Edumanga (aka: Atom Pocket Jinbutsukan) Vol. #04 - Albert Einstein - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 152
  • ISBN: 1-56970-975-0
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Edumanga (aka: Atom Pocket Jinbutsukan) Vol. #04 - Albert Einstein

By Sakura Eries     December 18, 2006
Release Date: December 13, 2006


Edumanga (aka: Atom Pocket Jinbutsukan) Vol.#04 - Albert Einstein
© Digital Manga Publishing


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Isao Himuro/Kotaro Iwasaki
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:

What They Say
At the age of 26, Einstein published his "Theory of Relativity," revolutionizing the world of physics. Today is name is synonymous with genius. From his boyhood quest for an answer to the riddles of light, his lifelong search for the answers to the mysteries of the universe ultimately led to the formulation of his many notion-shattering theories. Today, he is often regarded as the greatest scientist of the twentieth century.

Einstein, Astro Boy and friends invite you to discover the mysteries of the universe.

The Review
Packaging:
This volume of DMP's educational series Edu-Manga highlights the life of Albert Einstein. An aged Albert Einstein is shown on the front cover against a plain white background with Astro Boy flying in the foreground with Uran on his back. Einstein is shown smiling in casual clothes holding a notebook and with his pipe upraised. Above is the Edu-Manga logo in brown, which consists of "Edu-Manga" in prominent capitals, and Astro Boy with a smaller bubble of text "GOOD FOR THE BRAIN" above it. Below is a brown purple bar with the publisher's and series logo. The title is in block capitals to the left, and author / artist credits are in black capitals to the right.

The back cover features the Edu-Manga brown logo on top. Below the logo is "Albert Einstein," straddling the brown background of the top and white background below. The story summary follows, and aligned to the bottom left is an illustration of Astro Boy and his friends "surfing" through outer space. The inside front and back covers contain information about the Edu-Manga series.

Binding and materials are satisfactory although the binding cuts off text in certain places. Also, the original Japanese narrative text was not completely removed on page 120. Extras consist of DMP ads, Astro and the Doctor's Q&A, and a reference timeline table.

Artwork:
The character designs are not appealing at all. Einstein and other historical characters look like caricatures of themselves, even when Iwasaki is not using a chibi style. Bodies are shapeless, and heads seem too large in proportion to bodies. The historical figure I feel sorriest for is Maurice Solovine. Not only is his name misspelled in this book, but he's drawn like a Groucho Marx zombie, with bulging eyes and a monobrow. I was so disturbed by Iwasaki's depictions of him, I actually looked up his photo on the Internet to see if he truly was that deformed or not (to my relief, he looked normal, nothing at all like Iwasaki's pictures).

Most of illustrations used to explain Einstein's theories are clear and effective, and Iwasaki predominately uses chibi drawings in these sections, probably to make the scientific concepts less intimidating for young readers. However, his depictions of the "light clock" are somewhat confusing -- especially when there are two light clocks in the same panel. Some of the backgrounds are hand-drawn, but most of the outer space and historical location backdrops (as well as some war scenes) appear to be reproductions of actual pictures.

Text/Translation:
As DMP is promoting this as an educational book, it should have been a lot more stringent with its editing job. The book includes a number of physics equations, and the formatting in a couple of those equations was off, essentially screwing up the entire equation. For instance, the "1" in the "New Rule of Adding Velocities" on page 74 does not quite make it into the denominator where it belongs. Also, the units for the gravity acceleration constant, which is referenced in the Q&A section, are wrong; the text states that acceleration due to gravity is 980 cm per second, and it should actually be 980 cm per (second)2. In addition, there are some misspellings, including the misspelling of Maurice Solovine's name (it's written in the manga as "Moris Solovin"). However, DMP is very generous with footnotes, which is quite helpful considering the sheer number of historical figures, events, and scientific terms encountered in this manga.

Sound effects are translated with block letters that are placed next to the original Japanese.

Content:
This manga is a biography of Albert Einstein that is "hosted" by Astro Boy. The story unfolds when Astro Boy's friend Uran interrupts an experiment that Dr. Elefun is conducting with Astro Boy to ask for help with her homework. The conversation turns towards Albert Einstein and how the Nobel Prize-winning scientist would help the children in his neighborhood with their homework.

Five chapters follow, detailing the life of Albert Einstein. The first chapter tells of his background, introduction to science, and difficulties within the rigid German school system. Chapter 2 describes his university years and struggle to find employment. Chapter 3 is entirely devoted to the discussions Einstein had with the two other members of the Olympia Academy and the eventual development of his groundbreaking equation, E = m c2. Chapter 4 covers Einstein's recognition by the academic community and the further development of his theories on space and time. The final chapter describes the turmoil of World War II, the circumstances by which Einstein urged the president of the United States to develop an atom bomb, and his everlasting regret at having contributed to the creation of a weapon of mass destruction.

The five chapter biography is followed by three question and answer segments between Astro Boy and the Dr. Elefun regarding details on Einstein's life, research, and impact on science. At the very end of the manga is a timeline of Albert Einstein's life.

Comments
This title is the fourth in DMP's Edu-Manga series. Unlike the other biographical manga, this one reads part biography and part scientific text. The biographical portions incorporate many references to world events and scientific discoveries as Einstein did not conduct his research nor live his life isolated from the events of his era. The manga does a pretty good job of capturing the impact specific world events had upon him and the challenges and prejudices he faced as a European Jew in the early 20th century.

The sections explaining scientific theories are presented as conversations between Einstein and his colleagues/teachers. Characters create hypothetical situations and try to explain them scientifically. Explanations are simplified to the point where a bright middle schooler with an understanding of the laws of motion and some algebra (enough to understand very rudimentary physics equations) could gain a basic understanding of Einstein's theories on time and space (though instructors should probably fix the formatting on the equations on page 74 and 77 before giving it to students). Obviously, the more of a science background one has, the more one can appreciate Einstein's discussions. For instance, one of the Q&A section talks about Einstein's "Elevator Thought Experiment," which envisions an elevator in the zero gravity of space being pulled at an acceleration of 980 cm per second. Aside from the fact that the units are wrong (it should be 980 cm per second2), nowhere does the text mention what the 980 value means, but anyone who has been exposed to a high school or college physics class immediately would know that that number is the acceleration due to gravity on Earth.

It should be noted although these sections are illustrated with chibis and all sorts of "cute" elements, they are dense, not exactly material one skims through (unless you are a physics major, I suppose). Except for one portion of an Olympia Academy discussion that completely confused me, I personally was able to follow all of the logic and reasoning of the science sections.

This manga is rated for all ages. However, I would probably rate it as 12 and up. As I mentioned previously, though the manga presents simplified explanations of Einstein's theories, children elementary school age and younger will probably find the terms and concepts confusing. In addition, there are a few panels in the final chapter depicting the aftermath of the atom bomb that I think are too graphic for younger readers.

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