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Mike Riley

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The Manga Guide to Calculus Review

August 27, 2009

As many students know, calculus can be a difficult subject to comprehend. How many people get excited about it? No Starch Press believe enough to warrant The Manga Guide to Calculus, intended to answer a person's need for entertainment and knowledge in one beautiful 250+ page package.

The Manga Guide to Calculus Review
by Marielle Riley
The story introduces readers to a young woman named Noriko Hikima, a kind yet somewhat spastic heroine. Noriko brings a spicy mood to every panel. With the goal of becoming a big shot journalist, Noriko starts off her career by working at the Asagake Times Sanda-Cho Branch Office. Shortly thereafter, Noriko is introduced to a glutinous man named Futoshi Masui as well as Kakeru Seki, the head of the office who also happens to be a calculus freak. Those who have read the Manga Guide to Statistics would agree that some of the characters from the calculus guide are very similar to those in the Manga statistics book. Noriko Hikima has the hair and the attitude of Rui, while Kakeru Seki has the black hair, glasses, and love for his subject as Mr. Yamamoto.

With regards to the primary educational storyline, the authors jump into the matters of calculus faster than I expected. I quickly became confused as to why Noriko had to learn calculus in the first place. However, the presentation was so interesting that I kept reading, and the reason for this rapid introduction became obvious.  In fact, I continued reading with such interest that I finished the book in a matter of a day. Covering topics such as global warming, oil spills, love and liquor in the storyline gave me the idea that the book is more appropriately oriented toward older teenagers and adults. And because of the great balance in the character's attitudes, the book leans both toward male and female genders. For readers who enjoy humor and timely world events while learning challenging new ideas, this is the book to buy. For readers who are looking for an education with a touching and emotional story with feelings of romance and a little action, perhaps The Manga Guide to Electricity would be a better choice to consider.

In the book, the authors explain calculus quite well and use great examples to back up their presentations. Even though I have not taken calculus in high school yet, I actually managed to understand what the characters where discussing. Interchanging words and equations, explanations obviously dominate most of the panels of the book. Sometimes there are so many words that the character images are reduced to tiny floating chibi heads just to fit them all in the panels. No need to worry though, since there are still plenty of funny and dramatic pictures to examine.

In summary, The Manga Guide to Calculus is an entertaining comic with colorful characters and a fun strategy to teach its readers calculus. It could also provide a quick refresher for those who took calculus before but need a light reminder of calculus main principles. I would highly recommend the book to a student who needs to review calculus or have a quick preview before taking a formal class in the subject (readers should have at least finished geometry first).  For $19.95, The Manga Guide to Calculus is well worth it, especially when compared to less interesting introductory texts that may have students spending more time fiddling with their pencils than thinking about and applying the main principles that calculus has to offer.


Title: The Manga Guide to Calculus
Authors: Hiroyuki Kojima and Shin Togami
Publisher: No Starch Press
Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-1-59327-194-7
Price: $19.95

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