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Friday, March 23, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania: Tomie by Junji Ito

by Junji Ito 
December 20, 2016
Genre: Horror
Written by Junji Ito
Published by Asahi Sonorama
ComicsOne (former)
Dark Horse Comics (former)
Viz Media (current)
Demographic: Shōjo
Original run 1987 – 2000
Volumes: 3 (List of volumes)
The complete classic horror series, now available in a single deluxe volume. Murdered, again and again, one girl always comes back for more...

Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself. While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.

Not everything in my life is hearts and sparkles and paranormal boyfriend dreams. Crazy, I know. Today, I want to pause on the shojo to take a look at a truly amazing and horrifying piece of manga: Tomie by Junji Ito.
I checked this out on the recommendation of a friend, and I’m so glad I did. I plowed through this massive volume in an evening, it is that good and that insane. It’s very different than a lot of horror I’ve read, and I like that while it plays on succubus themes there’s no huge attempt at explanation about what Tomie is. People are too busy trying to survive her.

We start off mourning the death of Tomie with her school class, and through events learn that they actually all had a hand in killing her.

And then she comes back to school days after the funeral and slowly drives everyone mad.

The themes of the chapters are pretty much that men fall in love with her to the point of homicidal insanity and women suffer their own madness by being around her, if they don’t end up as her victims. Tomie ends up dead a lot, but she keeps coming back (sometimes as a whole army of Tomies). I guess this is kind of a love-based series in a way, albeit love in all-consuming, toxic, crazed form.
This should come off as sexist and tropey, but somehow, it ends up legitimately terrifying and haunting. Part of it is because Tomie is impossible to escape – when she’s dismembered she multiplies, she can take over someone with a blood or organ transfusion or transplant (or even a bit of hair), she can entrap friends while making them feel broken down, even ensares a little boy and turns him against his parents. She’s vile, she demands attention, she wants absolute focus. She’s smart and manipulative, and I think that’s what raises this above some sort of bizarre slasher story – it really explores a range of emotions with many different types of people and their interactions with her.

Part of the success of this book is the insane art – this is body horror cranked up to eleven, and Tomie’s mutations don’t ever really feel repetitious, which is amazing because she goes through a hell of a lot of them. Between that grossness and her ability for psychological warfare…you end up putting yourself in some of the scenes, thinking how you could get away or outsmart her, and I just couldn’t come up with much. This has a very bleak feel, because she gets her way and keeps getting her way and those around her desperately struggle to regain their lives and get her out of them (or keep her in them, depending on the situation). Her callousness and hunger for love/attention is truly frightening.
This likely isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you like horror that’s both gruesome and psychological, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. 

Five mutating, love-hungry sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

1 comment:

  1. "...trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time" - somehow
    it sounds familiar. Good luck with it all!