To the Stars
After centuries of turmoil, a Utopian AI/human government has seized control of Earth, heralding a new age of post-scarcity and space colonization. An unexpected encounter with a hostile, technologically superior alien race has broken the peace, forcing magical girls to come out of hiding to save human civilization. In the midst of it all, Shizuki Ryouko, an ordinary girl, looks to the sky, wondering at her place in the universe.
- —Hieronym, author of To the Stars
This page summarizes the entire story, volume by volume and chapter by chapter, for those who want a refresher on events. It also includes the names of all future volumes and interludes, as released by Hieronym many years ago.
Each section is collapsed by default, to avoid unwanted spoilers; use the right-hand "Expand" buttons to view descriptions.
Volume I: Quantum Entanglement
- Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon where groups of particles cannot have their state completely described independently of each other, even if separated by large distances.
- This perhaps describes the position Ryouko finds herself in.
Shizuki Ryouko, a regular girl dissatisfied with her utopian life, contracts and becomes a magical girl, wishing to leave Earth, explore, and "find my place in this universe". Her life rapidly turns anything but ordinary, as day by day wild events pile up and new secrets from her past reveal themselves. She ends up under the tutelage of both Tomoe Mami and Sakura Kyouko, learns that the demon attack that led to her contract was deliberately caused by someone, discovers that she's the descendant of two powerful competing matriarchies, receives a mysterious vision from a magical girl Goddess, finds out her parents have been working on a secret project cloning bodies for magical girls to use, receives a special V2 TacComp, and learns about her aunt, protoge of Akemi Homura, whose wish turned Ryouko's own mother from a magical girl back to a regular human.
All along, Ryouko struggles to adjust, learning as much about magical and military worlds she's entering as she can. Saying goodbye to friends and family, and starting to make new friends among her fellow magical girls, she finally departs Earth, led by her wish out into a strange new universe.
In short: Ryouko becomes a magical girl, and begins to discover her unusual place in the universe.
Ryouko goes to school, dissatisfied with her life and feeling out of place in a world where her family at home and friends at school seem to enjoy the near-utopian Earth. At school, Mandatory Session is interrupted by the appearance of Tomoe Mami nearby, who has taken a detour to check the school for potential recruits with Kyubey, who claims he has found one. The sighting leaves Ryouko dwelling on the remote possibility of becoming a magical girl, distracting her enough that she unthinkingly agrees to go on a date with another boy from class. Simona, one of her friends, sees that she's unhappy and follows her out to a riverbank with a view of the starport.
Mami, on the other hand, surreptitiously visits Kyouko in her church to discuss the Cult's discovery of irregularities in the grief cube supply chain. She agrees to look into it and departs, only to encounter a demon spawn on her way back. At the riverbank, Simona is about to confess her feelings for Ryouko, when they are suddenly attacked by demons. Ryouko manages to keep the both of them alive for a short while before getting trapped. At the moment she attempts to sacrifice herself to save Simona, Mami saves them both, and along with Kyubey explains that Ryouko has the potential to make a wish and become a magical girl."I wish I could leave Earth," Ryouko said, looking down, "and explore this world. I want to go where no one else has gone before and find my place in this universe."
Mami, with some reluctance, separates Simona from Ryouko and lets Kyouko take over the immediate training. Kyouko runs her through the ropes quickly, learns that Ryouko has an unprecedented 200km teleportation range, and assigns herself as a mentor along with Mami, who has in the meantime realized that Simona had a crush on Ryouko. Mami advises Simona not to tell Ryouko how she feels. Ryouko fights her first demons with Kyouko, and afterwards Patricia von Rohr shows them a pile of grief cubes she found, indicating the demon spawn was deliberate. The Incubators swear off responsibility, and all Ryouko can remember is seeing a woman in the distance just beforehand. Kyouko promises to investigate.
Disguised, Mami attends the movie Akemi. It depicts Homura's upbringing in an orphanage and wish, then Sayaka's death, which triggers a vision of the Goddess for Homura, changing her personality markedly. It then moves on to Yuma's joining, and the new Mitakihara Four founding the MSY. The movie then montages through the MSY's history to jump ahead to the Cephalopod first attack on Aurora, after which Homura rallies the MSY to send a massive force of magical girls to New Athens to stop the next attack.
In short: Akemi depicts Homura's life up until New Athens.
