Paradigm City

Paradigm City

Paradigm City is the main setting of the televised anime series The Big O. Located next to a sea and a vast desert wasteland, the city is maintained and controlled by the monopolistic Paradigm Corporation. The city is divided into the higher-income population residing inside geodesic domes, and the remainder living outside the domes. Androids coexist with the human inhabitants of Paradigm City. While their numbers are fairly low and they're something of a rarity, there are enough of them that denizens of the city are not shocked by them and don't treat it as particularly unusual to encounter one.

The Big O takes place forty years after "The Event," an unknown occurrence which left everyone with no memories of their past and apparently decimated the world outside of the city limits. At many times during the series Alex Rosewater, head of the Paradigm Corporation, alludes to the fact that he either does not care about those living outside the domes, or that the city would be better off without them.


The Event

The Event makes for the main question of the series, "What happened?" The Event's causes remain unknown, aside from that people's memories and all record of prior events were erased. Memories recovered by Roger Smith and the "tomatoes" (clones of Paradigm City's senators), suggest that an army of Big Megadeī attacked and destroyed the city, before turning on each other.

In reality, Paradigm City is a stage; nothing existed before forty years ago. Enormous machinery underlies the city, and massive stage lamps hang above it. The memories possessed by Roger and the tomatoes are based on a book entitled Metropolis written by the city's founder, Gordon Rosewater, but he says that the story was delivered to him in a dream and that he is not the true author. The final episode reveals that it was written by Angel, who is actually a Rosewater. This alludes to Paradigm City acting as a movie based on this book with the perfect actors, who have no choice but to play the part.

Following the Event, Gordon Rosewater "founded" Paradigm City, and he and the city's senators reconstructed the city and built its domes. It seems that at this point Gordon Rosewater was aware that the city was just a stage, and hired Roger Smith to negotiate with the director, although Roger is unaware of this as he should not even have been born at the time.

Concept and creation

It is clear from evidence shown in the series that Paradigm City may be modeled after New York City. Some of the evidence:

  • In episode 1 (Roger the Negotiator), as Roger is traveling to the site of the meeting with Beck, the World Trade Center can be seen in the distance. (The series premiered in Japan before September 11, 2001.)
  • In episode 5 (Bring Back My Ghost), it is mentioned that Officer Fraizer fell into the Hudson River.
  • In episode 8 (Missing Cat)), the antagonist's base is in what appears to be the American Museum of Natural History.
  • In episode 12 (Enemy Is Another Big!), one of the battle scenes is supposedly fought at the ruins of the JFK airport and is mentioned as JFK Mark by Dan Dastun (the ruins are at the edge of the wastelands, which suggests that almost everything beyond the airport ruins has been destroyed).
  • In episode 17 (Leviathan), the remnants of the Coney Island amusement park and the Cyclone roller coaster are clearly shown.
  • In episode 19 (Eyewitness), an android killer is shown wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap.
  • In episode 20 (Stripes), Angel finds herself drawn to the ruins of Grand Central Terminal.
  • Also in episode 20 (Stripes), Big Fau rises out of the ground through the Washington Arch.
  • In several episodes Roger pays Big-Ear for his services with what would appear to be US currency.
  • Whenever he visits Big Ear, Roger drives over what appears to be the Brooklyn Bridge
  • In one of the last two episodes Roger sees Vera in what appears to be Lincoln Tunnel.

Although Paradigm City might be New York City, or an imitation of it, it is much more expansive than the New York City of today. While there are recognizable landmarks from New York City's past, (i.e. the Grand Central Terminal) building apparently expanded in all directions and within the old boundaries itself. Because the city's population only fill about half the city, giant robot battles that cause massive property damage aren't much of a problem, as they either destroy abandoned buildings, or people displaced from destroyed buildings can easily find more that are available.

There is a portion of Paradigm City, that has fisherman's wharf of San Francisco.

  • In episode 7 (The Call from the Past), large shipwheel sign, Tarantino's and Alioto's Restaurant. Roger is asking why the fishermen were scared.

City design

It appears that each dome has its own "sun," a source of light that orbits along the outside of the dome which rises and sets just as the natural sun would. The structure of the domes themselves also become important during some of Roger Smith's battles in the Big O, such as his fight against Schwarzwald in "Act 12".

