes were fixed to look less "weirdly manic robot."
    • The page when Cassidy first attacks Undine was redrawn to make the sequence of panels flow better.
    • Kokoro's daydream of Undine was initially colored as if her outfit still lacked sleeves, which was corrected to have her current white sleeves.
    • The name of chapter 12 was eventually changed from "Lagan" to "Penumbra". The author decided that since the chapter focuses on Tessa, the name should be light-themed instead of the usual water theme.
  • Our Founder: Within the City, the mysterious Founder is a mythical figure believed to be the one who grants magical girls their powers. There's a statue of her overlooking the magical girl graveyard, and what appears to be another atop the golden dome-shaped building at the center of the City. Interestingly enough, however, her very existence appears to be protected by a Perception Filter to all but a few select individuals — even those who worship the Founder seem to believe that these statues simply represent a generic magical girl.
  • Outclassed at the Gym:
    • In a guest comic, magical girl and Fitness Nut Heartful Punch tries to star in a TV workout series, but her workout regimen proves to be too intense for her fellow magical girls to keep up with — by the end of the program, both of her co-stars have collapsed on the floor.
      Heartful Punch: Oh, sorry! I just assumed you two were, y'know, fit.
    • Later on, Undine attempts to join her at the Magical Girl Power Training Club, but quickly grows frustrated with her lack of progress compared to the others. Still, Heartful Punch offers some encouragement and reminds Undine not to push herself too hard, especially since she's just starting out.
  • 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.
    • In Chapter 12, as Tessa's mental state deteriorates more and more, the panels' edges break accordingly.
    • In that same chapter, when Anemone deliberately triggers the "fuzzy eyes" memory block effect on Tessa, her explanation of who the statue in the graveyard represents is covered by static.
    • 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.
    • In Chapter 16, while the Power Training Club is infighting as a result of having just learned about Goops, the normally solid white background is replaced by text bubbles of the fight that lead to the end of Team Alchemical, representing Undine being reminded of that incident.
  • Pillar of Light: When Tessa unleashes her fully-charged finishing attack on the monster in Chapter 1, the scene cuts to a distant reaction shot showing the massive pillar of pink magical energy that results. Sally and Sylvia can see the beam from across the city:
    Sally: Now that's just gratuitous.
  • Placid Plane of Ankle-Deep Water: Undine's Dream takes the form of her drifting passively through a dimly lit abyss, before surfacing in a tranquil plane of water where the woman in white awaits her.
  • 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.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: An odd visual variation on this is used in Chapter 12. It's established by that point that no one seems able to remember anything relating to the mysterious woman who appears in the Dream to grant powers to magical girls — with the sole exception of enigmatic Fourth-Wall Observer Anemone. Anemone takes advantage of this by telling Tessa about the woman's identity, causing her to immediately zone out and forget their prior conversation. The audience only sees static intrude on Anemone's dialogue, obscuring any plot-sensitive details about the woman.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Undine is (understandably) very reluctant to talk to others about the events of Chapter 2, and some of that reluctance eventually leads to trouble down the line. A lot of pain could possibly have been avoided if she'd been equally candid about Goops with the authorities and Tessa from the get-go. As-is, Undine only reveals it to Tessa at a point where Tessa is severely traumatised (and after what is implied to be weeks of the two missing each other over the phone) and after she's already talked with Goops. As a result, Tessa has a complete breakdown and ends up making a Deal with the Devil.
    • Part of this also stems from her earlier conversation with Anemone in Chapter 12, who wipes her memory of the conversation afterwards. Anemone points out the poor decision to contact Tessa during her end-of-chapter segment in chapter 12, adding that she couldn't possibly have seen what was coming.
    • There's also Cassidy, whose lashing out against Undine in Chapter 14 comes as a result of her misinterpreting one of Vedika's statements and also a bad case of Green-Eyed Monster. Her extremely poor handling of Undine's reluctance to talk leads directly to her death.
  • Post-Victory Collapse:
    • In Chapter 8, Undine manages to pull off an impressive Heroic Second Wind to take out a monster that breached the Inner Barrier and nearly killed her newfound teammate Heartful Punch. After she and HP escort the civilians that were attacked to a nearby hospital, the adrenaline begins to wear off, and Undine passes out from exhaustion. She wakes up in a hospital bed the following day, embarrassed at having passed out on the spot.
    • In Chapter 13, Rue ends up being cornered by monsters while on patrol and already low on magical energy for the night, and it's only thanks to Zoe finding the courage to step in and save her that she makes it out alive. Afterword, Zoe apologizes for getting in the way, to which Rue can only laugh incredulously before she passes out in the street.
