Pumpkin Scissors, Vol. 1: Honor and Blood
PUMPKIN SCISSORS - HONOR & BLOOD
Who--and what--is Randel Oland? Three years after the war between the Empire and the Frost Republic concluded, the Imperial Army's Intelligence Section Three, the Pumpkin Scissors Team, hunts down rogue ex-soldiers who possess tanks. While on a mission, Lieutenant Alice Malvin and her crew encounter Randel, a scarred giant who can destroy a tank with just a hand gun. Alice takes him onto the team without knowing much beyond his name and the fact that he was once a corporal in the Imperial Army. As Randel helps the squadron destroy a cruel band of outlaws and a crazed aristocrat, Alice and her men begin to suspect he was part of the rumored 901 Anti-Tank Force, "The Invisible Nine." Based on a manga by Ryoutarou Iwanaga, Pumpkin Scissors (2006) offers a ditsy heroine and a tormented mystery man, plus a standard assortment of supporting characters and maniacal villains. It's competently made, but Pumpkin Scissors feels undistinguished at best. (Rated TV 14 VL, suitable for ages 14 and older: violence, alcohol and tobacco use) --Charles Solomon
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The story revolves around the groups efforts to try and help their battered homeland, and the resistance they get from both nobles and peasants who are either profiting from the disruption or hurting from so many broken promises. In the midst of this, the team must try to understand their newest member, a huge but gentle man who can turn into a brutal killer with no regard for his own safety in an instant.
This works out to be a pretty good setup for this story, as Alice's inexperience clashes with the cold hard reality around her. There is also the question of her new addition, and questions about special weapons that haunt this story line. I only wish that more time would have been spent on the conspiracy and less on the soldier himself, but hopefully that will improve.
There's an interesting and challenging story at work here, and I definitely think there's quite a bit of potential. But, don't expect to walk into a simple war story. This one is going to take time, and a bit of patience.
With production by GONZO, and based on a military unit attempting to "clean up" after a long war, I was expecting/fearing 'Pumpkin Scissors' would be a predicable CGI military action series. Instead, at least in these first episodes, the anime it most reminds me of is 'Patlabor'. So far, the series has been mostly a mix of offbeat comedy and drama, with the focus more on character than action. Despite their good intentions, Section III is regarded by the rest of the military as a bit of a joke, and apart from Alice - the dedicated, idealistic lead - it is made up of the sort of quirky oddballs and goofy characters who wouldn't be out of place in the SV2. And the storylines have more to do with abandonded babies and misbehaving dogs than military destruction. There is some action, as well as reflection on war and its effects on the civilian population, but the mood is never down for long, and the silly/funny closing song ends each episode on a suitably light and goofy note. With one character being revealed to be a former member of a secret anti-tank division, I can see the darker action, military scheming, and psychological conditioning themes developing further in later episodes.
'Patlabor' was one of my all-time favourite anime, so I've quite enjoyed 'Pumpkin Scissors' so far. Other 'Patlabor' fans, or those who like a dose of fun and quirkiness with their action-themed anime, should give this a go too.
The Empire has created a new division within the 3rd section of the Information Bureau. The new division is called "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" and their mission is to assist areas that are devastated.
Unfortunately, to some people, the "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" is looked at as a group of people who are just the pawns of the Empire that is just there to suppress the people and really, just organized to be "politically correct".
But leading the "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" is Lt. Alice Malvin, a daughter of royalty but chooses to serve the military and help the people who became the casualties of war. She believes in justice, while many think she's out of her mind.
But with each dangerous and deadly mission, she meets up with a very tall soldier who joins the group. A former corporal of the 901 anti-tank battalion but what the PUMPKIN SCISSORS don't know is that once he turns on his blue light, he becomes like a willow-the-wisp. A killer who fears no one, not even tanks and seems to have super-human abilities and healing factor.
"PUMPKIN SCISSORS" is based on a manga series found on Monthly Shonen Magazine published by Kodansha. The TV series is 24-episodes long and the first volume contains episodes 1-4.
The first volume of "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" is an exciting tale of a division that the Empire really doesn't put too much faith in but with each episode, the odds are always against the four-person team but somehow they pull through.
In a way, "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" reminds me of "Fist of the Northstar" (not the violence) in a sense that you see a group of underdogs who come into an area, they don't look like much because there are only four people in the group but watching Lt. Anna Malvin show her true heart of wanting to help people and then having the tall corporal who longs for peace but once his lantern is turned on, turns into a killing machine.
Although the series, episode by episode works in this type of fashion of the team venturing to different villages and helping them with their problem, there is a balance of humor and violence. It's actually quite interesting because sometimes when things get deep, there is always an upcoming humor element, a human element and then of course, there is bloody violence.
On episode 1, it's merely an introduction to the characters but how many soldiers have tured corrupt and using tanks to hurt people. In this case, shooting a chemical weapon against the people in the village, leaving it to PUMPKIN SCISSORS to obtain the antidote.
Episode 2 features a corrupt noble who is willing to give a lot of money to a resident who can survive a game of cat and mouse. In rough times, many villagers take part in the game to hopefully win the money but because the noble uses a tank to catch the villagers, no villager has survived the game. PUMPKIN SCISSORS is called to stop this man but instead, the team are forced to be part of the game as mouse.
These are examples of the kind of storylines featured on the PUMPKIN SCISSORS anime series.
I enjoyed the animation for this anime series, its nothing super spectacular but I like how they capture the essence of villages and also the battle sequences and the references to the 901 past.
GONZO continues to do a great job and the Japanese voice work is good but I also enjoyed the English dub because I felt it captured the characters quite well and more believable.
Special features include the clean opening and ending theme and previews for other ADV series.
"PUMPKIN SCISSORS" is definitely an anime that people shouldn't judge by its DVD cover. Or even its name. I suppose I was a bit skeptical with the references to a pumpkin and the cover is not exactly showcasing the excitement of this series. But know right now, "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" is a very cool action-based anime series.
I enjoy the series because the "PUMPKIN SCISSORS" are always looked at as an underdog group that is not too important to the empire. They are just there to be the "make you feel better" speech givers to those who survived the war but have no food, have no jobs and yet at the same time, you have a leader of the PUMPKIN SCISSORS division who thinks about the people and if they aren't eating, she feels its her obligation to not eat as well.
And for her being a daughter from a noble family, she learns how fortunate she is to have food on her table but at the same time, because of her beliefs, she wants to see right with the people in the ravaged villages who feel that they have no voice when it comes to the Empire and Anna wants to be their voice.
"PUMPKIN SCISSORS" shows the side of post-war and how villages all over have been destroyed or people left to die by starvation and sickeness.
I do feel that the humor at times felt a bit kooky especially when you enjoy the violence and the action sequences for the series. To see a dog bit into the heads of people (as a humor plot device) just wasn't funny for me especially how one soldier's job was to watch over that dog.
But I really like the characters in the series. Anna has a pure heart of wanting to help the people, as does the corporal who despite seems to be lost because all he did was kill the enemies during the war and now that there is no war, trying to evaluate what peace is about and also understand why "PUMPKIN SCISSORS, specifically Anna, works hard for peace and to help all people.
All in all, it's a straight forward anime thus far. It's enjoyable to always see the underdogs triumph but the first volume introduces the characters nicely and you can tell the series is setting something up something major, especially the past of the corporal and possibly why, when he turns the lantern on, he turns to a killing machine.
An enjoyable series that is full of action, intrigue and suspense. A good balance of violence and a touch of zany and kooky humor. I highly recommend this series.