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*eerie music*

Another Dimension where a cast can have adventures and epic battles without generally affecting any place outside of this dimension or vice versa (although that possibility might crop up as a multi-part arc). It's a different story for anyone inside of course.

This also allows said battles to be Invisible to Normals.

The laws of physics may not apply in this space, and characters might have powers they wouldn't normally possess.

Hurling a bad guy into an alternate dimension is a great way to provide a bloodless "death" for a Big Bad, or just set up his return because you never know when he might pop back out of that alternate dimension to ruin your day. If animated shows for young kids ever require a villain to be Killed Off for Real, they'll usually throw him in a Phantom Zone and then lock the door behind him; he's not really dead, but he's also never coming back. Of course, this can also be the setup for Sealed Evil in a Can via a Tailor-Made Prison.

The name comes from an alternate dimension in The DCU, where Krypton sent its condemned criminals; they didn't die, but they were almost completely unable to influence the world outside.

In video games, this is sometimes the justification for the Amazing Technicolor Battlefield. See also Crystal Prison for a common cage.

May be related to the Void Between the Worlds.

Examples of Phantom Zone include:


Anime and Manga

  • A fox spirit in Kanokon uses these to provide privacy when she attempts to have sex with the show's protagonist. At one point the zone breaks down, returning them both to the middle of a crowded street in front of about fifty of their schoolmates.
  • The Alice Game in Rozen Maiden is fought in N-space, while the series otherwise takes place in a single Building of Adventure.
    • Mostly, anyways. The characters are sometimes shown outside it, just not often. And, except for sneaking into the school library, not for anything especially important.
  • The Merveille Space in Kagihime. It becomes a plot point because Aruto is the second male to be able to enter it apart from Alternate L. Takion.
  • The Kekkai Fields in X 1999. An interesting thing about this example is that if a "good" character wins a battle in a Kekkai, all the destruction is undone...but if the "evil" character wins, the destruction becomes reality.
    • Wasn't it if the field's creator (who tended to be the good guy anyway)was killed the damage became real?
  • Similarly, the Barriers in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which works by displacing magic users into a contained Phantom Zone, though damages to the environment are still retained and need to be fixed by The Federation afterwards. Useful in the first two seasons where the setting was the non-magical earth, so only the magical heroes would be trapped with the current threat. Nigh useless in the third season and beyond, where the setting is Mid-Childa where everyone is a magic-user, including the Innocent Bystanders.
  • Timestop Barriers (Fuzetsu) from Shakugan no Shana.
  • Minor example in Digimon Tamers: Rika's Renamon had the ability to talk to her in a pocket dimension where no time passed in the outside world. They could even enter it in a crowd of people, and when they got out again, nobody noticed.
  • GaoGaiGar's Dividing Driver created a pocket dimension where the Humongous Mecha could fight the Monster of the Week without the property damage usually associated.
  • Aversion: The dream world of Yumeria looks like a Phantom Zone, but as Mone's appearance in the real world at the end of the first episode attests, there's a very real connection between the two.
  • Closed Space in Suzumiya Haruhi, where giant ethereal beings known as Celestials rampage about destroying everything. No damage is reflected in the real world, but the Celestials still need to be destroyed in order to destroy the Closed Space and prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
  • In one episode of the OVER arc in Bobobobo Bobobo, Bo-bobo, Don Patchi, and Tokoro Tennosuke combine into "Bobopatchnosuke" to defeat a trio of oddball ninjas. He does so by pulling them into an alternate dimension called "Majide Time" ("Maji de?" roughly translates as "seriously?" in Japanese), where he performs attacks that are even more bizarre than normal, growing more powerful as his thoroughly confused opponents repeatedly shout "Maji de?!"
  • In Prétear, Shin, who is too young to fight anyway, has the job of setting up the zone and then watching as the grown-ups take care of business.
  • The Room of Spirit and Time (aka Hyperbolic Time Chamber in the FUNimation dub) from Dragonball Z fits the trope.
    • More applicable version would be the Dead Zone.
  • An interesting version occurs in Bleach. The local Mad Scientist rigged up an entire town, sent it to the afterlife, and created an exact copy of the town, and set it up where the original was, in order to attempt to fool the Big Bad, and also to prevent people from dying while the Shinigami and Hollows are fighting each other. How the scientist prepared for people trying to enter/leave the town while this switch is in place is never explained.
    • Leaving is no problem - the inhabitants are all asleep (even the spiritually powerful ones, except maybe Kurosaki Sr. Entering... well, maybe it's a Sunday.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index - One technique simply creates an area where people are somehow absent; another employs a "sides of a coin" metaphor that prevents people on one side (like magicians) from interfering with those on another (those who aren't involved).
  • The Red Night in ~11eyes~. While the space of the battles is confined to inside the city, the place gets severely wrecked up and, thankfully, none of the property damage that occurs within transfers back to the real world.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Evangeline is able to create one of these with her magic, transporting herself and the victim to her special resort. Naturally, only seconds actually pass while this is happening.
  • The Humongous Mecha of Sortie! Machine Robo Rescue have the ability to create special fields known simply as Zones to contain any enemies or obstacles that might get in the way of their rescue efforts.
  • Zero Time in Star Driver.
  • The witches of Madoka Magica hang out in bizarre "barriers"[1] that are only accessible in a small area, and the entrance is Invisible to Normals.
  • Gluttony's stomach in the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and Brotherhood anime is literally an unending bloodsoaked void with no exit in which Ed, Ling, and Envy get trapped.
  • Subverted in the Deconstruction of the mecha genre that is Bokurano. The fights between the giant robots cause exactly as much damage as one would imagine. Cities are destroyed, thousands of innocents are crushed, etc.


