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The Drops of God #1

The Drops of God, Vol. 1

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Bon Appétit

Finally available in English: the award-winning comic about wine that has been a hit not just all over Asia but also in France! Learn about legendary bottles as well as affordable secrets while enjoying a page-turner that's not about superheroes but people with jobs to keep. When world-renowned wine critic Kanzaki passes away, his will reveals that his fortune of a wine collection isn't bequeathed as a matter of course to his only son, who in a snub went to work sales at a beer company. To come into the inheritance, Shizuku must identify—in competition with a stellar young critic—twelve heaven-sent wines whose impressions the will describes in flowing terms...

432 pages, Paperback

First published March 23, 2005

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About the author

Tadashi Agi

131 books23 followers
Tadashi Agi, 亜樹直, is the penname of Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, a sister and brother team of Japanese manga storywriters. Shin Kibayashi also uses the pseudonyms Seimaru Amagi and Yuya Aoki.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 138 reviews
Profile Image for Whitaker.
294 reviews496 followers
May 30, 2012
Ahhhhh! Drops of God! It’s taken the English-speaking world a long enough time to catch up to this phenomenon. What’s Drops of God, you ask? It’s the megahit manga where instead of this:

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we have this:

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Yep. You got that right, folks! It’s Pokémon with wine instead of Pokémon. Which makes him:

Robert Parker


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Mwa ha ha ha ha! <3 <3 <3

Profile Image for Vicki.
76 reviews13 followers
September 15, 2015
I got volume 1 of this purely out of curiosity having already enjoyed reading food manga such as Oishinbo, and I also enjoy drinking wine (although I'm no expert on it). I was expecting to read volume 1, like it but probably not be particularly into the rest of the series. This is mainly because Drops of God is a very long-running series, and I felt like it would be practically impossible to follow it in its entirety.

Anyway, I was surprised by how much I liked this! Its a mixture of wine talk and high drama, and to be honest the wine talk is pretty melodramatic, so even if you have no idea what the wines they're talking about actually are, its pretty entertaining to read their descriptions of them.

I think at the end of the day you'd probably enjoy this series with another level of depth if you were a full-on wine fanatic, and could remember tasting the wines that are mentioned here, but that knowledge is in no way essential to enjoy the series.

The comic is also well-drawn and paced - easy to read, and the dramatic moments are conveyed with impeccable timing. The crispy, clean, black-and-white feel to the linework reflects the bow-tie-and-starched-shirt luxurious world of the subject matter well.

It seems that Vertical are planning on releasing the first arc of Drops of God (6 vols in Japan) as 3 large volumes in English, see where that takes them, and consider publishing more depending on how it performs. In that case I'm looking forward to buying and reading the next 2 volumes! :) Its nice to see that the publisher has put thought into what would make a good first chunk of this long-running series for prospective buyers to try out.

Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews107k followers
August 9, 2016
I spent basically all of July reading this manga series, and it was glorious. Shizuku’s dad was a world-famous wine critic, so naturally Shizuku hates wine and works at a beer company. But then his dad dies, and in order to inherit his father’s estate, Shizuku has to battle against his father’s adopted son in a treasure hunt to find the “Twelve Apostles” of wine and the ultimate prize, the Drops of God. I loved the two main characters, Shizuku and Miyabi, a sommelier-in-training. I’m also a sucker for books where people learn stuff and make friends, which is essentially what this story is all about. But what really makes these books stand out is how perfectly they express the experience of drinking wine, and how it can be both a food and an art. If you only ever read one book about wine, please let it be this one!

–Tasha Brandstatter

from The Best Books We Read In July 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/08/01/riot-r...
Profile Image for Phillip Kim.
30 reviews10 followers
April 29, 2012
The world’s most influential wine writers: Robert Parker Jr., James Suckling, Jancis Robinson, Shin & Yuko Kibayashi... Who? Kibayashi?

You betcha. The Kibayashi’s are a veteran brother and sister manga writing team in Japan. Having established themselves writing thrillers and mystery comics, they hit it big writing about... wine. Who would have thought? Nevertheless, starting in 2004, the Kibayashi’s, together with illustrator Shu Okimoto, began to put out a weekly manga serial about the drink. It became such a hit that it still runs today. It was translated into Korean and Chinese in the mid 2000’s and very quickly became widely popular and influential in Korea and Taiwan. Then, in 2008, it was translated into French and became a bestseller in France. In 2009, Decanter magazine named it “the most influential wine publication in the past 20 years.”

