Megumi is a great tennis player, but she’s not so great in her physics class. When all of the students compare notes after their test, she worries because she didn’t get the same answers. All this worry then distracts her from her tennis game, causing her to lose. Luckily, she gets accidentally bonked on the head by Ryota, winner of the silver medal in the International Physics Olympic Games. This gives her the intro she needs to get some physics tutoring from an expert. Voila! The Manga Guide to Physics is born.
The last physics class I took was almost ten years ago, but I regularly help kids with homework, so I thought this would be a great refresher. As a physics textbook, the book was wildly successful. It was fairly easy to understand, used quite a bit of visual imagery to demonstrate concepts, and made a couple jokes to spice things up. My one complaint with the physics side would be with the higher level math equations that might make it less accessible to all levels of students. As a manga story, well, it taught me physics.
This would definitely not be something that an average manga consumer would casually read with a little bit of learning snuck in. Picking up this book would mean making a commitment to the field of study. However, it is possible to get different amounts of knowledge from the book. I read through the laboratory sections without focusing too much on the equations beyond the occasional, “Oh, yeah. That seems legit.” However, a person could use the equations to actually solve physics problems, should they so desire.
The manga artwork is adorable, and, honestly, the art is what upgrades the book from your typical textbook. The diagrams and illustrations fit better than many in my original physics textbook of yore with real world situations that would apply to students such as tennis balls, roller skates, and high jumps. It also helps that it adds the humor with the drawings, increasing the accessibility of the book.
Regrettably, it still comes down to the fact that a lot of students who find physics boring might not find this to be the answer to their prayers. I never felt comfortable with vectors, and I didn’t find myself suddenly illuminated. (Don’t judge me. It’s not my fault vectors are stupid.) However, I do feel like I got a great foundational refresher to the major laws of motion, though I wouldn’t take this as a beach read. Certainly, manga loving physics students will find this more accessible than a regular text, but it is not the second coming of Richard Feynman. Bazinga!
The Manga Guide to Physics
by Hideo Nitta
Art by Keita Takatsu
No Starch Press and Ohmsha, Ltd, 2009
Publisher Age Rating: