I swear to God that I've seen both of these shows before. As a matter of fact the feeling of deja-vu was so intense during the first episode of both Pumpkin Scissors and Innocent Venus that I stopped watching them, wrote down on a piece of paper exactly how each was going to end, and then sealed my prophetic dissertations away into two separate envelopes and locked them in Robot Pedro's chest cavity -- where nobody would dare mess with them. Then I finished both series, cut off Robot Pedro's head (just because), and made Jaime open up the envelopes and read what I had written. My accuracy was about 90% correct for Pumpkin Scissors, and 98.7739% correct for Innocent Venus. I thought that was pretty cool.... You, however, most assuredly will not if you're thinking of watching one or both of these hackneyed and unimaginative productions.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, so let me break these reviews up and attack Pumpkin Scissors first.
PS opens up with a(n) (alternate) world at war... Wait, then immediately after this quick intro there's a cease fire declared and peace is celebrated throughout the land... Bummer -- I personally feel that setting this thing fully in the middle of a global conflict would have been 10Xs more interesting than what we ended up getting, but I digress. Soon we find ourselves 3 years after this cease fire and the world's still pretty shitty, despite the fact that handshakes and doves are all the rage. The poor are poorer, the rich are even bigger dicks than before (aren't they all... Well, at least in THIS show they are), and the government seems to be doing its best to keep this, the status quo, going for whatever purpose it may ultimately have. But in order to at least pretend to be helping, the army creates the Imperial SS III Brigade (or something): the Pumpkin Scissors Division. Though there are really only 5 members -- 6 if you count the dog (and you should, seeing as Mercury is one of the smartest members of the force) -- they get assignments that take them from border to border, and orders that range from "setting up a soup kitchen, and then manning it," to "stopping royals from using high-tech tanks to hunt down peasants for sport." These "war relief" assignments (from the pitiful to the uber-violent) make up the bulk of the story in the form of one episode stand alone plots. Not very fulfilling... but anyway, back to the plot.
It's during one of their more dangerous missions (wherein 2nd Lieutenant Alice Malvin of the Pumpkin Scissors War Relief Brigade [seriously, say that title out loud -- it just sounds so retarded] tries to stop a group of ex-soldier thugs from causing trouble in a small town) that the PS crew runs into a certain ex-Corporal Randel Oland (an ex-special forces soldier whose hulking, massively scarred, 7+ foot-tall frame seems to hide the gentle giant within [gag!], who is able to single-handedly take out tanks with his bare hands). Since the corporal helps the Pumpkin Scissors out of their hairy predicament, he's allowed to join the service again and become the unit's 6th (or 7th, depending on if you count the dog of course) man, because bureaucratic paperwork apparently doesn't exist in this strange world.
Oland is the typical pussy on-the-outside, complete bad-ass when the time calls for it character of this show (think Vash the Stampede, Abel Nightroad, and Chrno)... Only he's an even bigger pussy than all those characters put together most of the time. But when Oland turns on his scary blue lantern (that he keeps fastened on his belt), his eyes turn hollow, and he becomes a one man wrecking and murdering machine. But back to the story at hand.
So, Alice Malvin initiates Oland into her posse, and he becomes enamored by her sense of justice (that she constantly spews out of her mouth like one of those spitting dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, or like a drunken sailor regurgitating obscenities and his stomach contents after 2 hours of shore leave) and her unwavering bravery (well, I'll give her that; she is pretty gutsy). Then we learn about the rest of the crew... in drawn-out, character-delving expositions that drag on for something like 14 episodes. There's the blonde, playboy guy who isn't above renting out high-class hookers for the night, but who also has a heart of gold. Ugh. And don't forget the bespectacled, by-the-books officer who lives for his job, and is initially bummed out over being forced into the laughing stock unit of the army (the PS Brigade of course) after he steps on too many toes in his former position. The "so boring and under exited he should be in a coma" captain of the PS attempts to pull an Ikari Gendo on his crew, but he mainly reminds me of Captain Goto from Patlabor, only not 1/9th as cool. And then there's the child-like sergeant major and Mercury, the dog. The dog is more interesting than half the cast, but whatever.
