A full review of the entire series!
(NOTE: spoilers in brackets [spoiler]. Highlight the text to read it.)
I have scaled the mountain top. I have finished The Drops of God (Kami no Shizuku) by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto. No, I didn't binge all 44 volumes in one sitting. That's insane. Don't do that. I read the series in chunks, bit by bit over the past few years. The bulk of the reading was done under quarantine conditions, which surprisingly is a good way to read this. Kodansha just released this series 11 volumes at a time whenever. No warning. No slot on the release calendar, just, "Here you go guys ~enjoy~." One day. Some of the release happened pre-quarantine because it came with (what I can only assume) was a kick-ass wine event (that I did not go to; sadly, work, $$$, and rush hour traffic kept me from throwing money down and going. I regret this).
Anyway, the story. The Drops of God is a slice-of-life part drama, part comedy, mystery series. World-renowned wine critic Yutaka Kanzaki dies, and he leaves his fortune, expansive wine collection, and legacy behind. Who will inherit all of this? Yutaka leaves behind a will, challenging his two sons to find the 12 apostles and the God who sits above all. The two sons are amateur wine drinker Shizuku Kanzaki and adopted son Issei Tomine, an up-and-coming wine critic. Drama/comedy ensues.
I love the realistic art style and illustrations. ALL the food and wines referenced in this story are REAL. Have a pen and paper ready to take notes. About the wine itself. The way that the characters describe the wine are...over the top. Not over the top a la Yakitate Japan or Food Wars, to say in a humorous manner but rather, this-is-all-super-serious, you guys. Wine is compared to literally everything under the sun. From Hollywood classic movies to famous works of art to places to actual people to a summer day. Everything. If you like references, this story got you covered. ALSO, because Shizuku is the audience avatar and entry into wine, this story will educate you in all you need to know about wine. If you tend to zone out to info, like Shizuku, have a pen and paper ready to take notes. If you're astute enough, you can b.s. your way through a fancy dinner party.
What about the characters? if you'll allow me the comparison Shizuku and Tomine are like Inuyasha and Shesshomaru (from the manga/anime Inuyasha). Shizuku is a dumbass in the smarts department but has senses like a bloodhound and can open wine like nobody's business due to the secret training he received as a child whereas Tomine is sophisticated and cool. He knows wine inside and out. He's smart and successful. He flies around the world doing wine stuff and banging chicks. The supporting cast is excellent too. Loulan, Chosuke d'Italia, Miyabi, Sarah, and Robert were among my faves. [Christopher Watkins was a late comer to the game as was Tomine's mama; but both were delightful antagonists too!]
The only thing I didn't like was the ending. [The ending was an open-ended conclusion. However, the 12 apostles were revealed, and God was "revealed" too.] Which I suppose was to be expected since there is a sequel series made up of 26 volumes that hasn't been licensed yet. It just finished serialization in Japan in October 2020 so I hope we get it here too.
So, what's the catch? The catch is that this is a digital only release and only available on Amazon's platforms, so Prime, Comixology, and Kindle. It's available for purchase as an e-book too, but it's definitely cheaper to just subscribe and read for a bit. I read this via my Prime subscription at no extra cost. Vertical printed v.1-5 of the series before stopping for some mysterious reason (probably sales related). I doubt The Drops of God will see a new print release, but one can only hope, I guess.
If you enjoy food/wine manga, are looking for a mystery series, or are looking for a chill Seinen to read, then pour out a glass of your fave grocery store wine (my poison of choice: Stella Rosa Rosso), and check this out! 9/10
(P.S. do not scroll any further than the plot paragraph on the Wikipedia page. It spoils everything.)
Learn more/read here via Kodansha USA.
What to read after The Drops of God:
Emma Dreams of Stars by Kan Takahama
Gente by Natsume Ono
Ristorante Paradiso by Natsume Ono
Sherlock Bones by Ando Yuma and Yuuki Satou (same authors; they use a few pen names)
The Kindachi Case Files series/franchise (same authors; they use a few pen names)