Hello Archi-Anime lovers and friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in the OWLS blog tour! So without further ado, let’s look at our October prompt!
In honor of Halloween, we will explore what we find vile and ugly in pop culture. For this month’s topic, OWLS bloggers will be exploring characters or aspects of the grotesque in a piece of media and how it is a metaphor or allegory for society, human nature, or some other philosophical or humane idea.
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of horror, I’ve got a weak disposition over it. It takes me days to get back to a normal sleeping routine after watching a horror movie. So, I just try to avoid them as much as possible.
While I’m not familiar with the genre, I can at least appreciate the aesthetics of the “grotesque” in terms of Architecture. When, I first started at my beloved alma mater SCI-Arc, I was really intrigued by one of the professor’s work there as he is exploring the term “grotesque” in terms of architecture.
Grotesque in Architecture
In the architectural world, the grotesque is correlated to the gargoyles you see in Gothic Architecture, or chimera’s that are considered to be decorative sculptural pieces, atop buildings from the medieval ages.
However, the aforementioned professor at SCI-Arc, Hernan Diaz Alonzo, took the meaning of grotesque and tried to apply it to the buildings themselves, as a way to challenge the surroundings. I should probably note, that he was very much inspired by the horror genre.
While the historical grotesque is denoted by sharp edges attributed to Gothic Architecture, Hernan’s work was more fluid in it’s shape, to the point some of the imagery can be unsettling.
Architecture alone can be iconic, but what really helps architecture be iconic is the context of it. Context meaning the place surrounding the building. Integration into its surroundings (to me) creates something more than just a pretty building. Like Hernan’s work, it’s really how the architecture reacts to what’s around it.
The following scenes in anime, not only pose a lot of implications in the building itself, but really add to the context of the scene or the environment.
Berserk (2016), Tower of Conviction
In Berserk’s season 1, the main setting is the Tower of Conviction, and the surrounding site. It looks to be a fairly simple, straight forward tower, but let’s be real, what happens inside the tower is pretty heinous. The tower is representation of the imposition of religion. The heaviness of the tower, due to it’s materials also creates a daunting atmosphere that is intimidating.
Attack on Titan, Trost/ Shinganshina
In the vast realm of Attack on Titan, one of the most unsettling points of the series is the fact that along the perimeter of the walls, there are small pockets of towns in which majority of the population is gathered. They say that Titans are attracted and drawn in by humanity, hence the pockets allow for the Titans to be concentrated in these areas.
Again, the architecture itself isn’t unsettling (despite being filled with sleeping titans) but the fact that humanity is caged within 50 meter walls in these pocket towns is an unsettling thought, as they’re literally bait for titans.
Voltron (Clone planet, cemetary, organic planet) *
Voltron has several episodes that exemplify the unsettling and grotesque. My favorite example is when Pidge searches for her Father and Brother, and ends up on a planet that’s solely dedicated as a cemetary.
It’s my favorite because, it was depicted as a beautiful landscape, especially when Pidge actually arrives on site. She arrives as the sun is going down, often known as “The Golden Hour” a time of day that has perfect natural lighting.
Its a beautiful planet but gosh, is it unsettling to know that such beauty can be found with such despair.
*sorry guys, I cannot provide images for this particular example due to being unable to 1. find images of it online and 2. screenshots are not allowed via phones. please forgive me!*
Psycho-Pass, Sibyl System HQ
The room in which the SIBYL system in itself is inherently grotesque. Basically a ton of brains store in one room run the entire city of Tokyo. If you haven’t seen Psycho-Pass, I just gave away the major plot in the anime. Honestly, the whole layout of this room kind of makes me laugh, as I’ve had to design a lot of Data Centers at my job, and the fact that this room looks exactly like a data center, is kind of ironic.
The image above is the exterior of where the SIBYL system is housed, and the exterior is eerie in that the pipes make it look like it has legs like a living breathing organism; a perfect reflection of what the system really consists of.
By the way, I have to plug an oldie but a goodie. Irina did a wonderful post on how to build your own SIBYL system, which is creepy in it’s own right, but in good fun. You should drop by and check it out here.
What are some unsettling, “grotesque” scenes featuring architecture that stand out to you in an anime? Again, the grotesque doesn’t necessarily mean horror, but rather unsettling in it’s theme, context and maybe even some of actual architectural elements.
Let me know what you guys think of grotesque architecture, in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out Matt’s post coming up next.
And in case you missed it, check out Megan’s post here.
Also, if you haven’t don’t forget to follow us on facebook as well as our twitter @OWLSbloggers and our official blog as well as our YouTube channel! And if you’re interested in becoming an OWLS member, you can contact us here.
8 thoughts on “[OWLS Blog Tour] Architecturally Grotesque”
I love your architecture posts so much! Another great one and of course thank you for the mention
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This post brought forth some very interesting ideas on grotesque architecture in anime and if I had to choose one well I would have to go with the city of Ceres in the remake of Ai no Kusabi. On the outside, it looks like a beautiful futuristic paradise but the more you learn about the politics of the city itself and it’s citizens it begins to lose its glitz and glamour. This becomes even more apparent when reading the original light novels which go deeper into the class structure of the world.
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Interesting topic. It’s ironic in Attack on Titan that the wall is supposed to protect the people, but it also serves as a cage and trap for the titans.
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