Although Shizuku Kanzaki has been trained up by his father, a famous wine critic, to be a wine connoisseur, he has never tasted wine. His training involved tasting and smelling and building vocabulary. But he rebelliously turned away from the world of wine to work for a beer import company.
Now, his father has died. To inherit the estate, including a valuable wine collection, Shizuku has to identify twelve apostle wines described by his father, as well as a thirteenth perfect wine, called The Drops of God. To add tension to this task, Shizuku is competing for the estate with a young wine critic Issei Tomine, recently adopted by his father.
Shizuku may have the language and training to appreciate wine, but he has no experience with the actual beverage. He gets help from many people, including Miyabi Shinohara, an apprentice sommelier and later co-worker, a homeless man who later turns out to be a great retired wine critic, and his co-workers at the newly formed wine division of his beer company. Each aspect of wine that Shizuku learns about is presented as a mini-story within the larger story. He learns about “terroir” and helps reunite a couple, he learns about the different famous wine makers of France and helps an amnesiac regain her memories. All this through the power of wine.
The descriptions of the wine and the experience of drinking the wine are flowery and over the top and fabulously entertaining. When Shizuku first sips a wine, the reader sees only visuals, no words. Shizuku is transported to a rock concert, the noise blowing his hair and clothes back. You see a screaming crowd. Then an iconic image of the rock band Queen. Then he describes the moment: “It’s powerful but I also felt a melting sweetness and a sharp rush or sourness. Just as the soft, husky vocals of Queen are wrapped in deep guitar sounds and heavy drums. It seems somehow like classical music but it isn’t. It’s something modern. Yeah, its Queen alright.”
The book is filled with characters giving small lectures on the finer points of wine: what good regions are, who the great wine makers are, which years were good, how an adequate wine can become better with proper decanting or aerating or not. Agi does a great job making all this information fit into the narrative and it flows. You become genuinely interested in knowing about wine.
Okimoto’s drawing is clear and complements the text well. I often find manga to have so many lines that mean so many things (this one is for emotion, that one for movement, the other one is complicated clothing) that I can find the drawings hard to read. Not so here. Okimoto uses all the manga conventions, even chibis, and yet retains a clarity of picture easy enough for a more novice manga reader to understand. I think this is especially important in a book like this, one that is clearly targeting an older demographic. This would be a good series to give to an adult curious to try manga.
My main criticism of this book is that vol. 1 – 4 only covers Shizuku’s search for and discovery of the first two apostles. The rest of the series has not been released in English yet. So the reader is left hanging, wondering how it will end.
The Drops of God, vol. 1-4
by Tadashi Agi
Art by Shu Okimoto
Vol 1, ISBN: 978193565427
Vol 2, ISBN: 9781935654292
Vol 3, ISBN: 9781935654360
Vol 4, ISBN: 9781935654391
Publisher Age Rating: (Adult)