The premise of the story is the competition between two brothers who vie to inherit their late-father’s invaluable wine cellar. One brother is a black-sheep son with immense tasting talent but who rebelled early on against the iron-fist upbringing of his famous wine-critic father, and therefore knows very little about the wine world. The other brother is not related by blood, but rather, a star wine reviewer (and insufferable snob) who the father had adopted shortly before his death, in order to ensure that the wine would go to someone who could appreciate the value of the cellar. The competition set out in the father’s will calls on each brother to identify twelve “apostle” wines and a thirteenth “drops of god” wine that lords over them, based on written descriptions that the father had provided. During their quest to research and identify the wines, the brothers encounter a wide variety of characters and experiences that teach both of them a lesson or two about life and love.

I had heard about Drops of God for several years from my Korean and Chinese friends, who lauded its use of language, story and drawings to communicate the power of wine in a compelling, irresistibly entertaining way. They told me about Chateau Mont-Perat, a little known Bordeaux winery whose 2001 vintage blew out the door in Korea and Taiwan (where it sold 50 cases in two days) after it was profiled in Drops of God. A wine dealer told me about Calera, a California winery that experienced similar good fortune when the manga series highlighted how Calera’s limestone soil was similar to that in Burgundy. Other relatively-obscure wineries with names such as Colli di Conegliano Rosso and Chateau le Puy also benefited from the Drops halo across Asia. Oh, and the best wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy also got their fair share of attention and praise.

While my fellow wine-loving friends spoke, I simply listened, quietly enraptured but feeling powerless because the series was not available in English. That finally changed in September of last year, when Volume 1 was released. Volume 2 came out in December. Volume 3 became available last month. I bought all three volumes during a just-ended six day visit to Taiwan. I found that I could do little else during the trip other than read them straight through.

In a word, I was enthralled. This book sells the virtues of wine like none before it! Many wine lovers around the world have derided the distillation over the past decade of wine’s quality down to a numerical score – based on 100 points by Robert Parker and others, 20 by Jancis Robinson and others. In my opinion, a rating system, though imperfect, is no worse than the wine writing that came before it, when wine was described in a narrow lexicon that did not sufficiently differentiate one wine from another. Let’s face it, one can only read so many times about cassis and other berry flavors, minerality, floral top notes, woodsiness, and finishes that “go on and on” before all wine description starts to blend together into a generic cuvee.

Drops is a hugely refreshing departure from both of these methods. First and foremost, there is a captivating narrative around a well-drawn cast of characters. Without a story that has the right hooks, no book is worth reading. This one has a great balance of drama, comedy, suspense and sexual tension. Secondly, the illustrations are gorgeous. Some make you laugh out loud, some quietly take your breath away, many make your mouth dry with thirst. All are rendered in that uniquely hyperbolic fashion (the over-big eyes, exaggerated expressions etc) that makes manga so uncommonly accessible. Lastly, the descriptions of wine are creative and lyrical. Who would have thought to liken drinking a certain wine to listening to the rock group Queen? Or walking through a dark, solitary woods only to come upon a clear, refulgent stream with butterflies fluttering about?

The book engages all five senses – it doesn’t have an audio soundtrack or scratch-and-sniff section, but nor does it need them. It still evokes an all-consuming experience, much like the best wines themselves.

Some readers have criticized the France-bias of the writing team. In interviews, the Kibayashi’s have admitted to it. In my humble opinion, if the pair have their preferences, so be it. Who doesn’t have a favorite food or place? Drops is a work of fiction, not an academic work. The authors are entitled to have their POV, so long as they deliver it and carry us readers along with conviction. If I lived in Japan, surrounded by Japanese food and sensibilities, I would probably have the same bias towards French wines.

The only problem that I have with this series is the three month wait that I will need to endure until Volume 4 is released in June. My calendar is marked, with a burgundy-hued dot.

Profile Image for hotsake (André Troesch).
547 reviews7 followers
July 12, 2022
I like some of this but I'm really not into wine and this hasn't been able to get me hyped up yet. Plus I've found most of the characters either bland or unlikable and this is the kind of series where you have to at least like one of the characters.
Profile Image for Aoi.
769 reviews73 followers
March 28, 2018
Drops of God is one bizarre manga.

The framework is all too similiar- the long-lost hero (from the world of wines) embracing his hidden potential (unworldly tasting skills), in order to rise up to being a wine god.

The narrative though, is unapologetically and hilariously over-the-top. Literally every character waxes poetic about this and that wine for pages and pages at a time. The protagonists have wine tasting 'study' sessions almost every night when bottles upon bottles of expensive wine are vanquished and everyone ends up sprawled drunk in a bed. Homeless men bury top-notch wine bottles in the grasses behind their tent; and then somehow turn out to be world renowned wine critics.

..Really! I'm not inventing this stuff..!

