Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Drops of God: From A Fangirl’s POV

(Today, I present a guest post from Cynette, a content writer for Wine Cellar Innovations. As you likely know, I have been giving rave reviews to the new English translations of The Drops of God, a Japanese wine comic. In 2009, the Japanese comic was adapted into a live action television series that ran for 9 episodes. Obviously this brief series had to omit much of what can be found in the hundreds of issues of the comic. In addition, the series presented an ending to the comic saga, which is currently still being printed in new comics. Will that TV ending be the same as the comic ending? We will have to wait years to find out. I have yet to see the TV series but Cynette has and is here to discuss her thoughts on it.)

I first came across The Drops of God in a jdrama site while doing my usual rounds of monthly marathons. Basically, the drama came first with me and not the manga (Japanese word for “comics”). It did help that the one who played the protagonist, Kanzaki Shizuku, happened to be my all-time favorite Japanese actor in the person of certified Johnny’s “aidoruKamenashi Kazuya. So to be honest, I watched the drama because of my fangirl instincts. However, I was in for a very pleasant surprise.

I never did imagine that a drama series could get me hooked on wine this much. Not that I dislike wine! I’m a wine lover myself, though I probably don’t indulge in it as much as other certified connoisseurs. But Kami no Shizuku (the Japanese title for Drops) opened my eyes and specifically my taste buds to a whole new level of wine appreciation. The drama got me so hooked that when the short thirteen episode series was over, I moved on to read the manga. This only made me appreciate the series even more and proves another point.

As an old generation otaku, I have always adhered to the belief that no matter how good the animated series is (anime, for brevity), the manga will always come across as the better version. This is only understandable since most animes come from celebrated mangas that have become so popular they need a wider audience to cater to. The same goes true for drama series as against their original manga stories. Case in point: Kami no Shizuku. The drama series ended too soon for me, especially since the manga hasn’t even reached halfway yet. And that’s not just what makes the manga the more superior version.

Believe me, nothing could persuade me to think that Kamenashi Kazuya didn’t do Shizuku’s character justice. He is one of the finest actors the Japanese entertainment industry has ever turned out. However, I felt that Shizuku’s character hasn’t fully evolved yet in the manga for the drama series to do him justice. I especially enjoyed seeing Shizuku and his arch rival Issei battle it out every taste test to identify the 13 mystery wines, 12 of which are called the “Apostles.” Shizuku’s father who was one of the country’s greatest connoisseurs designed the competition as outlined in his will in order for the winner to take ownership of the Kanzaki legacy. Of the 12 wines, the last one is called the Drops of God which, in the drama, was translated to be the “God of Wine.”

In the drama series, they performed most of the tasting rounds in an elegant wine cellar in Shizuku’s home. There, both competitors try to describe as closely as possible each Apostle to match the late Kanzaki Yutaka’s description of the wine in his will. While the drama provided so many beautiful imagery as each Apostle is being revealed, I found the manga to have given a more soulful description of the wines. For example, the first wine introduced in the manga was a 99 Richebourge. It was depicted in the manga as the “fragrance of 100 flowers” with scenes from fields teeming with gorgeous colored blossoms. However, this was only after Shizuku got the wine to “open up” with his incredible decanting skills (So I learned what the art of decanting was really like here to!). It was also revealed that Shizuku never actually drank wine despite his uncanny abilities. He went on a rebellious streak in the past against his late father whom he claimed to be so obsessed with nothing but wine he forgot about more important things like his family.

But here’s the big thumbs-up to both the drama and the manga: both have managed to capture beautifully the development of Shizuku’s character specifically his attitude towards wine. The uncovering of the mystery wines was later on shown to be actually a journey for Shizuku to unearth his father’s true feelings for him. Naturally, the series ended it on a high note but as the manga is still ongoing, spoilers at this point would be very thoughtless, especially to those following the manga faithfully. Nonetheless, both the manga and the drama series come highly recommended particularly to true-blooded connoisseurs and wine cellar enthusiasts out there. From the wine rack down to the bottle and the glass, The Drops of God weaves a spellbinding tale revolving on the passion for wine, for family, and for friendship.

Thanks to Richard of Passionate Foodie and a fellow Drops of God follower for allowing me to make this article especially for his blog. We’re both waiting for the final round in the manga to be completed and while the competition between Shizuku and Issei is still hot, we suggest you guys join us and pay catch up! Or, you can try the series in the meantime as well. Either way, this is one work of fiction that will certainly tickle your wine-drenched taste buds!

Cynette Lovelyn M. Montoya is a Content Writer at Wine Cellar Innovations and enjoys writing anything and everything about great wine and wine cellars. She is a huge fan of Japanese manga and anime, specifically Kami no Shizuku and other food and wine-themed manga.


Jason Phelps said...

Is there a US fan club or fan site for the Drops of God? If not, it looks like one is developing...

I'm certainly a card carrying member!

Thanks for the guest post Cynette. I really enjoyed another perspective on what is a relatively new book to me. Richard turned me on the Drops of God and just like his food and wine recommendations, I haven't been disappointed.


Vertical, Inc. said...

Hi Jason. Please go to thedropsofgod.net for your fan needs. Essays, wine list and more is available there.

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Cynette said...

Thanks again for this, Richard! Hi Jason! I'm not familiar with the US fanbase for Drops of God but in Asia, specifically in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines, both the manga and the live action have an almost solid fanbase already ^_^. This is one series that really makes me appreciate every bottle I pop open. So glad you liked my article *cheers*