Akemi depicts Mami and Homura directing a surprise assault on the Cephalopods at New Athens. Initially the battle goes well, and the Human forces on the ground rally, but the aliens deploy stronger measures in turn. Homura goes out to personally lead the counterattack, but the combination of stealth armor and orbital strikes is too much, and she falls in battle... only to find that her soul gem refuses to fill up with grief, preventing her from being taken away by the Law of Cycles, to her despair. Homura then suddenly heals from her wounds, and her white wings are replaced by huge, horrible black wings. Almost entirely on her own power, she leads the counterattack to victory, at the end personally redirecting an orbital superweapon back at the Cephalopod fleet.
In the final scene of the movie, Kyouko argues that the battle proves Homura's faith has merit to an unconvinced Mami, only for both of them to be interrupted by Homura's arrival. Homura announces her resignation from the MSY, leaving one of her ribbons with them, and declares that she is leaving to look for her goddess and will protect the world another way. The movie over, Mami goes to leave Earth, beginning her endless work anew with her Version Two TacComp Machina.
In short: Akemi depicts Homura's transformation, victory, and disappearance at New Athens.
Kyouko and Ryouko tell Ryouko's parents and grandfather that she has contracted, to their horror. Kyouko defends Ryouko's choice, and explains some of the magical girl system to them, though they prove to know more than most. Before Ryouko goes to bed, her mother comes to talk with her, expressing her disappointment that Ryouko lied when she promised not to contract, but also just talking with her. After watching Ryouko transform and discussing her weapon, the arbalest, she leaves Ryouko with the request to tell her grandmother (who had disappeared to join the military when Ryouko was a child) that her family was "sorry", should Ryouko meet her.
After Ryouko falls asleep, Kyouko still sticks around to gather information on her family situation as per procedure. Ryouko's grandfather Kuroi Abe willingly helps her out, telling her that Ryouko's parents are near divorce, though Ryouko doesn't realize it, and that they know so much about magic because they're researchers. He also mentions that Ryouko has an aunt she doesn't know about. That night, Ryouko dreams of an old encounter with a magical girl, and finds that she still has the bracelet the girl gave her. She also recalled an old memory of her grandmother talking about her aunt, though she doesn't understand it. After talking to Simona and her family a bit, Ryouko spends the morning reading through a swath of informational messages about her new life.
In short: Ryouko tells her family she has contracted.
Mami remembers the Mitakihara Four's celebration of October Three with Homura, shortly before the Contact War. The four of them poke fun at each other—including about Homura's secret pupil and Kyouko's "transgressions"—and eventually Mami suggests that they take a long vacation from the MSY together, only for the others to reluctantly shoot the idea down. In the present, Mami arrives at the starport with her bodyguards and meets with Marianne Francois, her intelligence officer, who she instructs to secretly investigate the grief cube supply chain as Kyouko asked. Later arriving at Carthago Shipyard via scramjet, then space elevator, then Navigator, she attends a meeting of the General Staff.
During the meeting, the Chair of the General Staff Roland Erwynmark reveals that the Cephalopods have been discovered constructing a wormhole stabilizer in the Kepler-37 System, at the tip of the ongoing Euphratic Incursion. This would allow the aliens to directly transport reinforcements into the system, within Blink distance of the Core World Optatum, and so an immediate MagOps operation is planned to destroy it. Erwynmark then announces that he's appointing Mami as a special Euphratic Sector commander, over some opposition from her opponents on the Staff.
In short: Mami is promoted, and tasked with destroying the discovered wormhole stabilizer.
Kyouko wakes up (with Kishida Maki at her side) and while making the rounds at her church discovers that Maki has painted the Goddess with pink hair, a previously unknown trait. However, Kyouko has to immediately leave to see Yuma about the saturated grief cubes incident. On the way, Kyouko remembers when she first met Yuma, in a confrontation with the Southern Group shortly after Homura had first joined the team, before her personality change. Kyouko had immediately taken sympathy on her, and telepathically invited her to switch sides, though the very young Yuma had angrily refused after Kyouko insulted Oriko, who had saved Yuma's life.