Profile Image for John.
250 reviews2 followers
August 21, 2012
This is the first manga I've read. I don't care if liking this series makes me an idiot, I think some could argue that it doesn't, and I don't exactly know why I'm so in its swell that I gave it five stars, when it should have probably only gotten four, but... Getting info about something you are interested in, but mostly ignorant of is intoxicating, and if it's delivered in a soap opera/50s serial medium, well then apparently the author's got something. Again as with other comics that I am just now barely delving into one gives up a tremendous amount of depth or anything the on the surface smacks of middling thought, but what you get in return is focus on a narrow scope that you wouldn't be pressed to find in film and a hyper conciseness that even a short story might overrun. I practically finished this in one sitting, and writhed at my keyboard when I discovered Vol. 2 (english) isn't available until 12/13/11.
Profile Image for Mary.
265 reviews12 followers
July 26, 2012
(This review covers Volumes 1 and 2 in the series. It's also filled with spoilers, but not ones that I think would ruin anyone's enjoyment of the books.)

Caveat: I know zilch about wine and I have quite the unrefined palate. (Much to the despair of my undergrad roommate who, bless her heart, actually spent several months trying to teach me to have discerning taste. One of our actual conversations: "What's this one taste like to you?" "Ummm, grapes? Other...fruit?" "You don't taste the chocolate? Or the leathery undertone?" "They make wine with chocolate? And leather? Gross.") This lack of knowledge definitely has colored my reading experience of this series, so feel free to dismiss it (or not) as you like.

The framework of this series is actually very familiar: if I pretend that wine-tasting and knowledge about wine is like a superpower, then this story is a traditional "prodigal son steps up to meet his destiny" that is so popular in the fantasy genre. Shizuku must beat his rival, Issei, in identifying thirteen specific wines so he can inherit the legacy left to him by his late father, a super famous wine critic. (Wine royalty, if you will.) But to beat his rival, Shizuku has to fully embrace his abilities, which he has ignored for most of his life. He has unexpected wine-related skills--Miyabi nearly swoons when she first see him decant--and an unparalleled sense of taste and smell that his father helped him develop from a young age by making him eat dirt and lick leather and rocks and whatnot. But Shizuku has no practical knowledge about the world of wine, so he goes on wine adventures to level-up and get ready for the showdown with his rival.

The best part, however, is that this series is unbelievably, unintentionally hilarious. Everyone is so earnest and dramatic and have all these feelings, it's lovely. When the wine department argues about which products they should purchase, they have a taste-off, French versus Italian! Shizuku and Miyabi (his wine sensei, and a trainee sommelier) have research trips that mostly turn into a series of drunken nights in which everyone ends up passed out at Miyabi's apartment, more or less in their clothes. Shizuku and Miyabi help two people reconnect and admit their long-denied love by finding the exact kind of wine needed to convey their ardor and commitment to each other. (And they found this bottle of wine by asking a homeless man, who turns out to be a respected wine connoisseur, who, idk, just apparently likes living out on the streets? Seriously.) Shizuku actually stares down a glass of wine (that he had run from in the past! Because its scent and color sparked strange feelings and memories in him! So overwhelming!) and says "Today is the day I drink you." And at the end of Volume 2, Shizuku stumbles across a painting that matches the description of the first mystery wine (because in this story, nobody says, "This wine tastes like strawberries and chocolate;" they all say, "This wine is a forest with a warm beam of sunshine as it opens up to a clearing with a pond, etc." so of course Shizuku finds a painting to help him identify wine. Whatever, I just go with it.) Even better, the artist says she was inspired by a particular wine when she painted it, only she can't tell Shizuku which kind it was because--cue the dramatic music--she has amnesia!

I honestly can't wait to read Volume 3.
Profile Image for Mike.
932 reviews40 followers
December 22, 2014
Shizuku has never tasted wine, an act of defiance against his father, world renowned wine critic Yukata Kanzaki and all of the strange things he had Shizuku do as a child "for the sake of wine." When Yakata passes away, his will reveals a challenge to be undertaken by Shizuku and a young wine critic named Issei Tomine: identify twelve wines chosen and described by Yakata, as well as the legendary "Drops of God." The one who does with inherit Yakata's extensive wine collection. Shizuku has little interest in the competition or his father's collection, until he has his first sip...

The Drops of God is a love letter to the culture of wine production and drinking. Shizuku and apprentice sommelier Miyabi Shinohara make excellent point of view characters, both with more experience (despite himself in Shizuku's case) than an average person but without the right context so that the reader can follow along as they learn. The contest provides a great framework for the story, and the author fills it with colorful and interesting secondary characters for Shizuku and Miyabi to help or clash with. This first "double" volume is over 400 pages long and provides a nice sense of progression while making you realize the journey has barely begun.

