The Manga Guide to Physiology

The Manga Guide to Physiology

It’s been three years since the last Manga Guide, but it’s a pleasure to see the series continue with The Manga Guide to Physiology. I always learn things reading these volumes.

It’s a shame, though, that this came out so close to Human Body Theater, which tackled a similar topic — how the body is put together and how it works — in a way that’s more appealing to American audiences. I found the humor there, particularly having the organs themselves talk to the reader, more entertaining, without the Manga Guide problem of having a young woman educated by an older man. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, taken on its own, but when it’s the setup for most volumes, it becomes a little tiring and stereotypical. (Then again, it may be the case that few customers read the entire series, so I may not be representative of the usual reader.)

 The Manga Guide to Physiology

Kumiko is a nursing student who isn’t doing well in her classes. She’s been distracted by preparing for next week’s marathon run through the campus. She’s given one last chance with a physiology make-up exam, and Assistant Professor Kaisei tutors her. He’s going to be teaching a remedial course on the subject, so she’s a great way for him to practice.

There are chapters on the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, renal, nervous, musculoskeletal, and endocrine systems, as well as body fluids and genes and reproduction. Each comic chapter is followed by text explaining the content in more depth. As you’d guess, the comics are heavy on talking heads, as the characters explain the lessons to each other, but the illustrated format does allow for easy introduction of various diagrams and visual metaphors.

I think the part I most appreciated was learning why ice cream headaches happen as an example of “referred pain”. That was something of direct effect to me, and as the book promotes, “physiology is so much more interesting when you take a personal interest and identify with the processes you’re learning about”. There are preview pages available at the publisher’s website. I’m glad to hear that there are three more volumes planned next year:

  • The Manga Guide to Regression Analysis
  • The Manga Guide to Cryptography
  • The Manga Guide to Computers

(The publisher provided a review copy.)


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