When I first approached Pumpkin Scissors, I could not imagine what else the plot could consist of apart from a bunch of do-gooders rescuing babies from burning buildings and ploughing fields with local farmers. In fact, the result turned out to be subtly intelligent, pleasantly creative, and anything but a campaign of blind idealism. Pumpkin Scissors feels a lot like Full Metal Alchemist would if it had no magic; there is a lot of tragedy, it has unique fantasy/sci-fi elements, and plenty of challenging mysteries through which highly likeable protagonists have to persevere.
In terms of structure, Pumpkin Scissors progresses at a fairly episodic pace (some stories span three or four episodes) and employs a case-by-case presentation style in order to map out the Empire's unhappy society. As the series progresses, the events become more complex, more bizarre, and on several occasions, disturbingly dark (my favourite arc is a particularly gruesome one involving a flamethrower and a relentless death toll). This episodic approach allows Pumpkin Scissors to explore the various ‘enemies' of war relief - from diffuse social ills such as poverty and unemployment to evil individuals - and thus displays a redeeming sensitivity to the complexity of post-war issues.
While there is much that is enjoyable about Pumpkin Scissors - the subtle Germanic world concept and Oland's disturbing transformations into a killing machine being two examples - the events that characterise the protagonists are definitely the most interesting. Each character is given at least one chance to steal some of the limelight and to reveal how their particular personality fits into the broader Section III dynamic. In Alice's case, this notably involves glimpses into her life as a failing member of the illustrious Malvin family, which means seeing a refreshing side to her that has little to do with military efficiency and much to do with surviving another round of disapproving remarks at the breakfast table.
The only question left is: what is there not to like about Pumpkin Scissors? Simply put, it has no ending. Because the anime covers only the first few volumes of the manga, the plot grinds to a halt with plenty of threads left loose; new intriguing characters are introduced, a fresh plot seems to rear its head, and several pertinent questions are left unanswered. In light of this ending, I am left feeling slightly disillusioned; each mini plot, although obviously meant to be tied into a greater whole, is left floundering without a distinct overarching conclusion to make sense of it all. However, all that is required to solve this problem is a second season; moreover, although Pumpkin Scissors does not fulfil its outstanding potential, it nonetheless remains enjoyable for the grim socio-political setting and inventive concepts.
Pumpkin Scissors offers excellent quality animation with fluid movement throughout; colour tones that match the simple, reserved tone of the story; and a few extra unique touches. The backgrounds, for example, although not as important here as they might be with more milieu-oriented anime, are still nicely detailed and give a strong sense of the Empire's industrial Germanic era (if you look closely, newspaper titles are actually in German).
Oland's concept is also one of the most refreshing I have seen in a while and, being twice Alice's height, hunched, and morbidly scarred all over, his body provides fascinating clues to his history. Also, while most of the cast are simple in design and generally fit the subtle colour palette, Alice wears a vibrant orange coat which makes her stand out pleasantly against the muted hues around her.
As well as realism in atmosphere, there are substantial touches of blood and gore during the battles; and if Oland is involved, his eerie blue lantern ensures a nightmarish, shadowy cast to the scene.
While I greatly enjoy the opening theme, which is a lot like that of Bokurano in that it involves haunting vocals against a background of electronic beats, the ending theme is awfully nonsensical and more suited to the filler episodes than the vast majority of serious ones. However, the voice acting is strong and effective in all scenes; Oland's voice actor, especially, has an endearing quality because of his deep but dense way of speaking.
