This is absolutely typical. Oooh, I thought, something about a post-war relief squad. That has some real potential, it's original, good setting, chance for some great stories, those shots look nice, and - Oh nuts, it's Gonzo.
Studio Gonzo have this amazing effect; I suspect they have some kind of quota system in effect. For each really good thing they put out, there seem to be a bunch of things about which you end up thinking "if only they'd just done that differently, that could've been so much better...". Every excellent series like Bokurano that they put out is outnumbered by flawed
or downright shoddy fare like Strike Witches, Full Metal Panic and Chrno Crusade - and most often, the problem with Gonzo series is the story. Pumpkin Scissors is, sadly, not among the excellent exceptions, but part of the quota-filling compensation.
One thing that's hard to fault Gonzo on, by and large, is their art; true to form, Pumpkin Scissors is pretty good looking generally, with its well-realised and highly atmospheric post-war setting. Animation, while not exceptional, is uniformly fluid throughout, and high in production values. Its fictional war-ravaged state very much resembles post-WWII Europe in temporal setting, appearance and level of technology, and visually, it is credible and detailed. Having a small military unit as its main cast, there's lots of military paraphernalia around too, and mechanical design and animation is very good, appropriate to the period and highly credible. Military uniforms are also well designed and seem believable, while the ornate clothing of various nobles also seems fairly well designed, if sometimes a little risque for the women considering the setting and the series' audience (possibly; more on this later). Character design absolutely screams Gonzo; that's not necessarily bad, but in this case only the male lead, Cpl. Randal Oland, really stands out as memorable, visually, and that's mostly due to his resemblance to Frankenstein's monster.
Otherwise, characters are perfectly serviceable but by and large nothing amazing or charismatic - and that goes for both appearance and actual characterisation. The central cast are Lt. Alice Malvin, a manically enthusiastic, verbosely idealistic and stupendously irritating noblewoman who serves as Pumpkin Scissors' officer in the field, Hunks, the terminally laid-back old guy who is her boss, the rest of the unit comprising Oreldo, a serial ladies man, Lili and Mercury, a mascot-type girl and messenger dog pairing, and Martis, a quiet, nothing sort of guy with no notable qualities other than wearing glasses without a bridge. Add the hulking yet timid and pacifistic newcomer Cpl. Oland as a main protagonist and that's Imperial Army, State Section 3, Pumpkin Scissors Division. Except! Oland has this Special blue lantern, which is Special because it's a relic from his Mysterious Past, and when he turns it on, he becomes nigh on invincible. Sound like a familiar idea? Certainly it does, just like all the characters, who are, frankly, a bunch of one-dimensional stereotypes who seem worn after barely an episode and barely develop across the whole series' run.
Now, with a theme and setting like this, even bearing such characters in mind, you might expect some fairly serious, complicated, grown-up sorts of stories. You might also expect that, with 24 episodes to play with, some kind of overarching plot might develop. And you would be right - in a way. However, here, the curse of Gonzo falls on Pumpkin Scissors hardest. I am forced to wonder if, at some stage in development, the powers that be suddenly decided to dramatically decrease the age-range at which this series was aimed; out goes the violence, out goes the complexity, out goes any scope for grittiness or ambiguity in keeping with the setting, and instead, in come the stereotypes, the boundless, unceasing optimism and the chirpy ending theme. For all its laudable efforts to tell serious, grown-up stories and ask serious, grown-up questions, the series cannot help but be heavy-handedly moralistic, predictable and universally pedestrian and preachy in tone and approach. Despite being armed soldiers, and contrary to what Lt. Malvin's incessant shortsword-waving might suggest, it's extremely rare that any of our heroes actually hurts anyone, let alone kills them, however hard their opponent is trying to kill them; not even when seven foot Darth Maul-style swords enter the picture is anyone actually harmed. It somehow always falls on Oland and the Specialness his lantern grants him to simply soak up the damage long enough for the bad man to be arrested by everyone else, the end. Worse, every time anything like an ethical question arises, it's always dealt with in starkly black and white terms that completely conflict with the setting; if ever there was a setting in which the morality of almost every action is shrouded in uncertainty and ambiguity, this is it. The Pumpkin Scissors unit, however, always does the right thing, and can always tell what the right thing to do is, and never, for example, has Malvin's unyielding idealism cause something dreadful to happen. It's spineless storytelling, the kind common in substandard things designed for kids, and the series suffers from it.
Most calamitous of all is the pacing. Episodes plod, by and large, with lots of unnecessary exposition and little by way of progression. Generally, most stories take only one or two episodes to conclude, with the effect that each fiendish, cut-and-dried plot by the evil noble to defraud the commoners out of what they rightfully deserve, essentially the thrust of all these mini-arcs, becomes the Monster Of The Week (or fortnight). It takes a long time for the main plot to develop into any more than a vague concept hanging around in the background, and development from then on is glacially slow - too slow, in fact, for it to actually come remotely close to a resolution by the end of the series. And what an end - never have I seen such an artificially stretched batch of episodes. Events that should take two episodes at best in fact take six; what occurs covers half, maybe three quarters of an hour of real time, stretches to over two hours in practice, and in the end, gives nobody any answers or resolutions anyway. No, the series carefully creates links between almost every incident Pumpkin Scissors have hitherto been involved in, weaves in an enigmatic antagonist that works behind the scenes to orchestrate these incidents - and ends. Worst of all, it does so twice; as well as not actually providing any end to the actual plot, it creates a huge anticlimax by slowly, piece by piece, revealing the truth behind Oland's Mysterious Past, then doing virtually nothing significant with it.