Comic Books

  • We may as well put the trope namer in here. The Phantom Zone from the Superman' comics, the harsh dimension to which Kryptonian criminals are banished. Sometimes they don't stay.
    • Grant Morrison's JLA introduces the Ghost Zone, where the League battle Prometheus and later the White Martians. Morrison heavily implies that the Ghost Zone (or as the Martians call it, the Still Zone) is also the Phantom Zone ... and probably also the Stasis Zone that was at the time standing in for the Phantom Zone in M'Onel's origin and the Buffer Zone that Bgzltians phase into. A more recent story adds Epoch's "timeless void" and DC One Million's "tesseract space" to the list.
  • Astro City's Samaritan has access to such a dimesion, but rather than use it for criminals or epic battles, he uses it as... a storage closet, mainly holding all the awards and plaques he regularly receives. It's also a convenient place to change his clothes when no phone booth is available.
  • Supreme (the good Alan Moore version) has Looking-Glass Land, literally the same world visited by Alice, but on a different continent of that planet, used to exile the criminals no normal jail could hold.
  • The Grant Morrison Marvel Boy series had the "pocket battlefield", a small cube that essentially does to physical space what the "incoming games" did to Mainframe on Re Boot; impose a virtual yet tangible interactive environment on the local reality, but the twist being that said environment gives anyone in it except the designated user a major case of the heebie-jeebies, giving him an advantage over his foes.


Film

  • In Superman, General Zod, Ursa and Non are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Jor-El. In Superman II, the Phantom Zone is shattered when Jor-El's son Kal-El (a.k.a. Superman) sends a terrorist hydrogen bomb into space to explode harmlessly, and the three Kryptonian super-criminals are freed to wreak havoc upon Earth.
  • The Supergirl movie has the title character thrown into the Phantom Zone by her nemesis Selena using the power of the Omegahedron, which strips her of her powers in the process. Zaltar, who came to the Phantom Zone as a self-imposed exile for losing the Omegahedron in the first place, pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to allow her to escape and regain her powers.


Literature

  • The Dreamlands in H.P. Lovecraft's stories are a subversion of this -- humans are still rather insignificant, but they are insignificant in a mythical if dark fantasy land that people in the Waking World are unaware exists.
  • The Twilight in Night Watch.
  • The Never Never in The Dresden Files
  • Scott Corbett wrote a series about ghost detectives, that had ghosts almost completely unable to affect the living world.


