She will not die: A look back at Tomie

Have you ever loved someone so much it hurts? Love them so much that you’d do anything for them? Loved them so much that they drive you insane and you end up chopping them to bits with your classmates because they also love them so much? No? Guess that’s just this specific case. With long black hair and taste for caviar and foie gras, Tomie is someone you can’t get out of your head. There’s almost no escaping this very much loved manga character. There’s almost too much of her in many different types of medias, that is if you know where to look. Tomie has inspired 9 movies and had her own episode in the Junji Ito Collection anime at the beginning of this year.

Tomie (dir. Ataru Oikawa, 1998)

It sometimes baffles me how unknown Tomie still is. She was introduced in a 30 page short that was submitted by a young Junji Ito while he was working as a dental tech in 1987. He released her story little by little through a magazine until the year 2000. She had grown enough in popularity that she could be a stand alone series. It’s now readily available ever since the hardcover re-release a couple of years ago. Now some of you may be already pretty in tune who she is and the carnage she invokes in any man she meets. She is usually slaughtered in some gruesome way, and then those small bits and pieces of her body start to grow again, into a full grown girl again and again.

Art by: 2ble-ZZ

Now, much like the characters in Junji’s story, I don’t exactly know why I adore and slightly obsesses over Tomie as a character. Maybe it’s that alpha female attitude that makes, at least it’s female readers, a tad envious. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a strong female every so often? She has power and that really strikes some chords since most women are so dominated over, even still in this decade. It’s a timeless fantasy to have complete control and forever young, well until they up and kill ya, right?

That’s not to say she doesn’t have her faults. No one’s perfect. She can’t take criticisms that’s for sure. Now Ito never really specifies in the tale of Tomie if she’s a demon, mutant, or monster. While there are hints her actual in depth origins are unknown to me at this time. I’d like to think she’s minion of Satan come to destroy the weak, but that’s just one girl’s opinion, ya know?

Say what you will, but Tomie is an icon and by far my favorite Junji Ito work. I know for most it’s Uzumaki, but Tomie really does it for me. She’s timeless and insane, two qualities that make for a great story, body horror included!


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