Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Satoshi Kon's Opus

Opus first appeared in serialization in 1995/1996, recently it's been published by Dark Horse, (November 2014), in a translation by Zack Davisson, Dark Horse have done a great job with the publication of Opus, reading Opus it's hard to resist visualizing it as it may appear in an animated form given Kon's filmography, although he started out originally in manga. Visually the book is stunning, the full page art work at the beginning of each chapter could hang on the wall of any gallery, the book comes including a final chapter which was only sketched out in pencil that wasn't included when Opus was initially serialized, this brief end chapter was found after Kon's sudden death from cancer in 2010, it extends the story line featuring Kon himself, but even with this chapter there's the feeling that the story line of Opus is open ended, it could just keep going.

The premise of Opus is quite a simple one although how Kon builds upon it displays the ingenuity that we've come to associate with the rest of his work, in some ways utilising the story within a story approach Kon examines a number of different aspects to the creative process and the relationship between the author and the characters they create, Kon built on this spiralling the story out crashing through barriers that we assume end with the frame that are there whilst we read stories and manga. The jacket describes Opus as being a meta-fictional tale and it is, Chikara Nagai is a manga artist, creator of series Resonance whose lead protagonist, Satoko, is an agent fighting the evil forces of Masque, head of the Nameless Faith cult. Under pressure to deliver the final instalment Chikara finds a page which is seen depicting a tunnel leading down, falling through he finds himself in the manga that he has created, after demonstrating to and convincing Satoko that he is the creator of her story the metaphors begin to abound, essentially with Chikara as a god figure, and his character's there merely as puppets in a preordained story, without will, but these ideas are treated with irony and humour. Another character central to the story is that of Lin who obtains the all important last page of the story who is then pursued through much of the story by Chikara and Satoko whilst they fend off Masque, who is also in pursuit of Lin. Added to this Satoko is imbued with telepathic abilities something which rises to the forefront of the story when later in the story she finds herself spilling back out of the manga and into Chikara's world after he returns to his world, the story reverses back through to dark events in the character's pasts, and through various forms of resurrection, one by the pen of creator Chikara himself.

As already mentioned the artwork is spot on, the images of the storyline cracking and disintegrating as they are pursued are spectacular, at various points Chikara finds himself situated in a pure white void, out of the story, (but still within it - if you know what I mean), at one point it's mentioned that there are other places where the story is happening, hinting to the reader not only to restrict themselves contemplating what is visually happening within what is being drawn opens up the dimensions of the story in a highly original and absorbing way, and of course Kon pursues the story in and out of these places too. Opus is a masterpiece, one that I keep turning to with relief knowing that yes I do have a copy.

Opus at Dark Horse

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