Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Pumpkin Scissors, Volume 5 by Ryotaro Iwanaga

Confronted by rioters at a noble dance, Alice Malvin, Lieutenant in the Pumpkin Scissors is fighting a battle with one of the men who has persuaded the commoners to revolt. She intends to show them that they can trust the nobility.

The man she is fighting is from the country of Lodelia, but unbeknownst to him, Alice's father had been in that country and earned honors and a sword. But he also took from the King of Lodelia, the knowledge of a sword-counter unknown to most people, and Alice uses that to defeat her opponent, and instead of killing him, she brings him down with a hard slap.

But the commoners still want revenge on the nobles, and they are angry that the nobleman who owns the estate where the ball is being held stole money and grain that was supposed to go to them and fed himself with it. Can the nobles repent and make the commoners repent of their plan to kill them and get them to drop their weapons before the police arrive and kill them all?

Next, Princess Septieme comes to the Empire to search for its weaknesses, but ends up walking around with officer Machs after she sneaks into the restroom he's using. She claims to be a Princess, but Machs isn't sure as to whether or not to believe her. But she's hungry and together they track down a hotdog stand that both Machs and the Princess remember from where it used to be.

As they walk, Septieme shares details of her childhood, and how her country constantly seeks for the weaknesses in everything, including the children of the royal family, who seek to do away with the others by any means, including poison. But Machs thinks that's a horrible way to live. But can he convince Septieme of that?

And when Claymore One is sent into town to sow fear so that people won't cause trouble, caught in the middle is a woman who owns a flower shop, and her lover of the night before. But can he reach her and save her from the soldiers armed with only two knives?

I love this series, because it's so different from many manga that glorify war and conflict. This series looks at the aftermath of a WWII-like war, with much suffering on both sides, compounded by graft, greed and corruption. And of course, the nobles have been adding their own greed to the party, perhaps not realizing how much damage they were doing to their own people.

But while not all the nobles are bad, there are still some that frighten me. Like Alice's fiancé, who is at last happy to have found her- that is to say a strong woman who won't immediately crumble when he starts to "play" with her. I'm not sure what's up with this guy, but I tell you, I'm scared of him. He shows all the signs of being a psychopath. Giving that I'm hoping Alice ends up with someone quite different, I hope he gets found out quickly.

I found this an interesting and frightening chapter in the Pumpkin Scissors saga. On the whole, it's one of my favorite manga, joining Ghost Hunt by Shiho Inada, Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload by Kazuya Minekura, Trigun by Yasuhiro Nightow, Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya and Trinity Blood by Sunao Yoshida and Kiyo Kiyujo. Highly recommended.

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