"There is no war, yet peace has not graced the land... This story is about the stage in between."
Randel Oland is a homeless refugee, one of many displaced by the war. He sleeps under a bridge and spends what little money he gets on cat-food to feed the strays. He also carries with him a blue-light lantern, and a massive handgun that can pierce tank armor at close range.When War Relief Section III, "Pumpkin Scissors," crosses his path, Randel finds himself drawn back into the army in the wake of the energetic Lieutenant Alice Malvin. Besides the usual trouble of hunting down war aggravators, the Pumpkin Scissors crew is soon swept up in events from Randel's dark past.With initial character and storyline debts to both Fullmetal Alchemist and Trigun, Pumpkin Scissors nevertheless persists in pursuing a different take on themes of war and humanity.
Aristocrats Are Evil: Played straight with many of them who are at the very least unconcerned about the suffering of the common people. Alice is the notable exception.
Awesome but Impractical: Anything and everything having to do with the Invisible Nine. It seems the Empire's entire Super Soldier program was a response to horrifically bad engineering. Deconstructed somewhat, as The show takes pains to point out just how impractical their equipment is, and Martis wonders about the possibility that the Invisible Nine may have been created for purposes other than winning the war.
901ATT, the Anti Tank Troopers unit. Instead of developing an antitank fieldpiece, or a antitank rocket, they make... a Super Soldier with a 13mm pistol to fight tanks in close-quarters. Great for psychological warfare, but really.
Special mention really needs to go out to the "Door Knocker," which was noted as being horrifically impractical, but more likely designed to strike fear into whoever was staring down its barrel.
Frighteningly Justified in later chapters. It is revealed that the 901 troopers were never meant for actual tactical purposes; they are all human test subjects who received a brain surgery to create a brain program that activates upon the igniting the infamous "blue lantern". Said programming fill their mind with human's natural killing instinct and make them neglect everything else including their survival. Such human experiment was practiced only because an old genius professor feared death (so he cannot conduct research anymore) and wanted to replicate his own brain on his own research team by surgical methods. The experiment on the 901 troopers was only a test to prove that such alteration to the human brain can deliver the expected results(and it did). Muse even described them as "Spare memo sheets for checking if the pen works".
Badass Creed: As soon as Randel lights that lantern, expect some enemies to start pissing themselves and madly repeating the terrifying rumors they've heard about the 901ATTs, all of which operate as badass creeds.
2nd episode mook: "They will be heralded by the blue light of the Will-o'-Wisp! Reload, you can't afford to play around this time! Reload! For the love of God, reload! You can burn out their eyes, even tear out their arms, but they'll never stop advancing! They will disregard their own lives, and attack at point blank range! They have marched away from life itself to pull the trigger that brings death! They are the legend of the battlefield, they are the phantom warriors of the 901st anti-tank troop! Guided by the Will-o'-Wisp! Bringers of Death! TÖTEN SIE!"
Berserk Button: Randel has a physical one, in form of the lamp-thingy on his hip. If you tick him off enough for him to turn it on, you're done for. It's implied that if his physical and mental states get worse, he will not even need the lamp to go on a rampage.
It's also later to be revealed as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique as well, as Randel apparently has a limit to how much he can use it in a single day.
Beware the Nice Ones: Randel. While he is the most sensitive and softhearted member of Section 3, he has also seen the most combat, and is a terror to behold when under the trance of the Blue lantern. He has scared the shit out of battle-hardened soldiers, and once reduced an Ax-CrazyPsycho for Hire to a terrified, sobbing, hysterical wreck. The Armored Train arc shows this the best. Those big scissors he carries around work just as well on people as on metal, and the Gory Discretion Shot just makes it worse...
Stecchin also shows shades of this to a lesser extent, coupled with Beware the Silly Ones. When a soldier from Section I starts making fun of Pumpkin Scissors for being a "useless" unit, Stecchin boxes his ears.
Biggus Dickus: Clearly, Randel Oland suffers from this. He shatters an extra-large urine collector. The fandom has expressed some concern over what would happen if/when Alice and Oland tap the midnight still.
