Drops of God
|The Drops of God|
Cover art for the first tankōbon of the Kami no Shizuku manga.
(Kami no Shizuku)
|Written by||Tadashi Agi|
|Illustrated by||Shu Okimoto|
|Original run||November 18, 2004 – June 12, 2014|
The Drops of God (神の雫 Kami no Shizuku?) is a Japanese manga series about wine. It is created and written by Tadashi Agi, a pseudonym employed by creative team of sister and brother Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, with artwork by Shu Okimoto. All the wines that appear in the comic are authentic.
The series was first published in November 2004 in Weekly Morning magazine in Japan, and still runs to date. However, it is scheduled to end in June 2014, with the final volume out in July. It is also published in Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Since April 2008, volumes have also been published in France by Glénat. As of December 2007 the series had registered sales of more than 500,000 copies.
Vertical Inc. is publishing the series in North America under the title The Drops of God. After publishing four volumes (covering the first eight Japanese volumes and the first two Apostles), the fifth volume jumped ahead to the story arc for the Seventh Apostle (volumes 22 and 23 of the Japanese edition), published under the name The Drops of God: New World. Vertical stated that this was done "by author request" and urged readers to "tell all your friends about the series so there will be second and third seasons to fill in the gap!"
Kanzaki Shizuku (神咲 雫) is a junior employee in a Japanese beverages company mainly focusing on selling beers. As the story opens, he receives news that his father, from whom he is estranged, has died. His father was the world renowned wine critic Kanzaki Yutaka (神咲 豐多香), who owned a vast and famous wine collection. Summoned to the family home, a splendid European style mansion, to hear the reading of his father's will, Shizuku learns that, in order to take ownership of his legacy, he 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" ("Kami no Shizuku" in the original Japanese edition and "Les Gouttes de Dieu" in the French translation), that his father has described in his will. He also learns that he has a competitor in this, a renowned young wine critic called Toomine Issei (遠峰 一青), who his father has apparently recently adopted as his other son.
Shizuku has never drunk wine, in part a reaction against the ruling passion of his late father, nor had any previous knowledge about wines. However, with strong senses of taste and smell, and an uncanny ability to describe his experiences from those senses, Shizuku submerges himself in the world of wine and tries to solve the mysteries of the 13 wines and defeat Issei. In this, he is also helped by knowledge gained from his time as a child with his father, and supported by his friends (including trainee sommelier Shinohara Miyabi (紫野原みやび)) and colleagues in the newly formed wine department of his company, which he now joins.
Shizuku Kanzaki (かんざき しずく 神咲雫 Kanzaki Shizuku) is the protagonist of the story, an employee in Sun Beer beverages company. His father gave him elite education about wine when he was still a child. However, rebellion against his father finally drove him to join a beer company. Incidentally, he was transferred to the wine department in the company and started to undertake the task of finding the "Drops of God". His sense of smell is extremely sensitive, so much so that he could discern the components of an unopened bottle of wine. He also inherited the superb intuition and verbal expressiveness about wine from his father. On the other hand, his knowledge about wine has been growing since he started working in the wine department, though in this aspect he is still an amateur. He travelled around the world with his father during childhood. This not only gave him broad experiences but also made him well-immersed in arts and culture of the world.
Shizuku believes drinking is an essential part in understanding a wine, and comes to see wine drinking as a fun experience under any circumstance. He is simple-minded and optimistic. His concentration when pursuing goals and handsome appearance have attracted many women. However his insensitivity to romantic cues meant such feelings are normally unnoticed and un-reciprocated. The first wine he had ever tasted was Château Mont-Pérat.
Miyabi Shinohara (しのはら みやび 紫野原雅 Shinohara Miyabi) was a sommelier apprentice working in a French restaurant. She is very knowledgeable in all matters related to wine and has shown some talents in wine tasting. However due to bad luck and a possible lack of intuition, she has failed to pass the Sommelier qualification exam several times. She was subsequently contracted by Sun Beer to work as a consultant for its wine department.
