The Manga Guide to Microprocessors by Michio Shibuya, Takashi Tonagi, and Office Sawa
I’ve always been interested in didactic manga, back to the time when Japan Inc (remember that?) was one of the few manga volumes available back in the late 80s. I’ve seen the No Starch Press booth from a distance at library conferences, but I haven’t tried out one of their manga guides before.
The Manga Guide to Microprocessors starts out with a framing story to ease the reader into an introduction to foundational computer science concepts. Ayumi is a champion shogi player who agrees to take on a computerized version of the game programmed by Yuu. She’s beaten by the machine and is determined to learn everything she can about computers so she can redeem herself. Crazy computer genius Yuu then starts taking Ayumi through everything she (and the reader) need to know about the guts and internal logic of computers.
One thing I appreciated about this book was the varied visual layouts for each chapter. There are several pages of story/manga as some foundational concepts are introduced, a few pages of text, broken up by small graphics and illustrations, and occasionally pages of text dialog between both characters as they explore different concepts together. There’s always something visually interesting to look at, which is important if you don’t naturally find discussions of floating point arithmetic super compelling. The illustrations are serviceable, without a whole lot of style, but fabulous art isn’t really the reason why anyone would read a book like this. Throughout the book Ayumi and Yuu gradually become more friendly, although their tendency to fight livens up the explanations.
Overall, I thought this was a good introduction to the subject, and I plan on checking out the Manga Guide to Statistics next, because I feel like I could use some basic knowledge of that topic.