Understand complex topics and theories through manga

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The manga market in Japan caters to all demographics, interests and tastes. If you want to learn about history there are several nice hardcover collections available which teach you everything you need to know about ancient Japan or the early days of Europe and the French revolution. It’s strange that there are not more textbooks out there which are covering serious topics  with a strong focus on content. Especially in Western countries few of Japan’s educational manga were published.

I really wonder why this approach, to make difficult content as approachable and easy to consume as possible isn’t used more often or in the case for Western countries isn’t used at all. Maybe there is still a certain elitist notion floating around that learning is only possible with a static textbook. Who knows. Even if comics aren’t nearly as popular in Western countries (France aside) as in Japan few institutions are using the power of alternative media in general. We need more videos and manga with a fresh graphic approach towards teaching.

In Japans changing society from wealth and steady jobs to nowadays more uncertain times, the thoughts by French economist Thomas Piketty are more relevant than ever. His book Capital in the 21st century quickly became a bestseller in several countries, Japan included. I’m not the biggest fan of Piketty but I completely love the idea to turn a massive 700+ pages long nonfiction book into a manga. How awesome is that. The series is called まんがでわかる and got quite a few entries. Another one which I’d love to read is a manga adaption of 7 habits of highly effective people. I’m interested in this title for a while now and will eventually pick it up. But to read the whole thing in four neat manga volumes would be even better.

まんがでわかるピケティの「21世紀の資本」
The manga take on Piketty

Currently, I’m trying to work a lot on my studying habits in general. I want to get more done each day and just be more productive in general. Learning is not always easy in the sense that it’s really tough to understand that it’s always tough and painful if you want to achieve something. I’m always trying to mix up my learning routine with a couple videos here and there but if I had the possibility to read a manga in between that would teach me Anatomy I’d be all over it. Of course this can’t replace a textbook but It could definitely be a nice addition.

In Japan there is a vast selection of different books available ranging from explaining simple Physics to Physiology, Biochemistry and yes, Piketty. A couple of these (mainly focused on more “broad” topics) are available in the US as well. Which I really didn’t expect. unfortunately they didn’t use the original cover art but after all it’s the content that’s important. They labeled it The manga guide to… for the US and are definitely worth a look.


Have you read any of the まんがでわかる books and you did you enjoy them? Would really love to hear some impressions and thoughts about the series.

Pictures via visionmission & sorarun

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  • Erik

    We are homeschooling our daughter (now in high school) and have in the past given her a couple of the “Manga Guide To…” books as supplemental material, it certainly didn’t hurt!

    • Great idea Erik. I heard that the books are interesting for both kids and adults which is always sort of a compliment, I think. Have you read some of these yourself as well?

      • Erik

        I have, I found them reasonably entertaining – and my daughter says she liked them as well.

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  • Soong

    Wow! This is really awesome. I wish I could find something like this in Germany. I am very interested in history, but find most books on it a bit dry at times.

  • Invisible

    What do you mean with “unfortunately they didn’t use the original cover art”. They use exactly the same cover art as original publisher. Long time ago I’ve listed them with short english blurbs at:
    http://www.hidden-city.net/en/people/nev/solo/19/__reviews_____books_____science___manga_guides_series.html

    • Oh, you’re so right. Really don’t know at which covers I was looking at :) Thanks for pointing that out :)