Hey there fans! This week, while I rest in the lull in between finals, I found an article on Japanator that mentioned a boom in the wine market for a specific French wine that was directly caused by the popularity of a manga about wine called Les Gouttes de Dieu (The Drops of God), where the son of a deceased wine critic must compete with his adopted brother to find and identify 13 wines in order to win their father’s wine collection:
All the wines featured in the manga are real-life vintages, including the 1994 Château Lafleur and 1999 Château Palmer. And once they’ve been noted in the manga as some of the “cream of the crop,” the actual bottles see a drastic increase in demand. Authors Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, a brother and sister team who write under the pseudonym Tadashi Agi, say they didn’t expect this phenomenon, having picked the wines in the manga purely on personal taste. Now, they find themselves influencing the French wine market.
Château le Puy recently found themselves swept up in the craze, after the live-action adaptation of The Drops of God aired an episode featuring its 2003 vintage as one of the 13 sought-after wines. Owner Jean-Pierre Amoreaux was surprised, contacting his agents to figure out what was going on following the 200+ orders they received the day after the episode was released. Amoreaux, however, isn’t trying to cash in on the hype; instead, he immediately stopped all sales of the wine worldwide to avoid price speculation. His goal is to make sure long-time fans of his winery can buy the bottles at an affordable price. The wines recently went back on sale for around 19.90 euros.
Every time I hear of something in the world of manga, anime, or other realms of nerdiness affecting the real world, I always get a little excited. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in having been moved into a hobby after watching something that pertained to said hobby, be it a board game, a genre of music, or, dare I say it, science. With that in mind, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to anime and manga that have the potential to, or have already, inspire young and influential otaku to do things outside of consuming Pocky and watching anime.
Nodame Cantabile (Classical Music)
Honestly, I don’t think there would be a market for this gem of a series, other than to those who enjoy anime, soap operas, and classical music, but Nodame Cantable is one of the more serious shows out on the open right now. And when I say “serious,” I mean relying on the interpersonal relationships of the characters more than the comedy (which is still funny) to drive the anime forward. That, and the classical music. OH, the classical music! The show is set in a conservatory in Japan, and one of its main draws is highlighting a piece of actual classical music, from known heavy hitters like Mozart and Rachmaniov, and analyzing it, practicing it, and actually playing it during the show, even going so far as to animate the actual hand movements needed to play the various instruments (drawing from a full orchestra’s worth sometimes). It’s that attention to source material that really drew me into the show. Oh, and it’s really funny too.
Okay, okay, okay, not alcoholism per se. Rather, the fineries of making perfect cocktails and mixed drinks. Bartender, as a series, is like Nodame Cantabile in the sense that it’s not something with very much action and craziness, having its main draw from the dialogue and the stories they tell instead of any zany action or, well, anything else in fact. It’s a slow, melodramatic anime, but the details that are dished out on the series are actually real techniques and drinks used and made by professional bartenders. At the end of each episode, the ingredients list of one of the drinks made in the episode is shown, as if to allow those interested to make one. It’s also really short, so it’s not that large of a time commitment.
Moyashimon (Microbiology/Pickled Foodstuffs)
Now, stay with me here, ’cause it’s going to get a little weird. I love this show, especially because it taught me more about microbes and fermented and fermenting food than anything I’ve come across. It’s edutainment! NO WAIT, COME BACK! I swear it’s funny as it is light-hearted, and it follows some high school friends who have recently been accepted into an agricultural university and is taken under the wing of a rather eccentric professor, his whip-happy lab assistant, two dead-beats and an germ-hating, hand sanitizer-using girl. The hook is that one of these two friends can actually see the microbes themselves, interacting with them, gathering them and even talking with them, thus making some interesting interplay between microbe, man, and weirdo friends. The microbes are a TON of fun, having different personalities and friendships, where they literally react to one another, and are cute, by anime standards. This show actually made me realize how interesting microbiology is, when put in the right context. Microbiology! And I’m an (as yet undeclared) English major! I should be finding this stuff positively boring! And yet, it got me hooked. That’s how good it is.
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad and K-ON! (ROCKING OUT)
These shows may have little in common (one’s a relatively serious coming-of-age story that revolves around a rock band in Japan and the other is a light-hearted, high-school comedy moeblob series that has cutesy girls doing silly things together). However, what they do have in common lies in their main character: both Koyuki and Yui take up a guitar and learn how to play it, and play it (relatively) well. To put it simply, this anime took the notion of “boy/girl-meets-guitar,” “boy/girl-learns-guitar,” “boy/girl-rocks-out” and goes with it, and has the potential to influence their audiences to take up an instrument and play. Oh, and both series have catchy, if not great, soundtracks, and drop names of great musicians and rockers throughout the series.
Cowboy Bebop (Jazz)
I once watched an episode of Cowboy Bebop with someone, humming along to the opening’s number, and didn’t realize that I had memorized the entire piece perfectly until the person I watched it with told me so. I’ve listened to this show’s soundtrack countless times, having never gotten tired of it, and watched the series and the movie itself too often to count. So, it’s rather safe to say I love this series to death. However, like Nodame Cantabile, one of the main draws of the series itself is the ridiculously varied soundtrack. Each episode highlights a particular genre of music, from metal, funk, waltz and, most notably, jazz, particularly hard bebop. Any adventurous musician worth his salt would learn something from this series and its soundtrack, and would be a great way to get a music lover into anime or an anime lover into jazz. (As a side-note, the highest rated comment found on this video is relatively related to this topic: “anyone notice how when you watch cowboy bebop [sic], you suddenly acquire a taste for jazz?”)
Black Lagoon (Piracy)
The closest you can get to real, modern piracy, drug-running, and smuggling without having to travel to South China Sea or Somalia. Or actually put yourself in harm’s way, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Then, more power to you!
See you later, fans! And don’t get TOO into some of your series, otherwise you’ll end up like this poor otaku.