Vertical brings Japan’s outrageously popular Drops of God (Kami no Shizuku) to the US, featuring two brothers battling over their father’s inheritance by finding the 12 Apostles of wine and the mysterious Drops of God.
Right before Shizuku Kanzaki’s father died, he adopted Issei Tomine, a great wine connoisseur and sommelier, to act as his son’s foil in gaining his inheritance. In his will, Yutaka Kanzaki stated his great wine collection and estate will go to the son who can identify the most Apostles of wine and Drops of God, according to his clues. Shizuku, a beer salesman who has forsaken his wine heritage, must draw on long-forgotten memories and his gifted sense of taste and smell to earn back his father’s legacy.
When I say outrageously popular, I’m not kidding. This manga series rocks Japan’s wine scene (NYT was reporting on it way back in 2008) with every chapter and the demand for any wine featured in the manga skyrockets. It makes wine accessible to the layman. This is a big reason why I like it because while I like wine (very much), it is extremely intimidating to go shopping for it. You’re just confronted with rows and rows of similar looking bottles with a bunch of incomprehensible words and types and no idea where to start.
Of course, a lot of the wine featured is completely out of my price range, but at least it goes over the vocabulary and in a much more fun way than a textbook. I love combining entertainment and education with my manga, which is also why I enjoy Del Rey’s Moyashimon (which sadly went on hiatus after 2 volumes).
Part of what makes this fun is the way the wines are described. They transport the drinker to forgotten triumphs and regrets, Queen rocking out, Buddhist temples, great works of art, symphony orchestras. Wine embodies poetry and art here. And I love the art in this manga, btw.
The first four volumes in English cover the search for the first two Apostles. The fifth book, which is due out in October 2012, skips forward to the seventh Apostle (per the authors’ wishes) and covers the New World (Napa Valley definitely, and I believe, Australian wines). I’m hoping to see more familiar wines in this volume. So far it’s been heavily focused on Italian and French wines (and the authors [a brother-sister team under a pseudonym] have been criticized by some as to having a French bias).
Sadly, I’m not sure if we’re going to get more Apostle arcs. Ed Chavez stated on Vertical’s Facebook that he needs “thousands of more readers to insure even fill[ing] in the gap between the Second Apostle and the New World.” So please, if you’re interested in reading this or learning more about wine, go and buy it! (here or here or your local bookstore)
I have my friend who doesn’t really read manga (except for the occasional shonen titles like One Piece and Blue Exorcist) reading this. For my birthday, he bought two bottles in the $30 price range (he couldn’t find any affordable ones from any of the DoG volumes at the local shops), an Italian and a French wine, and we had a “taste off.”
For the record the Italian wine won. 🙂
Vertical keeps an ongoing list of the wines featured in the manga so that you can keep track and perhaps shop later.