I read the first volume of Pumpkin Scissors some time ago, and I finally got my hands on the next two volumes. I’m still enjoying this cerebral action series, despite the sometimes clunky art.
Pumpkin Scissors #2 by Ryotaro Iwanaga
The second volume of Pumpkin Scissors explores the past of the giant soldier Randel Oland. After disabling a tank at point blank range, one of his squad mates named Machs is suspicious of his background. Machs launches an investigation and learns that Randel was a member of a group that doesn’t exist, “The Invisible Nine.” Randel is injured in battle yet again and recuperates in the hospital, only to find an unexpected connection with his roommate. Pumpkin Scissors’ mission to help with war reconstruction sends them down to the sewers to relocate refugees. The team uncovers a drug trade, military conspiracies, and Randel has a close encounter with an old acquaintance from his past.
I like the layered complexity of the plots in Pumpkin Scissors. As Machs begins to uncover Randel’s secrets he begins to question himself for prying into Randel’s past without his knowledge. Is Machs going to accept Randel as a fellow soldier, despite his fearsome fighting abilities? The relationship between Randel and his commanding officer Alice is explored as well, as she shows up in a furious state to visit him at the hospital. There’s obviously something between them, but it isn’t acted on and it remains below the surface. With Alice coming from the nobility and Randel’s past as a military lab experiment and human weapon I’m not sure if a romantic relationship would even be possible. Despite Randel’s disruptive presence as a new member of the team, they still carry out their mission. The hint of competing goals between different military sections is going to cause problems later on.
Pumpkin Scissors #3 by Ryotaro Iwanaga
The third volume opens with plenty of action as Pumpkin Scissors deals with the aftermath of the drug trade and are almost executed by a competing military unit. Alice takes on a squad all by herself, and the reader learns more about the experimentation that created flawed human weapons. Randel is forced to confront his past, and Alice makes a detour into the world of the nobility where she joins her family and her fiance?! The comedic element is provided by Major Stecchin who notices that Randel seems depressed and decides that a rousing group song and dance will improve morale.
Iwanaga’s art continues to be the weakest aspect of the book. The best I can say for it is that it is serviceable. The poses and character expressions are frequently stiff. I did notice that he seemed to be experimenting a bit by showing facial close-ups against a blank background whenever people were discussing a matter of high tension, and I thought these panels were effective. I enjoy the interaction between the ensemble cast and the social issues associated with military reconstruction there’s a wistful element summed up by the Pumpkin Scissors’ captain as he sits in his office and wonders why he is still hearing gunshots three years after a ceasefire.
While there is a lot I enjoy about Pumpkin Scissors, since there are so many plots and themes being juggled, it seems to progress at a slow pace. This manga falls into the middle tier for me – if I happen to get my hands on it I’m happy to read it but I’m not likely to make a special effort to seek it out. I am going to eventually try to read the next few volumes of the series to see if I end up liking it more.