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MR. ROBOT by San San


illustrated by San San & developed by Looda Studio

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 2012
Publisher: Looda Studio

A strange but beguiling mix of surreal storytelling and lighthearted psychological advice.

Selecting any of the five symptoms on the first screen, like “Unable to start doing anything,” leads to a “diagnosis” (from “Procrastination” to “Manic”). The app then proceeds to a tale about a lad who, convinced that his brain has been mechanized, fits a boombox over his head as a disguise and sets out for a series of encounters in Machine City and elsewhere. Eventually, he concludes that his problem is inconsequential. Every symptom leads to the same story, but a different “prescription” appears at the end. Putting all “network communication tools” into the freezer for a month cures “Information Anxiety,” for instance, or, for paranoia, “Pay attention to drink water, breathe more northwest wind.” Lines of text share space with panels of elaborately detailed cartoon art, which is rendered in harmonious colors and with accomplished figure modeling. The pages fade into view and glide elegantly into position on each screen with successive swipes as changing strains of ambient music play. A tap on any screen opens toggle buttons for the music and the (rare) sound effects, plus a thumbnail index strip.

Not particularly therapeutic, but the art and the plot are engaging—as is the translation, which is so consistently amusing that the awkwardness may well be intentional. (iPad storybook app. 10-14)