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Fun with Manga

by Brian Dunning, Jul 09 2009

Manga Guide to Physics

Manga Guide to Physics

Ever wish you knew more about science subjects like physics or statistics? Maybe you missed them in high school or college, maybe you just never felt like taking the plunge and learning them on your own?

That certainly applies to me. Although I like to flatter myself with the term polymath, “jack of all trades” is perhaps more honest. I know just enough to be dangerous on too many subjects, and wish I knew more about all of them.

That’s why I was so excited about (cue the cheesy TV commercial music) the Manga Guides, from No Starch Press. Having grown up with Space Cruiser Yamato and being a hardcore Robotech fan, I’m more than willing to give an anime or manga guide to anything a fair shake. No Starch publishes a whole range of Manga Guides: databases, calculus, electricity, even molecular biology (I want to read that one next). They sent me the Manga Guide to Statistics by Shin Takahashi and the Manga Guide to Physics by Hideo Nitta and Keita Takatsu. Each book blends a basic education in science with a simple tale. For example, in the statistics guide, a little girl has to learn lessons in statistics in order to win the attention of a young engineer at her father’s company. If you’re going to be a budding stalker, at least do it with science.

Manga Guide to Statistics

Manga Guide to Statistics

The science is introductory level, but it’s not dumbed down. If you read the stories carefully you will pick up a decent working knowledge, no prerequisites necessary. Especially if you have a genuine enthusiasm for the material, the Manga Guides are effective learning tools. Although the concept seems juvenile, learning the lessons in the context of a real-world story is actually quite effective. They’re great for a kid, although the more advanced topics might well be over the head of a young child; and I’m rocking and rolling to them too, and I’m young only at heart.

If you don’t need to become a Ph.D. but you do want to have a good working knowledge of the topics discussed by your favorite science bloggers and podcasters, you could do a lot worse than to pick up a copy of the Manga Guide to Physics and the Manga Guide to Statistics. No Starch Press distributes through O’Reilly, so the books are available pretty much everywhere on the planet.

16 Responses to “Fun with Manga”

  1. teacherninja says:

    Those sound great–thanks!

  2. John Paradox says:

    I already have some ‘intelligent comics’, such as The Cartoon Guide To The Universe. These sound like great additions to my collection.

  3. Sam N. says:

    Thanks! those look really cool. I wish my teachers would use those instead of our current text books!

  4. Seth Manapio says:

    Reminds me of “Japan, Inc.”, which was a great introduction to the Japanese economy.

  5. alec porter says:


    • Hettfield says:

      LOL, I thought the same thing.
      Robotech rules.
      I’m not a real manga fan, I like a few Anime titles (Evangelion, Macross, Cowboy Beebop), but not many.

      I have a friend that’s a huge manga fan, I think he’ll like these.

  6. Drysk says:

    Thanks! I’ve seen these books while browsing bookstores but just brushed them off as being part of the whole manga fad and didn’t think they’d be very effective either. Guess we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover :P

  7. kabol says:

    what a great way to reach kids and kids at heart – anime has gained widespread popularity and so many kids and teens just love it. (i can’t prove it, but i think that i helped to improve my child’s reading fluency when he was very young by providing him with series of his favorite anime in japanese, subtitled in english.)

  8. Thanks a lot Brian, I’ll take a look for them over at the local bookstores. The statistics one is definitely something I’d be interested in.

  9. Bob says:

    Awesome! I’m going to look for them at Otakon this year!

  10. flawedprefect says:

    I fine addition is James Kaalios: The Physics of Superheroes! But I LOVE Manga and Anime (so does my brother-in-law) so I am definitely on the lookout for this one! WOO! Cheers, Mr Dunning!

  11. Matt says:

    Is there a particular (ideal) age related to these magazines?

  12. Robin says:

    Nice! I will buy one of these.

  13. evirus says:

    robotech? i prefer the original Macross more than the cobbled together robotech, especailly seeing as how there’s Macross 7, Macross Zero, and Macross Frontier which are probably never making it to the US due to robotech.

  14. Janis Chambers says:

    Awsome, an Anime nerd as well ^___^ Please tell me you’ve seen Akira.

  15. Kitty says:

    very nice! So how was Vegas? Could you see anything from your seat?