Title: The Drops of God, Volume 1
Author: Tadashi Agi & Shu Okimoto
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Genre: Graphic Novel
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Shizuku Kanzaki wants nothing to do with wine. His father is one of the world’s most esteemed wine critics, and from an early age, he drilled Shizuku on the different tastes and aromas associated with wine. Now an adult, Shizuku is estranged from his father and has never taken a sip of wine. But all that changes when his father dies, and instead of leaving his extensive wine collection to his son, he challenges Shizuku to battle with an up-and-coming wine critic for his inheritance. Shizuku must identify twelve bottles of wine based on taste and smell alone or he will lose everything.
The Drops of God is a Japanese manga that has taken both the graphic novel and wine worlds by storm. As a result, it had me completely intrigued. I love learning while I read, and the opportunity to learn more about wine from such a unique medium as a graphic novel was one I just couldn’t pass up.
The most interesting and unique aspect of reading The Drops of God is the fact that it’s put together like a traditional Japanese manga, which is completely backwards from how we are used to reading books in the US. When looking at the cover of the book, the spine is facing the right, rather than the left. The text in the pictures is read from right panel to left panel. It’s a completely new experience, but one I got used to quickly. It definitely didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book and I appreciated being able to try something new.
Shizuku is a great character who clearly blames wine for his estrangement from his father, which is why he’s chosen not to make it a part of his adult life. When the competition emerges and Shizuku finally tries wine, he sees what he has been denying himself all this time. I appreciated that Shizuku’s determination to claim his inheritance didn’t come from a selfishness or a need for material property, but instead the desire to prove himself his father’s son. He wants to identify the wines in the challenge for his own benefit, not for the wine collection that waits at the end.
The artwork in The Drops of God is black and white, and while I wouldn’t have minded color, it’s very well done. The drawings are detailed and the facial expressions show emotion well. The best part of the book, though, lies in its detail about wine. I can’t begin to express how much I learned from this manga. From the discussion of first class vineyards versus Burgundy Rouge to the importance of letting a wine breathe, there are countless details about wine within this book’s page. As Shizuku has to learn about wine as a beginner, he is the perfect vehicle to take the reader through the narrative so we can learn along with him.
If you’re at all interested in wine, I highly recommend The Drops of God. This is just the first volume, with more to come in the next few months, but it’s a wonderful introduction to Shizuku’s world. Even if you aren’t comfortable with graphic novels, this one is very approachable due to the subject matter, so it might be the perfect choice to introduce you to the medium. I can’t wait until the second volume comes out, but for now I will content myself with rereading and savoring the first.