Roger travels to various areas of the city to meet with his clients as well as get information from an informant called Big Ear at the "Speakeasy", a bar/pub outside the domes. He also travels to Paradigm Dome for a few jobs, although he despises the company and its headquarters.

The old underground subway and maintenance systems were abandoned after The Event, as everyone was afraid to go below the surface of the city. Many believe, rightly, that hidden secrets from before the Event lurk in these unexplored warrens. Secret laboratories and other installations from before the Event are tucked away in the underground, where none dare look. Roger Smith is unafraid to use the old subway system as a means of quickly transporting Big O around Paradigm City as needed: an immense tank-like vehicle that contains the Big O, the Prairie Dog, uses the subway tracks to maneuver around the city and then raise the Big O on a platform so that it may burst forth from underground. As a result, no one can track Big O's movements to Roger's house. However, even Roger has only mapped out the basic subway grid to use to move Big O around, and even to Roger almost all of the underground is an entirely separate world that he is afraid to go into. In episode 4, Roger ventured further down than he ever had before, and found that the deeper you go the more modern the surroundings become; newer installations were built below the older ones. Thus while the tunnels near the surface are simply old subway lines, the regions very deep down are from right before the Event and house exotic technologies that are unknown on the surface, such as the ruined Archetype megadeus found by Schwarzwald.

Beyond Paradigm City, there is nothing: whatever happened in the Event forty years ago apparently turned the rest of the world into an endless desert, and Paradigm City is believed to be all that remains, to the point that its inhabitants scoff at the idea of surviving "foreigners" as simply myth. Paradigm City itself is essentially a city-state, with fields contained within domes where crops are grown to feed those within, such as the fields of wheat and tomatoes owned by the retired Gordon Rosewater. However, during the course of the series a group called "the Union" surfaces which appears to be made up of foreigners who are infiltrating the city. However, in the surreal final episodes their actual status as foreigners is called into question. Although Union members themselves believe they are really from outside of Paradigm City, it is suggested but not substantiated that they are really clones produced as an experiment within the city, and then cast out, and whoever they think they are working for doesn't exist. Angel learns from her "mother," high-ranking Union member Vera Ronstadt, that they are "tomatoes," Gordon's clones of Paradigm senators who supposedly possess their memories. Gordon later tells Roger and Angel that they are not among his tomatoes, although it seems that his "son," Alex Rosewater, is.

A large portion of the city is also submerged in the waters just off the coast. It appears that during the Event, there was either a massive rise in sea levels, or a large portion of the city sank into the sea, or both, forming a new coastline. Many of the taller buildings can still be seen protruding from the water. The submerged city also acts as a large artificial reef, and attracts a large amount and variety of fish and other oceanlife, which is harvested to help feed the city's population.

In the final episodes of the series, as Roger's megadeus sinks into the sea, he sees below the submerged portion of the city what appears to be a large series of gigantic gears and mechanical equipment below the ruins, lending support to the theory that the entire city itself, even the old submerged ruins, may just be a fabrication. Enormous, megadeus-sized stage lamps are hung from a structure high above the city, reinforcing the suggestion that the city is a stage, although the population is unaware of them as they are concealed by clouds.


The inhabitants of Paradigm City appear to only remember bits and pieces of what religion was like before the Event, though numerous episodes show its inhabitants practicing Christianity, or at least Christianity in some shape or form, as people congregate in meeting places with crucifixes prominently displayed. However, it is revealed in episode 11 that almost no one remembers Christmas. Several cathedrals stand in ruins and forgotten, although some of the elderly occasionally feel compelled to stand in front of them and sing scraps of hymns. Half based on vague memories of a holiday on December 25th, and half as a celebration to commemorate the founding of Paradigm City, Christmas is known as "Heaven's Day".

Heaven's Day is a secular holiday, which started out as an annual celebration of the founding of the city by giving bread and wine to the poor. As the city grew more prosperous over the course of 40 years, people started giving presents to the ones they loved, and it grew into a commercial shopping extravaganza not unlike modern day Christmas celebrations. The inhabitants of the city still put up generic Christmas decorations like decorated Christmas trees and streamers, but they don't really know the underlying reason behind all of this. However, Alex Rosewater at least knew that the real reason for the celebration was that "it's the day God's son was born". Whether he was referring to a memory of the original holiday, or to himself in comparison to his father is unknown.


