Opus 1 – 2 (2011) by Satoshi Kon
An enthralling tale of a creator and his creations. Satoshi Kon’s Opus is a mind-bending clash between fantasy and reality that masterfully blends elements of action, suspense, and surrealism together, all illustrated beautifully with awesome action scenes and scenes utilizing a clever use of perspective to convey a sense of reality-shattering realness. Comprising around 350 pages, this long-form running manga was an extremely enjoyable read and towards the end I couldn’t put it down!
Chikara Nagai is the author and illustrator of Resonance, a popular action/sci-fi manga series about Special Investigations Unit agent Satoko who uncovers a conspiracy linking a new street drug to a cult known as the “Nameless Faith” who’s distributing the drug in order to implant subliminal messages in the populace. With psychic gang leader Lin as her ally, Satoko attempts to take down the cult, who has taken control over politicians, police, and even her family.
The story begins with Nagai proposing to his publisher the drafted, action-packed conclusion of Resonance where Agent Satoko faces off against the Nameless Faith’s enigmatic leader: The Masque. Deviating from a previously planned ending Nagai surprises his publisher with a new shock ending where fan-favorite character Lin is killed off in a battle against The Masque.
Working late one night and under pressure to finish the conclusion to Resonance, the overworked Nigai is putting the finishing touches on the final chapter when Lin, the psychic character from Resonance (who Nigai plans to kill off in the final battle) escapes from the manga world and steals the last chapter’s final page: the page where he is killed by The Masque. Chasing him, Nigai is sucked into the world of his manga series through an unfinished page, landing right in the middle of the battle between The Masque and Agent Satoko.
The rest of Opus follows Nigai and the cast of Resonance as each must come to terms with the other’s reality whilst also overcoming problems faced in their own realities.
Opus reels the reader in with its intriguing concept and metafictional style. Kon’s surreal illustration makes for a unique experience that often plays on perspective, accentuating the underlying themes of the manga in a masterful union of art and story.
The series progresses at a comfortable pace, building upon its characters and bizzare plot amicably and to a great extent. The focus isn’t just on fictional manga writer Nigai bit also on the characters of his Resonance series Satoko, Lin, and others.
The tone and interaction between the cast is very well realised. Nigai, being the creator of the world of Resonance, knows the ins and outs concerning the plotline he finds himself in but doesn’t know how his presence will affect it. Satoko undergoes a crisis of identity and seeks to establish herself outside of the fiction but remains steadfast in her duty to defeat The Masque, who sees Niagai and the “real world” as an opportunity for more influence and control.
Unfortunately Opus as a series remains unfinished as Kon tragically passed away before its completion but there is material enough here to pique the imagination and make it an experience worthy of recognition.
~Giuseppe Gillespie August 2022