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The Manga Guide™ to Calculus

The Manga Guide™ to Calculus

by Hiroyuki Kojima, Shin Togami, and Becom Co., LTD
No Starch Press, San Francisco CA, 2009
256 pp.  $19.95 ($24.95 CDN)
ISBN: 978-1-59327-194-7.

Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher
Saginaw Valley State University


This reviewer must confess to flunking Calculus in college almost 35 years ago.  DVDs from the Teaching Company, actual college lectures, seemed enticing as a way to fill in my gap . . . but I procrastinate in obtaining them.  Then, this Manga Guide™ beckoned.

Differentiating a function!  Derivatives of composite and inverse functions!  Maxima and Minima!  The fundamental theorem!  Trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic functions!  Taylor expansions and partial differentiations!  Their application to Economics!  All are here, woven into a Japanese educational comic book.

The comic introduces a junior newspaper reporter named Noriko, soon tutored by her office boss Seki-San, who manages to turn amusing occurrences into examples of calculus in action.  Events and circumstances distill before our eyes into graphs and equations.  Newspaper circulation, variations in roller coaster speeds, bubbles in beer, rolls of the dice and the path of dancers at a summer festival are all defined as calculus problems, and methodically solved by Mr. Seki.

Comedy relief is provided by their chubby assistant, as well as by the exaggerated facial expressions that enliven many manga.  The artwork by Shin Togami is clear and attractive and supports the pedagogy by stepping aside to prioritize the mathematical formulae as necessary.  There are useful chapter summaries, exercises and their solutions, and an appendix of formulas, theorems and functions.

The Manga Guide™ to Calculus could be a good supplementary text for a college student taking calculus, and an innovative instructor could even build a good syllabus around it as the primary textbook.  Nevertheless, one favorably-disposed reviewer is not completely sure that after a single reading, I could pass my Calculus course yet.

Last Updated 1 June, 2010

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