Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: November 25, 2008
Pumpkin Scissors is the reason we called in sick to work … it’s that addictively watch worthy.
Having been introduced to Pumpkin Scissors via the manga series by Ryotaro Iwanaga, I knew exactly what to expect from the Pumpkin Scissors anime series.
Well, maybe not.
What I didn’t expect was the thrill of seeing an excellent manga series come to life in a such a faithfully and extraordinary way that makes this a truly enjoyable and exciting anime series. It’s a rare treat when both the manga and the anime come together this nicely and even more if you like the source material in the first place. In the case of Pumpkin Scissors, it’s the kind of series that’s perfect to introduce to those just starting to discover anime for the first time. Part 01 of Pumpkin Scissor’s box set includes 12 episodes on two discs and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Pumpkin Scissors strays from a Japanese setting and theme to tell a sort of alternate reality the slightly mirrors Germany during post-World War II. Like Germany, the land has seen the brutality of war that has had a catastrophic effects on civilians and noble families alike. Even after the ceasefire between the two countries, the lingering presence of the Great War is felt with famine, rising crime and Imperial Army soldiers turned mercenaries. In short, its theme is an interesting one that is seldom touched upon by movies.
The series revolves around the Imperial Army’s Intelligence Section Three department that has been codenamed Pumpkin Scissor’s by the gung-ho 2nd Lieutenant Alice Malvin who turned the department from war intelligence gathering to one specializing in war relief efforts. During a routine mission to a quaint little town outside the city, Alice and her two subordinates, Martis and Oreldo discover rumors of a band of mercenaries preying on the townspeople. In a restaurant, though, Malvin notices a lone giant stranger with scars on his face and the obvious appearance of somebody who has seen much battle during the war. His name is Randel Oland and the lives of the Pumpkin Scissors will never be the same again because of him.
You see, this tall giant of a man is a mystery that joins the unit after having helped them take on a group of mercenaries that terrorize a town with a tank. The fact that Oland takes down the tank with nothing more than a strange-looking anti-tank pistol. Even more intriguing is the fact that he keeps a steel lamp on his hip that emits an eerie blue glow when he lifts a latch. Malvin and the others quickly come to see that when the lamp’s blue glow is shining them stay away because it leads to people dying a close-quarter’s death.
The series really gets started around the second episode of the twelve episodes on the two discs since it is here that Oland becomes an official member of the crew. We not only follow the Pumpkin Scissors crew that also includes the laid back Captain Hunks but also the spunky Sergeant Major Stecchin who takes care of office affairs and a big messenger dog named Mercury. One of the great things about the series is that the cast – although seemingly familiar (Martis is a bookworm and Oreldo is a ladies man) – have backgrounds that flesh them out. We come to know that Alice is a member of a royal family but we also come to know what the other royals in her family think about her as well as the two men that court her. We know Orledo loves to flirt with the ladies but is he capable of falling in love?
As interesting and fleshed out as the characters are in the series, it’s the stories the 12 episodes tell that will make you love Pumpkin Scissors. We follow the unit as they investigate a member of a royal family that is using an unusual new tank as part of a gruesome game of death he plays with peasants in one episode and then follow their war relief efforts as the crew tries to convince a town to repair a tunnel that could help the train pass and bring goods to their part of the country.
In the meantime, more about Oland as Martis investigates his new comrade’s past and coming back with rumors of a declassified unit called the 901 anti-tank unit or “Invisible 9.” How is it that a man is able to take down a tank at a close range or take damage like it was nothing? While the man does end up in the hospital a lot, it’s Alice who comes to realize that since he joined them the unit has seen more violent confrontations. It’s almost as if Oland is a magnet for shootouts and gunplay.
The action in the series is a real highlight, though. There are plenty of battles in the series and they’re handled perfectly throughout. In one episode, the unit is attempting to make an important delivery that takes them through the snowy countryside filled with hostiles as the unit attempts to survive in the cold. Yet even without the action-packed moments, there are some interesting episodes such as the one where Oland attempts to talk a jumper off the hospital roof. We also get to see Oreldo attempt to bring a smile on the face of a young girl waiting for her solider boy to come back to her.
The weakest entries is Episode 6 where the unit takes care of an abandoned baby. To me, abandoned baby episodes (found in just about every television show I know) are just as lame as those “very special episode” found in sitcoms. Although it’s worth watching just to see Oland bursting into the Section Three office cradling the baby and yelling “Breasts! I need breasts!”
Pumpkin Scissors, Part 01, is just one of those discs you simply can’t do without if you love good anime. Hell, I don’t think you even have to be an anime fan to enjoy the this series that touches on many interesting and often historical themes. While not every episode is amazing it’s also not bad whatsoever and you will find yourself watching this one from the first episode to the final one on the set. It’s a humorous, action-packed series that is quite possibly this month’s real Must Have package.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
All 12 episodes offer interesting stories that are actually compelling while the rest are filled with thrilling action scenes that make this series such an addictive joy to watch. There are a great number of highlights here (the squad attempting to survive an attack in the snow) and very few clichéd moments (abandoned baby episode). Overall, though, it’s hard not to love a series this good.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
It’s no surprise that the video quality is excellent throughout the discs and you’ll be happy it is since the animation is quite excellent. The action sequences are downright exciting to look at so expect some quality visuals.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The Dolby Digital is put to good use in the two discs and that’s a great thing seeing as the score and voice acting is excellent no matter which option you chose. I like the opening theme while the closing theme is simply cute.
A sprinkle of trailers here and Clean Opening and Clean Closing theme songs there make up the extras. It’s not a lot, I know, but it’s the content on the two discs that really matter here.
Simply put, you must not miss Part 1 of Pumpkin Scissors if you like great animation and an even greater action anime series with a lot of heart. Aside from the solid cast of characters that are quite unforgettable, it’s the great stories that make this 12-episode set one of this year’s Must Have anime releases.