Even the music is disappointing. You could have all sorts of evocative, classy music in here - some classical or classical-based pieces, maybe, or some soulful folktune-based stuff. However, most of the background music is brassy and march-like or otherwise military themed, and adopts a peculiarly stiff, simplistic flavour of waltz for scenes dealing with the nobility. The opening theme is brash and not much cop, and the ending theme is completely inappropriate in its hyper, overhappy energy and nonsense lyrics.
So yes, this is one of Gonzo's lamentable also-rans. It's not impossible to enjoy, provided you expect little of it, but I'd find it very hard to want to watch any of it again. The fact of the matter is, you just can't help but think of Pumpkin Scissors as something that might have been so much better, if only... If only they'd decided whether this was for kids or for adults... If only they'd finished the storyline... If only the relentless optimism didn't grate so much against the setting... If only it had left some room for ethical ambiguity... If only it had somehow managed to dig up some characters with charisma and some motivations that worked in more than one dimension... If only it didn't wait until the tenth episode before it explained its amazingly contrived and silly name... If only...
Was a good anime, but had the potential to be great.
The story takes place in a parallel earth that looks like Europe in the 20s and 30s. A cease fire has ended between Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost. Three years later the Empire is still plagued by problems from the war, soldiers becoming mercanieries, starvation, and disease. To help solve the problems the Empire sets up Imperial Army Section III nicknamed Pumpkin Scissors. Led by 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin and a special forces soldier Randel Oland set out to change the empire.
Almost everything about this anime was great. The story wasn't original,
but had a good twist to the usual stuff. The characters were interesting. The animation was done by Gonzo, and was great. The music was ok. Now you're asking why if I thought it was great, why did I just give it 7. That's because it's story was to broad and ended to soon. It was a 24 episode anime, but the story could have covered 48 episodes. The story was really open ended even for anime, the characters had some developments, but should have gone deeper. I am really hopping there will be another season.
Assembled through a string of bizarre twists of fate and spearheaded by a tomboy princess known as 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin, a ragtag outfit of inexperienced yet well-intentioned military officers aspire to forge a positive, lasting impact in their community, their society, and the world at large through resolving one trivial, small-scale case after another. They are Section 3 (nicknamed the “Pumpkin Scissors” unit) of the Royal Empire militia; brought into existence by the Empire’s ceasefire with a rivaling country after a long, arduous, bloody, and pointless war, this unit, the archetypal “whipping boys” of the military, contributes in combating the after-effects of the
war (of which there are many) through relief efforts. Pumpkin Scissors is an anime that primarily follows the journey of Section 3, quietly observing as they navigate through increasingly deadly circumstances; along the way, it has (unfairly) attracted comparisons to a far more renowned work, that being Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist. Both titles are focused on post-World War I Europe from the perspective of the army but that is where all similarities end. Where Fullmetal Alchemist is entrenched in the fantastical, Pumpkin Scissors is more realistic. Where Fullmetal Alchemist strives for grand statements and a wide-reaching vision, Pumpkin Scissors instead advocates for a subtler approach. This is a show that catapults its’ viewpoints to the forefront through deceptively simple character interactions in a way that’s neither overbearing nor patronizing. Each and every character, from Oreldo (Section 3’s most laid-back officer) to a brothel owner, from the slimiest of aristocrats to a tutor of a princess, from the disposable mooks to the struggling mother of a newborn girl, and (of course) the great Lt. Alice L. Malvin, is given an opportunity to express their opinions, to critique various societal ills, and to offer suggestions on how to improve our world. At its core, Pumpkin Scissors is quite the intellectually engaging show, one that expects you to ponder, reflect on, and even question what’s being presented to you. However, it also understands that it can enjoy itself at the same time and, as a result, this show makes for one memorable experience.
When the military is mentioned in casual conversations, one’s mind naturally associates this term with excessive self-discipline, with rigid formations, with polished weaponry, with hours of marching, with screaming sergeants, and with gaudy displays of patriotism. Pumpkin Scissors’ central cast, however, sharply contrasts with the traditional perception of the military. Known for not taking themselves seriously, Section 3 wholeheartedly embraces an easygoing mindset and, for the most part, so does Pumpkin Scissors. Each assignment that’s designated to Section 3 is a joy for the soldiers to carry out and entertaining for the viewer to watch. In the hands of another show, standalones ranging from a package delivery to a missing baby would have amounted to a stiff, unengaging watch. Pumpkin Scissors, however, is special in its ability to transform the flimsiest of ideas, the most mundane of concepts, into something memorable. Its success in this area is due in large part to a mastery of observational humor; in other words, Pumpkin Scissors creates enjoyable experiences from ordinary circumstances by highlighting the comedic potential in them. Whether it’s by inserting sexual innuendos in unusual situations or subverting expectations with outlandish ideas, Pumpkin Scissors ensures its audience will never tire of its material. Of course, one cannot discuss this show’s humor without mentioning Oreldo and Lili. While Oreldo provides the aforementioned innuendos, alongside snarky one-liners and a solid character arc, Lili brings to the table a starkly different sense of humor. Her style of comedy is more physical than anything else but it’s also endearingly childish; Lili’s ability to coerce the rest of Section 3 into singing innocent chants alongside her never fails to put a smile on my face, and the same can be said for episode 18, which is the day in the spotlight that Lili more than deserved to have. By bringing together Oreldo’s deadpan charm and Lili’s whimsical nature, Pumpkin Scissors has two different forms of comic relief in its arsenal. That it’s capable and willing to utilize both is why its’ standalones are among this show’s greatest assets.
