The Drops of God, Vol. 1

By Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto. Released in Japan as “Kami no Shizuku” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Morning. Released in North America by Vertical.

Everyone’s been waiting for this one for a long time – since before the announcement of its license, in fact. It’s rare that you can say that a manga actually has an effect on the real world, but that’s what we have with The Drops of God, which has drastically impacted the sales of wine in Japan and the Far East. It’s been featured in the New York Times over here, and there’s buzz about it in wine magazines as well. Does it live up to the hype?

It does, even though it’s not quiet as revolutionary as you may have been led to believe. This is another in a long line of foodie mangas, and this time around it happens to be about wine. The plot could almost be taken straight from Oishinbo: there is a truculent young man, at odds with his father, who joins forces with a cute young woman to try to capture the “perfect” wines. Indeed, the basic setup of “people bring out food/drink and the hero and heroine gasp and describe its taste” could be from any number of food mangas out in Japan, many with volumes numbering into the 50s and 60s.

That said, where Drops of God draws you in is its writing. The main duo are perhaps not as well-written as the rest, but I’m hopeful we will see character development for them as the book goes on. (Less hopeful for romance, I’m pretty sure that there isn’t an ongoing plot with them as there was in Oishinbo.) More interesting is the so-called villain of the series, Tomine, who manages to capture that ‘sneering bastard’ type very well. I also really liked his sister Sara, who comes across as a shallow and vain model but whose description of the wine she’s drinking is possibly the highlight of the entire volume. I hope we see more of her.

The wraparound story of finding Shizuku’s father’s wine collection is really a way to develop any story needed. Here we see a man and his lover torn apart by circumstance and by his misreading the taste of a wine 15 years earlier; and the cliffhanger deals with a co-worker who refuses to accept French wine, noting that Italian is the best there is. Naturally, most of these problems can be solved by just the right vintage.

The descriptions of the wine can be a bit over the top – everyone by now knows that Shizuku describes a wine as tasting like a Queen concert – but that’s apparently true to life, and it’s noted that the ability to speak poetically about wine is just as important as the identification. Oh yes, and for lovers of fanservice, we get to see Miyabi in bed with Shizuku and in her underwear (don’t worry, nothing happened), as well as Tomine pouring wine onto the back of his lover (yeah, something happened there, but not on screen.)

Vertical’s translation and presentation is as good as we’ve come to expect from them. I was startled to find that the series is unflipped – Vertical tends to go for the widest readership they can get, which usually means flipping the art – but apparently the wine labels used throughout the manga made this impossible. You’re also getting two volumes in one, as Vertical is publishing 4 omnibuses of the first 8 Japanese volumes. The series is 28+ volumes in Japan, and not ending anytime soon, so Vertical has just licensed the first ‘arc’. If sales do well, they may get more. I’d like to see more, this is a fun title, if very typical of its genre.

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Comments

  1. I figured that the writing is what makes “The Drops of God” so unique compared to the other food manga out there. The duo of Tadashi Agi seem to be VERY passionate about the history of wine.


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