Pumpkin Scissors Volume One is rated “OT” for ages 16+, and I agree with this rating.

Pumpkin Scissors Volume One
Written by: Ryotaro Iwanaga
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: November 27, 2007

In the introduction at the beginning of the manga, a cease-fire brings an end to the war between the Empire and the Republic of Frost. This is followed by a timeskip to three years after the cease-fire. Unfortunately, during this time, starvation and disease ravage the Empire, and some former soldiers have become groups of bandits that terrorize the people.

The Imperial Army State Section III, which has acquired the nickname Pumpkin Scissors, is a platoon that aids in war relief and reconstruction. The platoon is led by 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin, an overly energetic young woman who comes from an aristocratic family. Also in the squad are Warrant Officer Oreldo, Warrant Officer Machs, Sergeant Major Stecchin, and Mercury (their canine mascot).

While on patrol at a village, Pumpkin Scissors discovers a band of former soldiers terrorizing a town, and Alice decides to bring a stop to their activities. While in the village, the platoon has a chance run-in with a man named Randel Oland, who is a war veteran that served as a member of the Death March Troopers. He has a suicidal determination to achieve point-blank range. Randel is able to help Pumpkin Scissors put a stop to the former soldiers’ activities in the village.

After saving the village, Randel is recruited into the ranks of Pumpkin Scissors. As a member of the platoon, he continues to assist Alice and the others as they deal with other troublemakers who threaten the war relief and reconstruction efforts.

By the time this volume of Pumpkin Scissors is finished, Iwanaga has developed a story and a cast of characters that the reader feels compelled to care about and want to follow in future volumes of the series. While Alice and Randel seem to get the most in the way of character development in this volume, I hope that future volumes will bring about development and backstory for some of the other characters. However, even with the character development that Randel receives, Iwanaga has still left some of Randel’s backstory a mystery, which leaves the reader wondering what more there is to this character’s backstory.

Iwanaga’s artwork complements the story being told in this manga volume. There’s definitely a bit in the way of “busy panels” for action and “sound effects” characters, but considering the subject matter of this manga series, these artistic tropes are to be expected. Iwanaga also has a talent for effectively drawing facial expressions that convey to the reader how the characters are reacting to their situations.