And yet, Pumpkin Scissors’ assortment of zany adventures are not merely self-contained stories; rather, they are all individual entities that are strung together by an overarching goal. Yes, the episodes, at least the earlier ones, are more than a little cartoonish but they all strive to examine isolated aspects of 1930s Europe, to zero in on the ailments of this society, and to present solutions to them. This show prides itself in its efforts to maintain a clear, unbiased outlook on its subject matter, and that pride is certainly warranted. On one end is the homeless, the desperate, the despondent, and the distraught. On the opposite end is the wealthy, completely unaware and unconcerned with the struggles of others. And in the middle is Pumpkin Scissors, lending an ear to both sides while arguing for a world in which equality reigns supreme. This show is one that offers its perspective to a multitude of topics, including gender equality, human rights, and the futility of war, but, at its core, it is a social commentary on classism. That Pumpkin Scissors would choose the 1930s-era Europe as the setting in which to present this issue is fitting because one would argue that at no point in history was the socioeconomic divide as prevalent as it was in the Great Depression.
In 1930, Austria and the United Kingdom, among others, abandoned using the “gold standard” as a monetary system; it was predicated on the value and quantity of gold, and because entire countries discontinued this system, it was a clear indication of gold’s worth. That, of course, was only the beginning. Banks began closing left and right, specifically Vienna’s Creditanstalt bank in 1931, which caused a massive economic uproar. By 1932, the value of the European trade had plummeted to a third of what it was in 1929. Everyone at the time was reeling from the Great Depression’s effects; the difference between the one percent and the majority was that the former was able to maintain a resemblance of their wealth while the latter lacked the luxuries to do so. In bleak times such as the 1930s, everyone wanted, no, needed to hear proposals to build a better society, one that wouldn’t lead to another Great Depression. Pumpkin Scissors’ perspective is one that’s worth looking into because its ideals are not only relevant to the time period it covers but they are applicable to our current society.
Through the assignments that Section 3 undertake, Pumpkin Scissors lands one opportunity after another to convey its message. Through each episode, more and more insight is offered into its subject matter. At first, the situations that are presented and Section 3’s solutions to them appear as black-and-white concepts, as symbolic of good and evil. Initially, the lower-class citizens are portrayed in the most positive light possible - in fact, one would argue that Pumpkin Scissors’ earliest episodes are essentially love letters to the working class - while the aristocrats are depicted as merciless monsters, lacking any empathy or concern for their fellow humans. This perspective, the glorification of the average joe and the demonization of the patrician, is hardly unique to Pumpkin Scissors (it’s extremely prevalent in our current environment and has been for years) but what makes this show special is its’ ability to transform this perspective into a narrative device. The members of Section 3, disillusioned with the socioeconomic structure, have developed a firm confidence in this perspective; interacting with corrupt nobles and humble commoners only serves to strengthen their beliefs. However, when Section 3 confronts more powerful obstacles later in the series, their way of thinking changes for the better. Pumpkin Scissors exposes the more sinister members of the working class, they with vile and opportunistic motives, alongside a more humanizing portrayal of the wealthy (specifically with Marquis Paul) for Section 3 and the viewers to see; at the same time, it presents its’ central message and its solution to classism: the only way that our society will ever improve is if we stop discriminating each other based on socioeconomic standings and encourage open discussions on how we can help each other. One might think this proposal is too idealistic - I, for one, certainly do - but what matters is that Pumpkin Scissors never states its claims as ultimate truths. What it values are ideas, plans that will change our communities for the better, and it seeks to influence its audience in formulating said ideas. Time after time, the conflicts that Section 3 are involved in are only resolved when both sides are willing to discuss their opinions, to respect the beliefs of those they disagree with, to discover similarities, and to reconcile with differences. Now, you might be tempted to think along the lines of “What happens if someone is unwilling to compromise or if they’re too stubborn to discuss a resolution with Section 3?”. Well, my friend, that’s where Randal Oland comes in.
Oland is Pumpkin Scissors’ protagonist and, while he doesn’t leave the strongest initial impression with viewers, it’s only when he’s utilized as a plot device that his potential as a character is fully realized. Don’t get me wrong; I like Oland. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken yet assertive when necessary, he’s a gentle giant that values the other members of Section 3 above all else. Oland’s a decent guy (my favorite memory of him is when, in a particularly touching scene, he prevents an injured and unemployed factory worker from killing himself) but, at the same time, he’s more than a little shallow and one-dimensional.. initially, at least. At various points in the show, there are times when Section 3 cannot resolve issues through normal means and it’s in these situations where Oland abandons his “nice guy” role. You know he means business when he flicks on that lantern he always carries. Illuminated by the ominous mist that emanates from his lantern, Oland, with the glazed, unhinged stare of a zombie and his infamous handgun (the “Door Knocker”), demolishes any overwhelming obstacle that Section 3 encounters, whether it be a tank or a squadron of trained killers, in an expedient fashion. Anytime the show’s writers find themselves in a dicey scenario, it’s Oland that almost always bails them out; he’s a walking deus ex machina. While it would be convenient for Pumpkin Scissors to leave this matter as is, Oland’s moments of invincibility are highlighted by the devastating after-effects that spawn from them.