    • A flashback in Chapter 17 shows that Mingxing once arrived too late to find that a monster had breached the Inner Barrier, and had already killed her friend and former teammate Mitsuki. Even after killing the monster in a fight that cost her left arm, she still pushes through to get Mitsuki's daughter Kokoro to safety. After exerting her powers of Super-Speed to get Kokoro to a hospital, Mingxing finally collapses outside the hospital door in a pool of her own blood, her magical energy completely spent.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Becoming a magical girl changes your hair and eyes to your theme color. All of Team Alchemical had normal hair colors when they were young (visible in the photo that is the title card for chapter 2), but as magical girls the only one who has a somewhat normal hair color is Gwen (greenish-brown, which isn't her original shade of brown). Losing one's powers for whatever reason (aging out, Tessa's Heroic Sacrifice, so on) causes one's hair color to revert to normal.
  • 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.")
  • Primal Fear: The monster designs featured in the series are all based on various common fears and phobias. Some more prominent monsters are based on the fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of crowds (agoraphobia), fear of extreme cold (cryophobia), fear of bugs (entomophobia), and fear of needles (trypanophobia), among others.
  • Primp of Contempt: On this page, Sally swings her arms at Sylvia, who holds her At Arm's Length with one hand and checks herself in a mirror with the other, facing away from her with a bored expression.
    Alt Text: gotta make sure Sally didn't mess up her hair
  • 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.
    • Sylvia / Alchemical Air appears on literal propaganda: A government poster promoting the benefits of registering as a magical girl, such as private school, an income, and a lower fatality rate. When Tessa transfers to public school after most of her friends and teammates, Sylvia included, die in the line of duty, she sees this poster still on display and makes sure to tear it down.
  • 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).
  • Puni Plush: One of the defining characteristics of Mary Cagle's art for the series is the cute and rounded character designs. It serves to reinforce how young most of these characters really are... and to juxtapose that with the series' themes of loss, depression, and dealing with trauma.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: In a guest comic, Sally deploys these when asking Undine to give her and the others a ride with her Making a Splash powers. Undine, reluctantly, agrees.
  • 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!": During her normal nightly patrol, Mingxing finds the dead body of her former teammate, Mitsuki, frozen to death by a monster, leading her to scream "No" repeatedly, amid a series of Flash Back stills — which ends in a shot of the frozen corpse in front of her.
  • Rat King: The monster that tries to break into the hospital in Chapter 20 is a large rodent-esque monster themed around a rat king. It appears to be a constantly shifting amalgamation of shadowy purple rats, with heads, limbs, and tails all emerging and disappearing from the mass as if trying to escape.
  • Reconstruction: Of the Magical Girl genre. Sleepless Domain uses elements specific to the Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction 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.
  • Recruiters Always Lie: A recruitment poster sent out by the Board of Magical Girls lists various benefits to entice young girls to register as Magical Girl Warriors (read: Child Soldiers) and defend the city, playing up the exciting and glamorous aspects of the job as much as possible. Of course, one of these benefits also happens to be a 70% lower risk of serious injury or death compared to girls who don't register. Make of that what you will.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In Chapter 14, as the Magical Girl Power Training Club wraps up its daily exercise meeting, Cassidy falls to the ground, exhausted, and declares that she's "never exercising again." Her comment sounds innocuous enough on the first read, but it takes on a subtle Dramatic Irony once you know that she really won't exercise again — by the end of that night, Cassidy would be dead.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The monster that tries to break into the safety center where Vedika volunteers resembles a large purple rat, seemingly made up of a cluster of smaller rats stuck together in Rat King fashion. It's not particularly formidable by monster standards, but since Vedika, the only Magical Girl available to deal with it, has no combat powers, even it poses a considerable threat.
  • 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.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: In Chapter 18, when Tessa is communicating with the Purple One through her bedroom window, the latter pulls off a written version of this. When Tessa pieces together that the entity she's talking to is the same one that Undine claims killed her teammates, the window fills with the written word "CLAP" in response.
  • 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.
  • The Shadow Knows: A variation on this occurs on the cover of Chapter 10, though it's more symbolic than literal. The page prominently features Heartful Punch in the foreground, while the shadow of a different girl holding a spear can be seen against the background. This girl turns out to be Heartful Punch's mother, the former magical girl Moonlight Spear, whom this chapter reveals was killed in a monster attack years ago and transferred her power as a magical girl to her daughter.
