Pumpkin Scissors (パンプキン·シザーズ Panpukin Shizāzu?) is a manga created and authored by Ryoutarou Iwanaga. Originally serialized in Magazine GREAT in 2002 it was later moved to Monthly Shonen Magazine in October 2006. The manga has been licensed by Del Rey. An anime adaptation of Pumpkin Scissors has been released, produced by Gonzo and AIC, which began airing on October 2, 2006 across several Japanese television stations and ended with the 24th episode on March 19, 2007. The series was originally licensed to the North American market by ADV Films. In 2008 it became one of over thirty titles transferred from ADV Films to FUNimation, the main distributor of anime in the English speaking world.
Set in a region strongly resembling Western Europe, in which a catastropic war has just ended similar to that of the two world wars that occurred in the early parts of the 20th Century, the Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost have declared a ceasefire to end the war indefinitely. The Empire is plagued by starvation, and pestilence, with former soldiers turning to thievery, banditry and others forms of crime, forming into gangs to survive the post-war period. To aid the people of the Empire in the war relief effort, the Imperial Army State Section III, also known as the Pumpkin Scissors unit, are established.
The name for the group was an idea from one of its officers, the 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin, according to her, in their war relief effort they must "face the threat of corrupt people who protect themselves behind lies, power, and money like the rind of a pumpkin", and Section III must act like a pair of scissors cutting through those layers and delivering justice for the people. This is a constant message which ripples throughout the series. The unit are, however, berated constantly, considered propaganda tools used by the government, and are seen as an insult to the war relief effort by many within the army as well, as the Empire's citizens. Randel Oland, a veteran soldier with a mysterious past, joins their ranks and steadily the Pumpkin Scissors unit begins to be taken more seriously as the anime's plotline begins to unravel.
- Voiced by: Chou (Japanese), Marty Fleck (English)
- The commanding officer and administrator of the Pumpkin Scissors. He issues mission orders and provides a calm, steadying presence, which balances Lieutenant Malvin's impetuous nature. His personality is relaxed and informal.
2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin
- The main female protagonist. Second in command and field leader of the Pumpkin Scissors. An inexperienced soldier of noble origin who graduated in the academy just before the ceasefire (the ceasefire was announced literally in the middle of the graduation ceremony for the class of officers she was in at military academy); Alice's hot-tempered and reckless demeanor tends to sometimes put her and her subordinates in danger. She has a strong sense of duty and justice and tries to live up to her family's military traditions, contrary to her father and sisters' belief that she must assume a more feminine behavior. While she is the current heir to her family, she will likely lose this position once her younger brother comes of age.
- Contrary to her subordinates who always engage in combat with firearms, Alice's weapon of choice is a short-sword with her family crest engraved on it, but in some occasions she shows her true skills in battle when brandishing her special weapon, a long double-bladed cavalry sword called Mahne. Another curious trait of hers is that sometimes she feels chills on her neck when something very good or very bad is about to happen, but in the anime her chills signify the first encounter of an Invisible 9 troop. Alice is engaged to another noble, Lionel Taylor, who apparently supports her ideals. However, there are apparently romantic feelings between her and Randel Oland as hinted throughout the series.
Warrant Officer Martis
- Graduated as one of the top students of the academy, the slight, bespectacled Martis provides the voice of reason and caution when out in the field. It is also hinted from one of the episodes that he knows very good defensive-based martial arts.
Warrant Officer Oreldo
- Childhood friend of Machs, Oreldo is a handsome young soldier who fancies himself a ladies' man, yet seems to be something of a player. He is very clever, resourceful and an expert at picking locks. His background has yet to be fully explained, but he seemed to be a street urchin before joining the military.
Sergeant Major Lili Stecchin
- She is the longest serving member of the "Pumpkin Scissors" unit. Little is known about her past except that she was a part of the military band in her previous post. She serves as Captain Hunks' aide and is also responsible for taking care of Mercury. She is elated to no end that with the recruitment of Randel into their unit, she finally outranks someone (other than the messenger-dog, Mercury) and has "an underling!"