Lieutenant Alice Malvin is a hero of respectable proportions with a hands-on approach that takes her directly to the heart of the matter in every episode; whether hunting for the mother of an abandoned baby or dealing with an underground rebellion, she has no concept of the phrase ‘to give up'. Her down-to-earth personality also makes her easy to relate to despite her aristocratic background; and whenever her idealistic streak becomes explicit, her simultaneous practicality really helps to humanise her. What is refreshing about Alice is her awareness that, as a noble, her quest for equality brings with it certain conflicts of conscience. For example, speaking ardently about breaking barriers between nobles and commoners at breakfast, she is suddenly reminded of the good food she is eating whilst the people outside are suffering a famine. Her reaction, which is objectively naïve and yet so easy to understand, is to forgo food altogether. Alice easily stands out above the rest of the cast because of her impressive list of admirable traits: courage, excellent leadership, sensitivity, and breathtaking combat abilities; as such, her fierce determination to bring about a good world is pretty much what drives the entire plot.
Corporal Oland is likely to be an instant hit with any audience because, normally reticent and sweet-natured, he morphs during dire situations into a human monster with the ability to take down tanks with nothing more than a gun in his hand. His Terminator-like indestructibility is genuinely terrifying and makes for some of the most visually exciting action sequences in Pumpkin Scissors. Disappointingly (on a massive scale), Oland never grows much beyond being a mystery; we get glimpses into his vulnerable soul as time passes but his background - whatever it is - never takes centre stage as might be expected.
As for the rest of the protagonists, they are developed to a lesser extent than the main two, which gives me the impression that they exist primarily to make Section III look like an actual team rather than a duo; being pleasant stereotypes, they add substantially to the plot only in those times when they get their own characterisation episodes, and are highly complementary if not exactly outstanding.
As a whole, I had a fun time with this title, although it feels like only the beginning of something great. I would compare Pumpkin Scissors to FMA largely because it uses a post-war military setting to explore human tragedy. Unlike FMA, however, Pumpkin Scissors is unable to provide a knock-out ending to tie it all together and is thus somewhat diminished in my eyes. Regardless, I believe Pumpkin Scissors deserves high marks because, despite its shortcomings, it still manages to take us on a memorable journey through a fascinating world.
Before I start saying anything else… What kind of a name is that for a series? Did titles like Special Investigation Elite Force of Freedom or Direwolf Brigade got all kitsch all of a sudden? Who the hell would name his military unit like that? Oh well, it is a joke about how their unit is not really supposed to be serious. Just like the production studio. It’s GONZO so may the Gods save us all if you go in expecting something good.
Anyways, the story is about a country trying to recover from a war and the military creating a unit to investigate any possible rebellious military cells out there that may cause instability and the result is Pumpkin Scissors. The unit is underpaid and unfunded because nobody thinks these guys can actually accomplish anything. Which stands true if you think they are all a bunch of loafers whose leader is a stuck-up little girl who thinks she is the messenger of justice or something. No wonder they gave them a name that fits their capabilities.
… Sounds like Gonzo material to me.
And indeed, as usual the whole show is nothing much in terms of story, or plot, or memorable characters. It definitely could have if it wasn’t Gonzoed since there definitely was potential in it. You have a setting where common people want peace yet there are many megalomaniacs who just want to hoard as much as possible and don’t care about how many human lives that will cost. You have inhumane experimentations in order to create super killing machines. You have a sinister organization controlling everybody from behind the scenes like puppets. And you have Randel.
Seriously, the whole show ends up being you watching Randel kicking ass. In fact, the series could just be named after him instead of the useless military unit of idiots. The guy has been surgically and chemically altered to be an unstoppable tank trasher. They shoot him, stab him, stick an exploding grenade in his mouth, and he just keeps going like a Duracel bunny, wasting all opposition. As you probably imagine, he is the only reason Pumpkin Scissors does anything right or even survives all the time. Eeeeverything revolves around him in this series, from him searching for the leaders who turned him into a freak, to providing a practical and cruel side of the world next to the idiotic idealistic paladin girl, saving the day every time, as well as providing some excitement in the otherwise dull story.
