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The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology

There's a lot of fascinating things about molecular biology (I should know, I have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology) - but a lot of students get discouraged from learning it because it is taught poorly in school. To be fair, the topic is rather complex - if you don't get the basics right, it's easy to get confused and lost later on - and many of the textbooks of biochemistry, cell biology and molecular bio are b-o-r-i-n-g. Heck, I've read phone books more interesting than some of 'em.

Enter The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology. Written by Dr. Masaharu Takemura, a lecturer of biology, molecular biology, and life sciences at the Tokyo University of Science, the book uses manga-style cartoons drawn by Sakura and produced by Becom Co., Ltd. It is released in the United States by No Starch Press (a publishing company that aims to be "the finest in geek entertainment").

The book is ostensibly about the adventures of Rin and Ami, two students that have been skipping their molecular biology class. They were summoned by Professor Moro for a special summer school on his private island (complete with a virtual reality machine, a hunky TA ... and a terrible secret. What is it? Oh, I'm not going to tell you). But amidst all that fun, there's actual learning.

Take, for instance, the explanation about how the liver enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase works in breaking down alcohol:

Read more after the jump:

So, if you're in class and need a little help or inspiration in learning a particularly dry molecular biology subject, or if you know someone who do, check out the Manga Guide to Molecular Biology over at Amazon:

OMG. I am horrified by the match of my love (I hearts biology) and my loathing, large eyed, spiky haired, unnaturally gesturing people, overly dramatic manga.

Pardon me while I go out back to explode now.
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I think that the way that they teach this is awesome!! As long as the students or kids lets say know about the actual lesson and are not more interested in the story. DrinkZilla has a hold on me thats for sure. haha They should come out with a new drink called the drinkzilla
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I'm an art major, so I don't usually get to learn about fun science stuff like this. Even I did take a biology class, the textbook would be so boring/verbose that I would probably want to stab it. Or be to busy being frustrated with how ugly it was.

This is a subject that I'd love to learn more about but is pretty hard to self educate yourself in without getting hopeless lost in techno babble. So I'm totally for this version of slightly silly science if it taught me anything about molecular biology. I mean, who doesn't love proteins?
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I own manga guides to calculus and databases. Both are very capably written introductory texts so I'd guess this one's pretty good as well.
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Yeah, it's awesome. An inspiration for textbook writers everywhere.

BTW, just want to complement PZ on his work. We need more intellectuals like you!
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Well done! (Now this is what I missed by forgoing molecular biology for journalism, all those years ago! [whine]) Gave me a needed laugh -- but now I'm getting scowls from my fellow students in the law library. Must be quiet. Must be very quiet.
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I like this idea (I would have loved to have had something like this for the science classes I struggled with in high school), but do all books like this have to use the stereotypical nauseatingly cute manga artwork? I do like some manga, like the works of Osamu Tezuka and Katsuhiro Otomo and some other people, but I find a lot of manga character design to be rather cloying.
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this is just cool/insane. It just remind me a french cartoon describing somehow complex biology processes and that I used to watch when I was kid. Name is "Il etait une fois la vie" (One upon the life - not sure it actually means something in english), you can watch some on youtube. Well, minus creapy monsters and plate-sized eyes of course :)
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Oh, if only science were taught in this manner. Then I would be much more compelled to fulfill my science credits.

Then again, there's only so much that can be conveyed through the manga. At some point, the student will have to buckle down and study.

But in the meantime, Enzyme Man is quite entertaining...
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Innovative approaches to education are best displayed by ideas like this one. Illustrative and personally dynamic, storied science is inherently easier to understand and retain. Even more true in regard to typically 'dry' fields of learning.

Real scientific understanding isn't some text or graph, but an appreciation of the active interaction of objects and forces that comprise the gestalt we call "reality"
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