Once upon a time, there was a mysterious division of the Royal Empire militia that was discontinued because of how ruthless its members were. This division was known as the “Invisible Nine” and Oland was among them. The scenes where he is forced to employ what he acquired from his “Invisible Nine” days are among Pumpkin Scissors’ most memorable moments. A Gregorian chorus screams in the background and the skies blacken as Oland’s Door Knocker wreaks havoc on all it comes in contact with. He slowly trudges toward his target, entirely unfazed by the bullets that decorate his body, as bystanders cannot resist gazing in horror. It’s understandable; after all, these scenes are frightening spectacles unlike any other. All of a sudden, it’s over. The Gregorian chorus fades into nothingness, the skies brighten, and Pumpkin Scissors resumes its regularly scheduled programming. As for Oland, he’s not as fortunate. See, when he activates his lantern, Oland’s not exactly invulnerable; his zombified state temporarily numbs the pain of whatever injury is inflicted on him so when he’s done destroying everything, any damage he absorbed along the way affects his body when he reverts to normal. Sure, Oland can automatically overpower any opponent he faces but that doesn’t amount to much when he has to be hospitalized immediately afterwards. Every fight that Oland involves himself in are accompanied by a collection of gruesome injuries and more than a few mental scars. Not only does he have to confront an inferiority complex (created because he feels he contributes nothing to Section 3 other than his wanton acts of destruction) but he also has to battle his PTSD (he’s reminded of his “Invisible Nine” days and the people he killed anytime he’s forced to use his lantern) and then there’s the thought in the back of his mind that he cannot resist mulling over. There are times when Oland imagines a day in which he’s forced to activate his lantern but is too frightened of the after-effects to go through with it, in which his overreliance on the lantern ends up destroying him. It’s when Pumpkin Scissors becomes a more serious show that Oland’s deepest, darkest fear morphs into a reality.
In a two-parter involving the kidnapping of Lt. Alice L. Malvin, the flaws of Section 3 emerge for all to see and the same can be said for Pumpkin Scissors itself. Our protagonists commit severe errors in judgment and the effects of these errors are colossal. For the first time ever (and not the last), Oland’s Door Knocker isn’t enough to save the day; he can barely defend himself, let alone fight, when a powerful assailant attacks him. Finally, the members of Section 3 fail in the protecting the lives of innocent civilians, also a first. This two-parter is the initial showing of this show’s potential, a vivid glimpse into what it can (and eventually does) accomplish later. With that, one would expect the succeeding episode to amplify the morbid atmosphere of the two-parter, to develop Oland’s inferiority complex, and to (at the very least) investigate into who Oland’s attacker works for (you know, what the show has been hinting about since its earliest episodes).
One would be incorrect.
Apparently, some big shot on the Pumpkin Scissors staff gave the aforementioned two-parter a hard look, observing the vilest corners of the human heart, the monstrosities of the Royal Empire, and the intensely emotional core of it all, and declared “For the next episode, I want a silly love story between Section 3’s most worthless member and a character nobody will ever see again. Yep; I really think this is an ideal fit for the narrative and tone of the series”. Episode 13 is not only a phenomenal waste of your time (the less said about Martis, his paper-thin characterization, and his relationship with a prepubescent girl, the better) but it’s also indicative of a bigger issue I have with Pumpkin Scissors, at least early on. I will trumpet its’ virtues from the highest rooftops if necessary but I cannot reconcile with the earlier episodes’ habit of slinking away from taking itself seriously. Time after time, whenever Pumpkin Scissors’ early episodes encounter anything that deviates from its fun-loving nature, there is a immediate shift in the other direction. Thankfully, it abandoned this habit as time progressed and Pumpkin Scissors is better because of it.
Even when the flaws of the earlier episodes are overlooked, there are a handful of shortcoming that some observers would opt for criticizing. While Pumpkin Scissors is quite the impressive show plot-wise, it flounders aesthetically. The background art is stiff, the color palette uninspired, and the CGI appalling; given that Studio Gonzo produced this show, it’s understandable that the CGI is as jarring as it is but the same cannot be said for the soundtrack. While the music is far from terrible, it’s not much to write home about, either. These shortcomings aren’t exactly flashing red lights; they aren’t severe enough to turn away potential viewers but at the same time, people actively looking for things to criticize, that only watch a show to attempt discovering what’s wrong with it, will immediately point to Pumpkin Scissors’ aesthetics and judge the entire show because of it.
Thank God, then, that it has 2nd Lt. Alice L. Malvin.
