The battle between Shizuku Kanzaki and Issei Tomine is getting heated as both wine connoisseurs race to identify 13 elite bottles around the world in a challenge of wits, of wills, and for the will of late wine critic Yutaka Kanzaki. Unfiltered readers know what that means: The Drops of God, world-beloved Japanese manga series, is out with new issues. The publishers have just released a batch of 11 volumes translated into English, allowing American readers to play catch-up on the saga ... not unlike how the younger Kanzaki must catch up to his rival's wine expertise should he hope to claim his rightful inheritance.
Following last fall's debut of English translations for the early volumes of the series, Kodansha Comics and Amazon digital comics platform ComiXology have released volumes 12 to 22 of the 44-volume epic written by sister-brother team Yuko and Shin Kibayashi (under the nom de cartoon Tadashi Agi) and illustrated by Shu Okimoto. The rest of the quest, originally published from 2004 to 2014, will be revealed in English in the coming months.
Newly translated excerpt from The Drops of God, Vol. 12, © Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (2020), ComiXology and Kodansha Comics. Panels on each page should be read from right to left.
“It’s been very fun to see this series’ impact on wine worldwide,” Kodansha USA CEO Alvin Lu told Unfiltered via email; wine cameos in the series have driven bottles to sell out in the real world in Japan and South Korea in the past. “Manga has a unique way of making a reader wholly invested in the struggles and triumphs of the story’s protagonist(s), and this investment extends to any subject matter.”
The new volumes find our hero Shizuku, who started out as a wine-deaf beer salesman, facing down ever trickier tests of vinous genius. He must arrange the seemingly impossible marriage between wine and kimchi. He uses Japanese author Toson Shimazaki's poem "First Love" to try to decipher the identity of the fourth wine. As the stakes grow, wine thieves rob Yutaka’s mansion of five bottles worth more than $90,000, and Shizuku travels from Seoul to Mt. Fuji to confront wine’s infinite riddles on a more spiritual level.
The partnership between Kodansha and Amazon has helped increase American interest in manga generally and Drops specifically, as the books are easy to get digitally and free online to Prime and Kindle Unlimited members. “We have been working with Kodansha for years to bring manga to digital English-language readers everywhere,” Chip Mosher, head of content at ComiXology and a French wine lover himself, told Unfiltered via email. “There are so many great French wines spotlighted in the series, and it’s a great way to learn about wine.”
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