PUMPKIN SCISSORS (Pumpkin Scissors) (??????????) • Ryotaro Iwanaga • Del Rey (2007-ongoing) • Kodansha (Magazine Great/Monthly Shônen Magazine, 2002-ongoing) • Shônen Military Adventure • 11+ volumes (ongoing) • 16+ (brief language, crude humor, graphic violence, infrequent sexual situations)
Several years after the great war with the Republic of Frost, the Empire is still in turmoil. Towns are plagued by bandits, poverty and official corruption, deadly chemical weapons and tanks are still unaccounted for, and a mysterious group, “The Sterling Wheel,” is gathering power behind the scenes. Who you gonna call but–the Pumpkin Scissors, the special peacekeeping-and-reconstruction army squad, dedicated to cutting through corruption like scissors through a pumpkin! (Yeah, it doesn’t sound that intimidating, does it?) Clearly influenced by Fullmetal Alchemist, Pumpkin Scissors has a very similar setting, a land much like Germany after the first World War. (The German language even appears in the story.) Unfortunately, as the gimmicky title suggests, Pumpkin Scissors is too simplistic and juvenile to do justice to its intended themes. The leader of the group, idealistic young noblewoman Lieutenant Alice Malvin, awes the common people whenever her aristocratic identity is revealed (like Mito Kômon in a Japanese jidaigeki film), giving the lie to the manga’s superficial concern with social injustice and the “bad” nobles who look ugly and oppress people. The second main character, hulking but kindly war veteran Randel Oland, is a tough guy whose special technique is shrugging off serious injuries, running up to tanks, and shooting the people inside with his enormous gun. The shabby art gives the world, and in particular the military paraphernalia, a generic look (unlike the lovingly detailed guns and cars in, for instance, Gunsmith Cats), and the childish character designs seem like they would be at home in a manga for much younger readers.
** (two stars)
Today’s winner is Elena E. of California. Congratulations, Elena! You’ll be receiving a whole bunch of manga really soon! At the moment I’m working hard on the manga reviews for the next issue of Otaku USA Magazine, for which I do the manga section (with help from a few friend and fellow writers like Shaenon Garrity and yaoi reviewer Che Gilson).
In other news, I just wrote the first entry of Invisible Manga, a column I’m doing for the science fiction website io9.com. In this installment, I talk about two recent events: the incident in Maryland where Dragon Ball was pulled off shelves in schools and public libraries; and the controversy over Yen Press’s decision to redo the cover of Isuna Hasekura’s light novel “Spice and Wolf” for the American edition. Please check it out!