What’s worse than dealing with the tragedy of what’s going on in the capital? The revelation that Alice is planning to marry, of course!
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.
This series features a solid bilingual presentation that does a good job of using the atmosphere of the series both in the creepy quiet moments as well as the big action scenes. The original Japanese stereo mix is encoded at 224 kbps and has a good design across the forward soundstage. Depth is well placed, directionality is fairly regular across it and it has a fair bit of overall impact when needed. The English 5.1 mix is bumped up to 448 kbps and adds a bit more in terms of bass and impact as well as some enhanced directionality. In listening to both language tracks, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
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. Having seen so many Gonzo series in the last couple of years I really wasn't sure what to expect anymore in terms of visual presentation. <I>Pumpkin Scissors</I> is fairly traditional for them in that there isn't any special processing going on or visual tricks to heighten the look of the series. It's not plainly or poorly animated but it doesn't have some of their usual signature standout aspects. Colors look solid and rich when needed while also having a murky and dank look when appropriate. Cross coloration is very minimal with only a few brief instances alongside some aliasing. There's very little visible in terms of noise in the background or within the characters themselves which results in a very smooth and pleasing presentation.
The pairings are once again present within the <I>Pumpkin Scissors</I> cover design as it features a kind of unusual position/express shot for Alice while hunks is behind her looking over his shoulder with a sort of amused “oh, you kids…” kind of look. The background works in the black and orange shades while including a rather small logo along the upper left corner. The bottom strip contains the volume number and title as well as the Gonzo and ADV Films logos. The back cover, a sideways piece, featuring several shots from the show at a different angle while below is more orange in which the summary and production information is contained. The very bottom has a decent long technical grid that covers everything you need to find on the fly. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu is done in theme rather nicely if in a simple way as it features a file folder from which various items have spilled out from. The single piece of artwork is that of the character artwork from the cover done as a photo. The piece of paper clipped on top of the folder has the navigation strip while a few other odds and ends are strewn about the screen. The music used is perfect for the setup here as it builds up nicely before it starts to cycle over again. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets.
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)
The shift within the series from the relatively standalone pieces from early on to the lengthier arc we’ve been in now for a few episodes has been welcome. The individual stories were interesting enough to be sure and they helped to establish a lot of the groundwork of the series, but it’s these kinds of episodes that help to push it forward with a stronger narrative about what they really want to cover. With more time for the characters to react to the situations they’re facing, they become far more interesting and engaging.
The storyline that spills over to this volume starts off on a strong note as well since we were left with Alice wielding a rather interesting double bladed weapon against the strong arm portion of Section 1. Their intent to clean up the mess and take down Section 3 along with it is moving along fairly well, but they’re still stuck on really taking out Section 3 simply because they haven’t gotten permission to do so yet. That has left for an amusing situation as they try and bring down Alice as she defends everyone else. Her skills have been interesting to watch over the course of the series as you can tell she’s competent and can come up with different angles to things, but it’s rare for her to go all out like this and to take down the other side without issue.
Not too surprising is that the part of the show that she’s defending is equally as interesting as we get more background on Hans and how he ended up in the situation he’s in. So many of those that ended up in various experiments similar to Oland have fared far worse than he is, at least physically and psychologically. Oland certainly has his issues but he at least comes across as stable and can fit into society well, at least until something just drives up his sense of justice and he has to do something. The final encounter between the two men is rather beautifully done, though not surprising in how it turns out, as Oland is intent on trying to save whoever he can even at great personal cost.
The downside to the large storyline is that it does end relatively the same as the individual stories as it does just put more pieces into place. A few things are a bit more obvious now, but it’s still relatively the same as what has come before. Only now the scope of the corruption and intrigue is a fair bit bigger. What better way to compensate for all of this new material than by putting in some restrained elements about Alice getting married? With her being part of the nobility, it’s played into the storylines in general on different levels. Her life as a noble hasn’t had as much dissection, though there have been scenes here and there that have her dealing with family members. Her attempts to escape certain things by joining the military certainly hasn’t helped too much though as she’s still in line to do what needs to be done for the family.
What’s interesting is what’s learned about the marriage itself and how she’s going along with it. The information regarding her younger brother who will assume the role of head of the family is something that would indicate she doesn’t need to marry for political reasons any longer. Yet she’s still adamant about going through with it because up until he does take the role, she has the role itself. When she makes an almost offhand comment about that’s how she lives her life, it’s something that really says quite a great deal about her. Up until she cannot do anything else for a particular situation, she will do all she can in order to set things right. It’s a very simple view and one that’s incredibly hard to live by, but it’s quite profound and explains a lot about her. Comments like these are all the more interesting when you view the series again as well since you’re able to pull them out more.
As much fun as the show has been with the lengthier story, the problems of the show itself are still apparent. Problems may be too strong of a word though as it’s more that it lacks a hook to really make you come back and watch it eagerly. It’s a well done production, it has some intriguing world ideas (and is reminiscent of Fullmetal Alchemist in some ways regarding the settings) but it’s not able to capitalize on it all to draw in the audience. With its manga origins, it’s easy to see this being a good couple of chapters in between other stronger serials running in the magazine, or probably aimed at an older audience that wants something a little deeper. Sadly, it hasn’t been able to become deep and intriguing. It’s a solid show with its production values and all, but the actual content itself is mediocre in general.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.