Set during the fallout of the Great War, Pumpkin Scissors follows the exploits of idealistic young solider, Alice Malvin, and her cohorts within Section Three of the Army’s Intelligence Section; otherwise known as: Pumpkin Scissors.
Section Three perform duties of ‘war relief’ in order to assist the war torn towns they live in and travel to, assisting the downtrodden and forgotten as the nobles continue to live their lives of luxury; ignoring the plight of their fellow man.
What shame then that, despite its lofty ambitions and well intended thematic ideals, Pumpkin Scissors fails to captivate in any capacity. Across the series, which is comprised of 24 episodes, we are treated to a long series of unrelated incidents interspersed between the few episodes that do actually connect into one another. Even the eventual introduction of Government secrets and conspiracies, notably the Invisible Nine project, fails to capture the imagination. This is largely due to the slow, inconsistent pacing across the series and the plodding development that exists in any one of the filler episodes.
The balance is so off kilter it leaves the series feeling confused in what it’s actually trying to say thematically; it’s a common occurrence for the ideas of ‘nobility vs the downtrodden’ to get mixed up and confused, with the show frequently siding with the nobles as opposed to the underdog townsfolk.
The story, or lack thereof, would be somewhat forgivable if we had a cast of characters that were capable of being more than simply one dimensional, boring, repetitive examples of how not to create a compelling character. However, just as with the flat story, this is what we are treated to with every character that inhabits the world of Pumpkin Scissors. Underdeveloped would be an understatement in how incredibly flat and, ultimately, unlikable these characters are. Granted, there are moments, but only within their one note characterization. Forgettable character design doesn’t help in making any of these characters stand out, except for the lumbering Orland; who, incidentally, sounds remarkably like John Goodman in the English dub.
The nondescript European town that plays host to the Pumpkin Scissors adventures is designed with a key focus on historical detail and intricacies of the time, and so it is a shame that we don’t see too much of it throughout the series’ run. A missed opportunity to allow the town to, in essence, become a ‘character’ in itself.
Pumpkin Scissors frequently half explores interesting thematic ideas in how to deal with a post war society, but it’s lack of a consistent story as well as their overuse of filler episodes, coupled with their bland and uninteresting characters, leads it to becoming a genuine slog to watch. A mess of a series that was borne out of an interesting concept, it could have been so much more than what it is.
Steve Russell // @stevetendo
Pumpkin Scissors is out now, courtesy of MVM Entertainment