By Dustin Cabeal
I read a lot of different genres regularly, but lately, I haven’t had much in the way of horror to enjoy. What little I have read, has been disappointing or amateurish copies of other stories. Along came Tomie by Junji Ito to shake that trend.
Tomie is best described as simply as possible because telling you different tales from the series doesn’t help illustrate what makes it an incredible work of horror. The story is about a girl named Tomie. We witness her funeral and see what appears to be a normal class in mourning until she shows up to school the day after her funeral. We learn throughout the course of the first story that her normal seeming classmates all share a very dark secret, but that Tomie herself is a well of secrets.
The way the series is set up is quite brilliant, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horror story handled in such a manner. Each chapter is its own self-contained story with very little connecting it to the previous stories. The one obvious connection is Tomie… and her murder.
What makes Tomie a frightening character is that she not only seduces men, she drives them to murder her only to resurrect later and drive them insane again. Tomie is a bit like Wolverine in which she can come back from a drop of her blood, or more accurately a gallon of blood spilled from her headless corpse.
Another thing that gave me chills was Ito’s creativity in how she brought Tomie back. By far the most mentally terrifying was when Tomie came back from her spilled blood but used the plastic underneath the carpet to help form her body… and then made out with a guy she had seduced.
There's gore and blood and disturbing images all throughout the story, but all that does is contribute to the horror. What’s truly horrifying is the situations the other characters find themselves in due to Tomie. To be stuck in a situation, in which men are possessed by someone’s beauty and are willing to kill you, themselves and anyone in-between for her. In short, what makes this story horrific is placing yourself in their position and mentally going through it with them. It’s terrifying.
The artwork is quite good. It’s a bit different than the typical manga style, and I could tell that it was an older work for various reasons. I still rather liked the way it looked. I don’t typically like older manga for the same reason I don’t like older comics… they’re old and hard to get into. With Ito’s artwork, though, it was strange enough and scary enough that I couldn’t wait to see more. Again, the creative ways that Ito brought back Tomie were visually interesting and often gross.
Obviously, if you read manga, you’re going to be more inclined to check this out, but if you enjoy horror, I will encourage you to give it a read. It was refreshing to read Tomie because though there were some elements that are common to horror, 95% of it was new and refreshing to me. Horror fans, don’t miss out on this incredible work from Junji Ito.
Creator: Junji Ito
Publisher: Viz Medi