All About Japan

English Textbooks Get a Manga-Makeover

Anime Manga Teaching English Books

Publisher Tokyo Shoseki’s New Horizon series of English textbooks is incredibly common in Japan, having been used by middle schools across the country for decades. However, every few years the textbook series gets refreshed layouts and redone illustrations to make it more current. And what could be more current than anime-style graphics?

The snazzy new character designs are the work of illustrator Nekogenki. And while they all look closer to what you’d expect to see in the spring anime season than the Spring Semester, the most online attention is going to Ellen Baker, the Boston-born, baseball-loving expat who works as an assistant language teacher at the text’s fictional Midori Middle School.

As a matter of fact, she’d be so at home in an anime series that she wouldn’t look at all out of place during a “New Year’s” breather episode between major arcs of a TV series.

Of course, anime appeals to a wider range of ages than the three years of middle school. Because of that, Tokyo Shoseki also publishes a book titled Try Studying English Once Again with Future-Style New Horizon, a “next-generation textbook for adults,” essentially a light novel that teaches readers English.

The book opens with Japan-born Ken returning to Japan after working in Canada, upon which he reconnects with old friends.

There’s also a cool, augmented reality function, where the characters will appear on your smartphone’s screen and speak their dialogue aloud.

If you’re curious to see how Ken’s story plays out, or looking for some unique teaching material to use in your conversational English lessons, the New Horizon for adults can be ordered here from Amazon Japan for ¥1,512 (US$13.50).

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