The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Pumpkin Scissors

Title: Pumpkin Scissors
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Gonzo/AIC
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2006 – 18 Mar 2007

Synopsis: It’s been three years since the war has ended and much of Empire is still in ruin. Section III in the Imperial Army, nicknamed ‘Pumpkin Scissors’ has been issued the duty of helping victims of war rebuild, aiding them under the banner of ‘war relief’, but much of the rest of the army considers them a joke. After an unexpected encounter, retired soldier Randel Oland joins the section as a corporal. However, Oland’s history and role in the war remains a mystery to the others in his unit.

The Highlights
Fillers: Ruins much of the series.
Characters: Intriguing, but not completely developed.
Plot: Intriguing, but not completely developed.
Animation: Typical Gonzo… whatever that means.
Action: Really should have been better.

Most of Pumpkin Scissors’ problems stem from the fact that, when it first started, the manga on which it was based was still only in its early stages. In this case, the desire on the producer’s part to keep the anime’s plot from diverting too significantly from the path followed by its source material and the necessity to continue releasing an episode every week meant that the series creator’s were caught in a rather precarious situation. The result is an unfortunate waste of what could have been an intriguing set-up: almost all of the first half (and a significant portion of the second half) is wasted on unentertaining episodic filler and the series ends at a point at which the plot is clearly only in its intermediate stages while the characters, interesting as they are, are sorely underdeveloped.

It’s the fillers that really cripple Pumpkin Scissors, though. Only very few of them are entertaining, even less make any sort of significant impact on the characters and none of them advance the plot. The mission-of-the-week formula gets repetitive and frustrating very quickly, and some episodes are even driven by some ludicrous examples of logic, the snowy mountain episode being the most obvious instance.

It’s nothing new of Gonzo to cut its characters from tried-and-true molds, but some of them present a few rather interesting flaws and dilemmas, and almost all of them could have easily benefited from time in the spotlight and a chance to develop profoundly. And, while most of them do get at least one episode to themselves, the series ends with all of them only in the early stages of character development, with none of their personal issues anywhere near resolved. The exact same can be said of the plot: the series ends with a potentially interesting plot cut well short of anywhere near resolved. Numerous questions regarding the conspiracy mystery which should have been the story’s focus (and probably will be in future volumes of the manga) are posed, but none of them are answered, which will inevitably infuriate most of the audience.

The animation is mostly decent, but noticeably fluctuates. For an action series, I wouldn’t say the action sequences are that great: many of the important fights are battles of attrition, which can become rather dull at times. The fights involving Oland are more interesting and generally over quicker, but they follow an obvious formula: blue light comes on – Oland takes out his Doorknocker – trash gets taken out.

Many of the problems with Pumpkin Scissors story could easily be rectified by a second season (obvious provided it’s executed better than this one), but I’m not convinced this series has the popularity to warrant one. But even a second season wouldn’t allow me to forgive a series riddled with flaws. Pumpkin Scissors unfortunately features many of the errors in story-telling that I’d naively hoped Gonzo were finished with two or so years ago. There are a few glimpses of a good story here, but glimpses don’t satisfy me.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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