When a world-renowned wine critic passed away, it was assumed his legendary collection would be left to his only son. But after snubbing the family legacy by taking a job focus on—gasp—beer, the heir’s inheritance from his estranged father was not a given, but instead dependent on his successful completion of a complex game of his father’s design.
The challenge? A blind tasting competition against another wine critic, whom his late father recently adopted, in which each must accurately identify and describe 13 wines: the first 12 known as the “Twelve Apostles” and the last called the “The Drops of God.”
It brought the world of wine and wine appreciation to more than 300 million readers, offering vinous education to those that didn’t even know they wanted it.
This storyline may sound like the plot of an elaborate television series or hit movie on a popular streaming platform, but it’s not. Instead, it is the leading arc of Kami no Shizuku, or The Drops of God, a 44-volume Japanese manga series.
Created and written by sister-brother team Yuko and Shin Kibayashi under the pseudonym Tadashi Agi, and illustrated by Shu Okimoto, the series launched in Japan in 2004, with new volumes released through 2014. It has been published in multiple countries and languages, with English translations of volumes 1-33 currently available digitally through ComiXology and plans for the remaining volumes to be published this year.
The groundbreaking manga introduced new vocabulary, new perspectives and, best of all, new wines to millions of readers around the globe through the format of a beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully researched graphic novel. It brought the world of wine and wine appreciation to more than 300 million readers, offering vinous education to those that didn’t even know they wanted it and influencing shopping habits for wine lovers new and old.
“Any time information is presented in a new way, or through a different lens, it brings a higher level of definition to the topic,” says Stacy Buchanan, publisher of Blood of Gods zine.
“Understanding only increases when we’re exposed to new perceptions. Wine and manga, or wine and death metal, might feel like a silly novelty at first, but when you drill down into why the two are so disparate, at least on the surface, you find out that they actually have a lot of commonalities.”