Finally otaku can see the end of Pumpkin Scissors, a great series
from Gonzo. Originally licensed to the ADV, FUNimation acquired the
rights last summer. ADV, a company that is out of business for all
practical purposes, was releasing this series in the standard format, spreading
the 24 episodes over six individual DVD volumes. Unfortunately, they
never got around to putting out the last disc, leaving fans that supported
the series from the beginning high and dry. Now FUNimation has released
the whole series in two sets of three discs each. This is a
great series and I'm glad to see it was finished off. Though the
otaku who collected the ADV releases will have to buy the last half of
the series just to see the last few episodes, the show is so good that
it's worth it.
In an alternate reality where technology hasn't advanced farther than
Earth circa WWI, a long war between to big powers finally comes to an end.
There wasn't a winner really, just an agreement to stop the fighting.
Three years later, conditions are still very bad. Food is scarce,
the cities have only been partially rebuilt, and most people are barely
able to eek out a living. The government is generally corrupt, but
to create the appearance that they're doing something to help the masses,
they organize a unit in the army, Section III, that is devoted to war relief.
Under funded and with almost no staff, Section III is where a young idealistic
noble, Lieutenant Alice Malvin, finds herself. Alice believes in
the work that they are doing and feels it's the government's duty to mitigate
some of the pain that they have caused their own citizens. She's
enthusiastic about her work and even though Section Three isn't supposed
to accomplish anything, their just a PR ruse after all, Alice is determined
to make a difference.
In the first episode Alice and the rest of Section III run into an ex-army
grunt named Corporal Randel Oland from the 901-ATT. His heavily scarred
face is testament to the fact that he saw a lot of action during the war,
and his seven foot height makes him even more intimidating. Though
he looks like he could rip off your arm and beat you to death with it,
Randel has a gentle demeanor and kind soul. That is until he gets
into combat. Randel's unit, the 901-ATT, was the Anti-Tank Troup
the result of a scientific experiment that was intended to create an infantryman
who could take out a tank single-handedly. When he opens the blue-lighted
lantern on his belt, Randel goes into a trance. He doesn't feel fear,
he doesn't feel pain, or notice personal injury. He turns into an
emotionless tank-killing machine and though he often gets wounded, his
opponents always fare much worse.
While the first set contained mainly one and two episode stories, this
second half of the series delves a little more deeply into the problems
that the Empire is having and looks at the larger picture including Section
III's place in the whole mechanism of the Army. There are basically
two multi-part stories told in these last 12 episodes and they're much
more interesting and exciting than the first half, which is saying a lot.
In the first story arc Section III is ordered to clear out the city's
sewer system. It's filled with homeless people and a community farm
has been created to house and give the people work. Many of the squatters
are happy to relocate to the farm where they'll have food, shelter, and
be able to live out in the open once again, but some of them are stubborn.
Lt. Malvin soon discovers that a crew of men employed by a powerful local
lord are pushing drugs on the homeless and the addicts don't want to leave
their supply. When push comes to shove the drug dealers launch an
attack on Section III using advanced weapons. In addition the lord
sends down his ace: Hans, a HTT or High Temperature Trouper.
He's the last of the flame-thrower corps who were created by the same program
that made Randel.
The second story shows just how much tension there is between the populace
and the ruling classes. While Section III serves dinner to the homeless,
Alice attends a nearby ball with her sisters and other nobles. Some
of the homeless have come across some documents that prove the noble who
is hosting the ball has been embezzling money that was meant to go to the
war relief effort. They gather together a rag-tag group armed with
farming tools and storm the palace where the ball is being held with the
intent of killing everyone who is there.
When the Army hears about this, they decide to blockade the area and
let the masses slaughter some of the nobles. This will make it easy
for them to get a larger budget, and the nobles are a small price to pay
for more power. With only Section III in the area, it's up to them
to prevent a blood bath.
This second half focuses less on Randal kicking ass and more on the
forces that created him and the affect his war-time experiences have had
on his life. This is a very interesting and complex world,
and these episodes that concentrate on how things work and the plots and
schemes of those in power really flesh out the society. It also illustrates
the motivations of the main characters which makes them really come to
Of course there's still a lot of action and excitement in this second
part. The battle between Alice and the noble's guard in the final
episodes was very thrilling, and all of the conflicts involving the HTT
were great. The series just does a wonderful job of balancing
the dynamic fight sequences with some well written drama, and that's what
makes this an excellent series.
The 12 episodes that represent the second half of this series come on
two DVDs that are each stored in a thinpak case. The two cases in
turn are housed in an illustrated slipcase.
This show offers the choice of either the original Japanese audio in
stereo or an English dub in DD 5.1. I hate to choose between the
original language and a surround mix, but what ya gonna do? The 5.1
really came to life during the battle sequences but the rest of the time
there wasn't a lot of use made of the soundstage. The English actors
did a good job, and those people who like dubs will doubtlessly enjoy this
one. The Japanese track was fine also, with the audio action anchored
on the screen.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image looked very good. I noticed
a little aliasing in a couple of spots, but aside from that the picture
looked very good. The colors were nice and the lines were tight.
There's really nothing worth complaining about with the transfer or the
The extras were pretty meager... only a clean opening and closing.
Gonzo has created another great show. Pumpkin Scissors is a program
that really delivers; great characters, exciting action, and some mysterious
plots that keep viewers interested. This is one of those shows that
you pop in and before you know it you've watched the whole set. A
fun show that comes highly recommended.