Alice is the sort of character that can make any viewing experience worthwhile; by any measure, she’s a show-stealer of the highest caliber. However, judging from what other critics have written about her, one wouldn’t exactly walk away with a positive impression of her. In the eyes of these critics, only the most rudimentary elements of Alice’s character are visible so they condemn her without dedicating any time to familiarizing themselves with her. According to them, Alice is nothing more than a nuisance, a pacifist that doesn’t advocate for her beliefs as much as she screams for them, and they dismiss her entirely because of this. Perhaps it’s because they (and anime viewers in general) feel uncomfortable around assertive women. Perhaps it’s because they view characters from a stereotypical lens. Whatever the case may be, to craft such a broad, sloppy depiction of Alice in your reviews and then flippantly write her off is a severe mistreatment of one of the greatest female protagonists this medium has to offer.
“Who does Section 3 exist for? For the sake of corrupt army officers, so we turn a blind eye while they get rich, so we can have meaningless jobs? Section 3 exists for the people! If we tuck our tails and play it safe, then we’re no better than those monsters that prey on the weak, the poor, and the innocent,” - Alice L. Malvin
A defender of the defenseless, a voice for the voiceless, Alice is a strong-willed idealist that’s never afraid of sharing her beliefs. Inspired as a child by her war-hero grandfather and his acts of valor, she dreams of bettering people’s lives like he once did. As captain of Section 3, Alice devotes the entirety of her being into each mission and, by proxy, her cause. She performs one impassioned oration after another, eloquently expatiating on her ideals and objectives, which not only invigorates the spirits of those around her but also rouses her spirits as well. However, Alice doesn’t exist just to monologue. Steadfastly loyal and stubborn to a dangerous degree, she’ll venture to the furthest of extremes for her beliefs, even if it involves risking her life in the process. On the one hand, the members of Section 3 are awestruck by the magnitude of Alice’s charisma and force of personality. On the other hand, they’re alternately concerned and frightened at the overwhelming effects of her stubbornness. Gradually, Alice realizes the unnecessarily hostile situations her willpower drags them into and, slowly but surely, she matures. Throughout the course of the series, Alice learns that pouring your heart and soul into minute activities exhausts your energy, that not every battle needs to be won, that forcing your beliefs onto others doesn’t always produce the desired results, that shouldering burdens by yourself isn’t a good idea. As a result, Alice develops into a more calm, rational, and controlled leader of men, one that isn’t as possessed by her passions. Where Alice once pontificated on what’s acceptable and not for a member of Section 3, now she allows them a greater level of freedom. Where Alice once involved herself in each and every conflict she observed, whether big or small, whether external or internal, now she’s willing to pick and choose only the most crucial ones. Alice’s ascent to maturity is undoubtedly among Pumpkin Scissors’ greatest feats; her arc is never emphasized or forced. Rather, it flows with the series’ overall narrative so seamlessly that it’s difficult to spot. During Pumpkin Scissors’ unforgettable finale, there is a beautiful scene where the wealthy and the unemployed finally come to terms with one another. Guns and pitchforks are tossed aside, differences are reconciled, sworn enemies dole out affectionate hugs, and the socioeconomic divide shrinks. It’s all thanks to Lt. Alice L. Malvin, who combined her fiery passion, her quixotic ideals, and the compromising nature she developed over time into a climatic speech that temporarily destroyed classism. She still has quite a ways to go before she meets the standard established by her grandfather but, when the credits roll, you feel confident in what Alice will accomplish in the future.
If you’re looking for a traditional ending, where the good guys completely vanquish the presence of evil, you won’t find it in Pumpkin Scissors. What this series’ conclusion lacks in a satisfying ending, it more than compensates with pragmatism. In the real world, systemic corruption, moral depravity and other societal ills cannot be washed away with the wave of a wand or a powerful punch. Evil will linger no matter what action we take; the best we can do is minimize its’ presence as much as possible. That Pumpkin Scissors realizes this is indicative of its’ distinction. That more than a few viewers neglect this distinction is truly a shame. Much like Section 3, Pumpkin Scissors receives far too little acclaim for what it achieves. While it’s aesthetically average, monotonous in the musical sense, and tonally flawed (again, early on), Pumpkin Scissors compensates with a grandiose display of intellect. It entices, excites, educates, and enlightens, sometimes all at once. With the sublime precision of a symphony conductor and the unbridled ferocity of a flash fire, Pumpkin Scissors confidently confronts its subject matter in such a way that few can compare. With that, I leave you with a speech from Lt. Alice L. Malvin.
“From now on, our opposition takes the form of people aggravating the damages of war by selfishly withholding aid and comfort from the common men and women of the Empire. And up until now, these aggravators have been able to hide from justice and they will continue to hide from us behind money, violence, and bureaucracy. These barriers are just like the outer skin of a pumpkin. This unit will become a blade, a blade of justice, one that cuts down those barriers just like the scissors we use to cut pumpkins on Halloween. We will proudly remain sharp and strong in our resolution to bring transgressors to justice. From this moment on, Pumpkin Scissors is our name!”