Kyouko's reverie is briefly interrupted by Maki, who tells her the idea of the pink hair came from Shirou Asaka. Kyouko then further recalls the next two times she saw Yuma: first, months later after Sayaka's death, in a chance encounter at a store where she had revealed she was doing "research" with Oriko, and second, two years after that, when Kyouko, Mami, and Homura had saved her after the deaths of Oriko and the rest of her team. After that, they had Befriended her, and once Yuma recovered she joined them as one of the Mitakihara Four. Eventually Yuma had told them what had really happened the night Oriko, and they resolved to keep it secret.
As Kyouko arrives at MSY Governmental Affairs to see Yuma, she recalls finally Homura telling Yuma that the Goddess provided an afterlife for magical girls, the only time Kyouko ever heard her say it out loud.
In short: Kyouko remembers how Yuma ended up joining the Mitakihara Four.
Yuma runs out to greet Kyouko like an older sister, herself having taken on a nine-year-old form, and Kyouko is greeted by her Goverance partner MG as well. Kyouko and Yuma then meet privately to discuss the irregularities in the grief cube supply chain, and the further reports of magical girls going missing, and Yuma agrees to investigate. When Kyouko brings up the grief cube incident with Ryouko, Yuma immediately deduces that the grief cubes were super-saturated with grief—a possible state kept very secret, though they don't have a sample to prove it. Before leaving, Kyouko recommends that Yuma visit The Ribbon, but she demures just as Mami always does too, instead giving her an Incubator plushie.
Kyouko checks with Kyubey briefly about the cubes, but he does not provide any new information, and so Kyouko ends up back at her church, where she meets with Patricia von Rohr and Shirou Asaka. Patrica reveals that she kept some of the grief cubes from the incident after sensing something strange about them, and Kyouko tells her to inform Yuma through the plushie, which turned out to be enchanted as a telepathy-enhancer. Kyouko also gets Asaka to agree to share the details of the Goddess's hair with the Theological Council, before going to give a sermon on the terrible fate the Goddess saves magical girls from, and to announce they'll be updating the statue of the Goddess.
In short: Kyouko and Yuma discover that the grief cubes from the incident were super-saturated.
Ryouko arrives at Kyouko's church, which holds MSY living quarters and local military facilities underground, in order to get her military upgrades. Patricia and Asaka guide her through the process. Patricia notes that Ryouko has an extremely unusual genetic profile, requiring some adjustments to the process, and then begins the procedure. Ryouko watches in a semi-VR experience as the procedure installs a TacComp, removing implants that are useless for magical girls, and installs a Permanent Awareness Module, among other things. Testing out her new capabilities, Ryouko sends Asaka a memory snapshot of the magical girl who gave her the bracelet she rediscovered after her contract. Asaka reacts oddly, but continues on to show Ryouko the armory and get her equipped with the required basics.
Then she cuts the tour short, instead bringing Ryouko to the Ribbon Chamber. At the Ribbon, Ryouko finds herself in a confusing vision, seeing among other things Yuma at the death of Oriko, Simona looking directly at her on her first day of class, Asaka receiving instruction from the Goddess to wait for the girl who sent her the memory Ryouko did, the Goddess herself briefly showing her face and telling Ryouko to keep it a secret, and the death of Kyouko on some sort of mission involving submarines. Both of them watching, Patricia comments to Clarisse that for a few reasons, including Clarisse's presence, she's not that surprised by the vision.
In short: Ryouko gets a vision from the Goddess.
Ryouko, brought before the Theological Council to relate her vision, talks over her vision of Kyouko's death, determining with them it was on a colony world and that what actually killed Kyouko was likely a laser, not a misfire from the submarines. She keeps the rest of the vision from them, though Asaka deduces easily that she saw the Goddess. Asaka goes on to explain the circumstances of her own vision, where she met again with her dead friend Alice, whose death under her command had torn her apart. Now that she has recovered and her vision is resolved, Asaka tells Ryouko she plans to return to the front with Mami, who has just been promoted.
Later, Kyouko talks with Mami about Ryouko, noting that her family tree is dense with contractees and connected to the Shizuki and Kuroi matriarchies, that Patricia found a number of novel mutations in her genetics, and that her friend Simona has some strange anomalies in her recorded past. Unsure what to make of this, and with no further progress on the grief cube incident, Mami agrees at Kyouko's request to take on Asaka as a general, with Patricia and Maki as two of Asaka's attachment.
In short: Ryouko grapples with her vision, and Asaka explains how her story connects.