So let me give you a simple summary of what goes on with the plot. Some asshole will be abusing his position for power or money, people suffer, the loafers arrive to try to reason with him, he of course doesn’t give a damn and tries to kill them or trick them, and then Randel appears and kicks his ass. Rinse and repeat until the show is over. Practically the scriptwriter tries to make you feel sorry for the poor people who suffer because of warmongers, then to make you boo them before the heroes arrive for you to cheer for them. Alice the paladin chick is made to be totally stuck-up and generally with no touch to reality, so she is meant to pass as foolish. She is also quite weak in battle so she can’t even show them who is the boss. That is why we have Randel. He will appear to scold her for not being practical and then will lit his lantern and go to kick some ass all alone with an expression like he is a pedophile looking at little girls in swimsuits. He wins, everybody is happy, the end.
And that is pretty much what happens in the whole show. Well, ok, towards the end you see how things start to get more serious, as the assholes who messed with him start to appear and plot something big. You are also given immersion to most important characters, which explains their motives, past, goals, and behavior. All that could lead to an amazing finale where everything comes together for one big showdown that would leave you jumping from your seat from excitement. YEAH RANDEL, GO TRASH THE ASSHOLES RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE MESS IN THE SHOW!
… The Gonzo staff.
Unfortunately you don’t get all that, since the show ends in the middle of nowhere and in a point where everything finally starts to get really serious. Yes, it is totally incomplete and anti-climactic. The idiots in Gonzo once more wasted all the episodes with minor stand-alone missions and lame humor instead of cutting out a few worthless episodes for a nice showdown. Hell, they didn’t even bother to make a second season or a movie to wrap everything properly. THEY JUST GAVE UP AND PISSED ON US! That’s Gonzo for you.
So what is there for you to look forward to in this anime?
- The production values are very good. I liked the visuals (minus the horrible CGI of course) as well as the soundtrack. The opening theme kicks ass.
- The characters can talk seriously when they feel like it. They also have an interesting backdrop to excuse them being as such.
- The setting is very interesting and the themes of pacifism and inhumane exploitation are captivating.
- The chemistry between the two main characters is great (because they are polar opposites).
What is there not to look forward to? Pretty much everything else.
- The action ends up being dull and predictable since you know right away who is going to win. As usual, foot soldiers can’t aim straight or stay frozen as the badass soldiers attack them. There isn’t much choreography to enjoy either; they just stand still and shoot or walk calmly with bullets and grenade explosions missing them all the time. Plus, I am supposed to believe that the idiots who created these super soldiers couldn’t find a better way to use the lantern. They are literally carring it in the middle of the battle, which can result to any number of things, such as breaking and setting the soldier on fire and at the same time breaking the berserk effect it has on them? Not that it ever happens or the enemy soldiers ever think of just hitting the lantern to end the battle immediately.
- Too much unneeded humor in an otherwise dramatic story. They will be always trying to light the mood with silly remarks and an almost master-slave comic relief duo. It waters down the feeling of seriousness.
- No ending. Infuriating!
- It’s made by GONZO.
I don’t give much value or enjoyment in this show. The bad planning and the incomplete finale render useless most of its positives. In other words, Gonzo strikes again.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (nice cinematics)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (loose)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 2/2 (cool)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
Catharsis 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch it)
Memorability 2/4 (good ideas but hardly exploited)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 1/2 (I liked the songs)
Story 1/3 (good ideas but hardly exploited)
Characters 2/4 (they had potential but was left unused)
Pumpkin Scissors tells a story of a nation resembling Western Europe.The main character, Alice L. Malvin, is a Liutenant of section 3 of the imperial army. The idea of "Pumpkin Scissosrs" used as section 3's name is none other than it's job to relieve the scars of people within the nation after suffering an all-out war, section 3 breaks the shield of corrupted goverment and nobilities like a scissor tearing a pumpkin from the outside. Other members of the Pumpkin Scissors are also introduced in depth as well as the "Invisible Nine" even though it's quite brief. The story is full of intrigues and idealism, yet it's still quite empty for the viewers at times especially at the end.
