Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Element Girls

(Element Girls, from 7Andy, used for review purposes only.)

One thing that bothers me about the Metropolis (the English weekly magazine in Tokyo), is that when they cover anime or manga, there's always this sense that they're looking down on their subject. I get that feeling in the little Saikin Spotlight article on "Moe characters" last week (issue 789). "Moe" as a term for cute and sexy characters has gotten cliche'd, and Akihabara doesn't play up "moe" as a term for anything that I've seen here recently. Sure, cute and sexy female characters are everywhere, but they're not the only kinds of characters on display here (reference the Orochi poster from my Kanda Matsuri photos).

And, having manga characters illustrate textbooks and travel guides is nothing new. The "manga de wakaru" ("understand from manga") series has been teaching science in comic format for at least 5 years now. But, the Metropolis treats the "Boku-tachi Hello Work" and "Element Girls" books as somehow unique in being non-manga using cute characters to narrate their subjects, and they're not.

(Manga de Wakaru series from オーム社)

Having said all of that, "元素周期 Element Girls" is way cool. ^_^ PHP Institute (a publisher in Japan) decided to print the periodic table with each of the elements personified as a different female character. Not all of the characters are cute and/or sexy, so calling them "moe" doesn't make a lot of sense. But, there's some really good artwork here, and I think the concept works pretty well in helping me remember the element names. Each section goes into a fair amount of detail describing the elements - characteristics and properties - as well as some sample applications. So it's more than just the Periodic chart. There's also a quiz at the back for testing what you remember. But, at 2000 yen ($20), I'm not sure I'll buy a copy just for the pictures.

Two book sites offer sample pages to look at. Amazon and 7Andy.

As for "Boku-tachi no Hello Work" (Our Hello Work - a guide on career finding), I can't locate a copy online. It's apparently a government publication, and may only be available in hardcopy directly from some ministry office. Naturally, the Metropolis doesn't explain how to get a copy.

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