(season 1) This anime, pumpkin scissors is about military section 3, pumpkin scissors helping people after the war. I have to say, even I was skeptical at first and had a hard time picking up the manga, or the anime to watch or read it. But once I got started, I couldn't stop. It has a subpurb plotline, and the characters are VERY believable, it's almost like you mourn for them when something bad happens. It's very realalisting even besides the fact that they have a litle bit of fantasy genre in there. The fantasy genre was so beutifully mixed into the reality that it
was hard to tell witch was witch. Of course if your looking for something outright fantasy, this wouldn't be for you. But if you have a compassionate heart, I'm sure the main character, Randel Oland, will take a place in your heart, and the story will inspire you to do something in your life. Very touching. The story is about cleaning up the war, but I only hoped it wouldn't be dreadfully sad. (like one of those anime you can only watch an episode at a time) but it wasn't. It's one that has a great balance, and kudos to the creator, Ryoutarou Iwanaga. Even though the second character Alice L Malvin looks like your typical shounen girl character, Iwanaga defies the odds, and makes her just as unique as you and me. In fact, Iwanaga makes ALL the characters unique. (hm, well machs is kind of lacking, but still) I hope they come out with a second season too. It's one of those shows that you can ABSOLUTLY NOT wait for the next season to come out, and if you could, make it come out faster; or rather, right now. ^^ I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
While I believe that a responsible critic should judge each creation on its own individual merits, there are times when the existence of a comparable alternative that surpasses the subject in question on just about every level is evidence enough that it could have been "done better". That holds especially true in this case, where said alternative is widely considered to be essential viewing for anime fans. I mention this because from the military-ruled state to the lower class that's still suffering from the wounds left by war, right down to the noticeably similar art style, Pumpkin Scissors comes out looking an awful lot like
a poor man's Fullmetal Alchemist. Take Ed and Al out of the equation to focus almost entirely on Roy and his gang, and then switch Roy out for an idealistic novice, and you pretty much have Pumpkin Scissors, complete with a dog as their team mascot. Oh, and replace Armstrong with a stoner (okay, not really) who lives under a bridge. Having said that, if you know my opinion of FMA (it's a high one to say the least) then you'll know that my saying Pumpkin Scissors isn't as good is hardly a condemnation. If you didn't like any iteration of FMA you almost certainly won't like this, but for the 99% of you who are still here there is an actual review ahead.
I really didn't want to have to make fun of Gonzo again, and indeed this show isn't nearly as ugly as Glass Fleet, but that's not saying much. It's not terrible; the use of CG is minimal, the lighting and backgrounds are competent, but the character designs have a tendency to get sloppy and uneven at the drop of a hat, the movements are stiff, fights aren't especially well-choreographed and lacking in dynamic action, and it's a pretty rough package all-around. The only moments the animation really shines are the mind trip sequences where we get a look into Randel's head and how it's been tampered with, which sport excellent color choices, good use of shadows and some minimalistic but surprisingly effective design work, and members of The Invisible Nine are genuinely creepy and threatening. Other than that, this show sits comfortably at the lower end of okay.
The music is a mix of military trumpets, whistles and drumbeats with a few wind and orchestra pieces mixed in. This sounds fitting in theory, but in execution it’s unfortunately a bit on the forgettable side, and I guess that’s all I have to say about it.
I just wish I could call the English dub forgettable, but that would be a generous compliment. Oreldo is pretty good, but Alice is just okay, Randel sounds stoned half the time (I'm not sure if that was intentional), and about a third of the tertiary characters are downright unlistenable. Apparently ADV was undergoing a merger at the time and they ended up with a lot of voice actors who, to put it bluntly, can’t act. A few shows got the short end of the stick, and this is definitely one of them. Awkward accents and ridiculously slurred speech patterns abound. The Japanese soundtrack, while not outstanding, is at least much more consistent, so I'll have to recommend going sub over dub for this one.
Setting aside the (unfavorable) FMA comparisons for a moment, Pumpkin Scissors does have a lot of good to offer, and the first pleasant surprise is its characters. Alice initially comes across as something of a female Naruto: she's brash, straightforward and charges in headfirst with little strategy, complete with an orange outfit. Thankfully, it quickly becomes clear that Alice is not as naïve as she initially appears; she clings to her child-like idealism not because she doesn't understand how the real world works--she's the daughter and probable heir of a high ranking noble house and fully understands that responsibility begins at the top--but because she believes that such idealism is simply what the world needs to make their time of peace really mean something. It's not realistic, but both she and the show are aware of this, and that turns into the show's biggest saving grace; while FMA was much better at moral ambiguities and gray areas, a little idealism really can be a refreshing change of pace every now and again. That said, Alice should be flayed alive for giving her team the name Pumpkin Scissors (she tries to explain what it means to her but utterly fails to make it any less stupid). Her subordinates Martis and especially Oreldo also have hidden depths, and while they're not given as much time as I might've liked they're still far better fleshed-out than many lackey characters in similar positions. It's clear, however, that Randel is supposed to be the real meat of the story. I'll get back to him in a moment.
Even though Pumpkin Scissors is supposed to be about war relief, I think its greatest strength is addressing separation of the social classes, a problem that can become especially apparent during war and its immediate aftermath--after all, nobles have the resources to endure through hard time and the crafty ones can even profit from them--but it's a far cry from exclusive to wartime. Still, the increasing tension during a postwar depression and the lack of work and rations is definitely truth in television, and I think it's a pretty nice touch. The show does a pretty good job of portraying the discontented masses who are tired of being abused and mistrustful of those born into riches. I'll also applaud the show for not making all the nobles look like pompous assholes (though there are certainly a few like that), in some cases they even show genuine guilt for not taking more responsibility for their fellow men. Again, Pumpkin Scissors is a very idealistic show, but it still manages to feel honest about it without feeling like it's trying to strongarm the audience into listening, and while it can get a bit corny and on-the-nose with its messages, you still want to believe in the ideals it's pressing.
