Book Recommendation: The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi
The Drops of God is a manga series written by Tadashi Agi with artwork by Shu Okimoto. It’s an over-the-top, fast paced adventure following the wine pursuits of oenophiles. Shizuku Kanzaki is the son of a world-renowned wine critic, and in defiance of his father’s "hobby," has never tasted wine. The series opens with the death of Shizuku’s father, and the introduction of a will that decrees in order to inherit his father’s two billion yen wine collection, Shizuku must find and identify the "Drops of God" and the 12 Apostles, thirteen bottles of wine that must be found using scenic descriptions left by his father.
Although Shizuku is new to the wine world, as a child his father forced him to hone his senses of smell and taste, forcing him to lick leather belts and steel knives, and learn to identify the tastes of fruits, oak, and smoke. Additionally, his father insisted he pay careful attention to the world around him, including artworks created by both man and nature. This last part comes into play quite heavily, as the ornate wine descriptions often reference details in both nature and famous artworks.
Everything is over-the-top about this series, but in a completely lovable way. Wine-loving support characters swoon when our hero, Shizuku, pours wine into a decanter from a gasp-inducing height. Wines are described as a flea market, “It’s the flea market in Paris …Unpretentious fun, but with a certain grace”; masquerades, “Costumed nobles at an elegant party as mysterious as an illusion that lasts but a night danced before my eyes clearly on the other side of this wine”; a sunflower field, “Though thumpingly full-bodied, it’s gentle and doesn’t tire you of it and has the warmth of a sunset. It’s a wine of nostalgia, one you could chase after forever”;* and more.
I would venture to say that if you love Doctor Who, and have even a modicum of interest in wine, you will love Drops of God. Although it lacks in time-travel and two-hearted, bowtie wearing extraterrestrials, it has the same over-the-top chees-ery that makes for a fun, albeit temporary, escape from reality.
I demolished the first four volumes of this series, which are currently the only ones available in English. Volume 4 was just released in English on June 19, 2012, so we may have to wait a while for the release of Volume 5. I can only hope that the series, like a good wine, improves with age and is worth the wait.
*For the wine curious, the wine descriptions were of the following:
- Flea Market: 2001 Domaine Philippe et Vincent Lécheneaut Marsannay
- Masquerade: 2001 Chateau Boyd-Cantenac, Grand Cru Classe Margaux
- Sunflower field: No Year Given, Velenosi Roggio del Filare Rosso Piceno
Intrigued? Try the wine pairings inspired by The Drops of God.
Source: Since graduating college I have been lucky enough to reconnect with my inner anime nerd and have begun the process of making up for lost time, devouring the Miyazaki canon and finding new series to stream. (My Netflix is thrilled that I have temporarily focused on a genre other than “Sci-Fi and Fantasy with a Strong Female Lead.”) So naturally, when Very Short List recommended the wine-centric The Drops of God I headed straight to Amazon to pick up my copies.