The art is amazing, particularly the scenes that picture character's descriptions of the wine they're enjoying.

If you have no interest in wine you may find this less engaging, but the story stands well regardless and is written to be accessible. I have very little knowledge of wine but quite a bit of interest in it, so this manga blew me away.

Obviously well researched and lovingly written, The Drops of God uses a strong story to present the intriguing details of wine and has all the markings of a classic in the making.
Profile Image for Mandi.
210 reviews4 followers
March 27, 2012
I picked this up at the library because the cover looked interesting, then I read the back: "Arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years." - Decanter Magazine. And under that: "Winner: Gourmand Cookbook Awards 2009"
And this is a manga? Okay then, I'm reading this one.
Now I think I can say that this is definitely the most I've ever learned from reading a manga. I didn't really know anything about wine before, and so far I haven't tasted one I like, but the descriptions of some of the wines in this book make me want to give them a try! (Unfortunately the best ones are pretty expensive; there are some good ones they mention that are less than $50/bottle, but that's still more than I'd want to spend.)
If you already like manga and/or are interested in learning more about wine, you should read this. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that a little more non-wine plot would have been nice.
3 reviews
June 3, 2019
The Drops of God’s refusal to take itself too seriously is what makes it so fun to read. In many ways its art and subject matter are totally at odds with it’s shonen manga like premise. The unwitting protagonist who doesn’t known his own strength vs the obsessive rival whose own rigidity will be his downfall.

There’s nothing revelatory here, but there’s a comfort in that. The illustrations are beautiful, albeit stiff, and the expository opening chapters have a lot of set pieces to put in place. This is where the familiarity of the character types does the book a huge service. It allows the authors to build the world relatively fast. The lettering leaves a lot to be desired and can be jarring at times. It’s often times the books most noticeable weakness.

The charm and enjoyment of this volume won’t be obvious until one gets through multiple of the wine tasting double page spreads. Each is more dramatic, intensely ridiculous and full of detail than the last. But it’s in those pages where it becomes obvious how much entertainment the authors have tried to squeeze into this premise.
Profile Image for Candice Snow.
Author 2 books46 followers
February 3, 2021
Me: Eh, not sure this is for me. What do I care about wine?

Me five min later: You fool. You imbecile. You utter buffoon. That is clearly not a glass of [insert French name] because it was bottled in [insert date here].

As someone who *can't* drink wine (it's the only alcohol that makes me nauseous), I flew through this with just as much intensity as if I was a wine-tasting veteran! It's full of dense technical speak, but it's so melodramatic that even though I had next to no clue what they were actually talking about, I was amused. Think of it as a wine version of the "Great British Bakeoff." It really highlights the classic manga tropes I've come to realize I adore: serious yet hyper MC, ridiculous family drama, random introduction to the main villain, and a visible passion from the artist.
Profile Image for Christopher Wise.
39 reviews3 followers
February 5, 2022
I wouldn't have thought I'd find myself reading twenty year old manga this year, particularly a series about vintage wine, wine tasting and wine culture but I have and I'm so glad I did - this was fantastic! Interesting, charismatic, charming, intelligent, fun and with of course, the trademark Japanese humour. The writer must really know his stuff as the technical details are remarkable to say the least. It was wonderfully engaging and at times quite gripping.

It's likely I'll read much more manga from now on as I've realised that they work brilliantly with Kindle Paperwhites and that's something I'm really excited to be doing. Highly recommended, it's free on Kindle with a Prime membership.
Profile Image for Siriusly.
128 reviews
December 26, 2020
What a fun manga. This also confirms to me that there’s a manga for literally everything - any job, any hobby, game, sport. Everything. Haha

