Manga of the Month: OPUS

OPUS by Satoshi Kon

hisui_icon_4040 The death of Satoshi Kon has left an ever-present hole in anime fandom. He was unique visionary that was able to create movies that impacted the international film community in a way that transcended the medium. Movies like Paprika and Perfect Blue will surely be universally looked back on as masterpieces decades from now. So when he died far before his time due to cancer it only exasperated the loss of such a genius due to the knowledge that there was clearly so much more he could have done had he not died so tragically.

In response people  have gone back and tried to mine his career for anything that have gone overlooked before he died. While the first thing people looked for was any anime projects he worked on it was not to long before fans started to delve into his time as a manga artist. While Satoshi Kon has always been extremely humble about his career as a mangaka an audience that is extremely hungry for anything else from him has eagerly started digging into his work from that time. Partially to see where he came from as a creative artists, partially to understand his work as a whole, sometimes to guess how he would have grown, and mostly to just capture something from someone who was no longer here.

Opus is a manga that shows his transition from manga artist to an anime director. As it was his last full manga series that he worked on during Perfect Blue so it is the clearest picture of him in-between both mediums. So you your interested in learning more about Kon as a creator it is a unique insight to his development. You see not only see his influences on his sleeve but the strong direction that the rest of his work would take.

Chikara Nagai is about to finish his psychic battle manga Resonance. Half asleep with a deadline for the final chapter rapidly approaching he decides to have his final villain and hero kill each other off for a bittersweet ending. But it turns out that Lin, the hero of Resonance is not to keen on being killed off. He drags his creator into the world of the manga to prevent his death. At first Chikara Nagai assumes he is merely dreaming but as the heroine of Resonance Satako drags him through his incomplete world he see that he the villain of the comic, The Masque not only wants to change his fate and triumph in the world of the manga but has set his sights on the real world as well. As the boundary between the worlds of fiction and nonfiction begin to disintegrate Chikara and Satako have to try and create some sort of happy ending to both of their stories.

At this point it might be a little cliche to mention Inception whenever a multilayered story comes up. But when Inception was first came out the thing most anime fans mentioned was its similarities to Paprika. But even before Parika it seems that Satoshi Kon was playing with the thin line between the world of dreams and reality. When Chikara Nagai is first dragged into his story it seems almost like a story in which normal person is dragged into the story within a book like Fushigi Yuugi.

If you were unaware that Satoshi Kon has been an assistant to Katsuhiro Otomo then this manga should make that extremely obvious. While Opus and Akira are as different as night and day Opus is clearly influenced by Satoshi Kon’s time as the chief assistant. First of all the art looks similar but that is the natural effect of being the assistant of another manga artist. My post on Kenjiro Hata and Koji Kumeta show that quite well.

It is painful to see the parallels between Satoshi Kon’s last major manga work, the story contained within, and his life in general.

– Alain

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