My main problem with PS (as stated before) is that it's so goddamn predictable! Well, that and the animation sucks... and the majority of the stories are lame... and Oland's a giant pussy.... and there's no real ending. I almost gave up on this title 3 times during the past month. The fact that I didn't proves that I'm not perfect and I don't always know what's right for me. Anyway, the supposed "main plot" of this show doesn't even rear its stupid little head until the 11th episode. That's almost HALFWAY THROUGH the whole thing (24 episodes long and all). Beyond that, the *ugh* feel-good, single episode storylines that make up the first 10 plotlines are -- although sometimes very violent -- grating to get through. At first you think that Oland is just all mysterious and untrusting of his new coworkers, but it turns out he isn't a quiet bad mo'fo' like Vampire Hunter D, he's just mildly retarded... Always smiling his goofy, mongoloid smile for the 2nd LT and the dog. Though truthfully I think that the SGT-Major was held under water a little too long as a child herself. There's no way anybody can be an "adult" and yet still behave like an A.D.D. basket case like that unless she's repressing some MAJOR, traumatizing memories. Probably lots of "bad touch" in her youth.
Okay, so the characters are lame and dumb, and there's FILLER episodes up until 11. THEN we find out that there's some secret (and extremely unethical) weapons testing and development going on inside the army that might revolutionize warfare and reignite the war that ended just 3 years previous.... Then we're back to filler. Then, starting with episode 14 (iirc, and as I stated above), we get a four-part storyline regarding a soldier who is just as scarred (at least emotionally, as we never do see his face) as Corporal Oland, who battles the PS with a special bullet-proof suit and a napalm gun.... The only problem with this story arc is that it should have been only 2 episodes at most. Things moved slower in these 4 episodes than the Kyoto Arc of Kenshin. THEN we get a final six-part plotline that should have only been ONE episode. NOTHING HAPPENED in these last six episodes! Not only that, but they didn't answer ANY questions raised before about the mysterious shadow organization making all those uber weapons that we've seen up till then. Seriously, this ending was like if one were to stop Kiddy Grade at episode 15 or Fullmetal Alchemist at episode 26 (wait, no, forget that last one... That actually would have been a good idea there) -- lots of questions raised about the characters and the world at large, and then fade to black. No pay-off and absolutely no closure. Not cool. Huh, that reminds me, Pumpkin Scissors is OBVIOUSLY Studio Gonzo's attempt at their very own FMA-like series; the older time period, military setting, the few against a giant conspiracy, and hell, even the uniforms in PS look like the state alchemists' duds.
So, the writers planned on (they truly banked the entire story upon) getting a second season. The thing they didn't plan on though was that nobody now gives a shit if that second season comes or not. Nothing interesting ever happened in the FIRST season, why should we give a shit about a second one? Bad things, George, bad things. Other than the "jack shit ever happened," there were tons, TONS, of "what the FUCK?!" moments peppered throughout this series. I have a list, a hand-written list, over two pages long of shit that just made me say "what the FUCK was that about?!" when I first saw them. This could go on for another 6 to 19 paragraphs, so I'll just give you a few right here: A bad guy's hired, ex-special forces bodyguard at one point in the story pulls out his sword for a duel... A sword that he keeps coated in goopy, hallucinogenic mud; Corporal Oland's teammates know that the fucker LIVES AND SLEEPS UNDER A GODDAMN BRIDGE, surrounded by cats, and yet they willingly allow him to continue with this bum-lifestyle (they don't even try to get him into an army dorm room or anything); After 20 full episodes of basically being shown that Oland only looks up to Alice as somebody he himself would want to be (meaning NO romantic intentions AT ALL), we are told out of the blue that apparently the two are crazy in love with each other... What the FUCK?!
Next, INNOCENT VENUS
Oh boy... This one lays it on thick from the start, and then only gets more and more ridiculous as things proceed, all the way to the final (12th) episode.
Innocent Venus takes place in 2035AD, 25 years after a bunch of "hyper hurricanes" blanketed the globe. Then glaciers covered 1/2 of the planet, the seas rose (Wha? At the same time?!), 5 (out of 8) billion people perished, poverty exploded among the survivors, and then a war popped up between the Asian Union and Japan (the last real superpower of the day), all before the show even begins.
