Pumpkin Scissors Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: D+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 211
  • ISBN: 978-0-345-50119-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Pumpkin Scissors

Pumpkin Scissors Vol. #01

By Gary Thompson     January 15, 2008
Release Date: November 26, 2007

Pumpkin Scissors Vol.#01
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ryotaro Iwanga
Translated by:Ikoi Hiroe
Adapted by:Ikoi Hiroe

What They Say
The bitter war between the Empire and the Republic of Frost has ended, but three years after the cease-fire, the Empire is still ravaged by starvation and disease, and bandits terrorize the populace. Can the Imperial Army State Section III, aka Pumpkin Scissors, stop a renegade force bent on wanton destruction? And who is the mysterious stranger helping Pumpkin Scissors?

The Review
Since you were a child you have always been told not to judge a book by its cover - this is a simple maxim that conveys the message that looks can be deceiving, for even the most disgusting of facades can contain the most significant substance. This is monumentally true in the case of the cover of this volume. Even though the actual substance of this manga isn't going to be changing any lives, the hideousness of this cover should only be reserved for books so bad that they err on the side of sinful. Neon green should never be the primary color of a background on a book cover, let alone the only color of that background.

Do not blame Del Rey for this, though, because, aside from the English title, this is the original cover. So this marks the first time that I have ever sincerely hoped that the cover would have been changed when it came to America.

That aside, the rest of the packaging is quite nice. There is a thorough and informative explanation of honorifics, there are actually page numbers throughout, a decent set of translator's notes, and some well-selected preview pages of the next volume that actually make you want to find out what's going on.

IWANAGA's art is neither good nor bad, but fits firmly in that area of mediocrity that makes you almost certain that you have seen it somewhere else before.

For the most part, everything is competent, but that's about as far as it should be taken. Aside from Randel Oland's constantly changing proportions, the character design gets the job done in that each person is recognizable from one another, though they aren't necessarily unique.

There are a few panels that show glimmers of hope for future volumes because they are actually nice to look at and have a sense of excitement to them, but those are few and far between.

This facet of the manga is done in a manner typical of Del Rey, which, in this case, is a good thing. Honorifics are intact and sound effects are translated next to the original Japanese. The translation is done well and the adaptation keeps the dialog flowing. The translator's notes in the back help explain a few things from the book as well as the thought process for why certain decisions were made the way they were. This is, of course, always appreciated and highly encouraged. One thing that is odd, though, is that instead of translating the German, they leave the German in and then have an interpretation of what it means after it. Why they didn’t use the actual translations, or the descriptions of these jobs that they talk about in the translator’s notes (which I think are universally better) or any combination of any of them is beyond me.

Pumpkin Scissors is the story of a military platoon (called Pumpkin Scissors, naturally) that is in charge of war relief and reconstruction after a war that went on far too long and devastated people and places alike. Part of what they find themselves doing is rounding up pugilists who, even three years after the war ended, are living the only way they knew how for the last few years of their lives. While out on a mission, the first main character, 2nd Lieutenant Alice Malvin, commanding field officer of Pumpkin Scissors, runs into the second main character, Randel Oland, a veteran of the war that everyone is trying to recover from. It turns out that in this town where they meet, there is a rogue tank battalion terrorizing the town. Randel, attracted to the idea of helping to bring peace to a region he helped tear apart, joins the Pumpkin Scissors in eliminating this threat. Later, he officially joins the section and becomes the newest member of Pumpkin Scissors - dedicated to healing the destruction and remnants of a terrible war.

Despite the promises of its premise, this first volume of Pumpkin Scissors has nothing new, unique, or even all that interesting to offer. Everything in here is pedestrian and you have seen it myriad times before. This is not always a problem as there are numerous examples of other manga that have taken something contrived and made something extraordinary out of it, but this really isn't the case here. As I said before, there are some good ideas put forth, such as the story taking place after a huge, cataclysmic war (how often does that happen?), the secret operations troops such as A.T.Ts like Randel and the chemical weapons brigade that have been shunned by their government in order to avoid the fallout of acknowledging their existence, as well as the mission of the Pumpkin Scissors being one of peace. These are all very neat concepts that have the potential to lead to a unique story. But really, there is enough artillery around that there might as well be a war still going on, almost all of the brigade's assignments are military in nature, and their resolutions are won through force. So really, you have a military unit that goes out and fights another military or paramilitary units, and the good guys win because they have a better weapon in Randel. And Randel, being an A.T.T (Anti-tank Trooper), practically guarantees that each assignment that they have will involve a tank that Randel will take out in order to save the day, or at least there will be something that he can solve by shooting at it with his anti-tank gun. So in effect, the story nullifies the unique elements of its premise with its practice. At least so far.

This is a first volume and things will change for sure – there certainly is room for it, and there still is the promise of secret troops and shady government dealings. The Empire has shown itself to be untrustworthy already and this will almost certainly come into conflict with Alice's enthusiastically loyal and innately trustworthy nature. At least hopefully. There's room for improvement and the potential for something special to happen, it's just not here. Not in this volume.

I didn't feel much for this as I read it; there just wasn't anything to really get into. I know there are a lot of people out there who like this series, and based on that as well as the potential events that I feel are waiting in the wings, I'm still looking forward to seeing where this is going to go. I would like to see more of the unique elements that I thought were coming before I read this book, but I am keeping myself open to the unexpected. But from this volume alone, there's not that much to get excited about because you have already read this book many, many times.


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