This book also did a great job describing terms used by the wine and whisk(e)y industry (I’m a whisk(e)y geek and casual wine fan), such as ‘terroir’. I understand the term, but this book explained it in a fun and easily understandable way.
Profile Image for Katie Mac.
725 reviews
December 29, 2021
I'm not sure what to rate this book. If you're a French wine connoisseur then you'll love it; however, because almost all of the wines mentioned are too expensive for me, a lot of it went over my head. I'm grateful that the women have more substance (and clothing) than in some other series in the genre, and I'm interested to see how the central friendship develops.
Profile Image for James.
4 reviews
January 25, 2012
Todays manga is Drops of God, a manga I picked up on chance on the newly-opened Books a Million. The last time I bought a manga that cost me fifteen dollars...well those who have read my review of Children of the Sea know how that went. But was my money well spent on this one? Be forewarned they'll be major spoilers, mostly for the first chapter only though.
We open to a very vivid description of someone trying a glass of wine...I assure you it's more exciting than it sounds. Actually, I really like this opening because it reminds me of the first few pages of Toriko (another manga about food), it takes a moment to submerse you in the world and gives you an idea of what your in for before you even start the actual story. Other good manga have done this as well, such as Deadman Wonderland, Naruto (I will always defend that part 1 was good), and FullMetal Alchemist. It's a proven good formula and works just as well here.
We then quickly cut to a waiter browsing through a wine catelog, before getting a specific and expensive order from a customer. After tasting it, the customer thinks he's been had, and the waiter agrees even though she got the right bottle. Then a mysterious Light Yagami look alike steps up and asks for a decanter, which is something that helps oxidize wine. I like that they waste no time to use tools that involve wine, it works well.
I may as well take this moment to point out that all slice of life have to rely on either purely characters, or character drama, as their completely real and down to earth series, which I'll talk more about in a moment.
After the man fixes this wine deilema, and pleases the customer, he reveals his nam to be Shizuku Kanzaki, whom the waiter suspects to be the son of a famous wine enthusiast. And, whu- hang on, spoiler alert! He is. Shocker, I know. However as it turns out he has no interest in wine, mostly because his dad forced on him so much as a kid, and instead he's the head of a beer division. However, he then gets a call that his dad has died.
You know, the first the pages there after the first few of this manga just aren't very good. I mean, a character I don't know nor will I ever [truly] know dies, I meet a character who has talent but chooses not to use it, and a toally inconsiquential dilema is solved. It all points to a bad story, but it quickly turns interesting.
After getting the call that his dad died, it turns out that there are two possible beneficiearies to his estate, his son, an his hastily adopted 'son', Issei Tomei; another wine snob whom wants to inherit the multi-billion dollar yen wine collection. What will happen basically is, they each have to taste various wines and guess what it is. If they guess correctly they inherit a certain piece of the estate. This all will take place over the span of a year. After some reluctance, Shizuku finally takes an interest in wine and remebers the lesson his dad taught him. From here on out I'll try to avoid any more spoilers.
From that point out, the manga just gets really good. We really imerse ourselves in the wine world, learn some certain techniquies, and most importantly, learn about the characters. We get to see the waitress from before and Shizuku interact, as well as interact with others, as well as some real dilemas go on (all revolving around wine of course). We really get a feelfor the villian (Tomei) as well as other characters and you can easily submerse yourself in the drama. Sometimes revolving around heartache, sometimes going back to the basics of drinking wine. Now, I can hear your skeptisim before I even post this. 'Come on, a manga about wine, how exciting could that be?' May I remind you of a certain other slice of life that revolves around school girls in a light music club that eat cake...I rest my case.
There's also the matter of how much they submerse you in not only the characters, but the wine too. They use various adjectives, from fruits and vegetables, to cheeses and nuts, to paintings and places. You can almost taste the wine sometimes. They even go beyond the tasting of wine and talk about colouring and so forth. But naturally, it all comes back to the characters.
We meet characters of such wide variety, I find it hard to believe it was written by one guy. From a rich, intelligent homeless man, to a heartbroken marketing manager, to a restuarant owner who knows his wine inside and out. It's a really gripping read, and it almost always comes back to the simple fact of Shizuku trying to win his fathers estate. It's a damn good series. But not without its flaws, the simplest of those being that since I have never tasted wine myself I can't really imagine the taste sometimes. I almost can, but can't. I suppose it's another matter that I love learning about all sorts of different things, which is why I always prefered the parts of Made For People With Shit Taste that actually incorperated ways you could learn about music. But even with that said, I really felt tension in this manga. I highly reccomend it, even if you aren't a wine enthusiast (I sure am not one). 8 Cheatua verlets out of 10.
Profile Image for Gayatri.
92 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2017
Like wine? Like manga? Then you definitely need to read this. Can't wait to get v. 2!
Profile Image for Wetdryvac.
Author 337 books
May 20, 2021
I really, really wanted to like this more. However, manufactured social conflict is seriously not my bag. Great art, a couple characters I liked a lot, and I just couldn't stick with it.
Profile Image for Forrest.
122 reviews7 followers
February 8, 2012
When Japanese comic artists, Manga-ka for those in the know, started running out of original sci-fi/fantasy adventures that had driven their industry since the 1950s, a strange trend started cropping up. Writers and artists started conceiving very ordinary sorts of stories with painstaking detail about an unusual facet of everyday life. Manga about bread making, Go players and even middle management had a lot of appeal to individuals who were in those fields, but they were also popular with laymen who were interested in acquiring hobbies. In that same vein, The Drops of God is a story about wine and the people who understand it. It appeals both to wine aficionados and the relative neophytes who seek to learn something about wine. The series has been credited with an enormous surge in the wine imports of both Japan and South Korea, and was called “arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years” by Decanter Magazine.

