by Jeremiah Fajardo | staff writer
In a medium dominated by either action packed, fantasy driven stories or tales of imaginative romance, The Drops of God serves as a refreshing take on what a manga can be. It takes some aspects of these familiar genres and blends them with fresh, new culinary ideas. However, unlike its more common cousins, the tale is a bit dense and can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the world of wine and food.
Written by Tadashi Agi and drawn by Shu Okimoto, The Drops of God follows the life of Shizuku Kanzaki, the son of a renowned wine critic. A salary man for a beer company, Shizuku is forcibly thrust into the world of grapes and vineyards after becoming friends with a sommelier (wine steward) in training. The next day he learns that his father had passed away. To sum up the plot with minimal spoilers, the series then chronicles Shizuku’s task to uncover two sets of legendary wines his late father had dubbed “The Twelve Apostles” and “The Drops of God.” Part of the famous critic’s last will, Shizuku must name more of these acclaimed wines than his adopted brother to ensure that he is the true heir to his father’s legacy.
Structurally, The Drops of God is similar to your standard shonen manga. The main characters are introduced, the conflict is presented and then you are gradually led through the tale. What makes this particular series noteworthy is its premise. There is no ancient demon wreaking havoc or brooding main character questioning his existence. Instead, the tale focuses primarily on a young man’s desire to become reacquainted with his father by embracing the world of wine. For those tired of the cliché plots of most shonen manga, The Drops of God provides an interesting glimpse into what else a shonen manga can be.
Shu Okimoto’s art style leans more towards the realistic and is constantly overflowing with incredible detail. This is especially true with panels depicting wine. Whether it’s being decanted or simply shown in a glass, the liquid is depicted as glistening and strikingly beautiful. Said detail is never overwhelming however, rarely overcrowding the panels. Occasionally there is a greater emphasis placed on the characters and foreground as opposed to the background of some scenes. Oftentimes this makes the backgrounds seem rather plain or uninteresting in comparison. However, this never becomes an issue of annoyance while reading.
Sadly, the drastic differences also hinder the series in a way. The chapters are filled with terms that may be a bit hard to grasp for those unfamiliar with wine and its brewing process. For instance, there are often panel after panel of characters discussing the terroir and various regions of France. Certainly, this could be a bit off putting for those who have little interest in wine for France.
Unfortunately, the drastic differences that make this series shine also hinder it slightly. The chapters are filled with terms that may be a bit hard to grasp for those unfamiliar with wine and the winemaking process. For instance, there are often panel after panel of characters discussing the terroir or vintage of various wines. In other discussions they may be arguing the pros and cons of the many French vineyards and their vintners. It may be easy for one unaccustomed to such terminology to become confused when presented with names like “Chateau Mouton Rothschild” or terms like Premier Cru. Certainly, this could be a bit off putting for those who have little interest in wine or France. Yet, the foreign terms shouldn’t deter anyone from a well-crafted and drawn story.
The Drops of God is published by Vertical in the United States and I highly recommend it for anyone willing to take a chance at reading something new and interesting!