ADV Films // 2007 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard // November 21st, 2007
"Some casualties of war never heal"
Following the signing of the armistice ending the Great War, Imperial Army State Section III, a.k.a. Pumpkin Scissors, are created to help the war relief effort. During its mission, the group encounters Randel Oland, a soldier with a mysterious past.
Three years after the Great War has ended, 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin leads Section III, a small but determined group, in an effort to re-establish some form of normality to the war torn country on the behalf of the Royal Empire by taking out rogue soldiers who plague the populace and aiding in the reconstruction. Seen by some as ineffectual and by others as a tool of propaganda, the group soon meets war veteran Randel Oland, a member of the mysterious 901 anti-tank trooper unit. Adding to their woes is a mysterious organization with advanced weaponry and the willingness to use it.
Volume 1 of Pumpkin Scissors contains the first four episodes of the
Episode 01: "The Invisible 9"
Episode 02: "War Relief Unit"
Episode 03: "For That is a Precious Thing"
Episode 04: "The Cracking Portrait"
A poor start can be hard to shake off, and Pumpkin Scissors is great proof of that. Initially following a "bad guy of the week" format, the show fails to offer enough insight into its characters to really grab the attention of the viewer. Like some sort of post war A-Team, Section III spends its time wandering from village to village taking on a different nut job who happens to have control of a tank and is using it to terrorize the locals.
It is during one of these missions that they encounter Randel Oland, a giant of a man with a penchant for shooting people in the face, point blank, with a handgun big enough to make Hellboy jealous. Of course rather than worry the man is perhaps a little unstable and capable of going from mild mannered to psycho faster than Christopher Walken, the group invites Randel to join them.
From a group of German soldiers who unleash a chemical weapon on a small village to a gloriously over-the-top Viscount who hunts down his people in a tank in a sadistic game of cat and mouse, the group usually handles things the same way. Group leader, 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin will insist the bad guy stand down, Face wannabe Oreldo will make a few quips, Martis will...well not do much at all and then Randel will shoot a few people in the face. In fact, apart from the Viscount in episode 02 the first three episodes are quite forgettable, barring the scenes where Randel opens the mysterious blue lantern on his hip (referred to by one character as a "furnace that feeds on that soldier's soul") and in a zombie like state relentlessly marches towards the enemy sure of his impending doom.
Thankfully, the fourth episode begins to tie events together, offering a glimpse of the bigger picture. The apparently non-related situations the group find themselves in during the first three episodes are revealed to be part of the same whole and a secretive organization behind advanced weaponry get moved closer to the centre of the story. The fourth episode also deals with Randel far better, offering hints at his background through a series of brilliantly realized dream sequences. It is this episode that elevates the series to previously unreached heights.
It seems clear the series will revolve around Randel. Though a man of few words, he has a certain charm about him. Clearly yearning for a quiet existence following the horrors of war, he soon comes to realize that the very things that made him a great warrior during the war can be used to help others and sustain peace. Sadly, rather than use Randel to make subtle observations on the effects of conflict, the writers insist on heavy handed speeches where characters ponder the futility of war which begins to grate after a while.
Though rarely spectacular, the video is solid and technically sound with only occasional banding in night shots offering any sort of problem. The animation is of a reasonable standard but is marred by some CGI work that stands out too much from the rest of the picture, which is a little flat. The voice cast is a pretty mixed bag which ranges from the uninspired and generic to the brilliantly over the top and almost camp.
A bunch of trailers and the chance to see the title sequences without the credits are all that is offered by way of extras.
Despite its initial failings, the fourth episode does offer hints of more depth and greater things to come. Questions are asked that may be enough to bring viewers back most revolve around Randel's past and the power unleashed by his blue lantern.
Old enough to remember when getting hold of any anime at all was a thankless task, I'm heartened to see the gulf of anime titles that DVD has brought to the market. With the huge selection of titles now available new releases need something special to stand out. Episodic releases such as these need to hook the viewer with the first volume in order to maintain an audience, and this is where Pumpkin Scissors struggles.
This Judge hands out a suspended sentence, dependant on the results of Volume 2.
Review content copyright © 2007 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Opening Animation
* Clean Closing Animation
* Official Site