The serialized manga has been in production since late 2004 and is still incomplete. It already sprawls over 270 ‘chapters’ so I’ll keep the plot down to its key points. Shizuku Kanzaki, son of famous wine critic Yutaka Kanzaki, was trained from an early age to be a top tier sommelier. Like many children, he rebelled against his father’s strict teachings and ended up working for a Japanese beer company. Fast forward to Yutaka’s dying day and Shizuku has never even tasted wine, but still possesses the finely honed nose and palate of a master wine taster, along with some fancy decanting skills that make for pretty freeze-frames. Kanzaki’s will stipulates that only a worthy successor shall inherit his substantial wine collection, along with naming Issei Tomine, a successful young wine critic, to be his legal son. Shizuku and Issei must now compete in the ‘Drops of God,’ a thirteen step contest in which the boys must identify wines based only on the flowery descriptions given in the will.

The setup is pretty standard in the world of manga. A natural genius with little practical skill is put up against an expert in the field and expected to triumph by willpower, grit and determination. But we’re not reading The Drops of God to find out who wins. We’re reading to learn about wine! The first volume (chapters 1-18) is very heavy on the French wines, only getting into Italian wine at the very end of chapter 18. The writers (Agi is a joint penname) clearly did a lot of serious research putting together a haphazard and non-linear guide to the upper echelons of French reds along with the basics of wine tasting and drinking. It also gives a lot of hints to finding cheaper alternatives to the 5 Chateaus and other top tier options. Shizuku’s complete inexperience with the world of wine serves as the springboard for educating the reader. We learn along with Shizuku, and are entertained by his borderline ridiculous descriptions of the wine.

If there’s one problem with manga, it’s the pressing need for hyper-dramatic moments that punctuate story arcs. These semi-climaxes are often inappropriate to the flow of the story, but make really good stopping points for the serialized chapters as they get released in magazines. Once bound into tankobon collections, this pacing can get very bouncy for readers. It’s somewhat similar to watching a story driven TV show on DVD and getting annoyed at all the recap moments when you’ve just seen the referenced episodes days or hours before. Drops uses wine tastings as its punctuation marks. Every new wine worthy of note gets a unique description, which starts with the standard “Notes of blah blah blah” we all saw in Sideways. But they all end up in overwrought word-pictures of a place or an event that the wine supposedly evokes. The very first contest wine in the will, a 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, somehow conjures an image of Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Angelus” complete with the critic Tomine superimposed into the piece, hair waving in the imaginary wind. These moments of hyperbole will appeal to the manga fans but could deter a more scholarly read of the novel.

And The Drops of God deserves to be taken seriously. With its very real impact on the East Asian wine markets, salient if not terribly clear introduction to the world of fine wine and beautiful artwork, the manga is clearly worthy of the praise it has received in Japan, France and now the U.S. It certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but there is a clever way of learning something encapsulated here and it definitely worth giving a try.
August 3, 2017
Shizuku Kanzaki is the son of Yutaka Kanzaki, a world-famous wine critic. Ever since he was a child, Shizuku was exposed to a variety of sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, all the things he’d need in order to properly appreciate wine. Unfortunately for Yutaka Kanzaki, it backfired. The relationship between father and son became strained, and Shizuku eventually went to work for a beer company without ever once tasting a drop of wine.

Shizuku has been estranged from his father for two years when he learns of his father’s death from pancreatic cancer. His father left a will describing 12 great wines and one legendary wine called “The Drops of God.” Shizuku can only inherit his father’s property if he is able to correctly identify the wines and their vintages before the end of a one-year time limit. Not only that, but he has a rival: Issei Tomine, “the prince of the wine world,” a famous young wine critic. Issei convinced Yutaka to adopt him a week before his death, so Issei is legally Yutaka’s son and also gets a chance at inheriting everything.

Issei and Shizuku’s first task is to identify and describe a particular wine set aside by Yutaka. The person who comes up with the most appropriate description will get to live in Yutaka Kanzaki’s mansion. Although Shizuku drops his glass before trying the wine, something about its appearance and smell brings to mind a wisp of memory. He seeks out the one friendly face in the wine world that he knows of, apprentice sommelier Miyabi Shinohara, to help him figure out what that wine is and why it affects him so strongly.

I’ll start off by saying that I rarely drink, even socially. I’ve drunk wine a grand total of maybe twice in my life, and both times I thought it tasted a lot like medicine. I went into The Drops of God knowing very little about wine, and it only took a few pages for me to realize that I knew even less about it than I thought.

