Drops of God, the Japanese manga, or comic strip, that transformed millions of casual wine drinkers throughout Asia into Bordeaux- and Burgundy-obsessed oenophiles, debuts in the U.S. with its first English-language volume arriving in bookstores tomorrow, October 18.
The manga trails the wine education of fictional hero, Shizuku Kanzaki—a character more associated with wine in Japan than even Robert Parker. What began as a series in Japan’s weekly manga magazine Morning in 2004, has evolved into more than 30 volumes in Japan, with sales surpassing 3.5 million copies, according to morningmanga.com. Commonly referred to as a wine primer for housewives, CEO’s and budding wine devotees alike, Drops of God exerts enormous influence over wine sales in Japan, and in 2009, it developed into a popular television series. Translated versions in South Korea, Taiwan and China sparked a consumer frenzy for wines from esoteric producers mentioned in the series, such as Château Mont-Pérat in Bordeaux and Domaine Emmanuel Rouget in Burgundy.
Author Tadashi Agi is a pseudonym for brother-and-sister team, Shin and Yuko Kibayashi, whose own penchants for French wines drive the selection of vinos described with dramatic, often fanatical detail in Drops of God. In the story, the hero, Kanzaki, is the estranged son of a legendary Japanese wine critic, working as a beer salesman in defiance of his father. The critic’s sudden death triggers a quest for Kanzaki to identify the 12 mythic wines described in his father’s will in order to inherit his father’s priceless wine collection.
Vertical, the manga’s U.S. publisher, has initial plans to release four translated books containing the first eight volumes of the Japanese edition.