She has been supporting Shizuku with her knowledge about wine, but Shizuku often mocks her to be too bookish about wine. She almost always appears together with Shizuku, and harbors special feelings towards him. One repeated comedic relief in the story depicts Miyabi as having the habit of bringing male friend to her apartment to drink wine, and almost always ending up drunk and waken up realizing she has undressed herself to panty while drunk.
Yutaka Kanzaki (かんざき ゆたか Kanzaki Yutaka) was Shizuki's father. He was one of the leading wine collectors in the world, with his entire collection said to be worth around 2 billion yen at the current market price. He died of pancreatic cancer before the beginning of the story and left a will that initiated the "Drops of God" search. In the story Yutaka was a globally renowned wine critic on par with Robert Parker. His writings used to influence the market price of various wines. In his younger days, Yutaka made a fortune through wine futures trading.
Issei Toomine (とおみね いっせい 遠峰一青 Tōmine Issei) is a renowned wine critic. Young and charismatic, he became the adopted son of Yutaka, and set his eyes on the huge wine collections of his adopted father. Shizuku and Issei are the two beneficiaries listed in Yutaka's will, subsequently he became the main rival of Shizuku in the search of "Drops of God". He is often seen as arrogant and cold, but is in fact extremely hard-working to improve his tasting skills and understanding of wine. He would endure great hardship and even risked his own life to further his understanding of Yutaka's descriptions of wine in the will. For example, in the searches of "Drops of God", he traveled in Taklamakan Desert alone, climbed Mount Blanc, participated in multiple Marathons, and attempted deep diving. Issei has dedicated his life to wine, and will never lie about any matter related with wine. This is reflected in the fair-mindedness he has shown in his contest with Shizuku.
Issei is in fact the illegitimate son of Yutaka and Honoka, Shizuku's half-brother. Few people, not even Shizuku and Sarah, knows this secret.
Christopher Watkins is an American sent by his father to join in the search of the "Ninth Apostle". He is a genius in wine tasting, and was able to identify the first eight Apostles immediately after hearing the descriptions of Yutaka. However, at the end of the search of the "Ninth Apostle", Robert criticized him for simply "copying and presenting Yutaka's account" without truly understanding the nature of the wine. After this setback, Christopher decided to start a journey to find his own understanding of wine.
Ryouko Kiryuu (きりゅうりょうこ Kiryū Ryouko) was Yutaka's lawyer. She was present when Yutaka made his will and was entrusted with the management of Yutaka's wine collection and the execution of his will.
Shirou Fujieda (ふじえだ しろう Fujieda Shirou) is the owner and sommelier of the wine bar "St. Paul". He is the mentor of Miyabi. Shizuku sees him as a trusted counselor. He is very generous and often takes out fine wines to treat friends (such as Opus One and Calon-Ségur). In his younger days he used to be a member of the student protest and communist movements.
Souichirou Mishima (みしま そういちろう Mishima Souichirou) is the owner of a restaurant chain. Miyabi used to work in one of his restaurants. At the beginning of the story he was a businessman focusing on maximizing profits, and instructed his managers to reduce stocks of wine in the restaurants and instead buy from nearby liquor stores when customers place orders. His managers all saw him as a cold-blooded businessman. Later Souichirou re-united with his past lover and in turn became a warmer and more generous person.
Maki Saionji (さいおんじ マキ Saionji Maki) is the president of Saionji Corporation / SAION Tradeing, which specializes in the import and sale of wine. She is the financial sponsor of Issei. Maki is an unscrupulous woman and will do anything to achieve her own purpose. She once set up a trap to disadvantage Shizuku in searching one of the Apostles, and plotted a conspiracy to drive Loulan away from Issei out of jealousy. She has extensive connections in the fine wine business and has always wanted to win the heart of Issei.
