Takram was in charge of the character design and art direction for “Mimicries,” a children’s science education program by NHK E-television. “Mimicries” is designed to nurture scientific curiosities in children by finding everyday objects that “mimic” or resemble nature. Through this process, the program encourages children to think about the common laws of nature, and the reasons and meanings behind the similarities. Other than visual designs for characters and title logo, Takram was also involved from the initial planning stages of the program and participated in conceptualization and segment proposals. The project further expanded to include the development of interactive contents such as websites and smartphone applications.
“Mimicries” is designed to nurture scientific curiosities in children by finding everyday objects that “mimic” or resemble nature. Through this process, the program encourages children to think about the common laws of nature, and the reasons and meanings behind the similarities. For example, by associating the coiling patterns of a snail to those in seashells and the tendrils of a morning glory, one can discover the law of the “spiral.” This simple finding can help children recognize other similarities within their surroundings. The repetitive shifting between “concrete” and “abstract” nurtures the scientific curiosities in children.
APPROACH: Character design and algorithmic animation
By attaching a pair of “eyes” as a consistent feature that unites different “mimicries,” the design achieves both a consistent identity and character diversity. This idea also relates to the program’s concept to encourage and nurture the “observing eye” in children. In “Voronoi: Wonders of Shape,” the program features Voronois pattern as found on the wings of a dragonfly and the patterned skin of the giraffe. In this segment, animation of a complex algorithm, which wouldn’t have been possible to achieve manually, is made possible by the repetitive prototyping process using programming.
OUTCOME: Award Recognition
“Mimicries: the Secret of Yellow and Black” that aired in 2014 received the Best Work in the Pre-school Category (The Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Prize) at the 41st Japan Prize, an award known for recognizing the world’s great TV shows and film works created with an educational theme.
Production: NHK Educational
Coproduction: Taro’s, biogon pictures
Art Direction: Takram
Graphic Design: Kotaro Yamaguchi (Takram)
Animation: Kotaro Yamaguchi (Takram), Shota Matsuda (Takram), WOW inc., Rabiton Box, Takashi Ohashi, ONIONSKIN, TANGE FILMS Inc.
Narration: Junichi Suwabe
Music: Shugo Tokumaru
Supervision: Dr. Shinichi Fukuoka