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Good news for fans of fine wines and vintage manga: Vertical, Inc., a small manga publisher with one of the most interesting lines around, will announce two new manga licenses today: Princess Knight and Drops of God.
Princess Knight, by Osamu Tezuka, was published in 1953 and was one of the earliest shoujo (girls’) manga. It’s a swashbuckling story of a princess who masquerades as a boy so she can have daring adventures and save her kingdom from an evil tyrant. It actually has been published in English before: The Japanese publisher Kodansha published a bilingual English-Japanese edition in 1970. Hardcore manga fans have been clamoring for a new edition for years, and Viz ran a chapter in Shojo Beat magazine in 2007. Kate Dacey, a.k.a. The Manga Critic, has a nice primer on Princess Knight at her blog.
Drops of God (Kami no Shizuku) is a completely different type of manga, and it has gotten quite a bit of press for a series that isn’t legally available in English, perhaps because of the subject matter: It’s about winemaking. After a famous wine critic passes away, his son learns that he has an adopted brother and that the two of them must compete in a wine-tasting contest in order to inherit the estate. Yeah, it’s your basic battle manga, except that instead of trying to kick each others’ asses, the main characters are striving to identify rare wines. The manga has helped boost the sales of some of the featured wines in Japan and South Korea, and it has already been translated into French. The New York Times even profiled the creators of the manga, brother-and-sister team Shin and Yuko Kibayashi.