Morale matters just as much as launching a counterassault. Instead of standing on the front lines with the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, the Luminous Witches of the League of Nations Air Force bring smiles to civilians displaced in the human-Neuroi war.
Shaft’s 2022 ultra-moe spin off from the Strike Witches project features rejected combatants forming a song & dance troupe to entertain the troops. This all seems a bit tame in comparison to the main canon - and it is. The girls-with-guns combat related shows built a somewhat fruity reputation of some less-than-family-friendly ecchi/yuri elements. You’ll get none of that here although the show does introduce a couple of features of some novelty. The teenage witches actually add skirts to their wardrobes (shock)! What’s the deal with that huh? Then there is the case of the witch’s familiars. These become internalised when the girls enter flight mode such that they sprout animal tails and ears. In previous shows the familiars are never seen yet in “Luminous Witches” they appear as pets in most scenes – albeit only visible to witches. So, is there any plot? No. Not really. One of the girls is hell-bent on returning her familiar to the wild and thus giving up being a witch. Her motivation is unclear but this plot line appears to be the sole source of angst anywhere in the story. Other than that CGI girls occasionally engage in singing and dancing routines straight out of a video game. They probably are somewhere. The girls do very little in the way of preparation for their shows but spontaneously manage to perform perfectly. The sing, they dance, they do air shows with acrobatics! Sounds great but their sudden rise to fame seems odd given how little hard work they put into it. Such an environment could have generated all kinds of exciting drama. Not here. No. Nothing exciting happens at all. Fans of World War Two militaria will get their usual dose of technology and historical references. One of the real named locations in “Britannia” was an airbase at Denham in Buckinghamshire. There really is an old aerodrome there. We should know. It is less than 13 miles from our home. Probably meaningless to international audiences but it is the first anime we have ever seen with actual real and obscure locations close to home here in northern Europe. The girls get to do a world tour and meet their families as they are from all over. So, it is all very cute. Everyone loves them. You might too. According to my social media feeds a bunch of nice Japanese cosplayers actually emulated the troupe IRL. Not clear if they sang or danced but wow. Nice. Not really a great addition to the Strike Witches canon but if you are a fan of the World Witches Project then this is one for you to add to your collection. Its lack of action, drama or excitement rather counts against it. Yet it is kawaii-to-the-max if you like that sort of thing.
I don’t know why Luminous Witches exists. If you were already familiar with the Strike Witches franchise… well say goodbye to all the action, great directing, ecchi (which the actual main series eventually fazed too, to be fair) and any sense of real plot progression or lore. You better like idols or get fucked.And if you are new to the franchise? Well just be prepared to just have characters casually mention a world wide spanning war with undecipherable aliens that can only be fought by 13 to 18 year old witches on weird fake plane legs. Without the series bothering to explain any of it really. And all of that is just background noise to what is honestly the most bog-standard “comedy” idol show ever made. The songs are just okay, the girls look fine and act like you’d expect from generic idol characters. Two or three get half decent backstory episodes but it’s really nothing truly worth mentioning. There’s nothing interesting going on visually even, you would never be able to tell that this was animated by SHAFT of all studios. It just looks so incredibly mundane. Even the song performances were done with your usual CGI models moving haphazardly in a low-poly stage that we’d come to expect from idol shows. I’m both a fan of Strike Witches and of Idol shows and yet I barely got anything out of this. I truly can’t fathom why this was made. If you just like me like both of those things then.. sure just check it out just because it’s a funny coincidence. For everyone else? Just stay clear.
When I panned Re-Stage Dream Days about a month back, I felt it didn't exude the idol genre as well as the Love Live! series. Then, people told me this anime was not alone in the class of 'ill-fit idol quest.' There was this thing called League of Nations Air Fo ... heck, I don’t; even want to type all this out. I'll call it Luminous Witches and be done with it. Now, if Re-Stage Dream Days was a flop (and it did have some redeeming qualities), Luminous Witches was crash and burn. In my long and way too distant past, I remember reading a comic book (a concept before the invention of the graphic novel, which many hold as a euphemism for 'comic book') series called Blackhawk (go ahead, google this one! Just go in with ‘Blackhawk comics’ or else you’ll be stuck with this hockey team), the adventures of a multi-national team of flying aces struggling to defeat the forces of tyranny and oppression. Luminous Witches follows this theme, messing up all the way. The historical background is sloppy. Set in the era of World War Two, any thought of Luminous Witches being a war saga is tossed early. It begins with a Dunkerque scenario which the series abandons without saving anyone. The enemy is the Neuroi, which doesn't matter, since they don't show up other in a quick flash of a scene where their spacecraft blows up. The history factor is total chaos. Set in the 1940's, the map of that world looks like the divisions of World War One with the national names those of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Okay, call it fiction and let it slide. One must have their realm in which to create the story. The characters ... now, here we bring disorganization to an art ... are nine sorry examples of witches/military personnel who find their niche in song and dance. And one is not that steady of a witch. I speak of Virginia Robinson of Britannia who comes across a bizarre chickling who sticks around as Virginia’s familiar while in search of its family. Virginia is befriended by Inori Shibuya of Fuso Empire (Japan to you and me) who supports her unsteady career in luminous witchery. Lyudmila of Orussia flits in and out with her semi-bossy, overly concerned crustiness. Jo Stafford of Liberion (USA) is from a blue collar family in New York. Silvie Cariello of Romagne is of royal blood. Mano Hato is a Maori girl of New Zeeland who is the quasi-fanservice/comic relief for the group. All are witches with their familiars, dog, cats, birds, sheep, each one failing the basics of soldier skills as shooting and killing. er ... the witches, not the familiars. They're in the series for the cuteness factor. But they can sing and dance (well, still up for debate)! Whee! And off these girls go on a world tour to spread the power of song. One would never suspect that there was a war going on, the focus on the idol-life swept out every notion of warfare. Granted that there were other witches committed to the cause for the defeat of the Neuroi, but their fighting is eclipsed by the Luminous Witches Music Band. It's like saying the USO won WWII. And this is the farce of Luminous Witches. For the distance traveled by the idol group of 4F witches on their world tour, there is not a single attack by the Neuroi. For twelve episodes, you have no feeling that the world is on a war footing. Just land the plane (as if these witches can't fly ... the design of the witches in flight is a horrid combination of girl and plane fuselage!), take the stage, sing, and the world is swiftly becoming a better place. Granted, the team of Luminous Witches is ideally set up. Gifted composer, lyricist, choreographers, fashion designers. Just ready to put on a show. And then, there is Virginia, a girl who is a witch almost by mistake, and fears that she must leave the band when her familiar Moffy finds its home. No longer a witch, she says farewell to the life on tour. This, to be sad, is the only conflict in the whole twelve episodes. The animation, while colorful, lacks the quality seen in other series of the idol genre. The choreography does have its moments, but usually the action is made up of static shots of the girls in performance. The song selections are lively, just not striking. The strange quality of one song is that it takes the tune of 'Amazing Grace.' Even the final performance on top of the Arc de Triomphe turns lackluster as Virginia rediscovers that Moffy has not abandoned her. The series Waccha Primagi proved that the elements of idol and magic girl could be blended neatly. Luminous Witches demonstrated that you could botch these combinations as well, if you consider the contrived plot that screams 'Showtime!' when the majority asks, 'Where's the war?'
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