Randel's reaction to the nurses attempts at getting a urine sample.
Used in a much less humerous fashion at the end of Ep. 18; Randel does this after Hans (another member of the Invisible 9 and just as traumatized from the war as Randel) is shot and killed, just as Randel had started to get through to him.
Body Horror: The flamethrower suits feature faulty cooling systems. Instead of fixing them, the suits were filled with painkillers. As a result, the soldiers inside keep going until their muscles burn off.
The more horrifying part is that the substance in the fluid is not just an anesthetic, but a preservative: the wearer's body doesn't start coming apart until a few minutes after the suit is removed. By which point, it's already to late to get the suit back on, since it's a horribly complex affair that takes a long time to put on or take off. Which is what saves Hans, since he was still having trouble getting his suit off when his friends started falling apart.
Brainwashed and Crazy: The entire town of Karussell has been somehow hypnotized by the armored train used by the Border Patrol and do whatever they're ordered. Up to and including shooting Randal.
Alice is buying time for Randel by taking on an entire division of Claymores. The captain mocks her because she's getting tired; her response is to hack right through his metal faceplate with her double-bladed cavalry sword, then slash through his body armour.
Chivalrous Pervert: Oreldo, always willing to get the crap beat of out him for the sake of some pretty girl he just met.
Clothing Damage: Alice during her duel in the final episodes of the anime. Randel is also frequently subject to it, with much less accompanying Fanservice.
Covered with Scars: Randel, not surprisingly for an infantryman who used to take on tanks.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Lampshaded in one of the interludes, where the Mad Scientist's assistant talks about reading a six-year-old report about the "protective fluid" used in the flamethrower troopers' suits, and mentions the wonderful possibilities for treating burn victims. Said scientist replies, "Throw it away, I don't need it any more." Why, you ask? It doesn't work. Just look what happened to Hans' buddies.
Double Entendre: Stecchin once says that Martis is good at playing with himself. She means, of course, that he's good at playing whatever part is expected of him— being a "jack of all trades", essentially— but due to her penchant for awkward phrasing it comes out the wrong way. It doesn't help that as she makes this declaration, Martis is vigorously shaking a canister.
Faceless Goons: The flamethrower troopers' armor is built like this, as is the armor for the Claymore-1 unit.
Fanservice: Surprisingly averted when Randal is being examined by Kauplan.
Feel No Pain: Randel. When under the trance of the Blue Lantern, he becomes so focused on whatever he's trying to kill that pain can not register in his mind. This is also where his Made of Iron qualities come from (partially). He's so used to coming out of the trance with bad injuries (bad meaning bullet wounds, burns, broken bones, cuts, etc. usually multiple at the same time) that they simply don't bother him anymore.
Alice: Those burns look pretty bad. Are you going to be OK?
Four Eyes, Zero Soul - Muse. Subverted with Abel, who despite being an accountant for The Mafia cares about his friends from the gang he grew up in.
Freeze-Frame Bonus When Oland reloads in Season 1 Episode 7, the Door Knocker's bullets seem to have garbled letters that read like "Door Knocker" imprinted on them. "B M (blocked by thumb) OP KNOCKTR" Which makes sense because there is little chance that any other handgun would take that caliber.
Gag Penis: Used in a running gag with a nurse trying to get a urine sample from Randel whenever he's hospitalized.
We also have the sobriquets of the Invisible Nine; 901-ATT, "Gespenstjäger,"note "Ghost Hunter" 903-CTT, "Krankheitsjäger,"note "Disease Hunter" and 908-HTT "Aldschmiedjäger."note "Old Smith Hunter"
Not really, because the German that's used is actually pretty accurate. The phrase "Töten Sie!" is actually meant to be "Töte sie!", which means "kill them!". Even more so for "Gespenst-, Krankheit- and Aldschmied-jäger", those are correct. note But the prefix "Ald-" is old German, the modern equivalent would be "Altschmied" The English dub suffers a bit from "Inexperienced German speaker syndrome",note See episode 11: The reporter pronounces "Die Welt" ("The World", a real newspaper) as "die welt" would be pronounced in English, as opposed to the correct pronunciation "Dee Welt". otherwise it's practically flawless. Especially the written German is impressively well done.
