Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Decanting is a word.

So, a young sales rep for a Japanese beer company found out that his famous wine-critic father has passed away. To gain his father's priceless collection of wine and inheritance, he has to compete against his adopted brother, a genius wine connoisseur by solving a 12-part puzzle.

Sounds like a crazy Japanese manga plot? Absolutely.

But this is also the one of the most influential wine books in Asia. 

In fact the writer-artist duo Shin and Yuko Kibayashi (same folks who brought you KindaIchi's case files and GetBackers) are placed number 50 in the 2009 "The Power List" ranking, being cited as "arguably the most influential wine publication for the past 20 years." Spend some time on Google and you can see why: TDoG influences up to 30% of wine sales in Japan, Korea, and China. 

At first glance, I am absolutely amazed by how knowledgeable(and loaded) the artists are, to be able to construct a plot simply around wine tasting. We follow the protagonist (wine beginner but gifted sense of smell due to his father's training since young) as he learns the basics through adventures such as reuniting long lost couples, settling a bet with his Italian-wine fanatic boss, helping a French chef deciding on the right Chablis to go with his oysters, and (my favourite so far)tracking an unknown wine for a woman to help her recover from amnesia. 

Up to a certain point, I begin to wonder if they were simply drinking LSD: taste becomes sensation, and sensation becomes memories, and suddenly the main characters are in Bali, a masquerade ball, food market in France, a Queens rock concert... you get the idea. 

With absurd plot lines comes absurd story building mechanism. 

And I don't agree with the Japanese stereotypes at all. For one the wines are heavily biased towards French. Not to mention all the wine experts are slim, tall, stylish, and white. (In real Japan, they're all English teachers.) Good guys are always poor with powerful friend; bad guy drinks alone in his giant mansion. The plot gets really tiring as well: there are only so many melodramatic way to pour wine. (Think Iron Chef but only limited to wine.)

Having said that, I cannot deny that the more I read the more I long for a glass of red wine. Perhaps this is the power of repetition. This is by far the most interesting way for me to learn about such a dry subject. Not to mention my respect to the Japanese manga market to allows this genre to exists in the first place. 

I'm reading the Chinese version. But volume 1 of the English version is out now. You can check out some samples here for more LSD actions.  I wonder if this would drive more sales in the Western world.