Corporal Randel Oland
- The main male protagonist. A retired soldier who joined the Pumpkin Scissors to aid in their war relief effort. He was part of the secret 901 anti-tank-trooper unit, which basically consisted of foot soldiers trained to take down enemy tanks by themselves. This unit, known also as the "Gespenster Jäger" (German for "Ghost Hunter") was part of the "Invisible 9". They are specially trained to ignore pain and fear in order to engage tanks and armored vehicles at point blank range. While the division was secret, all tank crews were warned to be wary of soldiers carrying a blue lantern.
- Despite his impressive stature (probably over seven feet), and a body riddled with scars, Randel's nature most of the time is kindhearted and ingenuous. But when he is in trouble he turns on his blue-steel lantern marked "901-ATT", and he becomes a fearless and vicious combatant. He is capable of defeating even heavily-armored foes with his 13 mm anti-tank gun, known as the "door knocker" (highly reminiscent of a Thompson Contender pistol). Later shown to use another weapon which is a giant pair of shears, flashbacks showed it to be used to rip apart the metal plating armour of tanks to get to the pilot crews.
- Due to his reckless style of combat brought on from his conditioning/training to iqnore pain and fear, Randel is frequently hospitalized during the series. These hospital stays lead to a running gag about the size of the corporal's penis, and the inability of the hospital staff to get a urine container that will not break.
- Voiced by: Kazuki Ogawa (Japanese), Smokey DeLange (Episode 1-4), George Manley (Episode 7+) (English)
- Often referred to as "Merc" (Mer-kun in the Japanese version). The platoon's messenger-dog, who has a bad habit of biting peoples' heads. He was demoted from Corporal to Courier Private First Class for biting an officer in Episode 1. He is very fast, reliable and sensitive to the emotions of his team. Their reaction to a particularly unpleasant officer (Major Connery) lead to the previously mentioned incident. He resembles a Labrador Retriever.
- While Merc is normally seen as a friendly dog with the members of Section III, when events warrant it, he shows himself to be what the commoners referred to as a "military hound," and can even disarm opponents.
First Lieutenant Webner
- The officer in charge of the technology development unit of the army intelligence bureau.
- A high-ranking noble who is engaged to Alice, though he seems to have more sinister purposes up his sleeve.
- The commanding officer for Section I of the Army Intelligence bureau. Compared to Captain Hunks, his personality is cold-hearted. However, along with Captain Hunks, he also seems to know about the secrets kept within the army. He often complains to Captain Hunks about Section III interfering with his operations, but usually backs down eventually.
- The first minor antagonist of the series. He was a leader of a Chemical Tactics Trooper (CTT) squad. Oland killed him with his "door knocker". As a bandit, he called himself Grauwolfe or Wolfe after his unit's codename.
- A High Temperature Trooper (HTT) who is indebted to the secret organization "Silver Wheel". As an HT Trooper he and his fellow soldier were given a flame thrower and a protective suit. The suit however did not protect against the flames, a fact the Kauplan Institute covered up by filling the suits with a fluid impregnated with analgesics. After the cease-fire, Hans's fellow soldiers took off their suits, ignorant of their life-threatening burns, and perished. Hans, having delayed taking off his suit, realized that to remove the suit was to die and spent the years since the cease-fire inside it.
The military rank insignia and titles used by Section III and the rest of the army is based on the rank insignia used by the Japanese Army before 1945.
(少佐 - shō sa)
(大尉 - tai i)
| First Lieutenant|
(中尉 - chū i)
| Second Lieutenant|
(少尉 - shō i)
| Warrant Officer|
(准尉 - jun i)
| Sergeant Major|
(曹長 - sō chō)
(伍長 - go chō)
| Private First Class|
(上等兵 - jōtō hei)
During the adaptation of Pumpkin Scissors for the North American market, series adapter George Manley (a veteran of the United States armed forces) chose to interpret the rank of "jun-i" using the designation of "sublieutenant." His reasoning for this change was the fact that in English speaking countries, a warrant officer usually designates a senior enlisted member who has received specialized training to function as an officer without the legal office of true "command" as defined by the Geneva Convention. In the United States, a warrant officer is a separate officer grade, functioning in the capacity of a technical "officer in charge," still answering to the command of a commissioned officer. In the services of former British Commonwealths, the warrant officer grades are reserved for the top two enlisted grades (company sergeant major, regimental sergeant major and their associated technical grades) and is not a separate officer grade. Manley believed that addressing inexperienced officers such as Martis and Oreldo in such a manner may cause confusion among those persons who are familiar with the warrant officer processes in the constituent countries for which the adaptation was produced.
