What They Say:
A ceasefire is suddenly called between the Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost. Three years later, the lower class of the Empire faces starvation, many of the military units have turned into petty bandits, and those in power are corrupted by greed. To aid in the war relief effort, the Pumpkin Scissors unit is created. The unit’s path is soon crossed with Randel Oland, a mysterious former member of the 901 Anti-Tank Troopers, one of the Army’s top-secret units.
Contains episodes 13-24.
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 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 Warrant Officers Orledo and holding rifles. 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 cover looks exactly like the cardboard case. The second thinpack features Alice and Oland as seen in one of the last scenes in the collection. 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).
In the first set of Pumpkin Scissors, the main arc is the development of Section III and the integration of Oland Randal within its body. There were a number of short stories that highlighted specific team members or short arcs that emphasized the team’s development. The second set of episodes takes on fewer story arcs, but ramps up the action and drama. It even seems to set up a few hints for a possible continuation of the series.
The empire’s troubles and corruption are more prevalent and serious within this set. The first of the two story arcs immerses us immediately in this knowledge. Section III is ordered to clear out the city’s sewer system. It has become home to war refugees. To solve this social crisis, these people are offered a new home and work at a community farm. Some individuals readily accept the offer, but a vast number refuse. In trying to deal with the matter, it becomes apparent that the employees of the waterworks are preying on the inhabitants by acting as dealers (of drugs, not art). The evidence of corruption soon leads to a local lord. In trying to stop the illicit activities, Section III finds more than they bargained for. The sewer staff not only has advanced weapons but the lord also employees, ‘Hans’ of the 908; an HTT or High-Temperature Trouper. As Section III attempts to work its way through this web of corruption, literally under their feet, Oland finds himself face to face with his past. He seems to crumble under his inability to help another comrade move on to change.
The weight of the events seems to hang in the air at Section III as they attempt to go back to duties as usual, including manning a chow line. The disparity between the elite and the working man is portrayed as extreme, and the tension comes to a head. Locals plot to overrun a local gathering of the gentry to make a statement about a corrupt government official and noble. Unfortunately, it is the same one that Alice is attending with her sisters. The protestors are going with an intent of killing everyone who is there, and don’t expect to leave alive.
The situation quickly becomes complicated. Oland finds himself saved from being sledge-hammered by Oland, and the lackeys quickly tell of the plot under a little persuasion. Section III quickly roles out. Meanwhile, the Army is informed somehow of the plot. Section I takes the matter in hand, and sees the situation merely as an opportunity to gain a larger budget and greater power. Possible collateral damage isn’t an issue to their section leader. Section III finds itself again in the middle of corruption from all sides, the nobles, the army, the protestors and evil they have yet to be aware of. Only they can prevent a tragic bloodbath, but will their luck and skill be enough this time?
The second Pumpkin Scissors collection builds upon what made the first collection so enticing. The plot takes a whole new twist as we learn more about the secrets of the nobility and the military. Alice and Oland are put into situations that draw out their character flaws, while Oreldo and Machs must stand at the wayside. In the end, the team becomes even more tightly connected as Captain Hunks comes through in the nick of time. Pumpkin Scissors closes on a high note that is somewhat conclusively satisfying, yet it leaves the viewer wanting more as the rest of this pumpkin has not been quite carved out yet. Highly Recommended
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Hitachi 62VS69 62″ UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.