The actual show starts off with a pretty cool and intense 5 minute escape scene, wherein super-soldier Jin keeps his little pink-haired companion, Sana, safe as they attempt to flee a city (and some pretty bad black ops troopers) in the dead of night. After this initial 5 minutes though, things take a terrible, terrible turn for the worse. No, I don't mean "a turn for the worse" for the characters (Jin, Sana, and Jin's quiet, brooding buddy Jo), but for us, the viewers. Apparently those five minutes of white-knuckle excitement were all this show had in her. The next 7 episodes are all about Jin, Sana, Jo, and their mentally unbalanced, and clinically loony companion, Goro, running... Running from Phantom (the military complex chasing them down because of something lame), the Wakou Pirates (who hate Phantom just as much as Jin, Sana, and Jo do), and I think a few other people and things. Honestly, even though I took notes while watching this thing, I just found that I couldn't keep my attention on the screen. Seven episodes into this damn thing and there were no mysteries solved... Hell, 7 episodes in and there were no mysteries TO solve! Just lots of running. And not even gripping and engrossing running, just lame running.
I'll try to relay the plot to you, what little there was: Sana was a test subject (one of 7 children) for the military's new Vulcan Project, which created the bio-mechanical battle suits known as Gladiators. These Gladiators... Wow. The fucked-upness of their conception truly puts the EVAs to shame -- well, the psychological aspects do (how the bio and the mechanical actually merge in the suits), but the implementation of this in the actual plot though leaves a lot to be desired.
So Jin and Jo help Sana escape from her time in a virtual test tube, and then they meet up with mongoloid Goro (if this Naruto-wannabe wasn't dropped on his head as a child, I'd like to recommend doing it to him NOW... It might just fix what's wrong with him. Goro's always bouncing all over the place, turning traitor, and supposedly acting like the comic relief. Well, the most the writers could figure "comic relief" to be is "if Jin or Jo tells Goro not to touch something, get this, he TOUCHES IT! Guh-phaw!!!), and soon after the crew of the wackiest submarine in the world, the Ishin. By the way, their definition of wacky is vastly different from my definition of the word. To the Innocent Venus writers, "wacky" means "the captain of said wacky sub wears a pirate's hat and a kimono along with his (shit eating) grin.".... MY idea of "wacky" would be "the captain wears a pirate's hat while he fucks a monkey up the ass in every scene he's in. A different monkey in each scene too, and if somebody ever asks Captain Monkey-fucker WHY he's always fucking a new monkey he'll answer, 'What the fuck are you talking about?' while still fucking that monkey of the moment."
There are some minor skirmishes with Phantom and a bunch of the government's faceless minions, but everything plays out just as you'd expect it to. They run, they're found, they fight, they escape. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeattttt............. Pain.
Anyway, this show was even more predictable than Pumpkin Scissors. After the first episode I knew that Sana would remain a helpless damsel in distress till the end, that Jin would turn out to be an evil dick (and he does turn all Benedict Arnold in episode 8, and Phantom actually makes him their second in command soon after! What? That'd be like Osama bin Laden suddenly being found and cornered, and then having him slit the throat of his closest subordinate and saying to the US troops that found him, "Heh, see, I was really on YOUR side all along," and the troops BUYING IT, and then giving him a job in the Pentagon starting the following Monday at 8AM... No.), and that Jo would be the one to rise to the occasion and save everyone's ass in the final fight. I also knew that I would HATE this show by the final episode as well. How's that for prophesy!
What? The Rossman wasted over 30 hours watching shitty Japanimation shows? Again? Wow, you know, you just made my day.
That motherfucka in that army show with them scars did this brother proud. He must have been a bad ass in his fuckin' day, but it was a shame to see the asshole all Corky and shit now.
"Hey, we got this mothafuckin' tank coming right the fuck at us! Shit, holmes, wipe the drool from Kareem's mouth and shove that bitch in the tank's path! Woo-hoo! See, mothafucka, that bitch knows how to play! Now sew him up and let him have his Cabbage Patch Doll back. That's a good mongo. There you go, here's your baby."