Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On the Coffee Table: The Second Apostle

Title: The Drops of God, Volume 4: The Second Apostle
Writer: Tadashi Agi
Artist: Shu Okimoto

Image via Amazon

If you are new to this series, please read my previous posts first:

On the Coffee Table: The Drops of God
On the Coffee Table: The First Apostle

Volume 4 chronicles the continuing adventures of Shizuku, his friends and his rivals in pursuit of the mysteries of wine.  The final chapter reveals the second wine described in his father's will.  Obviously, I'm not giving away any spoilers.

Volume 4 concludes "Season One." By author's request, the next English edition will skip ahead in the story, right past the second and third seasons to a segment on "New World Wines" from the Napa Valley.  One would assume that the intention is to drum up interest in wines from the English-speaking world or, perhaps more likely, to connect the story to products already familiar to American readers.  This seems a shame to me.  Anyone already invested in the story will be disappointed to skip ahead, I would think.  Maybe they're not getting the sales they expected.  Perhaps they're hoping that by promoting domestic vintners, the winemakers will encourage American bookstores and wine shops to carry the books.

The promotion at the end of the book does indicate that increased interest will help assure that there will eventually be second and third seasons to fill in the gaps.  So, go out there and buy these books, people!  A quick rundown of why you should:
  • This is the best comic series I've found so far.  The story is masterfully told.  The characters and their relationships are complex and nuanced.  Their quest is highly engaging.  The translation is occasionally a bit awkward and reading the pages from right to left takes a little getting used to but those are small prices to pay for the overall quality of the work.
  • The artwork is wonderful - all black and white.  Mixing artistic styles within a single book has long been a part of the Japanese comic aesthetic and The Drops of God does so with great effect. 
  • If you've ever had an interest in learning about wine, I think this book is a great place to start - very informative.  The characters are genuinely passionate and their descriptions of the wine inspiring.
This book is a bit racier than the first three volumes.  Sexual encounters are portrayed - tasteful, nothing pornographic.  Images of breasts are ubiquitous in Japan.  One becomes desensitized to them after a while.   There are bare breasts here but with only faint hints of nipples.  There are also some adult-themed conversations regarding unexpected pregnancy and the difficult choices one might make in that situation.

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