The Manga Guide to Statistics

The book promises to combine education with entertainment, teaching “statistics with heart-pounding excitement!” That seems a bit much for a math comic book, but it refers to the storyline driving the lessons.

The Manga Guide to Statistics cover
The Manga Guide to Statistics
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When Rui first meets her father’s co-worker, Mr. Igarashi, who uses statistics in market research, she develops an instant crush. She asks her dad for a statistics tutor in order to get closer to him. Instead, she winds up with Mr. Yamamoto, a younger geek, to learn more about mathematical analysis of samples from a population.

Each chapter is predominantly comics, with text sections providing more depth, plus an exercise and answer. The art is clear and readable, with mostly static head and figure shots. It’s standard shojo style, with plenty of patterned backgrounds. The characters are one-dimensional: Rui is an over-emotional, impractical, lovesick teen. The tutor is something of a fanboy. The dialogue is stodgy, as is to be expected with an explicitly didactic project, and often jargon-heavy.

The text is partially Americanized, using “Mr. So-and-So” instead of “So-and-So-San”. I found more amusing when the tutor sees what are clearly manga volumes on Rui’s shelves, and the two talk about how she reads “comics”. However, this isn’t consistent: there are numerous references to the way Japan does things, like “home prefecture” instead of “state” or the “English proficiency step test”. The real-life examples cover things like ramen shops and bowling scores.

We’re given formulas for calculation, but the purpose isn’t always explained. Instead, their use supports rote memorization. (In that way, it seems to me culturally Japanese.) As a result, this book seems more like a supporting text than a primary one. If you know when you need, for example, a histogram, then this book will help you remember how to make one. It can’t take the place of a teacher, though, because too much is thrown at the reader without room to practice or understand the context.

Although the comics are nothing to write home about, the gimmick does draw attention to the material from those who’d otherwise ignore it. See sample pages at the publisher’s website. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.) Here’s another review that has more concerns about the gender roles.


  1. […] At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson has a good critique of The Manga Guide to Statistics, and she links to Jog’s hilarious review as well. You’ll be hearing about it soon at […]

  2. Kent Enfield

    Why is referring to comics as comics amusing? Both “manga” and “komikkusu” are general terms in Japanese, so rendering either one as the general term “comics” in English makes sense to me.

  3. […] wasn’t all that impressed by an earlier book in this series, The Manga Guide to Statistics, but I found this volume a big […]

  4. […] and developed the framing story is, the more interested I am. A book that says “Girl student needs to study and here’s what she learns” isn’t as involving as, for example, “Princess […]

  5. […] Manga Guide series of true-science books — The Manga Guide to Statistics, The Manga Guide to Physics, The Manga Guide to Databases, and more — will continue this year […]

  6. Do these books even Help?!

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