Live Action TV

  • VR Troopers had the Battle Grid for when they wanted to deal with the Skugs in relative privacy. For the actual Monster of the Week, the usual MO was for JB to return them to Cyberspace, which had a suspicious resemblance to Super Sentai's BBC Quarry (every time).
  • Ultraman Nexus. Ultraman creates a so-called "Metafield" that surrounds him and the Monster of the Week, creating a pocket dimension with a weird-colored sky and a rocky, craggy ground. In an interesting twist, the evil counterparts of Ultraman, subtly named Faust and Mephisto, can transform this Metafield into the "Dark Field," a pocket dimension with a darker sky (natch!) that weakens Ultraman slightly. Also, when the battles do threaten a real-world city, it becomes a major plot point.
  • Battles in Kamen Rider Ryuki take place in a "Mirror Dimension" that is populated by ravenous monsters. This dimension can be accessed through any kind of reflective surface.
    • The Americanized version, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, has this element, but the mirror dimension is a Parallel Universe named Ventara that was once populated until the Big Bad came to town, and the monsters (except for the ones the Riders are contracted to) all belong to him. There's also a Phantom Zone in the true Superman-form: for Never Say "Die" purposes, defeated Riders don't die, but are sucked into the "advent void," never to return.
      • It's not just Never Say "Die", as it becomes a plot point that getting sent there is not permanent


Tabletop Games


Video Games

  • The Void from Final Fantasy V, especially when you factor in Gilgamesh (yes, that one.) He's been able to join in and have fun in all sorts of dimensions. The best part? It's all canon.
  • The Noise Plane and Imaginary Plane in The World Ends With You.
  • Eternity Space in Star Ocean the Second Story more or less works this way, though it's technically already not involved in the story any more by the time the game begins.
  • The final track in F-Zero GX's Story Mode, as well as the final track in the Diamond Cup Grand Prix (same setting, different layout).
  • The boss battle with Giygas in Earthbound.
  • The entire plot of Subspace Emissary revolves around the titular subspace.
  • Your final battle against Lavos in Chrono Trigger happens in one of these, with backgrounds from various eras overlayed with a lightshow.
  • The Distortion World in Pokémon. You can fight a giant, ultra powerful, legendary Pokemon, capture it, and make it fight. Nothing else really, except run around.
    • Subverted in the anime equivalent,the Reverse World. Whatever you destroy in this world, affects the "real world" greatly.
  • The Bydo home dimension in R-Type is a Phantom Zone of sorts, and, what with being inhabited by the Embodiment of Evil (the Bydo), is a very scary place. Often, the final levels of the games would take place in that dimension, which could get downright disturbing.
  • The Midnight Channel in Persona 4 is a spooky, fog-filled dimension that exists inside televisions. Persona 3 has a Phantom Time in the form of the Dark Hour, 60 extra minutes between one day and the next that most people can't perceive.
  • Purgatorio in Bayonetta has some elements of this. Anyone in it is Invisible to Normals, but it does allow people in it (such as the title character) to interact with the real world to some degree. In fact, it's the only place where the demons of Inferno and the angels of Paradiso can interact with the mortal world.


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • The Null Void in Ben 10. Unusual in that things were let out before the viewer was let in on it.
  • The Ghost Zone of Danny Phantom.
  • A slightly ironic use in Justice League, where Batman becomes disgruntled with Superman after he sends Doomsday into the literal Phantom Zone. The plot really isn't trying to cover up the fact Batman's anger is treating it as giving someone an actual death sentence.
    • Before that it was shown in Superman the Animated Series as an prison for criminals too dangerous to be kept on Krypton... and after Krypton was gone, their sentences all became permanent. Superman lets one Kryptonian out because she's (supposedly) served her sentence and when he refuses her advances she lets her old boss out so they can conquer Earth.
  • The Phantom Zone makes an appearance in an episode of the Legion of Super Heroes where a much younger Superman releases a Kryptonian boy born/created by some of his old enemies to, naturally, kill Superman. He should really stop messing with the Phantom Zone projector.
  • Home Movies - in Brendon's sci-fi epic "Starboy and the Captain of Outer Space, the Triumvirate of Evil are hurled into space in a Phantom Zone parallelogram (owing to a low-budget, actually a Polaroid picture)

Notes

  1. "sealed space" would be a more accurate translation, but "barrier" is what everyone uses...
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