SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Cervelli, Filippo (2022) 'Mindless happiness: presentism, utopia and dystopian suspension of thought in Psycho-Pass.' Japan Forum. (Forthcoming)

[img] Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0).

Download (171kB)


Contemporary Japanese popular culture is particularly rich in representations of utopian social imaginations that often reveal dystopian scenarios. The anime series Psycho-Pass (2012–2013), especially, is overtly aware of its everyday utopia, and of its inscription in the history of utopian/dystopian representations, in and outside Japan. In 22nd-century Japan, citizens live in a ‘perfect’, stable society, where a powerful government-managed network called ‘Sibyl System’ measures each person’s characteristics and assigns them to their appropriate job and social role. In a system where Japan has reached autarchy, crime rates have plummeted, as Sibyl can calculate the probability of individuals committing crimes, allowing for pre-emptive police apprehension and termination. However, the promise of this utopian society guaranteeing happiness and security is actualised on the citizens’ uncritical acceptance of the roles assigned to them. This suspension of critical thought, concomitant with a general presentism where the characters only concentrate on their repetitive present routines, is at the core of Psycho-Pass. The article investigates how these elements illuminate the anime’s dystopian side, finally highlighting its critical relevance vis-à-vis contemporary Japan.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: utopia, dystopia, Psycho-Pass, anime, presentism, thought
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres and Institutes > SOAS Japan Research Centre
Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
ISSN: 09555803
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2022 14:20

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item