Shizuku spent his childhood being given an intensive wine tasting education but never took the last step, actually tasting wine. That’s where Miyabi and her friendly and supportive mentor, Shiro Fujieda, came in. As Shizuku learned more about wine, readers got an education as well. This volume covered things like decanting and terroir as Shizuku attempted to identify the first wine in his father’s will, helped Miyabi find a similar tasting replacement for a bottle of major-league wine that she broke, and tried to get Taiyo Beer’s new wine division going.

I enjoyed the volume’s educational aspects, even though there was only so far I could go in my level of understanding without actually taking part in a wine tasting. Which, by the way, I’m not planning on doing. This manga has succeeded in convincing me that those two wines I drank might just have been terrible, or perhaps improperly served, but I’m not so convinced that I want to go out and see what I’ve been missing.

Overall, this reminded me a little (a very little) of Yakitate!! Japan (a bread baking manga), if that series hadn’t been so ridiculous. Both series made frequent use of over-the-top reaction shots, although in The Drops of God’s case they weren’t intended to be goofy - they were literal depictions of what characters were feeling, tasting, and smelling when they tasted wine. One wine, for example, reminded Issei of a particular painting (which he then spent several panels discussing), while another wine mentally transported Shizuku into a Queen concert.

Shizuku got past the chip on his shoulder regarding his father so quickly that I found myself thinking it was a shame the two men couldn’t have sat down at some point and talked things over. At any rate, I enjoyed seeing Shizuku and other characters try to understand the sensations and emotions various wines evoked in them. My favorite part of the volume was Shizuku and Miyabi’s quest to find a replacement for the broken bottle of major-league wine. The end result of that story was a reunion between Miyabi’s boss and a past acquaintance. It was surprisingly sweet and romantic, even though I, personally, thought it was stupid and risky as heck to make everything ride on one person interpreting a wine just so. Years wasted, because the characters couldn’t bring themselves to use words like normal people.

All in all, this volume interested me enough that I’ve already put in a request for the second one. The story and characters were a little thin, but I enjoyed seeing wine through the eyes of people who appreciated it more than I ever will. I also enjoyed the artwork. Although something about it struck me as just a tad boring (maybe because Okimoto tended to skip drawing backgrounds unless it was absolutely necessary?), it was precise and attractive.

I want to see if Shizuku can manage to identify all the wines in his father’s will and thereby come to a better understanding of his father and what I imagine was his father’s final message to him. With these people, wine is never just wine - it’s a given that there’s a larger message in the thirteen wines Yutaka chose to include in his will. I’m also interested to see whether there’s a message for Issei as well. There has to be more to the adoption than just setting Issei up to be Yutaka’s rival, right?

Unfortunately, I’m going to be doomed to disappointment. Only five volumes of The Drops of God were published in English. The last one was released several years ago, and it looks like the series might be out of print. If I assume that each volume is an omnibus containing two to three volumes (this first volume was originally published as two volumes in Japan), that’s at most 14 volumes and probably more like 10. Wikipedia tells me that the series ran for 44 volumes and then continued with the currently ongoing final arc. I can’t imagine how the author managed to get the identification of 13 wines to take that many volumes, but the end result is that I’m not going to get to see how everything turns out. Well, it won’t be the first time. I’ve requested the next volume anyway.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Profile Image for Yue.
2,114 reviews30 followers
November 6, 2015
The art resembles more to a comic than a manga. Shizuku, the main character, looks a lot like damn Yagami Light...

Once more I am grateful to the making of dorama; otherwise I probably would not know the existence of this manga. Ever since I watched the movie "Sideways" I've been interested in wince tasting, the methods, the art itself. I myself am completely ignorant about the subject; I do not even like drinking wine. But it is fabulous to watch connoisseurs of wine enjoy the before, during and after the wine drink.

We have two different MC in this story: Shizuku, son of the world-wide known wine critic who has never taste wine in his life, but who has an incredible sense of smell. And then, we have Miyabi, a sommelier apprentice. Most of the story is like reading a book about wine: description of the making of a certain one, prices, differences between the cheap and the expensive one, etc. I love to learn new things, like how to decanter a wine, or how a sommelier learns how to smell (Miyabi's whole collection of little jars was amazing).

Profile Image for Skye.
50 reviews
March 22, 2015
This graphic novel completely hit the spot. Charming, instructive, poetic, and with a nice little plot. A famous wine critic dies and his prodigal son is instructed to taste and identify twelve wines in order to inherit the critic's legendary, exquisitely curated collection of rare vino. If he fails, he loses everything to a mercenary infante terrible of the wine world. In this volume, the young man tries wine for the first time, and the tasting returns to him potent lost childhood memories of his dead mother... he can sense the the moment the grapes were picked and exactly where through his sensitive nose and tongue but does not know the vocabulary of wine at all. He and his rival "brother" compete in their first battle with their palates. The reader learns about wine and its powers and nuances together with this prodigal genius as he comes home to his fatherland, the world of wine.