The officers carrying the rank of "jun-i" in this series are and were all recent graduates of the Imperial Military Academy, and are probationary commissioned officers training to be promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant (sho-i). This implies a different role, similar to the manner in which officers of the modern British Royal armed forces graduate from their officer training courses or academies and still hold a probationary rank (officer cadet for the Army, midshipman for the Navy). Also the precedent for this stretches further back in history, before the days of military academies and other officer training programs. Captains and lieutenants of the infantry would seize upon a promising young soldier with a good education, take him under their wing and designate him as the "ensign" of the company. Likewise in the Navy, a similar role was given to the "midshipman," an officer in training, who stood the "mid watch" in the middle of the night while the captain and his lieutenant rested for the day's sailing ahead. The role of a "jun-I" is far more similar to this role than that of any current warrant officer and may have been mis-translated because the rank is technically higher than that of a sergeant major, but lower than that of a second lieutenant. Ranks in the United States Army that fall between these two ranks are normally the warrant officer ranks.
It is for this reason that Manley chose the closest English language equivalent, the British Royal Navy's designator of "acting sublieutenant," given to deserving midshipmen, and adapted the rank name for use in Pumpkin Scissors. The closest and most accurate translation, "ensign," was believed to be another potential confusion-causing interpretation since this was also the name of the lowest commissioned officer rank of the United States Navy.
Also, in deference to the fact that the Japanese Imperial military had four enlisted grades before the rank of corporal, Manley chose to state that Mercury (the messenger dog) was demoted to the rank of "lance corporal," (joto-hei in the Japanese) the United States Marine Corps's E-3 grade. This was necessary to eliminate confusion among English-language consumers about which "private first class" rank Mercury may have been demoted to: the US Army's E-3 rank, or the Marine Corps' E-2 rank. Also, the inference was clear in the construction of the word itself. Translators still translate "joto-hei" (leading soldier) into "private, first class," even though the next lowest rank, "itto-hei," has the word form "itto" or "first" in its construction. Also, Manley made a point that Mercury was demoted from corporal to lance corporal passing the rank of "specialist," along the way. The fourth enlisted grade, "hei-cho" or "chief soldier" is equivalent to the American ranks of "specialist" (US Army) or "senior airman" (US Air Force): an E-4 rank that does not have the legal entitlements or duties of a true non-commissioned officer.
The Invisible 9
Fruit of illegal experiments with human beings in violation of international war treaties, the Invisible 9 is group of secret platoons whose existence is denied by the imperial government.
|Number||Letter||Type||Nick Name||Japanese Name|
|901||ATT||Anti Tank Trooper||Gespenst Jäger (Ghost Hunter)||命を無視された兵隊 (Life Neglected Soldiers)|
|903||CTT||Chemical Tactics Trooper||Krankheit Jäger (Disease Hunter)||死灰を撒く病兵 (Sowers of the Ash of Death)|
|906||FTT||Falling Tactics Trooper||Fallschirm Jäger (Parachute Hunter)||翼無き降下兵 (Wingless Divers)|
|908||HTT||High Temperature Trooper||Alt Schmied Jäger (Old Smith Hunter)||単眼の火葬兵 (One-eyed Cremators)|
- It is easy to assume that other divisions can be derived alphabetically (i.e. 902 = BTT, 908 = HTT and "H" is the eighth letter in the alphabet, etc.)
- Fallschirmjäger is an actual German term used for paratroopers in World War II and still in use nowadays.
- 908-HTT's nicknames seem to be a reference to the Wakayama folktale of the Ippon-Datara (一本だたら), a ghostly blacksmith with one eye and one leg, seemingly analogous to the "Alt Schmied" god in the series.
Script error Pumpkin Scissors was originally serialized in Magazine GREAT in 2002, but later moved to Monthly Shōnen Magazine in October 2006. The manga has been licensed by Del Rey as announced at the New York Comic Convention 2007. After a long period of hiatus, Volume 11 was released in Japan on April 20, 2009.
Notes and references
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- (Japanese) Official author's website
- (Japanese) Official anime website
- (Japanese) GONZO's Pumpkin Scissors anime official website
- Funimation's Pumpkin Scissors website
- Pumpkin Scissors (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopediait:Pumpkin Scissorsvi:Pumpkin Scissors