Brain Pickings

Japan: The Strange Country


Kabuki, GDP, and speech-free storytelling that leaves you speechless.

Last week, we saw and loved Japan: The Strange Country — a wonderful student project presenting Japan’s numbers and figures in a brilliant infographic animation. In the past few days, the film got a decent amount of press. But today, something strange happened: The English version of the animation was taken down, leaving only the Japanese one.

Out of curiosity, we gave the Japanese version a spin and were astounded to realize it was just as brilliant, despite the foreign voiceover — just as crisp, just as digestible, just as informationally revelational. And we thought this was the true litmus test for excellent infographic visualization: Using design and visual narrative as a storytelling device in a way that makes the data so intuitive and clear that it renders language unnecessary.

See for yourself.

So for your next encounter with infoviz, consider this: If you took language away, would it still make sense and tell a story?

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