  • Shapes of Disappearance: When Rue is trapped between the two halves of a large insectoid monster, Zoe steps in to get its attention by shooting one of the halves with her slingshot. When Rue turns around, she realizes that the other half is no longer behind her, as indicated by a dotted outline of where it just was. She promptly looks up to find that it had climbed the buildings and was rearing to attack Zoe.
  • Shared Unusual Trait: In Chapter 10, Heartful Punch reveals to Undine that, when they first met, she thought they might have something in common because of their shared trait of odd eyes. Typically Curtains Match the Window with Magical Girls, but HP has bright cyan eyes in contrast to her otherwise pink color-scheme, while Undine has pink pupils where everything else is blue. The exact reasons for their situations are different, but the circumstances do have similarities, as both were the result of one magical girl's power transferring to someone else. In Heartful Punch's case, she was born while her mother was still an active magical girl, whose color was cyan. Undine, meanwhile, got her pupils after her pink-themed friend Tessa sacrificed her powers to save Undine's life.
  • 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 electricity 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.
  • Shoehorned Acronym: The Alt Text on this page jokes that the Magical Girl Power Training Club is called by a hard-to-pronounce acronym.
    HP: Welcome to the Magical Girl Power Training Club! Name subject to change.
    Alt text: We call it Mgptc *spit flies out of mouth* for short
  • 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".
  • Shoryuken: During their fight with the monster in Chapter 8, Heartful Punch breaks through several of its arms with a rising uppercut to free Undine from its grasp. Unfortunately, this ends up leaving her vulnerable to being grabbed out of the air herself.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Averted, as Future's Promise School for Magical Girls specifically accommodates the girls' 'night job' by hosting school later in the day, to make up for the girls having to stay up until around 2:00 A.M. fighting monsters. In fact, classes are held at Future's Promise every day, though that is mainly so they can keep tabs on the girls in case any go missing.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Steffi, Ben, Chandra and 42 from Mary Cagle's other comic Kiwi Blitz appear as a music-themed magical girl team and their manager. Their magical girl noms de guerre have a Musical Theme Naming in keeping with the theme of that comic. Rue is apparently the daughter of the setting's version of Reed.
    • When Undine is looking for a new magical girl team to join, one that Benzene mentions in passing is called "Team Sailor". He dismisses them immediately, however, noting that they are already too large and thematically organized to be accepting new members. The page's Alt Text clarifies that Team Sailor will not actually be appearing in the comic, for reasons that are rather self-evident.
    • The Chapter 10 cover features Heartful Punch in a pose reminiscent of Usagi's in the very first eye catch of the series, with her back to the viewer and a hand on her hip, and her head to the side looking back. Even the background is similar, featuring hearts rather than stars to better suit HP's overall motif.
    • Page 2 of Chapter 4 has Undine introduce herself to Heartful Punch as she leaves. The Alt Text muses "Wait, like that video game fish person?"
    • When Tessa visits the magical girl graveyard at the beginning of Chapter 6, some of the names that can be seen on the graves there include Alice Liddell, Carrie White, and Yuri Tsukikage. When the graveyard is visited again in Chapter 18, another name that is visible is Ai Ohto.
    • Chapter 8, page 35's Alt Text says "Only one Mami'ing allowed per comic." in reference to an infamous Late-Arrival Spoiler of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which Undine is barely avoiding a repeat of by saving Heartful Punch's life.
    • The alt text for page one of chapter 14 explicitly states that Undine's Hairstyle for this chapter, a bun tied up with a blue ribbon that forms a bow under the bun and side tails, is a reference to Artoria Pendragon, stating "Gotta wear Artoria hair to go meet Arthur. (It's a Fate/stay night thing)"
  • 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 and white 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. In Chapter 21, a few chapters after the two start dating, we see the ends of Undine's big bow change to look like the end of HP's scarf.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Speech-Bubbles Interruption:
  • Spit Take: Referenced in the Alt Text of Chapter 21 - Page 22, which ends with Undine saying there's something she'd like to bring up, while the interviewer listening to her sips from a mug:
    Alt Text: Hold on just let me take a big sip of my drink and then hold it in for a while until I'm surprised enough to PTEW
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: As The Quiet One of Team Alchemical, Gwen does this as part of her introduction in Chapter 1. The chapter opens with the team's leader Tessa waiting for her teammates as they arrive one by one, each in Establishing Character Moment fashion. Eventually, Undine notes that only Gwen has yet to arrive, only for Gwen herself to reveal that she was already there.
    Gwen: Yo.
    Tessa: When did you get here?
    Gwen Earlier.
  • Steampunk: In "Chapter 17 - Page 22", Steampunk Princess is mentioned as a magical girl that retired and previously did Magitek stuff.