Pumpkin Scissors definitely won my attention for being a realistic military-based anime. One of the many aspects that i like from the series is that they always keep their jokes under control, so that it actually sounds funny instead of being too forced. Don't forget that this is a military-based anime and almost 70% of the series is about internal problems wwithin the military and the nobilities. Overall, it was a good watch, there are still questions to be answered though.
The storyline was pretty cool, and is mostly a conspiracy theory in itself. It’s about secrets within the military that during peaceful times come to hunt the people of the world they live in. It’s pretty much about what happens after the war and what we normally don’t see living in the United States since we haven’t had a battle happen on our land in such a long time. It can open the eyes on just how senseless some people can get and how crazy war veterans can be without medical help after being trained to be killers. It also cautions against genetic manipulation of people to become what we call super soldiers because they can turn against us or have no reason for being after the war. The show starts out pretty light hearted and then gets darker but still keeps its comedy throughout. There are some fillers, but nothing to big.
The characters are fun and enjoyable, even the ones that only have a small role to play. I love Randel’s character and all the small jokes they do about his size. And I mean they play on everything, even a couple fun pieces in the hospital ward. I’m still not sure why he sleeps under a bridge though. The Lieutenant is crazy, I don’t know exactly where she came from but she is really off. Her sense of justice is really creepy and doesn’t really go exactly her way most of the time. Can’t anyone tell her to calm down? There is not much too actually talk about with the others because they are more or less comedy.
The artwork is rather nice. It’s not to out of date or odd looking which makes it feel really cool. The only real time it bugs me is when the lantern is opened and things go off into that blue glow. Sometimes the glow is not that bright and sometimes it’s so bright that it covers the character. The opening is rather simple but just doesn’t feel like it fits exactly. There are things within it that are not talked about in the show and made me a little confused. The ending is a simple run animation with a dog almost like Wolf’s Rain.
The music is pretty good; the ending actually is fun loving and cool. I would listen to that one mostly for the fun of it though I don’t know if it stands alone at the end. I actually didn’t want to watch the Japanese dub because the English dub was actually really good. The only problem I had was some side characters that seemed to have strange accents though it didn’t actually say where they were from.
I have to do what I can to make sure that you dont waste your time watching this anime. I am probably giving it too much credit, but I will do a swift breakdown of the pieces, Im not spending much time on this, but that is because I thought it sucked.
well. . . . . . the anime started off with a bunch of "filler episodes". They just did problem of the week style episodes that went on painfully until about episode 10 or 11. There was a story in there and it looked cool, but they barely touched on it. Then the story picked up, oh cool the High Temp Trooper is burning people alive, and the super soldier project is still going on?!?!?!?! AWESOME, but then at about episode 18 it shifted and went completely off topic. The awesomeness I was hoping for was gone. Nowhere in sight. The story. . . . sucked. I give it 2 points for what they did well for maybe 5 or 6 episodes.
Animation was nothing special, I have been spoiled by BONES animation work so PS wasnt that great, wasnt bad though, so I give it a 7
Pretty much the same as the animation. The Opening was cool, really cool, and tried to do PS more justice then it deserved.
There were a lot of annoying characters. Oreldo and Martis were awesome though because they sacked up and were badasses when they needed to be. Lt, Malvin's monologues nearly killed me, but when she fought she was pretty cool. Oland was . . . not very awesome until he turned on the lantern. Then he was super awesome. The lantern and the other Oland were the parts of the story that I wanted to see happen. I wanted to see the other 900 divisions of the army. I wanted to see the twisted experiments and how Oland got that way. but in the end Oland was another monologing annoyance. a 4 for crazy oland, oreldo, martis and lili.
overall, please dont waste your time. This leads nowhere, there is nothing interesting to see here. The anime gave moments of goondess surrounded by crap that didnt matter and had no meaning. giving it more then it deserves, I rate this anime a 5 out of 10.