story by Tadashi Agi; art by Shu Okimoto
published by Vertical; $14.95 US
There’s something to be said for consistency. In structure, style, and presentation, The Drops of God Book 3 is much the same as the first two books, so if you enjoyed those, you should find the same appeal here.
However, story-wise… On the plus side, we get the first “Apostle” revealed, one of the 13 wines Shizuku must identify based on clues from his father’s will. On the negative side, in a storyline set up at the very end of Book 2, we learn that the right wine can cure amnesia in a ridiculously melodramatic segment.
I’m eliding some of that. The continuing plot through the first half of this volume involves a woman who has painted a scene that perfectly captures the taste of a wine that is all she remembers from her life pre-amnesia. She married her doctor, and he fears her recovering her memory, so he tries to stop her from tastings arranged by Shizuku and his sidekick (who does so little most of the time I’m not even bothering to look up her name).
The story continues to be driven by heavy amounts of conversational text, with static images, mostly head shots, with no sense of flow between panels. The only time the art really shines are the few scenes where wine descriptions are turned into amazing visions of forest glades or deserted castles or musician-filled orchestras. Those images are my favorite part of the series.
Unfortunately, because the original serialization of the series is very obvious, it can be tiring hearing even the most beautiful descriptions of wine repeated from chapter to chapter. The first Apostle tastes like violet butterflies flitting over a clear, floral-surrounded spring. That’s a lovely image, but hearing it over and over makes the imagery of the wooded stream less powerful.
The last third of the book shows us why the Italian-loving wine-drinker hates the French. It involves a lost love who taught wine school. That’s a brief interlude before setting up the next lengthy challenge (continuing in the next book), in which an old classmate has to be shown that wine is more than just name brands, labels, and high prices. Which is odd, since this series is about teaching us the right names and why they’re so great.