  • The Stoic: Gwen, who rarely speaks save for the odd one-liner and focuses on increasing her strength. Runners up: Forte Keys, and of course Gabby.
  • Supernaturally-Validated Trans Person: 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".
  • Super Registration Act: Active magical girls are strongly encouraged, though not legally required, to register with the City Defense Department's Board of Magical Girls. As it cannot force these girls to register, the CDD instead runs extensive PR campaigns, using the image of successful magical girls as celebrities to extol the many benefits of registering. True to their word, they offer numerous benefits in order to entice girls to comply — registered magical girls are eligible for an exclusive private education, have access to their own personal counselors, and, as one recruitment poster cheerfully states, have a 70% lower risk of being killed or seriously injured.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A small instance: Undine's Imagine Spot when told about Outrageous Lime being "too hardcore" for Heartful Punch has them look like they do in the present, but once we see HP's actual memory, it turned out their hairdos and the way they wear their school uniforms differed a bit.
  • 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.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: As seen in the last panel of Chapter 17 - Page 14, "F + F" in a Cardiovascular Love-type Heart Symbol, from implied Melty Flame and Melty Frost as Ice Magic Is Water and Water Is Blue, with the second F being blue.
  • Swallowed Whole: Heartful Punch is very nearly swallowed whole by a monster in Chapter 8. It's only thanks to Undine's last-second Herioc Second Wind that she makes it out alive.
  • 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.
  • Symbolic Serene Submersion: Undine's Dream consists of her falling through a space of dimly lit water, inhabited by glowing jellyfish symbolizing the members of Team Alchemical, before falling through the floor and into the mysterious space where the Woman in White resides. This represents her (at the time) passive, non-confrontational personality and status as a support.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Implied to have happened during a flashback in Chapter 10. When Mingxing responds to an emergency flare, she finds the body of Mrs. Watanabe just outside the door, with the flare tube in her hand and her body half frozen and impaled by a massive chunk of ice. Evidently, she had just barely managed to get outside the house and fire the flare before the monster inside cut off her attempted escape.
  • Take My Hand!: The title page for Chapter 18 shows Tessa falling into a purple-tinted void with a listless expression, while Undine desperately reaches out her hand, just barely unable to reach Tessa's. This serves as a metaphor for the events of the chapter: Undine tries to reach out to Tessa after their shared traumatic experience, but the latter has already fallen so deeply into depression that she may be too late.
  • 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 (implied to be because she doesn't know how to tell them about the Purple Girl). In the second case, Zoe's shocked seeing a therapist isn't required. Undine later mentions to her manager that she's started seeing one.
    • Subverted with Heartful Punch, who mentions both having a therapist and taking anti-depressants.
    • Tessa, on the other hand, forces the matter back into "no". Her parents tried to get her a therapist, but she is denying them and pretending that she is fine despite breaking down on the inside.
  • 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 Symbol of Cardiovascular Love between them.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: While fighting a particularly resilient monster and already low on magic, Rue ducks into an alleyway to get her bearings — only to find that the monster's other half was waiting on the other side, and the two halves proceed to corner her. As she realizes the danger she's in, she simply gives an ironic smirk and quips:
    "Well. That's not fair at all."
  • Toast of Tardiness: This is referenced at one point as a Funny Background Event. As Undine and Zoe walk to school together, a girl with dark red hair can be seen running ahead of them with a slice of toast in her mouth.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Heartful Punch and Undine. HP is a brawler whose 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 putting a shield of water between herself and 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 Name Announcement: Zigzagged. Some of the magical girls will do this, particularly if they're introducing their magical girl identity to someone, while others don't. The first chapter actually has an inversion — the girls of Team Alchemical shout their magical girl names as they prepare to transform, then say their real names after transforming.
  • 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.
  • Trapped on the Astral Plane: A monster temporarily causes this in Heartful Punch during Chapter 19. After the monster touches her, she finds that her girlfriend can no longer see or hear her, and when she tries to get her attention she ends up phasing right through her. The only one who seemingly can perceive HP in this state is the Big Bad herself, who eventually frees her by absorbing the monster.
  • Twinkle in the Eye: Sally in page 13 as she grins menacingly at a monster.
  • The Un-Reveal:
    • A brief scene in Chapter 11 ends with Zoe's younger cousin Claire asking to see the former's magical girl form, which had not yet been shown to the audience. The last panel before the end of the scene is a shot from the hallway outside the room, with the glow from Zoe's offscreen Transformation Sequence just visible inside. She doesn't reveal her transformation until Chapter 13, page 32 after escorting Rue home.
