Tadashi Agi & Shu Okimoto
The Drops of God is an award-winning manga that actually influences the wine industry, and is highly-regarded in many countries, including France. The story follows Shizuku, the son of a world famous wine critic, who has turned his back on wine his whole life since his father, Kanzaki, kind of forced techniques to enjoy wine down Shizuku's throat his entire life. When his father dies, the terms of the will state that Shizuku must compete to inherit the fortune that is Kanzaki's wine collection, against a top wine critic whom his father recently adopted. And so the competition begins to identify the twelve wines that Kanzaki has deemed "the drops of god."
Shizuku's motives are not profit-based, but are more about trying to understand his father, which makes his journey into the world of wine one where readers wish to see him succeed (especially against such an arrogant competitor). As I'm not a wine drinker myself, I wasn't sure that I would really get much out of this book, but Shizuku really is just beginning to learn about wine in this volume, so people unfamiliar with the subject can follow along easily.
Shizuku's father gave him the tools to identify and appreciate wine when he was growing up, unbeknowst to him, and he's now using them to learn from an eager young sommeliere who joins him in his quest. The world of wine is really fascinating - I had no idea that wine was so complex. And the way the creators take the readers away with taste, transporting the characters to memories and breathtaking landscapes, is a smart choice that gets the point across quite nicely. But as interesting as all of the subtleties of wine is, the art on this title is just drop-dead gorgeous and steals the show. From that beautifully-designed cover to the detailed backgrounds to panel-upon-panel of beautifully-rendered talking heads, this books looks fantastic. Especially noteworthy are scenes when characters are interacting with wine: holding a glass up to the light, decanting it, tasting it... You really get a sense that the creators love the subject, and it's hard not to feel the excitement that the characters do throughout their journey. This really is an amazing work.