In an alternate world similar to 1930s Europe, a horrific war finally ended after 11 years. Now in peace, problems plague the land. Starvation is widespread, and ex-soldiers prey on the less fortunate. To help relieve the suffering of its citizens, the empire establishes Section 3 (aka the Pumpkin Scissors) led by lieutenant Alice Malvin. The few soldiers in Section 3 are anything but hardened veterans, and rarely taken seriously. A wandering ex-soldier named Randel becomes the newest member. While imposing in stature, he has a kind heart and seems nearly harmless. A stark contrast with the horrors he's lived through. Randel harbors a frightening secret, but perhaps he can use it help others instead of destroy.
It's pretty common for an anime to feature a "nice guy" with the ability to become an ass kicker. Randel certainly fills the role, but I found myself indifferent about him (even if the English dub voice of Kenta Miyake fit him exceptionally well). What I liked about Randel, was his transformation when using the lantern. This is highlighted in a dream reminiscent of nightmarish WWII propaganda films in episode 4. It's not just the dramatic music, or the crazed look in his eye. The style and relentless mantra of "Toten Sei" (Kill Them) echoing from the lantern really drives intensity. Pumpkin Scissors has little else going for it though.
Characters are based off solid concepts, but go in the wrong direction. In Randal's case he's a nice guy with a tortured soul, but is too much of a dope. The blond ladies-man preys on any woman that catches his eye, UNLESS she has problems. Then he's chivalrous and moral. Most problematic is Lt. Alice who never misses an opportunity to launch into long winded self righteous speeches. She somehow gets in the way of her own story, which fairly complex and could be good otherwise. Episodes consist of a problem, then Lt. Alice arrives with the "divine light" BS speech and it all works out.
Initially Pumpkin Scissors appears to be mostly about Randal; who he really is, what he formerly did, and what he's trying to do in Section 3. It doesn't go that way, or any direction really. Worse still, Pumpkin Scissors drags two major stories out to agonizing lengths. And then? There's no conclusion. I'd be more forgiving if were only 12 episodes in length, the filler was enjoyable, or if it at least finished.
Pumpkin Scissors isn't a total waste of time, but takes too long to produce mediocre results. If they ever produce a second season I'll consider upgrading this rating, but right now the anime is marooned in a sea of filler with no resolution.
Roland: If I'm a killer and a monster so be it. I'll just keep having the nightmares. I'll protect you with everything I have. No matter how ugly it is. If that's my purpose, I must embrace it.
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reviewed by archen in 2013