What They Say:
Some casualties of war never heal; yet for those who remain in power, the spoils can be sweet indeed. In the aftermath of the Great War, Lt. Alice Malvin is charged to take command of the Imperial Army’s Intelligence Section Three, an elite team where even the newest member hunts down tanks with a handgun. Their code name: Pumpkin Scissors. Her mission: to sharpen IS3 into a deadly instrument of justice, and to expose the corrupt power-mad nobility who prey on the weak.
But as Malvin starts to peel away the layers of a government cover-up involving a defunct super-soldier program, she discovers the existence of a military technology decades ahead of what the Army has!
Contains episodes 1-12.
Pumpkin Scissors features a very solid English and Japanese voice cast. The original Japanese stereo mix is encoded at 224 kbps while the English 5.1 mix is is set at 448 kbps. For our primary viewing, we listened to the English version which has a great group of actors and has more bass and enhanced directionality. In listening to both language tracks, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2006 and 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. As a Gonzo production, I was expecting great video quality. The video quality is solid for a standard DVD release. However, don’t expect to see any “Wow” effect that you get with your typical Gonzo release. That is not a bad thing in that this series really doesn’t need to “WOW” visual effects. The video quality holds true to Gonzo’s reputation. The colors look solid and rich. Darker scenes look appropriately colored as well. Cross coloration is minimal with some brief instances of aliasing. Background noise is also minimal. Overall the presentation was very eye catching and appealing to watch.
The packaging for Pumpkin Scissors is comprised of a cardboard case that house two thinpack DVD cases. The front of the cardboard case features Corporal Randel Oland with his mysterious blue latern activated with 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin brandishing her long double-bladed cavalry sword. The back cover is tightly laid out with quotes from various reviewers at the top with a synopsis of the series taking up the middle portion. The bottom of the back cover features a few images from the series. The technical specifications are on the bottom of the case itself. The first thinpack features Alice and Oland on the front while the second thinpack features Alice and Captain Hunks. The backside of each thinpack features 2 screen captures of each episode on the disc. When opening the thinpacks, you will find different images of the Pumpkin Scissors team and Alice. Overall, the packaging presentation is nicely assembled
The menus for the discs are straight-forward. You will not find any bells and whistles on these as each disc is packed with 6 episodes. The menu system is pretty much a select and go menu system. Select the episode and it starts playing. The background appears to be what one would find on a desk as there is a picture of one of the main characters covered partially by several dossier files. The episodes are placed onto the top dossier file. Some bullets are placed off to the side in the upper-right-hand corner while the Pumpkin Scissors logo is placed on the bottom-right. Overall, the menus were easy and quickly accessible.
The extras are minimal in that all that is here are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Many comparisons have been made to how Pumpkin Scissors relates to the militaristic portion of Fullmetal Alchemist. Not wanting to take from the anime greatness that is Fullmetal Alchemist, I went into viewing this anime with an open eye and without any regard to Fullmetal Alchemist. While the similarities exist, Pumpkin Scissors stands on its own as potentially becoming a very engaging and thrilling action/adventure series.
Pumpkin Scissors is a twenty-four episode series based off of the manga by Ryoutarou Iwanaga and is animated by none other than Gonzo. The story takes place in a region that strongly resembles post-WWI Western Europe. The technology within the story closely resembles that time period as well, with some exceptions.
A ceasefire has ended a very long and bloody war between the Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost. The Royal Empire is plagued by desolation, starvation, pestilence, exploitation, pillaging, etc… The “Imperial Army State Section III”, aka Pumpkin Scissors, has been mobilized to help in the war relief effort.
The name for the unit was adopted by 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin. A noble by birth, Alice has dedicated herself to the war relief effort. According to her, in their war relief efforts, they must face the threat of corrupt people who protect themselves layers of lies, power, and money much like an empty pumpkin shell. She likens Section III to a pair of scissors cutting through those layers and delivering justice to the people of the country.
Although they are considered as a waste of military resources or as a PR instrument for propaganda by many, Section III takes their duty to assist the country’s reconstruction seriously. Their mission seemed pretty standard until Randel Oland, a soldier with a mysterious past, joins their ranks.
Pumpkin Scissors has just the right blend of character development and action. The makeup of this series is a prime example of what makes anime such a great form of entertainment. Right from the start, the viewer is thrust into the action of the post-war era and the formation of Section III. The supporting cast in this series has the right personality mix and chemistry to keep the series moving along. The pace allows you to get a deeper understanding of each member as well as the two major protagonists.
Warrant Office Oreldo and Machs are a combo often found in anime. Their two differing personalities, one analytical and the other carefree, prove to be an asset to the success of Section III. Captain Hunks’ oversight of the unit appears somewhat laidback and whimsical, but he actually has a pulse on the team and knows exactly what is going on. Comic relief can often be found with Staff Sergeant Lili Steechin. Her personality doesn’t fit that of a soldier, but instead a secretary. She seems to know more than she should and tries to keep tabs on the latest gossip. One can’t forget the head-biting messenger dog, Mercury, who assists the team and is tended to by Lili. This leaves us with the main characters, Alice and Oland. Even though they appear to be easy to read, they actually have layers thicker than the pumpkins Section III encounters.
The story arc of the first season circles the integration of Oland into the team, and the development of his role within the unit. It looks at the process through Section III becomes not only a PR unit, but also an actual threat to the corruption that has developed in this post-war society. The ability of the unit to merge and develop a sense of trust with one another is somewhat tested, but overcome by everyone’s passion for helping the war survivors to a better life. There is plenty of mystery surrounding the main characters to leave plenty of room for plot development and intrigue, and we’re not going to give away all the cookies in the cookie jar!
With the serious take on the after-effect of war, there is also a good mix of humor. Most of it seems to center around Oland. Between his pet street cats, habit of street living, love nibbles from Mercury, and trouble with hospital urine samples, the supply of one-liners and situational comedy are always at hand. Add to the mix the swaggering lady-killer, Orledo, who always seems to have a different shade of lipstick on him each morning. In short, Pumpkin Scissors provides numerous smirk and chortle-worthy moments.
The first Pumpkin Scissors collection reveals a series that feels like it has just the right amount of plot and character development to keep the viewer hanging. Add the mystery of the two main characters with one has a noble upbringing and another with a secret military background and you’ve got one interesting story plot. This first collection leaves me wanting more as I am curious to find out about what the seeds inside the shell of this pumpkin will reveal. This is series comes highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 25th, 2008
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Hitachi 62VS69 62″ UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.