The Drops Of God, by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto, recently released its fourth volume in English through Vertical, and while I’m only on the third volume so far, it’s earned the unique, but not necessarily heavily-contested, honor of being my favorite alcohol comic running, due to the magnificent art and the pure enthusiasm for wine that this comic has.
The Drops Of God could very well be called the Yu-Gi-Oh of wine. There’s not a single person in the world of this comic who isn’t in some way obsessed with wine, and wine is portrayed as the most serious of business, in a remarkably over-the-top way. The best example of this is the main storyline, in which the inexperienced main character’s inheritance hinges on his successfully identifying 13 of his late father’s best wines: 1 almost-perfect wine and 12 close competitors, the eponymous Drops of God and the 12 Apostles, respectively, before the seasoned wine critic who won the late father’s house in a wine-tasting competition beats him to it. The characters seem to take every opportunity they can to give long, involved monologues about wine and all its facets, but these monologues don’t come off as boring or over-complex, but as genuine appreciation, as the writer’s love for and knowledge of wine is expressed in the most relatable terms, so even I could appreciate it.
But there’s an obvious difficulty in creating a comic about wine, in that wine is not the most visual of things. Its greatest qualities are in the one sense it’s almost impossible to capture visually: taste. That’s where the art comes in. The characters aren’t much to talk about: they’re distinctive, they emote well, they look good on the page. But that’s not what we’re really here to see. The creators find a clever way to communicate the sensation using the best tool the comics medium has: visual metaphor.
Shu Okimoto’s beautiful art creates incredible images, usually in single or double splashes, that get across sensations, if not necessarily details. They’re images that just invite you to sit and drink them in, so to speak. The food and wine itself is also masterfully drawn, with zipatone providing just enough texture to make it almost mouth-watering.
The Drops Of God uses the challenge of trying to describe something innately gustatory in visual terms to its advantage to create something captivating, and the author’s pure enthusiasm for wine makes the result much more accessible than it could otherwise have been.