Hand Cannon: Randel's anti-tank handgun, the "Door Knocker." It is a 13 mm (.51 Cal). Randel wields it with one hand.
For those curious, that's a little bigger than the ammunition used in anti-tank rifles, which have a recoil strong enough to pop an average person's shoulder out of their socket.
Actively encouraged by Alice, unless she's convinced to go about attacking smartly. Oland does this whenever the blue lantern is on, as he's in no state to reason with while in that hypnotic trance that really was meant to make the Imperial Anti-Tank Troopers Zerg Rush tanks.
Randel is a rather unnerving take on this trope. Several times, when he is in said state, he has used tactics and quick thinking to win a fight (examples: using his gun to take out roof supports above a nest of snipers, whipping his coat in front of him to absorb an acid splash, holding a man down in front of a runaway carriage) instead of just blindly advancing. Not only does this show that he is not mindless in that state, it also shows that he knows the full extent of what he and his equipment can do. The implications of that are scary as hell. The armored train arc shows just exactly what he's capable of when he's fully equipped, and it's not pretty...
Honor Before Reason: Alice will take on anyone she sees perpetrating or enabling injustice, from common criminals all the way up to the Emperor himself. Highlighted within the first five minutes of the first episode, when she, two soldiers, and a dog are scouting a dam-turned-merc fortress.
Martis: Lieutenant, I just finished telling you that they have a tank!
Alice: They're nothing but a bunch of anarchists! Destroy the evil-doers!
Hot-Blooded: Alice in an non-Super Robot, female example.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Alice is of average height, and shorter than most of her subordinates. Randel, who already towers over the entire cast, makes her look like a child. He's still taller than her even when he kneels. Frankly, he fulfills the 'Huge Guy' role for anyone. He's tall enough that he has to duck in order to get through most door frames (He also is huge down there).
Improbable Age: Alice is justified, as she's a noble out of officer school (in the prologue). She's still in her teens in the series proper, but younger people have fought in World War One (see below).
She's at least 18 in the earlier chapters, and probably a bit older in the more recent ones, assuming the story happens over the period of several months.
Improbable Weapon User: Randel uses a pair of giant scissors that are capable of cutting through a tank's armour. Possible reference to meaning of the series title?
In case you're thinking they're actual scissors, they're more like glorified bolt-cutters with pointed jaws. You'd have to be suicidally brave to attack a tank with them - which is what the lantern does. As a weapon they're impractical - a flashback shows a tank covered with 901 troops slowly gnawing away at its armour with their 'can-openers'. Presumably, they use them to open a hole they can shoot through... and human wave tactics to ensure there's enough left to shoot. It's proven to be quite effective in CQC combat situations with infantry, however, when Randel used it to great effect during the armored train mission. They're pretty effective at cutting up homan bodies too...
Incompetence, Inc.: As of the Karrussell story arc, the Empire's various military departments are quickly shaping up to be as such.
Jabba Table Manners: After hearing of commoner children dying by the hundreds of starvation, YOU would want to kill the nobles too when you watch them waste food that could have been used to save their lives.
Made a Slave: Randel alludes to a childhood episode of this kind, in a recent chapter of the manga.
Made of Iron: When his lantern is on, Randel seems practically invincible. Even without. Most people can't hurt him without some kind of weapon (A big one; for example a sledgehammer). Understandable, as he's apparently 95% scar tissue. Highlighted in episode 4; he wakes up with a cat on his face and sits up. The cat hangs from his cheeks, then drags its claws down the side of his face while it slides off. He doesn't even flinch. A strike to the back of the head can still knock him out, however.
Malaproper: Lili pulls this off at one point while accosting Oreldo.
Lili: Good grief, you're nothing but a leecher, Oreldo!
Oreldo: If you're going to insult me, at least get your terminology straight.
