We return to our look at the three volume manga adaptation of the 2013 sequel film to the acclaimed 2011 seinen Magical Girl series Puella Magi Madoka Magica. In the first book we were presented with a situation that we knew to be impossible. Madoka was back and a normal Magical Girl not the Goddess she had become. Sayaka was back from the dead and living with Kyoko who was a happier and more sociable individual with Mami the strong leader of the five. Even Homura was different, back in the glasses and braids she had before she lost her innocence to her constant time looping, she even had those time powers back when at the end of the series she wielded a bow of light instead. And they were fighting cutesy "Nightmares" using the power of kawaii and not the creepy wraiths seen at the end of the series. Even the Machievellian bunny-cat Kyubey was different, only saying "Kyu Kyu" like a Pokemon and hanging out like an innocent team mascot. Seemed like everything was going right. And for Homura that meant things were so wrong. Unable to accept this happy life she began picking away at it and soon discovered that the world outside Mitakihara City did not exist and this could only point to one thing in her mind... a Witch's labyrinth and they are all trapped inside. The previous volume ended with this revelation, and with her shedding the glasses and braids to fit how she feels now, read on to discover just who is responsible for this labyrinth as she continues her investigation.
This manga is unflipped so reads from right to left. Honorifics have been included and I gave up as regards to Kyubey's gender, it's a he and that's that.
Next day Mami accosts Homura on their way to school surprised her hair isn't in braids, although she says Homura looks amazing. She invites Homura to come over to her place after school. Later we join Mami, Bebe, Homura and Madoka having tea at Mami's place. Kyubey is curled up close by, watching always watching Madoka.
|Homura quizes Mami.|
Mami: "I was the only Magical Girl in Mitakihara... back then my only support, the only one who could encourage me was Bebe here... if this little one hadn't been here... I don't think I'd have been able to go on".
Homura tells her she is stronger than she thinks, she thanks Homura saying she likes being sensei to the younger girls, now she is surrounded by friends she can count on and doesn't have to push herself to breaking point like before.
Mami and Madoka discuss fighting the Nightmare while Homura sits in silence. Then she asks Mami for another cup of tea and Mami goes into the kitchen. Homura then transforms into her Magical Girl form and freezes time. She grabs Bebe saying it's time to "end this farce". Homura believes Bebe is the Witch causing all this:
Homura: "What are you trying to do? Why are you toying with us? What is so fun about this to you?"
She chokes Bebe then goes leaping out of Mami's flat with her. She think about how she was never able to get along with Mami, it was always the hardest to tell her the truth about Magical Girls. She tells Bebe she would have rather remained ignorant of "how many times I've had to stomp on the hearts of others".
|Steady on Homura.|
Bebe starts to make a getaway, and Homura starts to follow but Mami stands in her way. Homura asks if she is prepared to protect "that thing" no matter what. Mami says yes and "if you don't stop it now then you and I are ready for a fight".
So with neither side backing down an incredible battle kicks off. Watch it here, it's amazing like something out of a John Woo fever dream. For every bullet Homura fires from her collection of auto and semi-auto pistols and rifles, Mami summons a single shot musket and aims at each bullet. The bullets freeze in time as Mami and Homura keep laying into each other until they both stop to catch their breath. Homura restarts time and all the bullets grind against each other and riddle the old part of town. Realising the stalemate, Homura takes a pistol and fires upwards at a window hanging above where she is standing. The shattered glass falls on her and as it cuts the ribbon holding Mami to her, Homura freezes time again.
|Homura contemplates murder.|
Mami: "I'll admit it. Your magic is very impressive. But to always assume that you are in a better tactical position than your opponent will lead to disaster".
Homura shouts at her that Witches are their enemies, try to remember she pleads. Mami she does't know anything about Witches their enemies are "magical beasts" She pauses then slowly wonders if they fought magical beasts, "what are the Nightmares?"
|Bebe/Charlotte - Nagisa Momoe.|
Sayaka: "Mami-san is at the top of her game... and you decide to pick a fight with her head on? You're either way over-confident... or a complete idiot".
Homura says she hadn't meant to provoke a fight but it was unavoidable. "Bebe right?" says Sayaka to Homura's surprise. Sayaka says she must have though she was behind all this because she used to be a witch, "there should be a limit to how many conclusions a girl can jump to".
She asks Homura what kind of Witch would create the labyrinth the size of a city and not kill or attack a single human being. Bebe wouldn't do anything like that. If Homura gives it some thought, it will come to her. This labyrinth is all about control, so who benefits from it?
|Sayaka and Homura talk.|
Sayaka: "Is it such an awful crime... for the person to wish for this world? Does she deserve to die? Is this place really so terrible?"
Homura is horrified that she would take the side of a Witch, but Sayaka says it's natural she'd have a little sympathy for it. Mulling this over, Homura realises neither Mami nor Kyoko could detect the Witches barrier so it can't be them.
But thanks to Madoka's sacrifice, Witches shouldn't exist now. Before they transform they are taken away by Madoka - The Law Of Cycles. Homura says that there are three people whose presence should be impossible. First the Witch who made this labyrinth. Second Bebe here in her Witch form. And finally Sayaka who knows all about Witches. Is she the real Sayaka Miki? Sayaka says she's the same person she's always known. Then she releases her blade from Homura's shield and whirls her cloak round, disappearing and leaving the image of her Witch form Oktavia Von Seckendorff in the puddle of water.
|Reflection of Oktavia.|
But as Homura walks through the streets she thinks about what she has learned. She believes someone has run away from the world and dragged them all with her. Turning her back on a destiny fighting magical beasts.