Paradigm Corporation

The Paradigm Corporation is run by Alex Rosewater, son of original founder of Paradigm City and the Paradigm Corporation, Gordon Rosewater. The Paradigm Corporation is made up of divisions Paradigm Press, Paradigm Laboratories and Research. The Paradigm Corporation runs the city. To his displeasure, Roger Smith is often hired by the Paradigm Corporation or Alex Rosewater.

Military Police

The military police is the only protection for Paradigm City. They act both in a military capacity in their defense against Megadeī, and as police in their regular law enforcement activities. There are no law enforcement officials in Paradigm City outside of the military police. The military police is owned by, receives full funding from, and is under the full supervision of, the Paradigm Corporation. They are supposed to follow the orders of the Paradigm Corporation, even if those orders conflict with the general safety and welfare of the populace. At times, they have forcibly removed people from their homes in order to make room for expansion of the domes and other Paradigm Corporation projects, resulting in mass riots amongst the residents outside the domes. The commander you see the most is Major Dan Daston, later promoted to Colonel. Roger Smith was once a member of the military police, and partner to Datsun, until he decided to leave the force (though it is never stated specifically why Roger left, it is indicated that he grew increasingly disdained with Paradigm's control over the public's safety, and thought he could do more good in the private sector). The military police is torn apart by the end of the series, with Daston and a large portion of the force going rogue in an attempt to support Roger and his Megadeus against an insane Alex Rosewater.

The Union

The Union is a group of outsiders, believed to be survivors from the last remnants of civilization (outside of Paradigm City) that was destroyed by the Event. Though their exact locations of origin are unknown, many appear to be of European culture (some appear familiar with the French language, which is a dead language to the residents of Paradigm). Like the residents of the city itself, the members of the Union also apparently lost their memories after the Event, suggesting that the mass amnesia may have been a world-wide phenomenon. Members of the Union often infiltrate Paradigm City posing as regular citizens, in almost all social classes and careers (including the military police force). In some cases, they become so integrated that have friends and even form families, all of whom are unaware of their true identities or goals. In this way, the Union has created a number of covert sleeper cells. Angel is in fact a member of the Union, though Roger is able to discern fairly early on that she is not really a native of Paradigm City.

The Union's mission is seek out lost memories which they believe may reside in Paradigm Ciy. They also wish revenge on the Paradigm Corporation and the city itself because of their belief that they were responsible for the Event 40 years prior that destroyed the world. They accomplish their goals primarily through subterfuge and sabotage, although they apparently have control of a contingent of Megadeus that they have found in the wastelands, as well as an impressive air force (something that Paradigm severely lacks).

Towards the end of the series, the memories and purpose of the Union are brought into question, and there are indications given that they have been manipulated and that their actions have been lead all along by Paradigm Corporation without their knowledge. There are also indications that their memories of having grown up in foreign lands may be a fabrication, and that their entire lives were just acts on an elaborate stage. If the interpretation is true, it could possibly be that there is indeed, literally, no outside world beyond the wastelands that border Paradigm City.

Electric City

In Act 3, Roger Smith is dispatched to Electric City to negotiate with the locals the reactivation of the hydroelectric power plant. The city located in strech of hilly forest area with large lake & river that appears to lead to Paradigm City. The city is smaller than Paradigm City, but resembles it. However, unlike Paradigm, the city with without any form modern utilities. Citizens are frighten of a monster that is said to live in the lake, so they live by torches and other primitive means and refuse allow the power plant to be reactivated.

Angel under the guise of Casey Jenkins, investigator for Paradigm Power Management, re-activates the hydropower plant. Eel emerges and Big O arrives to destroy the giant electric stealing eel. Once destroyed Electric city briefly lights up with electric power discharged from death of giant Eel.


Electric City is only known city to exist outside Paradigm City. Its existence later in the story seems to be forgotten as to much story eludes to that city is surrounded by sandy wastes vs some urban forest and sand wastelands. It not explained if it and Paradigm are part of the same "country" which is becomes bigger issue later in the series.

Also, Big O somehow is transported to this remote area. Suggesting that either travelling by underground railroad tracks. Which isn't explained as to the existence of forgotten city in later episodes.


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