Ryouko sets up her TacComp and chooses Atsuko Arisu as her designated psychiatrist, then goes out to eat dinner with her family and eventually ends up (through a test of her newfound right to drink alcohol without intoxication filters) bringing them to a firing range at Kyouko's church. There they visit other facilities, including a sparring area where they meeet Risa Flores, but Ryouko's parents are surprisingly well-informed on the subjects. Afterwards, Ryouko and her grandfather visit her spot near the starport, and talk about their impending military lives, and the disappearance of Ryouko's grandmother, both remembering her saying that she had lost something.
Ryouko receives her SW-155 pistol, and her mother tells her she's planned a going away party. Ryouko then meets her friends at a showing of Akemi and finally reveals her contract to them, also inviting them to the party. Watching the movie, Ryouko reflects on Homura's beliefs, and the fact that her vision contradicts the movie's portrayal of Yuma. Afterwards, Ryouko asks Simona what she was going to say to her before the demon attack, but Simona tells her to forget about it. Ryouko also asks about when she looked directly at her on her first day of class (as she saw in her vision), but Simona claims it was nothing.
Elsewhere, Yuma convinces Kyouko to have a spy bug planted on Ryouko for her protection, and warns her to be careful herself given Ryouko's vision.
In short: Ryouko spends time with her family and friends as she prepares to leave for war.
Ryouko receives a CubeBot and three grief cubes, then studies combat doctrines with her TacComp until Kyouko invites her to join a demon hunt. Patricia and Risa meet her at Kyouko's church, where Kyouko appears briefly but leaves, clearly bothered by the impending departure of Kishida Maki. On the hunt itself, Ryouko uses her teleportation to rescue civilians, move other magical girls in for attacks, and so forth, finding herself enjoying the combat. The hunt is interrupted by the injury of one girl, who loses an arm and part of her face, but Ryouko simply teleports them to the armory hospital, where she is told they will be fine shortly, and the rest of the hunt continues without incident.
In short: Ryouko goes on a demon hunt.
The next day, Ryouko goes to an MSY social gathering for new recruits, finding Risa Flores there as a chaperone, and meets a new girl named Nakihara Asami, who shares her desire to explore new worlds, albeit as a xenobiologist. They get along well, and continue on to the next scheduled event together. The following day, Ryouko meets Atsuko Arisu for her psychiatrist appointment, who manages to get her freely talking about many things, including her wish, and who also recommends that she talk with her parents about her family ancestry.
That night, Ryouko's father interrupts her reading on military subjects to take her to Prometheus, where she meets Joanne Valentin—who appears to be the woman she saw shortly before the demon attack that led to her contract—and receives an upgrade to Version Two for her TacComp. Afterwards, her father secretly takes her into Prometheus's cloning facility where he and her mother work, which he explains is used to provide new bodies to magical girls who are reduced to soul gems. Ryouko is shocked, especially upon seeing the beginning stages of her own clone, and bothered at the secrets kept from her.
In short: Ryouko learns about the MSY's cloning program.
Yuma, Kyouko, and Mami decide Ryouko's discovery of the cloning program isn't a problem, and discuss the incident that led to Ryouko's contract. Mami remembers seeing Joanne Valentin at the movie theatre shortly afterwards, and Yuma confirms that she was the woman near the demon spawn, and moreover that she mysteriously changed her whole life shortly after the Contact War began. Investigations into Simona and the grief cube supply chain problems Kyouko reported have unearthed more discrepancies, but nothing major, and Risa Flores hasn't reported anything from her watch over Ryouko, and so they disperse.
Back at home, Ryouko reads the file on her family with her improving TacComp, and discovers that her grandmother is stationed at the Apollo shipyard. Moreover, when viewing her family tree she finds much of it explicitly redacted, with the revealed portions being enough to show that she was a descendant of both the Shizuki and Kuroi Matriarchies. Later, Ryouko's mother comes to talk to her, and Ryouko confronts her about the secrets she's kept. Nakase says she's kept the secrets to prevent Ryouko from contracting, and will explain more tomorrow at the going away party.
The next day, Ryouko receives a number of gifts, including a necklace with the Shizuki crest from Shizuki Koto, her paternal grandfather, and a ruby ring with a helix inside, one of a pair from Simona. Kyouko arrives, and informs Ryouko that both her grandparents will be placed in slightly safer positions as part of standard procedure, her grandmother in particular being moved to the shipyards. Next to arrive is Matriarch Kuroi Kana, who begins an attempt to recruit Ryouko into the Black Heart (and reveals that Ryouko's bracelet is in fact a Kuroi insignia), but she is immediately followed by Matriarch Shizuki Sayaka and her own recruiting pitch. Kyouko's poor intervention is followed by Atsuko Arisu's successful one—her presence at the party revealing that she must be related somehow to Ryouko.
