The Manga Guide to Physics

What a fun book series this has been to read and review! I have been impressed by the book series so far and its treatment of the various topics. This may be my favorite of the series, although I will be reading The Manga Guide to Calculus later in the summer or early fall, so I won’t yet make that a definite statement.

As with the other books in the series, this book uses well drawn manga art to introduce and give a context for presenting the material–in this case, Newtonian physics.

The Manga Guide to Physics does not require knowledge of calculus for most of the book, although there are a few times in which knowledge of mathematics higher than algebra and geometry would either be useful, or in a couple of places necessary (such as during the discussions of springs and the conservation of energy).

I would not consider this book to be useful as a beginning physics textbook, but for anyone who has taken a high school course, it will be a useful way to review for a final exam and learn a bit more than would have been studied in the year long course. If you have completed a university basic course in physics that uses calculus (not the non-calculus version for non-science majors), this book will be below you. If you are reviewing for that non-science major course, you may find this book extremely useful and a fun way to help shore up and retain your studies.

Topics covered in the book include all the basics: Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, gravity, force and motion, inertia, momentum, impulse, energy, work, and so on. There is also a useful appendix titled Making Sense of Units, which helps the student do exactly that.

I haven’t taken a physics class since 1990. I’m sure I would have difficulty trying to pass the final exam for Physics 101 at the university based solely on my memory. After reading this book, paying careful attention to the examples and working through the problems in each along with the characters in the story, I believe I might be able to do it. That’s pretty good for someone so rusty. I think the book would be extremely useful to a student with less time between now and a careful study of the material in a class setting, especially someone preparing for exam time or who had or is having difficulty absorbing the topics and principles involved in basic physics.

There are a couple of weaknesses in the book. Some books in the series provide study questions for readers/students to answer on their own, with solutions in the back of the book. This one does not, so you have to pay careful attention and choose to work through the examples as they are discussed. The other weakness is that most basic physics courses will cover, at least in my memory, an introduction to electronics and electricity. This book does not, probably because there is a separate book in the series dedicated to that topic and because it really doesn’t fall under the precise topic of Newtonian physics, even though it is covered in those elementary physics courses. That’s it. Otherwise, I can recommend the book without reservation.