*After reading, I bought this entire series for my parents... they have a small vineyard and love to make--- and taste--- wine.
Profile Image for BIPL Reads.
35 reviews4 followers
May 6, 2012
This graphic novel completely hit the spot. Charming, instructive, poetic, and with a nice little plot. A famous wine critic dies and his prodigal son is instructed to taste and identify twelve wines in order to inherit the critic's legendary, exquisitely curated collection of rare vino. If he fails, he loses everything to a mercenary infante terrible of the wine world. In this volume, the young man tries wine for the first time, and the tasting returns to him potent lost childhood memories of his dead mother... he can sense the the moment the grapes were picked and exactly where through his sensitive nose and tongue but does not know the vocabulary of wine at all. He and his rival "brother" compete in their first battle with their palates. The reader learns about wine and its powers and nuances together with this prodigal genius as he comes home to his fatherland, the world of wine.
Profile Image for Eric.
Author 13 books7 followers
August 27, 2014
A fantastic take on the often seen in comics story of a man who has a natural ability that surpasses even those who have trained for years. In this case, the ability is for tasting wine though to be fair he did undergo training by his father when he was younger. That training comes into play when his father dies and stipulates as part of the will that to get an inheritance, the son must complete a series of challenges that involve tasting wine so that he might find the Drops of God and the 12 Apostles. Assisting him is a book smart sommelier in training who will help him in his quest as he competes against his adopted brother.

I enjoy comics and wine so blending the two just worked perfectly for me and I tore through this at the beach this week. It was very engrossing with well-formed and interesting characters.

I can't wait to read the others.
Profile Image for Katja.
1,042 reviews29 followers
September 30, 2018
I drink only cheap wine but it's still very interesting subject, so when I heard there was a manga about wines, I wanted to read it. And it turned out to be great! It's full of wine descriptions and people with INSANE abilities to taste and smell differences and origins of wines. But it's interesting. There's also a bit of a mystery element because the main character's father dies and leaves a will with a quest to identify 12 + 1 wines.

There's often seen setting of an underdog with raw talent and superiorly trained rival with Shizuku and Issei, who compete in finding the wines. But it creates good tension. There's also other interesting characters like homeless wine buff, eager young book smart sommelier and helpful wine bar owner.

The quest for "drops of god" wine is the core but after setting the scene and competition, the manga's focus turns to Shizuku's work in his company's wine department and his journey to learn more about wines in general. It's still enjoyable storyline, so no complaints.

Art is great, the occasional reaction faces are fine but the few times Shizuku gets depicted with ears and tail feel slightly out of place. The information on wines is impressive, so you'll definitely learn something while reading.
The font is awful though and doesn't look good in so finely drawn panels. The pages have suffered from bad setting for print too, sometimes the top of the pages has been cropped too much.

Very much worth of checking out despite some horrid typesetting.
Profile Image for dogunderwater.
131 reviews4 followers
October 26, 2018
I started this a million years ago, loved it, and then never finished it? So I finally picked it up and powered all the way through and I still really love it -- it's a primer about wine packaged in an engaging and surprisingly tense story. I still have no ability to discern any flavor from wines (all wines basically taste like "wine" to me, aside from being able to tell one is red, white, sweet, dry), but I WISH I could after reading this. Also, the hapless protagonist isn't a total moron, which is always nice.
April 14, 2022
If you want more of an understanding of wine or how wine enthusiasts and critics are this is a story for you.

Then again if you aren't but want a good story like me, this is good as well. I like how this is a story about a son who got trained to be a wine professional critic, but didn't know it and hated wine. Then he's Dad dies and now has to understand what he's Dad has trained him for.
Honestly I like wine but not a big fan of it, but I do like this story and now can understand a bit more about how it is made.
Profile Image for Slow Man.
1,057 reviews
November 14, 2017
I admit I was reading halfway and wanted to draw a conclusion: This book is strictly for Wine lovers.
And then I carried on reading. The story managed take a turn and many more interesting and funny characters are brought into the story, like Mr. Honma. That makes the story very engaging and light to read even though it is a manga about Wine. So I am looking forward to pick up vol.2. Well done.
Profile Image for Nadina.
2,437 reviews3 followers
March 6, 2021
This was interesting and mildly fascinating, though I still don't know how much I would enjoy wine even after reading about how certain actions bring out the flavor.
The book had a good pace and an interesting premise that definitely has me wanting to know the ending.
I like the artwork and the characters and I look forward to reading more of the series.
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