Now to talk about the downside, namely: Randel Oland. He's Pumpkin Scissors' newest recruit and the only member of the team who actually saw any action in the war. What's more, he's actually a very gentle and peace-loving soul at heart, but he's been brainwashed to transform into a terrifying human juggernaut who can single handedly bring down a tank, a side of himself he clearly wishes he could leave behind but keeps tapping into either out of necessity or sometimes just a pure uncontrollable urge. This, unfortunately, makes him sound a helluva lot more interesting and well-developed than he actually is. One problem with the show is that it can't really decide how much self-control Randel is supposed to have when he's in his blue lantern state. Most episodes seem to indicate that it turns him into a complete killing machine, but there are multiple occasions where the show breaks this rule, seemingly on a whim, and it's never treated like a feat of willpower or personal fortitude. It just sort of happens whenever the writers feel like he needs to come and save the day, and this really keeps his personal struggle from having the gravity it feels like it should, it just feels forced and makes his character feel needlessly mopey. He's seven hulking feet of missed opportunity.
Perhaps a guilty conscience might've made up for it, but he doesn't seem to have one of those either, or if he does we never see it. We get the impression he's deeply hurt by what he saw during the war, but most of the show's attempts at developing him are focused on his half-baked existential crisis as a human weapon, all else ignored. Now yes, it is charming to see him slowly warming up to his teammates and forming a tighter bond with them, but even his casual interactions are pretty dull, and it doesn't help that the show has a crappy sense of humor. For every one heartwarming moment there are ten that just leave you scratching your head wondering how you're supposed to react, and the show even makes frequent jokes about the other big gun Randel is implied to be carrying... enough said. It just doesn't have FMA's finesse when it comes to balancing different tones, and in half as many episodes it manages to include a few nearly pointless filler episodes with lame plots. The worst part is that the show peaks at episode 17, the climax of a really, really good arc that seemed to be setting Randel up to face what he is and what's hidden in his past, only for him to get over it the very next episode in a resolution so forced it leaves a bad taste for the rest of the show, just when it was about to reach new heights.
I really need to stop reviewing manga/light novel adaptations with ongoing source material, because complaining about read-the-manga endings is getting old, and Pumpkin Scissors has just that. Honestly, though, it's astounding how much in this show goes absolutely nowhere; In addition to Randel's inconclusive character arc there's the implied government conspiracy surrounding the Invisible Nine, Alice's relationship with her enigmatic fiancé Lionel, her implied sixth sense, and a myriad of other loose plot threads hanging around waiting for a second season that, if sales are to be believed, will probably never happen. No, all we're left with is a six-episode arc with enough staring contests that it probably could've been cut down to three, and it certainly wasn't the right place to end the show. To be fair, the arc actually got a pretty heartfelt resolution, but that's like sticking a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Not a lethal wound, mind you, but the damage is done, and what's left feels like it's long since bled out the best of its potential.
But maybe I'm being too harsh. While Pumpkin Scissors certainly isn't anywhere near as refined as Fullmetal Alchemist, it does have heart. It really cares about what it has to say, and tries to say it in a memorable way. This may be an "if you have nothing else to watch" recommendation, but I'm recommending it nonetheless, for better or for worse. The characters are surprisingly easy to care about, it's somehow charming even when it's stumbling around meaninglessly, the setup is a good one, and on the one in a hundred chance it does eventually get a second season I'll be rooting for it all the way through, even if I have to chuckle every time I hear them say the name "Pumpkin Scissors" with a straight face.
This is a disappointing pile, the idea behind post war relief is kind of lame, but ok i can deal with it. Character wise , the Alice is the typical obnoxious omgwtfbbq with a ridiculous sense of justice and running into things, and for whatever reason she can fight well (2nd leutinent). then you have 2 half ass soldiers (warrant officer), a useless add in that somehow is a sergeant major, and the only person who probably have seen combat is a corporal? and to top it off he is like a 8foot tall that they make him such a wuss half the time The
dumbest thing about this is the dog Mercury is a private first class...lol... The other thing about this is everyone makes fun of there section of the army, well if there so high ranked wouldn't they have more pull and respect? whatever lets move on.
Gonzo anime are usually pretty Grade A , so this is decent to look at. I liked the time period the movie is in its around when tanks were first made. Music doesnt stand out pretty average Op/End
The first couple episodes are pretty decent, you get to know the characters and there personalities a bit then the story moves on to have a bad guy behind the scenes. Also the others are starting to catch on about something secretive about the "big guy" (the funniest part about the series is a reference to his junk when the nurse tries to taake urine sample). The whole time i watched this i was waiting to get to the part where they find out about him, or they find out about the organization that made him, or the group that causes the trouble. NOTHING. just... ZOMG the bad guy! in the last episodes..........hello? finish? i double checked to see if i was missing episodes 25+ but they dont exsist. Apprently the Manga is way longer so if you're interested go read that, leave this steaming heap alone.
