Warning: Some spoilers inside.
That’s right, I just called the Madoka universe hilarious. Yep, the ultra-depressing one. The good news is you don’t need to know anything about Madoka Magica to enjoy the spin-off 4-panel comedy series Puella Magi Homura Tamura, but it would probably help. There are some limited character introductions in Homura Tamura, but they are mostly in the form of running gags that you’ll appreciate more if you’ve seen and/or read the main series.
As its title suggests, Homura Tamura focuses primarily on Homura Akemi and her encounters with alternative universes while time traveling to save Madoka. Each alternate universe brings something different into the mix – this isn’t just another Endless Eight. The first volume has ten formal chapters with some bonus bits. We start with a hipster Madoka who then becomes a completely forgetful Madoka in the first actual chapter; the second chapter takes place in a game-like world where soul gems are now lives; the third changes focus to Kyouko, who attacks chocolate factories; the fourth focuses on several different Kyubeys (including one explaining contracts in full, hilarious detail); the fifth is Mami and tea overload (I’ll leave details to your imagination); the sixth is Homura overload, all of whom can’t hold – BLRRGH! – their beer; the seventh is the closest we get back to normal and also ditches the 4-panel layout; the eighth involves a technical support call in all too relatable detail…; the ninth, my favorite, turns things into a TV drama, complete with commercials, PIP commentary, breaking news at the worst time, and a weather report full of magic; and the final chapter brings things to a close with a distracting dog.
Overall, each chapter is short, and depending on how hard they leave you laughing, Homura Tamura is a quick, lighthearted read (the exact opposite of the original Madoka storyline). I can’t vouch for the second volume as it isn’t out yet (February next year), but I’d expect it to be equally enjoyable. However, depending on how much and how loudly you laugh, Homura Tamura may not be best for public places (like the train). I think it’s a spin-off you’ll enjoy to the fullest is you’re already familiar with the original Madoka storyline, but I think it those new to the Madoka universe would be able to enjoy it as well.
Bottom line: Buy it. Even with recurring gags, each chapter introduces something new to laugh at. Great for those new-to and well-versed in the Madoka universe alike.