Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a deceptively cute franchise that subverts several of the tropes associated with the Magical Girl genre. For the most part, manga adaptions and spin-offs such as Another Story and Homura’s Revenge do well to follow the tragedy of the original anime series. Having watched the anime a total of six times (and I’m definitely not alone in this), I was prepared for the dramatic irony of the aforementioned titles.
Puella Magi Homura Tamura: Parallel Worlds Do Not Remain Parallel Forever, however, is an exception.
The Magica Quartet Narrative Team and artist AFRO come together to bring Madoka Magica fans two volumes of comical mayhem and shenanigans. Cursed to relive the same month over and over until her rescue mission is complete, Homura Akemi has had her share of regrets. While she is often portrayed as a sullen, time-warping gunslinger, in this particular rendition, an exasperated Homura has caused parallel worlds to become more out of whack than usual. As such, neither volume has a linear plot; each chapter explores a different alternate universe in which Homura – mistakenly called, “Tamura,” by her fellow magical girls – continues her endless crusade against Walpurgisnacht.
My personal favorites from Volume 1 have to be “Soul Gem x 300” as well as the “Whole Lotta Mami” and “Whole Lotta Homura” Time Flows. In the first chapter, Homura wakes up from her hospital bed only to discover that she has not one, but three-hundred soul gems. In true RPG style, Homura is told that magical girls transform into witches once their “heart counts” have been depleted. The story’s tongue-in-cheek humor coupled with Kyubey’s constant jabs at Homura’s age were played to the fullest – marking the beginning of the fourth wall-breaking pattern.
There’s not much to explain about “Whole Lotta Mami” and “Whole Lotta Homura.” The former plays with the idea of Mami’s death, undoubtedly one of the most infamous scenes of the anime. Though horrific, this scene is referenced to in nearly every chapter. “Whole Lotta Mami” explains why Mami is nonexistent in all of the timelines visited by Homura – one Mami declared herself as Queen and subsequently drained the powers of her counterparts. Furthermore, she requires that her subjects don her hairstyle and drink tea twelve times a day. It is this brand of whimsy that defines the characters’ individual stories. Frustrated by her recent failures, Homura stumbles upon an interdimensional safe haven in “Whole Lotta Homura.” She and other versions of herself visit this stop in order to fangirl over Madoka and rest in between missions. Volume 1 closes with a simple tale about Homura and a stray dog. What’s not to love?
While Volume 1 focuses on blowing the main cast’s backstories and personalities way out of proportion, Volume 2 is manga parody after manga parody. The chapters “Metal Magica,” “Magica Rider,” and “Akemi Mechanica” make fun of the Mecha/Sci-Fi genre by reimagining magical girls as robotic soldiers and scientists. And unlike the first collection, there is a subplot surrounding Homura’s weapon dysfunction that spans more than one chapter. We also get a chance to revisit the all-Homura safe haven – meeting popstar, professor, and stalker versions of Homura along the way.
Overall, I consider this spin-off a true gem – pun intended. Homura Tamura’s boundless energy and slice of life approach easily distinguish themselves from the source material. And yet, there are plenty of laughs in store for those who have watched the original series. Very rarely do we get to see Homura and the other magical girls portrayed in such a light-hearted manner; needless to say, it’s a real treat. These two volumes are brimming with bubbly artwork, inside jokes, and much-anticipated team-ups, making them the perfect read for any hardcore Madoka Magica fan.