NB: Some of my earliest blogs no longer have their accompanying images but enjoy the copy!
It’s time for another anime DVD giveaway, courtesy of the wonderful guys at MVM Entertainment! If you’re a fan of military series like ‘Full Metal Alchemist’ that have that perfect mix of comedy and emotional plot, ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is a must-watch. The competition details are at the bottom of this post, so I like to assume you’ll all do this properly and read the review first. Or, you’re sold by me comparing the series to ‘Full Metal Alchemist’ and you’ll have scrolled down already…
‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is set three years after the end of a war between the Empire and the Republic of Frost, in which the Empire hastily signed a ceasefire and is now trying to rebuild a society blighted by poverty, corruption and plague. ‘Pumpkin Scissors’, a branch of the Imperial army, is charged with issuing war relief. This should involve mundane projects such as rebuilding roads and issuing rations but this all changes when they meet Randel Orlando, a former Anti-Tank Trooper. Orlando is the product of medical experiments of soldiers during the war and has the rather freakish ability to destroy tanks, so the platoon’s work suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous.
‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is based on the ongoing manga by Ryotara Iwanaga, which was originally serialised in 2002. The director of the series is Katsuhito Akiyama, whose most famous other works include ‘Guyver: The Bioboosted Armour’ and ‘Appleseed: Ex Machina’, so if you’re familiar with your anime you should have some idea of what to expect: giant weapons, action and super powers. Gonzo, one of Japan’s greatest anime production companies, is also behind the project, so that’s another big selling point for anime connoisseurs.
The thing I loved most about ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ is the cast, which is pretty well-rounded and the source of the comedic relief. Alice L. Marvin is a member of one of the noble thirteen families who shirks off the lady-like role expected of her in favour of leading the Pumpkin Scissors platoon. Although engaged to another noble, she is constantly at odds with her two older sisters who keep trying to put her in pretty dresses. Orlando, on the surface, seems more like the BFG with a love for stray cats rather than a tank destroyer but, on activating the ghostly lantern at his belt, goes pretty crazy. His memories of the war and search for answers leads the second half of the series. The other two main members of the platoon are Oreldo, whose charm, handsomeness and lecherousness actually come in useful and save the day on several occasions, and warrant officer Matis, who only wishes he could be as cool as Oreldo but drives army cars pretty well. There’s also Captain Hanks, who is an absolute boss and enjoys antagonising the higher-ups, Stekkin, whose main role seems to be annoying me, and Mercury, a dog who delivers emergency messages and likes biting people.
So, what does ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ even mean? According to Alice, the troop must “face the threat of corrupt people who protect themselves behind lies, power, and money like the rind of pumpkin”, and their platoon must act like a pair of scissors cutting through those layers and delivering justice for the people. This message becomes a lot clearer as the series progresses and the extent of this corruption is revealed.
The first half of the series introduces our main characters and the setting, meaning that each episode tends to look at one mission or a particular character. It gets a lot more gritty in the second half when the audience learns a lot more about the war that took place three years ago and the scars it left behind. The reason for this transition is Orlando, whose mysterious past and certain members of the platoon’s initial suspicion of him drag Pumpkin Scissors deeper into the corruption right at the top of the army.
My only complaint about this series is that it ends on a massive cliffhanger and, as far as I’m aware, there are no plans for a second series. This, of course, means that if you really get into the story you will want to pick up the manga afterwards. There is, however, plenty of action, explosions, character development and comedy to make the anime an excellent introduction to the series. At 26 episodes, it’s a decent length to ensure the story is told properly and the audience are invested. I give ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ 8.5 out of 10!
OK, on to the bit you really care about…
We’re doing it slightly differently this time around, as I’ll be in the moors of Scotland next week and won’t be able to approve blog posts. Simply like MVM Entertainment on Facebook and send an email to sophiesjapanblogATlive.co.uk with your name and postal address. Entries close at 9pm Sunday 22nd September and the winner will be contacted that evening. You must live in the UK to enter!
If you can’t wait that long, or want to support the anime industry, you can head over to the MVM shop and buy it now.