Dec 2, 2015

Review: Satoshi Kon's Opus

Into the Mind of Satoshi Kon
by Tanya Lindquist

Most people know of Satoshi Kon as the director of such animes as Paprika, Tokyo Godfather, Millennium Actress, and Perfect Blue, but many may not know that he wrote mangas previously. Satoshi Kon’s Opus published by Dark Horse Manga is one of his lost mangas that he worked on while animating Perfect Blue. Opus is metacommentary on being a manga artist.

Chikara is working on the latest volume of his series Resonance. He has decided to kill off Lin, one of the main characters, by having him heroically die in a battle with the villain. In a twist, Chikara is pulled into the story by Lin, who refuses to die. He steals the page and retreats further into the story.

Kon treads on a similar theme that he has used in all of his works. Is what we’re seeing or experiencing reality or is it just in our head? Chikara experiences this theme because he is not sure if being pulled into the story of his manga is real or not. There are moments where he wakes up at his desk and believes it was all just a dream. Then something will happen that makes him question that. The drawings start talking and the manga world tries to smash (literally) into the real world to pull him back in.

The ending is abrupt, and we’re left not knowing what will happen. In some ways it is fitting not to know. A lost chapter was found and added to the reprint. In it Satoshi Kon becomes a part of the story. Chikara appears to tell him what a crappy artist he is. It adds a fun note to an incomplete story. Satoshi Kon’s extraordinary talents become so self-evident here in the ways he creates cityscapes and the balance between dark and light in his panels. He is able to make his art as mindbending as his stories are. Opus is a must have!

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