Half-French half-Japanese, Robert Doi (どい ロベール Doi Robert) was Yutaka's most trusted friend. An eccentric, he currently lives in a cardboard hut built in a park in Ginza called Chateau Robert, while in fact he is a billionaire and the park in which he lives is actually privately owned by himself. Robert is a renowned wine connoisseur. He has the experiences and talents to accurately identify the Apostles after hearing Yutaka's accounts in the will, hence serves as the unbiased judge of the "Drops of God" contest.
Sarah is the half-sister of Issei (born to the same mother) and a successful model. She is half-French half-Japanese. She first drank wine at the age of 5, became a regular wine drinker at the age of 12, and started to fall in love with wine at the age of 14. She has extensive knowledge about wine. Miyabi once commented Sarah is "like Madam Leroy". She is currently contracting with Sun Beer as its commercial model. Sarah likes to talk to Shizuku, but keeps the fact that she is the sister of Issei away from Shizuku. She sometimes checks on Shizuku's progress in searching various Apostles and reports the information back to Issei.
Kawarage (かわらげ) is the manager of the wine department of Sun Beer. A reticent old man, he often appears invisible in the department. However, his knowledge and love of wine is unparalled in the department. He also trusts his subordinates a lot. Kawarage's superior is also a wine connoisseur, their enthusiasm was a main driving force in establishing the wine department.
Chosuka Honma (ほんま ちょうすけ Honma Chosuka) is Shizuku's colleague in the wine department. He was dumped by a French woman before and subsequently became a fierce supporter of Italian wine. Chosuka is a hardcore wine hobbyist. His small apartment is almost fully stuffed with wine storages. His parents have both passed away.
Ryusuke Kido (きど りゅうすけ Kido Ryusuke) is the most junior employee in the wine department. At first he knew nothing about wine and wanted to be transferred to the PR department. Due to a mistake of the new employee training department, he was assigned to the wine department instead. However, he was slowly brought into the world of wine, and started to appreciate the depth and delicacy of wine. He also started to develop romantic relationship with a female colleague in the company. Ryusuke now has the dream of spreading cheap and delicious wine that is relatively unknown, including wines outside France and Italy, amid Japanese wine drinkers.
During the search of the second Apostle, Issei met a Xinjiang girl in Taklamakna desert. Loulan's mother is a Japanese and she was named after the ancient Loulan Kingdom. She knew nothing about wine at first but has a superb sense of smell rivaling that of Shizuku. This talent was revealed when she uncovered a bottle of wine buried in the desert. Issei invited her to come back to Japan to help him in the search of Apostles. However, a jealous Maki finally devised a ploy to drive he away from Issei. Afterwards, Loulan went to France alone. There she was adopted by Charles Watkins, father of Christopher, and established herself as a genius wine taster in Paris. She is determined to surpass her love Issei in order to save him.
Junya Ishikawa (いしかわ じゅんや Ishikawa Junya) was Miyabi's highschool friend. He is looking after the family liquor store after his father fell ill. Junya graduated from the elite Hitotsubashi University and believes "the quality of the wine depends on from which winemaker's hand it is made".
Junya's twin brother, Kenya Ishikawa (いしかわ けんや Ishikawa Kenya) was also Miyabi's high school friend. Unlike his brother, he used to be a Bōsōzoku and dropped out of high school. Kenya also helps in the family liquor store. He believes "the quality of the wine depends on from which vineyard it is made".
Ryo Takasugi (たかすぎ りょう Takasugi Ryo) was Miyabi's high school classmate and her first love. Due to his wealthy family background, he was transferred to an elite private school where many of his schoolmates came from similarly wealthy background. There, his old value system was challenged and he slowly transformed to a brand conscious and snobbish man. However, with the help of Miyabi, Shizuku and their colleagues Ryo regained his former self. Recently, Ryo's father planned to send him to China to start new business there. He proposed to Moegi, his former classmate's sister, and asked her to go to China together.
