When Apple TV+ first announced an adaptation of the hit manga The Drops of God, there was a little hesitation on adapting a story based on Japanese characters by changing the main character to a French woman. In hindsight, with France being the creators and largest producers of wine and the series being set around gastronomy and fine wine, it just made sense. Fortunately, the series is really well done — despite minor changes from the original source material.
Set in France, Italy, and Japan, renowned wine critic and professor in oenology, Alexandre Léger (Stanley Weber), has passed away, leaving behind his estranged daughter, Camille (Fleur Geffrier), who had not seen him since she was nine years old. Instead of leaving behind his vast (and expensive) wine collection, Camille must compete against Alexandre’s protegé, Issei Tomine (Tomohisa Yamashita), for the inheritance.
With only eight episodes in the limited series, Drops of God dives deep beyond the competition between its two likable characters. Camille, who has a traumatic response when drinking alcohol, must overcome her feelings towards her father in order to win. Issei, who comes from a wealthy family, refuses to run the family business (of diamonds) and paves his own path towards becoming a wine expert, determined to prove himself by winning the competition.
Though Camille and Issei are competitors, there is a sense of camaraderie as they both share a complicated and complex relationship with Alexandre. There is even a moment where Camille – who consistently tells her colleagues “I hate him” at the start of the series — begins to lighten her stance towards Issei as they warm up to each other, “I think I like him.” Geffrier and Yamashita give strong performances. It is especially impressive hearing them both switch between languages — English, Japanese, and French — all within one scene.
The series also tackles the meaning of fatherhood through Alexandre and Issei’s father Hirokazu (Satoshi Nikaido). While Alexandre was not the best example of a good father — being absent from his children’s lives, Hirokazu is the opposite. He is a very loving and attentive father who, despite his wife’s wishes for Issei to be part of the family business, supports his son’s dreams of becoming a wine expert. Issei’s stern mother Honoka (played by a wonderful Makiko Watanabe) asks Hirokazu to convince Issei to not do the competition because of their father-son close bond. He explains the reason for their closeness to another character, “When children grow up with a lot of love, they become self-confident and capable of overcoming difficulties.” Their loving relationship was heartwarming and provided more sympathy towards Issei’s journey.
Director Oded Ruskin showcases the beauty and obsession of wine, including the picturesque wineries, in every shot. The cinematography is simply stunning, especially as Camille goes through her encyclopedia of scents as bookcases upon bookcases are displayed and explored. At times, it feels a bit like a fantasy drama set in the world of wine. The visuals and descriptions for each wine gives even the most casual wine drinker a broader appreciation of the craft and maybe explore a different variety of wine during your next meal.
There were times when the pacing felt slow and dragged on, particularly the beginning episodes, The series finds its footing as the competition begins and we learn more about the characters. Overall, Drops of God is a beautifully told story about finding family, while also being a love letter to oenophiles and their world.