Tomohisa Yamashita on Drops of God and Balancing Music with Acting

Apr 22, 2023

While there are obviously a litany of great manga adaptations, few are as sophisticated, intelligent, and delightful as Drops of God, the international live-action miniseries on Apple TV+. Firstly, a manga about wine and oenology is unique enough on its own, but this beautifully fleshed-out series connects cultures and ideas around the world to tell a quietly gripping and ultimately joyous story of family, passion, and nature.

Drops of God concerns the death of a famous winemaker, a rich but stern man revered around the world for his taste and enological brilliance. When he passes away, his vast estate will be left to one person, but in a seemingly cruel twist, his will dictates a series of games and tests to decide who will receive the inheritance — his estranged French daughter, or his stoic Japanese protégé. It’s a clever, relaxing, but thoughtful show that stands out from the melodrama and misery of many other series in today’s televisual landscape.

Drops of God Chronicles a Different Kind of Battle

Apple TV+

Drops of God begins by focusing on Camille (a simultaneously ethereal and intense Fleur Geffrier), the daughter of Alexandre Léger, the famed creator of the Léger Wine Guide. Camille studied wine with Alexandre as a child in an almost abusive process — blindfolds, isolated cellars, taste-testing, anger, fear. As a result, the now adult Camille suffers intense and nearly automatic nosebleeds whenever she tastes alcohol. It’s a psychosomatic reaction that viscerally indicates her relationship with her father.

Now he’s dead, but from the grave which grows the vines he loved, he’s forcing her to compete with his protégé, Issei Tomine (Tomohisa Yamashita), for his estate and inheritance. They will embark on a months-long series of tests in which they have to taste wine blind and name the vintage and vineyard, along with several other complicated tasks.

Issei is a phenomenal character, and Yamashita plays him with a muted sadness but resolved determination which seem reflective of his filial struggles. He is from a rich family, a diamond empire, but he couldn’t care less; he loves wine, and he’s opposed to doing the so-called “honorable” thing. As the series takes its course, startling discoveries and emotional character development lead to a collision between these two characters in one of the most interesting finales of the year.

Yamashita, a bona fide pop star in the music industry and a talented actor for the past two decades, spoke with MovieWeb about his character and Drops of God as a whole.

Tomohisa Yamashita on the International Culture of Drops of God

Apple TV+

“Issei’s a brilliant man who grew up with a rich family,” explained Yamashita. When he was younger, he had to choose between taking over his family business and following his own path. That’s why he’s been hard-working in his life to achieve his goals. He basically has everything, except for love. So it’s really attractive for me to play that role. It’s so sad. I think, for me, [there are] really great lessons from taking this role. And I’ve been a really big fan of this manga. When I got this offer, I immediately decided to take this role. Issei’s a complicated character.”

Related: Best Apple TV+ Shows, Ranked

Fittingly, Drops of God is a complicated show. In the style of Olivier Assayas, it’s a truly international production both on-screen and off. The cultural intersection of French and Japanese approaches to filmmaking (along with Thai and English-speaking crews) made this a unique shoot. “We have differences, small differences, like how long we shoot for a day, and some other logistics,” said Yamashita. He continued:

Those small differences have nothing to do with acting and the filmmaking process of the show. So it doesn’t matter to me. More importantly, I felt like everyone shares the same passion to make quality content, regardless of where we work or what project we work on. Realizing that made me even more excited to be part of something big like this project.

The cultural issues (and the universality of certain ones) are on full display in the series as well. Yamashita’s character is stuck in a family that’s committed to the honorable or socially acceptable thing at the cost of their own happiness, something the actor sees reflected in reality. “It depends on the family, but I think [Japan] still has kind of very strict rules,” said Yamashita. “Personally, I think it’s sad. Maybe people should follow their own dreams instead of people [having] to take over their company business. It’s a very sensitive problem.

The Music and Acting of Tomohisa Yamashita

Apple TV+

This is arguably the first big international production Yamashita has led, though he’s extremely popular throughout Asia not only as an actor, but also as a musician (with literally millions upon millions of views on YouTube). You wouldn’t know it through his quiet but determined character, Issei, which is a testament to a great performance.

Related: 10 Singers Who Became Great Actors

“Of course, I started my career as a background dancer,” said Yamashita. “I’ve been passionate about music since when I was little. I actually have a big fan base in Asia, and they keep giving me unconditional love, so I just want to return something to them through music and acting. It’s so hard to do both music and acting, but I believe I can do that. I want to, I want to keep doing them both.” He continued:

I’d love to work with amazing director and amazing actors. I just want to keep challenging myself. It doesn’t matter where I’m going to work, I just want to keep trying to find amazing opportunities. It was a really fun experience [with Drops of God] for me, to exchange the culture with French crews and Thailand crews. So I just want to keep doing this. I just want to meet new people.

The Nature Power of the New Apple TV+ Show

For now, Yamashita is excited to see the reception to Drops of God, and his excitement will surely be satiated. It’s one of the most specific, soul-soothing, sophisticated series to come out in the past year, and Yamashita beautifully conveys its message:

I think this story is about running [your] outlook on life through the wine. Just like wine, humans are made up from the many things that are intricately intertwined, something that reminds us all that we are part of nature. During these times, more and more things can now be digital, including meeting new people. So, you know, I shot this in the middle of the pandemic season; it was actually refreshing for me to be able to come across such bright wines which stimulated all of my senses. I hope audiences will also be able to discover and enjoy new encounters. I hope the audience will get a kind of ‘nature power’ from this.

The hour-long series Drops of God will make its global debut on Apple TV+ today, April 21 with two episodes followed by one episode weekly until June 2, 2023.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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