“The Matsuyama Mirror” is modern take on a traditional Japanese folk-tale that deals with empathy, emotions, feelings, in a sensitive and memorable way, setting the scene for the digital interaction and play with the main character (Amanga) to enhance the learning experience. The use of the Mirror motif, also adds another layer of meaning to the subject matter, one of self reflection and learning how to empathise with others by bringing greater self awareness of one's own feelings and emotions.
The visual language is full of symbolism, the lanterns representing departed souls, one of the themes of the story being death and rebirth. The red leaf motif that appears throughout the story is a potent symbol of regeneration and resurrection, the cycle of life. The dog represents faithfulness and loyalty. The mirror is representative of reflection of self; your own soul, and mirrors also create compelling reflections and distortions. The cherry blossom trees symbolise life itself.
The design is a traditional hardback, cloth-covered book, hand-stitched and bound. It is of a larger format to allow for placing on a table or in the lap to allow for easier interaction with a tablet or smartphone for the augmented reality digital content. The book can be used and enjoyed independently of the additional digital content. It has mirror boards in the front and back cover, together with smaller round mirrors within the story to allow for interaction (analogue face recognition!)
Story telling allows for the exploration of human emotion and the ability to explore feelings and empathise with the characters.
The AR digital content can be quite literally lifted off the printed page and used in the child's environment (the Manga Masks), further enhancing the play and learning aspects of the story. The reader can also interact with the story by sharing his or her own feelings, via the ability to upload a file, such as a video or photograph of the manga mask interaction. Allows the child to reflect on their own emotions and express them visually by sharing on Facebook or sending by email.
The ‘Zap Codes’ which allow the scanning of the augmented reality content, themselves already have a Japanese feel about them (referring to the rising sun emblem) this is further enhanced with the almost monochrome colour palette chosen, black, white and red. They are integrated into part of the design within the illustrations throughout the story.
The handmade original book is also available as limited hardback print edition. The printed version will be available for dispatch by the end of May 2018 for £35.