(side note, i gave this a 4 in my ratings but a 3 review because 4 says decent, this isnt decent, this is definately poor. If they do come out with more episodes ill be glad to give this a higher score)
An unconventional war anime, with a small unit of colourful soldiers fighting to heal a post-war fantasy Europe, while combating a corrupt army brass and nobility. The strength of the series is the characters, with a fiery, charismatic heroine, who has flaws to overcome but undeniable strength and spunk. Her supporting officers would do credit to Fullmetal Alchemist's cast. Many stand alone episodes are gems of plotting in a convincing, vibrant world, dealing with serious topics of trauma, unemployment, poverty and corruption. Sadly, the two 4-5 ep story arcs are so slowly paced that I found them almost unwatchable; a shame as they included many
good ideas. The mysterious plots remain mysterious since the manga is still running, leaving this as an interesting and unsatisfying show.
At first glance it appears like your typical military story. When you actually begin to watch it you realize it's not.
The story is set after a fictional war. The main focus is the section in the army called Pumpkin Scissors. Their duty is to help with rebuilding the country after the war.
This is not the first military anime I watched, but I was surprised of the main characters. They're not defending a country or in a mist of war, but trying to rebuild it. The first time I've heard of something like that.
There is a flaw. Most stories have one. In this case the
story ended with a incomplete ending. Questions were left unanswered.
Other than that it was a good story. You'll fall in love with the stubborn and sweet Alice. The strong, but kind Oland. The smart Machs and the playboy Oreldo.
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.
Ok Pumpkin Scissors is about an army relief unit and of course the characters within the unit. One who is a princess, another a astute lady chaser, and lastly the one who is a army experiment.
Art & Sound : the art as well as the sound in this anime is average for the time of its release.
Characters : the character of this anime are great we see all of the main 4 characters of this anime develop within the short length of this anime. Also all of the characters have interesting back stories which leads you to want to know a little bit more
Story: This is where this anime has a problem it presents us with some very engrossing stories that are never finished. Even the ending of this anime fails close up any of the about 3 stories that are going on (two which are underlying)
In fact when i finished watching this anime i had to search the internet to figure out if it was really over.
Final Judgement: do not go watch this anime. Despite the wonderful characters and the enjoyable story you end up with a unfinished story which almost forced me to go buy the manga to figure out what the heck happens to these characters. So to sum it all up dont go see this anime if you like a feeling of completion, but if you dont mind the loose ends the go see this anime you will enjoy the ride
I really enjoyed watching pumpkin scissors, the heart of the show to me was the Character driven plot. With a great back story and history to it, it allows characters to be fleshed out pretty well for a 24 episode run. You'll find the Solders of the Pumpkin Scissors squad to be loveable and when necessary kick some serious butt too complete the mission of war relief.This anime has one of my favorite Bad asses in anime Corporal Randal Oland who is part of the government biggest war time secret, it is Corporal Oland's job to show no fear, pain, or remorse and attack a
tank one on one! Some down sides to the show is its story arch, but the only problem with it is that the anime was not picked up for a second season that i know of, leaving a lot of questions to be answered, so i recommend if you liked the anime to read the manga! Other than that a beautiful art style and a solid plot makes this an enjoyably watch especially for those who might be a war history buff. I give this anime an 8/10! Hope this was helpful and have a great day of anime!- BillyB
Just like some of my other reviews, the overall rating is quite personal and it's because this is my all-time favourite anime. It's the best, most entertaining anime I've ever seen, and I really enjoyed it. The story itself is not perfect, and even though there's no hope for a second season, I wish there were. I will probably end up reading the manga to find out what's with all the holes in the storyline, but nonetheless, it's enjoyable and really interesting, pulling you along bit by bit. But, you should be able to piece some things together yourself if
you plan to watch it. The art is great, but it does look a little underwhelming at times, especially when the characters are farther from the camera. The sound is amazing, and I would love to listen to all of the music from this anime--it's all that great. The characters are all likable to some extent, and the main characters really connect with the viewer and stand out from other anime characters in their own respects. They're anime characters, no doubt about it, but there's just something there that isn't with some other anime. Overall, I enjoyed this anime so much and I really wish there were a second season. Every single episode passed so quickly, and I disliked skipping the intro, but I did it just so I could see what would happen next. It's surprising, intriguing, and lovable, and that's why I think it's the best anime I've ever seen.
My take on it: Take the military from FMA. Except that Riza's the one in charge, and she's part nobility. The war's over, and Riza's platoon is focused on war relief efforts, looked down upon by everyone; including by those they're trying to help. That's Pumpkin Scissors in a nutshell.
The dub was good, and the storyline had me hooked from episode one. It's a short series that left me begging for more.
The series is short; only 24 episodes, which has its pros and cons. There's very little filler, so the plot stays strong. On the other hand, there's a lot of questions left unanswered.
weren't a lot of big-name voice actors, except for a minor character voiced by Vic Mignona (who I could barely recognize at first). This was a plus for me, because when you listen to a lot of dubs, you begin to recognize voices (ie: "Hey, that's Greg Ayres") and it temporarily throws you out of the story. With lesser-known or up-and-coming VAs, there's no distraction. The voices fit the characters well, and they sounded realistic.
Opening theme song -- "Aoki Flamme" (performed by Yoko Takahashi) -- upbeat but still creates a mysterious atmosphere.
Part comedy, and part drama. It's a great underrated series, and I would recommend it to anyone.