Pumpkin Scissors: They March Among the Midnight Glow

Ryotaro Iwanaga’s Pumpkin Scissors takes place in a war-torn and crippled world, in the wake of a cease-fire with little food, infrastructore or hope for a better future. Now that the long war with the Republic of Frost has ended, the Royal Empire has set up a special army unit dedicated solely to war relief and reconstruction – Imperial Army Section III: Pumpkin Scissors.

The unit is little more than an agent of propaganda run by a nobleman’s daughter, 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin, until she stumbles upon Corporal Randel Oland. Oland was once part of a group of secret military units called “The Invisible Nine.” His specific unit was the 901-ATT Anti Tank Trooper, the Gespenster J├Ągers – or Death March Troopers. He’s seen more combat than the whole of Section III combined.

Oland is gentle, however, almost to a fault. But when he uses the strange blue lantern he carries at his waist, its eerie blue light seems to possess him and he becomes a fearless tank-killing machine with suicidal determination.

While the story itself isn’t set in any world we may know or based on any actual historical events, it does seem to share a similarity, both historically and technologically, to the period of time following the First World War in Europe and Eurasia. Long-range wireless communication and fully automatic weapons haven’t been developed yet, although tank technology seems to have matched that seen in World War II.

The story of Pumpkin Scissors follows Corporal Oland and Lieutenant Malvin, along with the rest of their unit, as they move about the country trying to aid in the war relief effort while invariably running into and learning more about the Invisible Nine.

Iwanaga’s artwork is well crafted in expressing everything from light comedy to intense drama. It’s a very clean style that ably conveys both physical movement and emotions. Some of Iwanaga’s best art is of Oland in the throes of the Death March and the blue lantern that fuels it.

His writing is similar to his art in that it is heavily influenced by the predominant tropes of manga, but both show an uncanny competence that belies the fact that I can find out virtually nothing about him online other than his work with the Pumpkin Scissors manga and anime. As far as I can tell, this is his first project.

Iwanaga shows mastery of general manga writing and art in Pumpkin Scissors. Be on the lookout for whatever his next project is because he stands to be one of the best known mangakas if he maintains this level of quality in his output.

Volume 2 is on store shelves now and volume 3 will be available this June, according to Del Rey. Three volumes of the anime are also available from ADV Films.