Lili: It's sensual harassment!
Meaningful Name and Theme Naming: Imperial units tend to name themselves after bladed implements, and choose those implements based on a metaphor they hold in relation to the unit's purpose.
Pumpkin Scissors: As Alice so eloquently puts it, scissors used to cut through the thick pumpkin-like skin of corruption.
Claymore One: The Empire's sword. The first unit to deploy in serious crises, also hailed as their most elite strike force, operating with ruthless efficiency.
Axe Force: Axes have mundane uses outside of war. Serves as the Empire's special police force for domestic affairs.
A Section II unit is named after the shotel, a curved, semi-circular blade which somewhat resembles a sickle, which reflects their indirect stealthy spy approach.
On another note, Randal's Hand Cannon, the "Doorknocker", is named such because the only way to make effective use of it is to "blast away at point blank range, Knocking on the door (to the afterlife)", so to speak.
Mildly Military: Played with throughout the series, as the Pumpkin Scissors are often derided by the public and other military bodies for being this way, and it was because of this reputation that Oreldo joined. Given their dangerous missions during the series, this label doesn't really hold up, although the relationships among the protagonists does kind of fit the Mildly Military idea.
Mood Whiplash: The show combines light situational comedy and deadly serious drama, often switching between the two without warning.
Also, the cheery ending music after many of the more serious episodes. This can create a rather inappropriate Crosses the Line Twice effect...
Randel Oland: What's wrong? You're usually eating like wildcats now.
Cats stare blankly at him, refusing to move.
Randel Oland: Oh... I get it. I smell like blood... I guess I just got used to it...
<Upbeat J-Pop accordion solo time>
This is particularly bad at moments such as the end of episode 19, where the last thing we see before said upbeat harmonica solo is Corporal Oland getting hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
Mook Horror Show: In the Armored Train arc, the way Randel takes on the operators of said vehicle is very much like a slasher movie villain, where he used his giant scissors to snip up people when they're not behind armor. Alice may be good at swordplay, but Randel is simply merciless.
Noodle Incident: Used in episode 5 by Oreldo against Martis when he's given the cold shoulder, using a paper roll loudspeaker.
Oreldo: My childhood friend here, Sub-lieutenant Martis, is one HELL of a soldier. Why we've done nearly EVERYTHING together. Matter of fact, that reminds me of a story when we were seven years old, and went out to the woods for the old number one. That Earthworm? Didn't. Stand. A chance. So then-
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Subverted: Randel was all but broken by the war, his mind is a complete mess, and the innumerable people he killed continue to haunt him in his dreams (and, sometimes, his waking hours). But instead of numbing his emotions, this left him unbelievably sensitive and very reluctant to harm other people.
Smug Snake: In the manga, the viscount who amuses himself by hunting The Most Dangerous Game is most certainly one. Along with his little hobby, he also treats his household staff like crap and is supremely confident in his own untouchable status (and possession of a tank) when the Pumpkin Scissors confront him. He tries his little hunting schtick on Randel. It's rather satisfying to see how badly this goes for him; his overconfidence rapidly disintegrates into weeping, begging for his life, and wetting himself.
Sociopathic Soldier: Subverted with Randel Oland. Played straight with most antagonists, especially those from the Invisible Nine.
Spider-Sense: Alice gets a chill at the back of her neck when something important is about to happen.
Tranquil Fury: When switching on his blue lantern, Randel enters a trance that focuses him single-mindedly on his goal, making him impervious to pain and turning him into a fearless, heartless, lethal automaton. He only retains enough humanity to know when to switch it off, and then he returns to normal.
You Shall Not Pass: A minor one occurs in episode 23. After the first Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? moment mentioned above, one of the more vengeful peasants tries to do it again. Randal (who, keep in mind, is over seven feet tall, heavily muscled, and covered in scars) loudly clears his throat, steps in front of him, and looms over him with a Death Glare. The peasant looks at him, then nervously glances at a guy that had earlier fought with Randal (who is currently curled up on the ground, covering his head, and sobbing hysterically).