Wine is a lot like comic books. All right, that’s a stretch, we know. But consider it: some are light and breezy, a table wine perfect for enjoying without much thought; others are deeply complex, adored by enthusiasts for their subtleties and rich histories. See what we mean? So it makes sense that one of Japan’s hottest manga titles is about wine. Kami no Shizuku, or The Drops of God, is the brainchild of brother-sister team Shin and Yuko Kibayashi (who write under the pen name Tadashi Agi), and has revolutionized the wine industry in Japan. Next month, wine and comic connoisseurs on this side of the Pacific will finally get a chance to see what all the fuss is about.
Tejal Rao of Gilt Taste reports the news of Drops of God’s U.S. release, in addition to summing up exactly how one goes about making a comic series about wine: through epic battle quests pitting good against evil and brother against brother, of course.
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“The hero, Shimizu, is a wine newbie who works as a beer rep for a Japanese drinks importer. When Shimizu’s famous wine-critic father dies and leaves behind a priceless collection, Shimizu must compete for his inheritance in a 12-part puzzle, which he plays against his adopted brother, a despicable young wine critic,” reports Rao. The internet further elaborates that “in order to take ownership of his legacy, [Shizuku] must correctly identify, and describe in the manner of his late father, thirteen wines, the first twelve known as the ‘Twelve Apostles’ and the thirteenth known as the ‘Drops of God’ that his father has described in his Yuko Kibayashi told Reuters in 2007. "The kind of 'betrayal' of writing that a wine we didn't like is delicious would pose the danger of destroying the manga." Within its first year of publication, Rao notes that wine sales in Japan increased by 130 percent while wines featured in the books skyrocketed in value. By 2009, Decanter magazine had listed the Kibayashi siblings among the top 50 in its Power List of the most influential individuals in the industry.
The manga has built up quite a following in France as well for the past few years, but now it is coming to the United States. Vertical Inc, a Random House imprint, will be releasing the first volume of Drops of God trade paperbacks on September 27, 2011. Will it make the same impact here as it did in Japan? We’re not so sure – comic books are a lot more widely read in Japan. But it will certainly be something that wine and manga enthusiasts alike can appreciate. We can’t wait to check it out.