Moegi Tanaka (たなか もえぎ Tanaka Moegi) is Ryo's girlfriend. She is a timid girl with low self-confidence, often thinking Miyabi and Ryo being a more matching couple. When invited to a party by Ryo, One of the girls in the party who knew Ryo in a miai tried to humiliate the humble-looking Moegi, and tricked Moegi in participating in a blindfolded wine tasting contest. However Moegi turned out to have a great intuition about wine, and her descriptions of the wine received compliments from Issei. Recetnly Moegi has accepted Ryo's proposal and will go to China with her fiancé.
Honoka Toomine (とおみね ほのか Toomine Honoka) is the mother of Issei and Sarah. She is a leading wine taster in France and her husband is the director of a major airline. She has placed herself as a neutral figure in the contest between Shizuku and Issei. When Issei was still a child, Honoka once attempted to kill him in a snow mountain.
The "Twelve Apostles" and "The Drops of God"
To win each round of the competition to identify the 13 mystery wines, Shizuku and Issei have to present a correct choice of wine and a justification of the choice which most closely matches Yutaka's description of the wine in his will. The judge is Yutaka's old friend Robert Doi (土肥 ロベール). So far, the identities of ten "Apostles" have been disclosed.
|Shizuku's choice||Issei's choice||References|
|First Apostle||2001 Georges Roumier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses||1999 Georges Roumier Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses|||
|Second Apostle||2000 Château Palmer||1999 Château Palmer|||
|Third Apostlea||2000 Santa Duc Gigondas||1981 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape|||
|Rematchb||2000 Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo||2000 Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo|||
|Fourth Apostle||1992 Château Lafleur||1994 Château Lafleur|||
|Fifth Apostle||2000 Marc Colin Montrachet||2000 Michel Colin-Deléger Chevalier-Montrachet|||
|Sixth Apostle||2001 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis||2001 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falleto|||
|Seventh Apostle||2003 Glaetzer Amon-Ra Shiraz Barossa Valley||2003 Sine Qua Non The Inaugural (Eleven Confessions) Syrah Central Coast AVA|||
|Eighth Apostle||Jacques Selosse Cuvée Exquise NV||2000 Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon Brut Rosé|||
|Ninth Apostlec||2005 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio di Sotto||2005 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio di Sotto|
|Tenth Apostle||2002 Grands Échezeaux Grand cru Robert Sirugue||2007 Grands Échezeaux Grand cru Robert Sirugue|
Green background means the competitor won the round and picked the correct wine.^c Christopher also participated in this contest and found the correct wine. However Issei's description of the wine was closest to Yutaka's understanding, and was judged as the victor by Robert
^a Both choices were judged to be incorrect, therefore a rematch was held.
^b Although they selected the same wine, as Issei refused to describe his wine, he was judged to have lost this round of the competition.
Reception and impact
The Japanese importer Enoteca has stated that the comic character has begun to influence its stock ordering decisions. The sale of fine wines in South Korea has increased significantly as a result of the popularity of the comic, with the sale of wine rising from less than a third of the market to around 70 per cent of alcohol sales.
After an issue with a mention of lesser known producer Château Mont-Pérat came out, a Taiwanese importer sold 50 cases of Mont-Pérat in two days. Sales of Umberto Cosmo's Colli di Conegliano Rosso also leaped 30% after being mentioned in the Manga series. All Nippon Airways reported it had to recraft the in-flight wine lists to accommodate the increased interest.
After being featured in the finale of the Japanese television adaptation series of Kami no Shizuku in March 2010, the little-known Bordeaux wine 2003 Château le Puy became significantly popular in Japan. In September 2010, the proprietor of Château le Puy, Jean-Pierre Amoreau, made public his intention to cease international sales of their 2003 vintage in order to deter wealthy speculators and retain a small stock for those buyers he deems to be genuine connoisseurs.