    • Anemone is one of the only characters who seems to know about the mysterious woman who grants powers to the magical girls of the City — while every magical girl encounters the woman in a dream before awakening her powers, most find themselves mysteriously unable to remember her, or anything related to her, upon awakening. In Chapter 12, Anemone reveals the true identity of the woman to Tessa in order to invoke this amnesia effect on their previous conversation; to simulate the in-universe effect, her speech bubbles are covered by static.
    • On a related note, it is known to the characters and the audience that the Great Barrier keeps monsters out of the City during the day and recharges at night, leaving the City vulnerable to monster attacks for several hours each night. The exact nature of this barrier, however, is left ambiguous, as is whatever exists outside of the barrier, if anything. In Chapter 17, Bud and Harley end up near the Outer Barrier while on patrol one night, and the following page reveals what they see: a short wall overgrown with flowers, with everything above concealed by static, indicating that the Great Barrier is under the same Perception Filter mentioned above.
  • 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.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: The sequence immediately following Chapter 18's fake-out ending, where Goops shows Tessa her Dream, is numbered Chapter ???. After that, it goes back to Chapter 18, with the page numbering showing that Chapter ??? is counted as part of Chapter 18.
  • Verbal Backspace: During Undine's first encounter with Heartful Punch, she briefly mentions what she believes to be a rogue Magical Girl but, not ready to speak of it, tries to change what she's talking about to unfortunate effect.
    Undine: ...Then maybe sh—it's gone after all. For now.
    [Heartful Punch snorts]
    Heartful Punch: Sorry, you said "shits".
  • [Verb] This!: In Chapter 20, as Vedika fires a flare gun point-blank into a monster's mouth, the Alt Text admonishes her for not saying "Eat this!"
  • Vine Tentacles: Gwen and Undine have an elemental Combination Attack called Fertile Soil, which allows them to control plants. In the first chapter, they use it to grow massive vines in order to restrain a monster, allowing Tessa to deal the finishing blow.
  • 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.
  • Wall Jump: Chapter 19 opens with Undine and Heartful Punch on patrol in a narrow alleyway, when a small flying monster attacks them and promptly flees. Once Heartful Punch realizes what the monster just did to her, she leaps between the buildings and onto the city rooftops to give chase.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: One page contains a wanted poster on the wall for a girl with red hair and a top hat. This is actually a Development Gag, referencing an unnamed Magical Girl-turned-Phantom Thief character who was cut from the story early on. invoked
  • Waxing Lyrical:
  • Webcomic Time: The comic started in April 2015, and as of chapter 19 (which started in November 2021), just over an in-universe month had passed, with Chapter 1 occurring on September 2 and chapter 19 on the night of October 7.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 15. The Purple One kills Cassidy by destroying both her clones simultaneously, causing her to disappear without a trace. It's revealed that monster attacks have gotten more intense lately. Undine and HP officially become both a team and a couple.
    • Chapter 16's interstitial: Tessa has responded to the Purple One.
    • Chapter 18: Goops's plan the whole time was to merge with Tessa. While Tessa at first was unwilling, something changed her mind and she willingly merged with her to become a magical girl again.
  • Wham Line:
    • Chapter 16, after Undine tells the club about the Purple One:
      Vedika: I knew.
    • Chapter 19 ends with Tessa-Goops going "Heya, Anemone," making her the first character to be shown addressing her by her real name.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Late in Chapter 2, the First-Episode Twist rears its ugly head when Tessa decides to check up on her team and finds the corpses of Gwen, Sally, and Sylvia, while Undine is just barely hanging on and is probably only minutes away from joining them.
    • 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.
    • Chapter 19 is full of them, but one of the biggest is Goops stopping by Anemone's house and watching her sleep. However, both Anemone and her room are entirely engulfed in the Inner Barrier, which has been explicitly stated to not affect people.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rue's growing friendship with Tessa hits a snag when Tessa's growing mental stress leads to her tactlessly ask if Rue really is a magical girl, or if she's faking it. Rue counters that, even if Tessa has understandably gone through some horrible things, that was still an uncalled-for remark, and stops speaking to her then and there.
    Rue: ...I know you're going through some shit right now, but that's a real screwed up thing to accuse someone of. Seeya.
  • Wind Is Green: Averted by the members of Team Alchemical — Alchemical Air is associated with the color yellow, while the color green instead goes to Alchemical Earth. The reason for this is that Team Alchemical is based specifically on the four elements used in classical Greek alchemy, which commonly ascribes the color yellow to Air and the color green to Earth.
  • 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.

The time is now 2 AM. Please make sure the streets are clear of monsters, and take care on your way home.