Renmei Kuugun Koukuu Mahou Ongakutai Luminous Witches League of Nations Air Force Aviation Magic Band Luminous Witches Allied Air Force Magical Idols Luminous Witches, Idol Witches, Ongakutai Witches 連盟空軍航空魔法音楽隊 ルミナスウィッチーズ League of Nations Air Force Aviation Magic Band Luminous Witches
Idol Witches as the united world fights for its freedom against the alien forces known as the Neuroi, human girls with magical abilities—called witches—continue to battle. With the persisting conflict affecting morale, Grace Maitland Steward, a retired witch who still serves in the army, presents a plan advocating the power of music as an invaluable support that can change the tides of war.
Unfortunately, her proposal is written off, prompting Grace to find a way to prove the potential of her idea to her superiors. She enlists the help of Aila Paivikki Linnamaa and Eleonore Giovanna Gassion—two witches who have already seen some success as singers—to recruit other witches and form the League of Nations Air Force’s Music Squadron.
The campaign manages to produce seven promising candidates. Among them, 14-year-old Virginia Robertson, despite having no military experience whatsoever, seems to possess an ability too significant to ignore.
Mostly incoherent with lots of signs that production of this show did not go well. The key staff involved aren’t unskilled or even new to the Witches franchise, but seeing that there are SIX more producer credits than there are episodes, things start to make sense. The badness is jarring after it seemed like they were getting this series pretty well dialed-in after doing Brave Witches, Road to Berlin, and Take-Off in a row, which were all pretty great. This show is not those. Only watch if you will literally die without watching a new idol anime.
The good: The voice acting is fine or pretty good. Most of the staff are new to anime, the only negative thing to say is that some characters sound like they’re doing impersonations of other Witches characters. The art is sometimes good (there is a big caveat here). They learned their lesson from Brave Witches and striker flying scenes are hand-drawn in closeups and only switches to CGI at a distance, and they all actually look pretty good too. A total of about 2.5 episodes are also executed well with a clear introduction, rise, climax, descent, and resolution. Most of the characters also manage to be distinctive or even likeable. George S. Marshall makes a cameo and he’s a fan of the best girl Mana, which is respectable.
The bad: All kinds of stuff. The plot is incoherent. Not just bad or boring, the things happening do not follow from the things that previously happened. Conflicts show up that occupy entire episodes until the characters decide to ignore it and watch it fix itself via a massive butt-pull, which is what always happens. Entire concert scenes are alluded to but happen off-screen because they ran out of time to get them animated. Substituted in their place are massive dialog dumps that remind you of things that you already know to distract you from the fact that everyone was in uniform in the last scene and a concert is supposed to be happening now. It almost develops a plot when they go on tour, but that barely survives 6 episodes, and the show comes apart at the seams between that and the ending. The last 3 episodes are fever dreams running on magical logic.
It’s a cliche to call something AI-generated when it has uncanny nonsensical properties, but they actually do use AI-generated backgrounds made with photoshop content-aware fill, and towards the end the story is SO convoluted that it’s an actual question whether they generated that too. Conflicts are started, ignored, brought back, hijacked by someone else, car-crashed into somebody else’s conflict, ignored again, talked about for an entire episode, and finally resolved when everyone decides it was never really a problem and none of this mattered anyway. MAYBE two episodes manage to avoid this. It’s hard to see how much of it was fumbled execution and how much of it was stretching when they couldn’t execute the original plan on time.
The art gets its own paragraph. Some of the backgrounds look like they were made in Powerpoint. They’re glaringly terrible at first glance and get worse the closer you look at them. Perspectives don’t line up, low-res jpeg stock art is photoshopped in, they used google maps to make aerial shots, and the mentioned nonsensical AI-generated fills where a pile of metal sticks is supposed to be a construction site. Huge, obvious problems that are almost hard to explain. Kemono Friends had the budget of a family picnic and managed to avoid any of the problems this show has. It’s not consistently that bad, and some of it actually looks pretty good, but when it gets bad it makes any other show look better. Also most of the character designs are outright abducted from other idol shows, making the whole thing look more like a cynical cash-grab than it already was.
The ugly: Familiars were a weird thing to add in this show (not really a spoiler, introduced in episode 1). In this show, magical girls become witches when they meet a magical animal and it agrees to be their familiar. If the familiar decides to go away, they can’t use magic anymore. This isn’t actually a retcon, this is canon to the Witches series, but it only shows up in the mangas and like 10 seconds of the OVA. The other animated shows deliberately ignore them and pretend they’re hiding off-screen somewhere. Luminous does absolute back-flips trying to explain how this works and that familiars are really important while we’ve never seen them in any other show before. They were just invisible! No they’re not, we can see them. Other animals in this show can see them.
Other witches can see and acknowledge them. They have animal problems and get sick and have to sleep so you can’t just ignore them. This is more weird rules about magic in a series that already can’t keep its own rules straight. Do the familiars just die when they turn 18 and that’s how it works? They can’t just adopt another one? Also the reason the other shows ignored familiars is that between the OVA and Strike Witches they decided familiars are just extra characters who can’t talk and thus unnecessary, which absolutely becomes a problem for Luminous. One familiar is important to the story while the rest exist to run around in establishing shots or sleep in a corner. A weirdly specific thing to suddenly remember and not use well.
Conclusion: Bad. The thing that worries me is this show introduces a few named characters you’ve never heard of before and a 503rd JFW. When they did that before was when the 502nd made a cameo in the movie before getting a real introduction in Brave Witches. This implies a Brave Witches 2 might be on the way, and I’m absolutely worried about how they’d execute that after watching this.