Everything comes down to a duel as Alice tries to find the right balance between classes and her position.
What They Say
As Section 1 prepares for a final lethal assault, a challenge to a duel turns into a dual betrayal! Now, with the clock clicking down to total destruction, Alice must fight for her life on multiple fronts while Randel is forced to finally confront his inner demon! But those are only the least of the Pumpkin Scissors' problems, because if they can't find a way to stop the drums of war, the result will be total Armageddon!
Contains episodes 21-24.
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.
While the previous covers featured pairings of the main cast of characters, this one is given over to just Alice as she’s sitting with her knee up in her beautiful dress and her hair done up. It’s a very soft look for her, definitely contrasting most of the images of her, and is a very mellow (and yellow!) way to round out the series. The background works in the blacks 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 FUNimation 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 a group piece of artwork that was originally intended to be the front cover done up 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)
Though it’s changed hands, Pumpkin Scissors finishes out its run in singles after a two sets of collections have already come out. Like similar releases now from FUNimation, this release is essentially an ADV Films production with just a few logo changes along the way and some different trailers put into place. Content wise and design wise, it’s what we’ve seen for the previous five volumes both within the package and without, so that gives us some very nice continuity to help finish it all out.
The final four episodes of Pumpkin Scissors work through the story arc that was started in the previous volume revolving around Alice’s marriage revelation and some of what’s going on with a group of commoners who are ready to lose their lives to make a stand. With so many losses going on after the war, their lives falling apart around them, they feel that there’s little they can do. When they do see an opportunity, and a group of second and third tier nobles who are enjoying themselves at all in such a climate, they have little hesitancy to pick up their pitchforks and more and head to the mansion to make their demands. They’re there solely to cause trouble and to deal out some justice as they see it to the Marquis Paulo who has embezzled money, money that would have only a little impact on their lives overall but is a symbol of what’s wrong with the country and its system at this time.
This confrontation is at the heart of matters here as Alice is challenging the Marquis to a duel so that she can try to assuage the commoners who want justice and her own sense of pride and honor in making sure nobody is hurt. She wants to see the Marquis face proper justice, not mob justice, and will put her life on the line to do so. The Marquis of course isn’t quite so good as she is and he puts forth his two attendants to fight for him, to be his swords. All of this starts a verbal game of sorts as Alice works out a way to placate everyone if she takes on the duel with the two men, keeping the Marquis included in it as well. Where the problem comes in is in that the two men are actually quite skilled fighters from Rodelia and they’re intent on taking her down without much of a challenge. And all everyone else can do is to look on and watch it all play out.
Well, except for Oland of course. The corporal can’t help but to get involved and this starts a small chain of events to the side that helps bring it all up to a proper conclusion while Alice fights against the other Rodelian. Much of the four episodes revolves around the back and forth between Alice and one of them while the corporal takes on the other, but it also focuses on watching the changing attitudes and opinions of both the commoners and the nobles as they watch and start to understand what this fight is all about. And what kind of person Alice really is as she talks a little here and there and shows off some new surprising skills. All of this occurs while some of the larger events start to play out outside of the mansion but only in shadowed form where we know that there are larger forces at work trying to shape and control things.
As much fun as this storyline is, since it does give everyone a chance to shine in their own way and work through some of the social issues going on, it’s not the best way to cap off this series. In fact, I almost wonder if they would have been better off keeping it to the smaller single episode stories instead, where we wouldn’t be so deep into something that in the end doesn’t have as big of an impact as it should for a series ending. Some of them do come across better here now that we know them, Alice in particular really defines herself and Oland really becomes a full member of the group after this, but it feels like a weak way to bring things to a close. It’s almost like it was stretched out more than it should have been.
In the end, what’s frustrating about Pumpkin Scissors is that it has laid down a good deal of groundwork for what it wants to do, adapting as it is from the manga, but it doesn’t have enough material to really carry through on it. The show managed to work well through most of it because it was doing standalone stories that showed us the country and how the State Section 3 folks were working to fix things as they could. Along the way, it brought in a larger story working through the background that came across as intriguing. And it also brought about the fascinating story of the corporal himself and his role in everything as one of the Anti Tank Troopers that shouldn’t exist. But none of this really has any payoff here. Pumpkin Scissors is all about the decent small stories but simply can’t capitalize on the bigger stories that it has in its back pocket. And that’ll keep it from really being anything more than a nice, simple series.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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.