Manga Guide to the Universe

Manga Guide to the Universe Review

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Manga Guide to the UniverseManga Guide to the Universe is the latest release from No Starch Press in the “Manga Guide” series. Here, three female characters named Gloria (an exchange student from the U.S.), Kanna, and Yamane make up the drama club at their high school and decide to put on the play for The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Because this is a mythical Japanese story of Kaguya-hime, who was found by a bamboo cutter and grew into adulthood where she revealed she’s actually from the moon, the girls decide that maybe knowledge of space and the moon will be helpful.  Thus, the trio hook up with various people to teach them things about the universe.

As is normal for the Manga Guide series, there’s the manga story, which combines minor plot elements with educational parts done in easy to understand form.  The manga portion is backed up by more traditional textbook materials, which are easier to understand after having gone through the manga portions.

Topics covered are the moon (understandable since The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter gets things started); Earth’s relationship with the universe; the solar system and our galaxy (Milky Way); the creation of the universe and the Big Bang theory; the edge of the universe; and how the universe is expanding. Because of various diagrams and charts, it seems like there’s a bit less manga portions for this book compared to others in the series, but that’s not a problem. After all, showing the various charts and diagrams as well as illustrations to go with the textbook materials is very helpful.  Whether there actually is less manga or not, I can’t say since I’d have to manually page-count and I have no desire to do that. ^_^;

Fortunately, the authors of this book take a bit of time to give a summary of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. For Japanese audiences, this likely would not be a requirement, but for Western audiences with little to no knowledge of Japanese folk tales and mythology, it is a nice addition.  I dare say that this might tempt folks to read more about this story (there do appear to be official English translations, but I haven’t done any research on them so I don’t know how good they are or if they would even be ANB-approved).

As an added bonus, No Starch Press has eight color pages showing photos of the planets of our solar system, the International Space Station, the now retired Space Shuttle, the old Apollo rocket, and shots of the universe.  I don’t know if these were included in the Japanese release or not, but either way, they are a welcome addition to this book.

The manga artwork is a little “sketchy” for my tastes. It looks like it has been hurried, which I found to be a bit of a distraction but nothing too major. Its a shame too because the cover artwork looks pretty nice.

For a book like this, I don’t harp on my Japanese honorific usage, but I did note that the translations here are a bit bipolar in terms of honorific usage. For example, a teacher is called “Mr. Ishizuka” at one point and then “Sensei” at another point. I saw usage of both the “-san” honorific and “Miss.”  I also found it interesting that “Kaguya-hime” was used rather than “Princess Kaguya.” I’m going to guess that this was done because the bamboo cutter who found the tiny girl in a special bamboo stalk named her “Kaguya-hime” in the story and thus it is officially part of her name rather than a title.

Of all the books in the “Manga Guide” series, this one has to be my favorite, mainly because of the subject matter. This is a really interesting book to teach some basics about the universe for those wanting to learn.  Well worth owning.

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One Response to “Manga Guide to the Universe”

  1. ejqwek says:

    WOW!!!!! LOOKS LIKE NEWS…. THANKS ANYWAYS!!! KEEP IT UP!!!! I REALLY LIKE UR BLOG!!!!

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