Pumpkin Scissors Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Pumpkin Scissors

Pumpkin Scissors Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     June 04, 2008
Release Date: May 27, 2008

Pumpkin Scissors Vol. #4
© ADV Films

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.

The Review!
After teasing Martis a bit, Pumpkin Scissors begins its larger arc as corruption gets higher and higher within the government.

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. Pumpkin Scissors 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.

Consistency is usually key with most series these days and this one is no exception as Pumpkin Scissors brings in some basic character artwork against a familiar background. The combination of the colors is still a bit off-putting when you look at Alice's outfit and Oland doesn't exactly offset her any with his drab colors and the shadows moving over him. 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 fourth installment of Pumpkin Scissors feels like a bit of a change once you get past the first episode as the remaining three episodes are all part of one story. And that story doesn't finish out in this volume either, which is unlike earlier episodes which were mostly episodic. The show does manage to pull it off decently, but there are times where it does feel like it's dragging and not getting to the point because of all the repetition.

The opening story is actually quite a lot of fun even if it is really predictable. Martis and Oreldo are taking a bit of time off and hanging out with each other while avoiding all talk of work, war and so forth. It doesn't actually last long since Oreldo ends up finding a young lady to entice and he heads off with her. Martis continues to be the type who has trouble with women and just doesn't even try much anymore. Naturally, he ends up meeting a rather bossy young girl who essentially instructs him to do as she says as they go in search of a particular hot dog stand. Of course, the young lady is really a visiting princess from another country and Martis has no clue since he can't believe the way she is or references herself. The episode runs through the standard gags and plot elements, but it feels so nice and natural with the way Martis is about it that you can't help but enjoy it. The interesting parts do come in the world building side as we learn about Princess Settiam's country and the way the family members all plot against each other to ascend the throne, which is the tradition in that country. It goes a long way towards explaining why she is the way she is and why Martis is a good fit for her.

Once past that fairly light episode, Pumpkin Scissors shifts into its next major arc, one that starts to introduce very slowly something bigger out there. An investigation into the waterways below the city has Section 3 coming in to help people move out to a state farm where they can get some work and try to rebuild their lives. It's all very positive, if somewhat forceful, but it's the kick needed to help these people out. What surprises the Section 3 group is that very few of them want to leave and insist on staying. Even worse is that employees from the waterworks company are milling about down there and intimidating the rabble. That leads to a few dustups between the two groups and Alice discovers that the waterworks guys are actually selling Himmel, an illegal drug that many are addicted to.

This has Alice taking the waterworks guys in on charges only to find them being released on bail within hours if not less by the man behind the company. This actually goes on during all three episodes to one extent or another as they're continually brought in and set free. It becomes an accent point to everything else going on which ranges in some very different directions. The first is that Section 1 is actively investigating what's going on as well but they aren't interested in the drugs, but rather something else that's not really being disclosed yet. They're far more aggressive than Section 3 but they don't make a move for quite a while. And when they do, it turns brutal and cold which goes completely against how Alice intends to try to make war reparations.

The other point that comes into it is that the man behind the company, Mion, has someone very interesting working for him. Known only as Hans, he's in a special protective suit of armor that allows him to utilize a flamethrower, a weapon that was effectively banned from production within the Empire because of how inhumane it is. Hans is eternally cold and only feels right when he gets to use his flamethrower, but he isn't wild about it or psychotic. He is becoming strangely unhinged though and does whatever he's told to do by Mion, who in turn is serving another man under a group known as the Society of the Silver Wheel. It's there that the drugs are coming from and the purpose of which is still pretty much unknown. A few decent teases make it into the last episode here that point to the Society becoming bigger in the next two volumes though.

Combining that with having Hans be part of the mysterious 908 HTT group, there is a lot to like about the larger mythos being built around the series. The strange and unusual 90X sections that we find out about are fascinating in how they're done and this one is no exception as Oland learns exactly what's gone into making an HTT soldier. With his own life having been twisted by things, he gets very intent about it and wants to make things right. It's also interesting that Alice seems to be sensitive to those that come from these groups as her first encounter with Hans reminds her instantly of her first encounter with Oland. Her sense of justice is rightly piqued by these men and meeting someone who gives her that same feeling gives her plenty of reason to pause.

In Summary:
The change from mostly episodic to a lengthier story is certainly welcome here, but Pumpkin Scissors still feels like a series that doesn't have that amazing hook it needs to really draw you in. Everything about it is really solid and competent, but it lacks that spark to bring it up to the next level. A lot of it is just style as it's a very drab and somewhat depressing show in some ways, but it feels like there is a component that's still missing. It is a good show overall though and the small background storyline movements continue to bring things forward a bit as each new piece of the puzzle either sheds more light on events or teases about what the reality will be in the end. This volume was a lot of fun overall, even when it drags on a bit, as the characters and their interactions have become quite familiar and enjoyable now. Pumpkin Scissors isn't a show that will be long remembered, but it's a good way to spend some time.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
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.


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