This is all further interrupted by the sudden appearance of Kuroi Nana, the magical girl who gave Ryouko her Kuroi bracelet and until now her entirely secret aunt, a fact which displeases Ryouko greatly. Kuroi Nana brings her aside, promising to help explain the situation, and revealing that she's part of the secret Internal Security, and has been searching for Akemi Homura on behalf of the MSY. With that said, they begin a memory transfer.
In short: Ryouko meets Kuroi Nana, her previously-secret aunt.
Ryouko experiences her aunt's memories. Nana investigates the strange behavior of her younger sister, finding with the help of a computer specialist that her sister's new friends weren't who they seemed, and secretly following them on a demon hunt. Nakase, in reality a magical girl, rushes to save Nana when demons attack, getting gravely injured in the process. Nana contracts to turn her sister mundane again, to her sister's relief. However, all this seriously strains their family, as their mother isn't allowed to know about the MSY. When Homura offers to mentor Nana, she accepts, and all but leaves the family. After New Athens revealed the MSY, Ryouko's grandmother blamed it for both her mother's death and her family's troubles, and insisted that Ryouko be kept from contracting.
In short: Ryouko learns more of her family history from her aunt.
Ryouko says goodbye to friends and family at the starport, journeying with Asami by scramjet and then space elevator. While riding the elevator, Ryouko's TacComp names herself Clarisse after Clarisse van Rossum, and Ryouko muses that her wish may have somehow changed the past, causing all the sudden revelations of the past week. At the top, the new magical girls take a Navigator shuttle to the HSS Spectre, an old frigate, who leads them around herself. When they reach the FTL core, Ryouko's gem suddenly begins to shine.
In short: Ryouko finally leaves Earth with Asami.
Interlude I: Underworld Dreams
Volume II: Inflationary Expansion
- This is the universe's theorized early period of exponential inflation.
- Here, it likely refers to the escalation of plot and stakes, especially for Ryouko.
Interlude II: Madeleines
- Madeleines (small sponge cakes) feature in Proust's "In Search of Lost Time", a famous French novel noted for its theme of involuntary memory.
- Likewise, this interlude centers on the peculiar role of memory in an episode of Asaka's past. The first snippet even includes relevant sections from Proust's novel.
Volume III: Ontological Paradox
- In an ontological paradox, events occur as part of a causal loop: an 'initial' event, in terms of linear time, eventually causes itself.
- This may refer to the nature of Ryouko's wish and/or the logic of the Goddess's interventions.
More chapters expected; Volume currently incomplete.
Interlude III: Manifest Destiny
- Manifest Destiny is a term describing the belief that the United States, due to its special virtues, had both a duty and a destiny to expand west into North America.
- It also describes similar beliefs in the MSY during its fifth phase, as it reached further and further beyond the island nation of Japan. Perhaps may detail its struggle and eventual merger with the rival SMC in Europe.
Volume IV: Einstein-Rosen Bridge
Interlude IV: Ubermensch
- Übermensch is Nietzsche's idea that humanity should turn away from the other worlds and values promoted by "dead" religions and gods, setting instead the goal of advancing new, superior generations of humans on earth.
- This may refer to FA ideologies, or even aspects of Governance thought. It notably stands in contrast to Ryouko's life and wish.
Volume V: Dark Energy
Interlude V: Destroyer of Worlds
- Part of a quote by the god Vishnu in the Bhagavad Gita, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Made famous by J. R. Oppenheimer, who later said he thought of the line after witnessing the first test of an atomic bomb.
- Perhaps covers the Unification Wars, which saw heavy use of atomic weapons. May include Clarisse van Rossum's role, a character who notably was also present for the first atomic detonation.
Volume VI: Singularity
- A singularity is a point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as at the center of a black hole. It is also a term used for the hypothetically unknowable changes to the human condition caused by superintelligence.
- In former sense, it may reference Ryouko's or Asami's powers. In the latter, perhaps it refers to Governance's Emergency Mode Level Four.