Spatial Encounters of Fantasy and Punishment in the Deadman Wonderland Anime


This paper intends to contribute to the interdisciplinary studies of architectural discourse and anime as an art form. Being not limited to pure visual aesthetics and entertainment per se, anime narratives engage with theory by using characters and architectural spaces as a tool to make social, political, and philosophical critique. As a case study, this paper focuses on the Japanese anime series Deadman Wonderland (2011), and argues that the architectural design in this anime is a deliberate maneuver to intensify the intended connotations and symbolic meanings, rather than being merely casual background settings and enrichments for the narrative. It is indicated that the anime uses the particular motif of amusement park as the primary metaphor of fantasy, and the specific motif of prison as the ideal metaphor of punishment. In the light of its architectural and urban settings, the narrative recalls a sense of history, while the prison and amusement park complex unfold power relations, social anxiety, uncanny, and repression of trauma and memory.