Author: Satoshi Kon | Illustrator: Satoshi Kon | Page Count: 384
"It's like I was flying forever... but then somehow ran out of forever."
OPUS focuses on a stressed-out writer/artist named Chikara Nagai. His current project is a serialised manga titled Resonance. It's nearing its end but Nagai’s having trouble with some of the characters, they don’t want to go where he needs them to be in order to advance the story. It’s a common problem for fiction writers of lengthy works: the characters either get written into a corner or take on a life of their own and become problematic. In Satoshi Kon’s hands that notion exploded into a wild, spiralling metafiction wherein the pressured creator ends up closer to his creation than he ever thought possible.
It begins with pages from the Resonance manga, meaning our first exposure is both an (almost) ending and a beginning. There are even adverts for previous Resonance volumes, helping to sustain the illusion that it’s a real product. It has its own unique story with purposeful clichés working in tandem with originality, but it's the larger story that'll draw you in a lot more.
There’s no doubt that Satoshi would've used his own experiences within the profession as a basis for the work. Some of the events in Nagai’s life have even been documented as happening in Satoshi's, so it‘s fair to assume that it’s at least partially autobiographical in nature. Most of the best stories are.
NOTE: You ought to know before deciding whether or not to pick up the collection that it’s not finished and it never will be. Sadly, Satoshi Kon passed away in 2010 leaving the anime/manga world a less colourful place. The 2014 Dark Horse edition contains all of Volumes I and II written in 1995-96 but not previously translated into English. Volume I is filled with mind-bending action. Volume II continues in the same vein but also goes to some very dark places.
The DH edition also has a never-before-seen chapter that in some ways eases the ‘no ending’ situation. I like to think that Kon would be pleased it was discovered and included; you'll understand why I say that if you read it.