A 2007 Reuters feature asserted that "wine industry experts believe part of the manga's appeal is that it teaches readers enough about wine to understand the drink and impress their friends, but does so in an entertaining way". In the July 2009 Decanter publication of "The Power List" ranking of the wine industry's individuals of influence, Shin and Yuko Kibayashi placed at number 50, citing that the work was "arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years".
- Les Gouttes de Dieu publications Bedetheque (French)
- Woodard, Richard, Decanter.com (December 12, 2007). "Manga comics ignite interest in wine".
- Lewis, Leo, The Times (September 11, 2008). "Cartoon wine critic Shizuku Kanzaki boosts Japanese sales".
- Agi, Tadashi (2012). The Drops of God 4. Vertical. p. 386. ISBN 9781935654391. Missing or empty
- Tadashi Agai (May 31, 2010). The tasting diary of "Drops of God" author advises on choosing appropriate "size" of wine glasses (Japanese). asashi.com. Asashi Shimbun. July 31, 2013
- Agi, Tadashi (April 2006). "50. あまりにも完璧な恋人たち". Drops of God (in Japanese) 6. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372510-0.
- Agi, Tadashi (April 2006). "51. 神の造りしもの". Drops of God (in Japanese) 6. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372510-0.
- Agi, Tadashi (October 2006). "77. 悔恨と屈辱の乾杯". Drops of God (in Japanese) 8. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372556-8.
- Agi, Tadashi (May 2007). "100. 老木の手触りは虚空に消えて". Drops of God (in Japanese) 11. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372599-5.
- Agi, Tadashi (May 2007). "107. その誇りに懸けた沈黙". Drops of God (in Japanese) 11. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372599-5.
- Agi, Tadashi (February 2008). "140. セレナーデに微笑みを". Drops of God (in Japanese) 15. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372664-0.
- Agi, Tadashi (November 2008). "169. 白き優美なる山々は甦り". Drops of God (in Japanese) 18. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372751-7.
- Agi, Tadashi (November 2008). "170. 厳しくも優しきその声は". Drops of God (in Japanese) 18. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372751-7.
- Agi, Tadashi (March 2009). "195. 虚空に浮かぶ光は、ゆらめく漁火の如く". Drops of God (in Japanese) 20. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372779-1.
- Agi, Tadashi (March 2009). "196. 謎めく頬に、その手を差し伸べて". Drops of God (in Japanese) 20. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372779-1.
- Agi, Tadashi (January 2010). "225. 奏でられし時の五線譜、ともに歩みゆく者たちよく". Drops of God (in Japanese) 23. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372849-1.
- Agi, Tadashi (January 2010). "226. 百年の長き眠りが覚める、聖なる朝に". Drops of God (in Japanese) 23. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372849-1.
- Agi, Tadashi (December 2010). "260. 憧れの女に吹く風は、プライドの糸輝くヴェールを揺らして". Drops of God (in Japanese) 27. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372968-9.
- Agi, Tadashi (December 2010). "261. 樹は天空に向かい、自由にその葉を伸ばして". Drops of God (in Japanese) 27. Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-372968-9.
- NYTimes.com (November 4, 2011)
- The Korea Times Lifestyles: Wines to Become More Popular
- Salter, Jessica, The Daily Telegraph (September 11, 2008). "Cartoon character from Kami no Shizuku drives up wine sales in Japan".
- Hughes, Felicity, The Japan Times (April 11, 2008). A manga drunk on French wine
- Davies, Lizzy, The Guardian (September 22, 2010). French winemaker withdraws vintage after manga cartoon craze
- Hardach, Sophie, Reuters.com (June 4, 2007). Taste of heaven: Manga spreads 'Drops of God' in Asia
- Decanter (July 2009). "The Power List", p.40
- Lechmere, Adam, Decanter.com (June 1, 2009). "Power List 2009: Parker Gives Way to Constellation".