Homura: "How can I be expected to permit such weakness? A Magical Girl must continue to fight. That is the price of the miracle she wished for."
She believes this is making a mockery and a farce out of Madoka's sacrifice and she will not permit it to go on any longer. She is interrupted from her reverie by Madoka who jumps down to join her.
Madoka tells her Mami-san is worried about her and she can sense Homura is keeping things bottled up. They sit together in a field of flowers and talk. Madoka says seeing Homura in pain is rough on her as well and so finally, Homura lets it all out.
Homura: "I had a very frightening dream. in my dream you went to a far-off place... a place where we'd probably never meet again... and everyone in the world had forgotten about it... The only one who remembered that you had even existed Madoka... and as time passed I started to feel my memories of you were just something I had imagined... I started to doubt them myself".
As she tells Madoka this, tears fall from her eyes and Madoka starts to hug her. She begins braiding Homura's hair again and says that it sounds like it was a scary dream, but "you know me. Would I go off alone to some place where I could never see you or anybody ever again? You know I could never do that". Uh oh, not what Homura needs to hear Madoka!
|Madoka tells Homura what she wants to here.|
She lets her hair flow out of the braid and holds Madoka's hands saying it should be impossible for her to be here together like this "but I know... that you are the real Madoka". She gets up and says she has to go, there are still things she needs to do. She tells Madoka that just the fact they were able to sit and talk made her very happy. And she runs off down the field leaving a confused Madoka in her wake.
Alone now, Homura calls Kyoko, who I am pleased to see is back in her shorts and hoodie combo. Homura asks if she remembers Witches, but Kyoko doesn't. Homura says that is how it should be. She then asks if Kyoko remembers Madoka, Kyoko says of course she does, but Homura says those memories are false.
Homura: "It's so simple... if only I had put a little bit of thought into it, I would have known sooner. The only person who could fabricate a world with Madoka in it... is someone with the knowledge of Madoka herself".
And that's how she now knows who rewrote everyones memories and created the false Mitakihara. Kyoko starts running, concerned about what Homura is saying, demanding to know where Homura is now.
Homura just says sadly that she has one last thing to confirm and then she can bring this all to an end, and hangs up apologising as Kyoko stands in the road facing a zeppelin falling from the sky on fire. Homura then leaves her Soul Gem behind and gets on the bus. Magical Girls can't be seperated more that one hundred metres from their gem without the life leaving their bodies. As she does so, Kyubey watches with interest.
|The fake city starts to fall apart.|
Homura: "So why? Tell me... Why.. did I.. become so... and when did it happen? When... did I... turn... into... a... Witch!?"
Could things get any worse for Homura? Yes they can because Kyubey slinks up to her and tells her that the "the truth should no longer be of any interest to you." But he's going to tell her anyway because bunny-cat's a dick and this is all his doing of course.
Kyubey tells her that human curiosity is "simply illogical", he shows her that her body is lying on a dias in a desert being observed by floating eye-ball cameras which takes Homura aback somewhat. Her soul has been placed in an isolation field and her Soul Gem is now saturated with impurities. But it cannot be affected by anything from the outside world.
|All bunny-cat's fault.|
As long as her gem remains within the isolation field and does not break she will not transform fully into a Witch form. She's like a chick that can't break the egg so continues growing inside it, "right now, we are in a world within your Soul Gem". Homura says if she is isolated from the outside world how are others getting inside? Kyubey says they made some adjustments so she could "guide and induce your victims to enter".
They are waiting to be able to isolate and observe the reason why Magical Girls disappear and understand the rules that govern it. They've already noticed that there are individuals in there who who don't exist in the real world and of them there is one who "does not exist in the past. Nor is her existence possible in the future".
There is one problem though, Madoka Kaname "hasn't demonstrated a shred of unexpected power". She seems to have forgotten she was in there to save Homura and has lost her Goddess identity.
Kyubey: " And we find that we have reached a stalemate. It is as if Madoka Kaname has forgotten she is a God... and that Homura Akemi has forgotten she is a Witch".
Kyubey says that now Homura has realised the truth it is time for her to look towards Madoka to save her. That way Madoka will remember why she came there in the first place.
|Homura realises the truth.|
Kyubey: "If we can observe it, we can intervene. If we can intervene, we can exert control. And if we can control it, then Magical Girls can become Witches... and we can expect to collect much more energy than ever before".
The transitional state between hope and despair produces a quantity of energy far greater than they predicted. There are unlimited possibilities hidden within Magical Girls and so they have to ensure their transformations from Magical Girl to Witch.
He tells her "the existence that was Homura Akemi is finished... your fate has reached its conclusion. All that remains is to reunite with the one you've been waiting for. Does that not make you happy?" And we see braids-and-glasses Homura holding Madoka's hand. She is happy and at peace ready to move on to the afterlife with the girl she loves. But then Homura says "no." And coldly shoots her innocent self right in the face.
Homura: "That 'happiness' is something I have never sought".
Kyubey tells her the curses inside her are growing, she'll miss her chance of purification at this rate. But Homura says that Kyubey in this universe does not know she made her wish to protect Madoka. And instead of risking Madoka she'd rather become a Witch instead.
Kyubey asks if she is willing to spend all eternity living with her curses? But Homura says she trusts Mami and Kyoko to kill her. Kyubey says if she dies in the isolation field "no one will ever be able to rescue your soul from despair". Homura just roars "SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH."
Kyubey looks on bewildered as Homura thinks to herself that all she can feel are her darkest regrets. She is deep in true despair. She thinks about how she was not able to say goodbye to Madoka and how sorry she is. And thus is born "Homulily" the Nutcracker Witch. End of Book 2.