Drops of God will fill the Succession-shaped hole in your life
The Apple TV+ series is loosely based on a manga of the same name.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Succession season 4.
With Succession's final episode fast-approaching, the Roy family dynasty will soon exit our lives forever. But fear not! A worthy successor has risen in Drops of God, which is waiting for you on Apple TV+.
It's easy to see why casual TV fans might have overlooked this series. In a world of endless new shows, the story of two people competing to inherit some fancy wine doesn't instantly grab your attention. But there's a reason why Drops of God has received a 100 per cent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, plus 96 per cent from users who have watched it.
Loosely based on a manga of the same name, Quoc Dang Tran's adaptation might not revolve around an American media empire and the foul-mouthed siblings who want to sit on the throne, but it does focus on two rivals who bitterly fight for the affection of their so-called "father", even after his death. And yes, things do get messy, albeit in a more elegant, refined way, as is befitting of the French and Japanese cultures that interweave at the heart of this story.
In Succession, it was Logan Roy's ill health which accelerated proceedings, with his death in the final season adding further rocket fuel to the story. In Drops of God, it's the passing of Alexandre Léger, another detached, wealthy man that sets the stage. His estranged daughter Camille finds out her father has died while she's en route to say goodbye to him in Japan – private planes are a bad omen in both shows, it seems – but that's not all that connects them.
Upon her arrival, Camille learns that Alexandre, a world-renowned figure in oenology, has left behind a rare wine collection valued at $148 million. But there's a catch. While Camille was raised in Paris by her mother, the father she hadn't seen since she was nine went on to build a life for himself in Tokyo, where he found a brilliant Japanese protege named Issei Tomine.
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To win her father's vast fortune, along with ownership of the Léger empire, Camille must compete against Issei, his spiritual son, in a three-stage contest that revolves around wine tasting – a particularly challenging task given that Camille suffers intense nausea and violent nosebleeds when she consumes alcohol.
Just like you don't need knowledge of corporate America to become engrossed in Succession, the same is absolutely true of the wine industry depicted in Drops of God. It doesn't matter if you can't tell your Chardonnay from your Riesling, or even your red from your white. If anything, a lack of specialist knowledge makes Drops of God even more enticing as it lifts the curtain on a strangely fascinating, high-end world that most casual viewers have zero understanding of.
If that sounds drier than a Merlot, it's not – in part courtesy of luscious sequences that draw on the source material to bring wine tasting to life in a very visceral way. Images of the flavours in each sip hover in the air before Camille at various points, and each wine evokes different memories that pull our protagonists into the past, realising their inner worlds directly on screen.
As is often the case for Apple TV+ shows, the visuals throughout are more luxurious than the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, and their cinematic scale often evokes the beauty of Pachinko, another trilingual Apple TV+ epic that's more than worth your time.
But that's not what Succession fans will be drawn to most. What makes Drops of God a worthy successor to the genius of Jesse Armstrong's series is the core relationship between Camille and Issei, from which stems a full-bodied narrative that's rich with family secrets and betrayal.
Alexandre might not be a full-blown monster like Logan, but his selfish arrogance hits just as hard, manipulating his loved ones across different decades and continents long after he's passed. As Camille reckons with the shadow of a father who she barely knows, Issei is forced to navigate a different kind of cruelty within his own family empire, even as he strives to find his place in another.
There's less humour to be found here than there is in Succession, and much of that comes down to how the characters in Drops of God are far more restrained with their passion and hate. If you're looking for awkward raps or something akin to "Boar on the Floor", you might come away disappointed. But Fleur Geffrier and (Japanese pop star) Tomohisa Yamashita are endlessly watchable, cutting down those who get in their way with a sharpness even more striking than their enviable jawlines.
By taking a more grounded approach, there's less caricature here than seen in the familial sparring within the Roy family, and that arguably makes the shocks and twists even more affecting when they do arrive.
When Tadashi Agi's Drops of God manga was originally published, its popularity inspired a huge boom in wine sales across Japan and much of East Asia. Now that Succession is leaving us for good, perhaps its popularity will encourage fans to seek out smaller titles like Drops of God that deserve to compete in those same big leagues.
Léger's fortune might not match Waystar's stock value, but it's worthy of your time nonetheless.
Drops of God is available to stream now on Apple TV+ – you can sign up to Apple TV+ here.
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