Welcome back to Rotten Ink. For this update we will be taking a look at a manga that spawned one of my all time favorites Japanese horror film series, and a manga that has been reprinted many times for readers over the years to enjoy and be not only spooked by, but also grossed out by! The film and manga I am talking about is Tomie, a film series that has truly creeped out readers and viewers since the late 80’s and still does to this day for those who uncover it. And this is one that I have been looking forward to covering for a very long time as it’s one that I think all fans of horror manga and Japanese horror should read and watch. So it’s time for us to get really spooky and creepy as we talk about Tomie in this From Horror Manga To Horror Film update!
Let’s start off by talking about Tomie Kawakami and her powers of killing and warping the lives of those she enters. Tomie in appearance is a cute young lady who uses her charming good looks to seduce and give her attended victim comfortm, letting her get close to them. But when the evil side of Tomie is coming out, her appearance changes in the way she smiles as well as her eyes change a creepy yellow demonic color causing those who see her to be frightened. She has the power to make men fall in love with her and become obsessed with her as she flirts her way into their hearts and brains. Once Tomie has you, she drives you to do terrible things like murder and will also force you into killing her as she can clone and regenerate herself! So if you remove Tomie’s head, her body will grow back, if you chop Tomie up, she will grow back as well as clone herself into more versions of herself from the other pieces and blood. Her hair can also go inside the bodies of her victims and clone itself and destroy the organs of the person before busting out of them. Tomie gets joy knowing that she is immortal and can live on forever and takes pleasure in killing, causing pain and ruining people’s life. She loves driving them mad and forcing them to kill her, themselves or even others. Tomie is pretty much unstoppable because if you kill her, she will return again and again so knives, guns and chainsaws are useless. The only way that she can be stopped or at least rumored to be stopped is by setting her on fire and having every part of her burn up, every single piece because if even a skin cell survives, she will return. So while she does not look like it, Tomie is one of the most dangerous and evil killers we have ever looked at here on a From Horror Comic To Horror Movie update!
As you can see, the demon known as Tomie Kawakami is dangerous and will not only take your life but can also take you soul as she will drive you to murder. But now that we have spoken about Tomie herself, let’s talk about the film she inspired! I want to remind you that I will be taking the film’s plot from our friends at IMDB and then will write about the film’s production as well as my thoughts about the film. So if you are ready, let’s dive deep into the evil mind of Tomie.
“A traumatized young woman is trying to recover her memories with the help of a psychiatrist. During her hypnosis sessions, she repeats the name “Tomie” but is unable to recall where she knows it from.”
Tomie started out as a manga that was created by the mastermind of creepy horror Junji Ito back in 1987 and would be long running and would scare readers up until 2000 when its original run would come to an end. In 1998, filmmaker Ataru Oikawa decided to direct and write a film based on the manga that he would call a “fairy tale in bad taste” and would work alongside creator Ito in doing this spooky film right as he had his own vision of what Tomie could be that included taking out the graphic violence and adding more of a spooky teen drama feel. He also decided that he was not going to adapt the manga directly and would rather make it almost a sequel to the events that took place on the pages. When casting took place names like Mami Nakamura, Yoriko Douguchi, Tomorowo Taguchi were tapped to play key parts and actress Miho Kanno was hired to play Tomie Kawakami direct by Junji Ito who thought she had the look he wanted for the character on the big screen. The film went into production and was your standard lower budget shoot and was released in theaters on October 6, 1998 and was met with pretty good reviews as well as a lower decent box office in Japan. It would make its way to America first on the grey market via bootleg VHS and later would get a legit DVD release around 2004 and this allowed American horror fans to become a fan of the film. The film would go on to have about eight sequels and would gain a major cult following. The year Tomie was released in Japan, it was joined by such films as Ringu, Spiral and Tumbling Doll Of Flesh. I also would like to say that actress Miho Kanno only played Tomie once but did take a role in another horror film called Saimin (The Hypnotist) that was released in 1999.
I first saw Tomie when it was released on DVD in 2004. I was working at Blockbuster Video at the time and bought it from one of our used sales bins. At the time of the release (at least in my circle) Japanese horror was very big and my friends like Rick Martin and Andy Copp were all about them. So I had seen so many Japanese horror films leading up to watching the film, and this made me want to see Tomie when it was there right in front of me. I can remember I also bought a bag of Tom’s Hot Fries and a bottle of Coke and got home after work and watched the film in my room late at night. I had all the lights off, and it was late so the stars and moon was out. The glow of the TV filled the darkness and the film began, and I was glued to the film from start to finish and by the time the film ended I was hooked and became a major fan. I told all my friends who were into horror to check it out and every time a sequel was released I was in line to buy it! Miho Kanno who played Tomie was fantastic and her evil grin alone could chill one’s blood. I also loved the odd nature of the film’s plot as Tomie, no matter how she is killed and no matter how many times, keeps coming back and repeating her ways of driving people to kill. I also liked the weirdness of the pieces of the puzzle as to what is going on really falling into place all out of order and randomly as it kept me on my toes. For me the big four 90’s Japanese horror series are Godzilla, Ringu, Ju-On and Tomie, all of them are fantastic in their own ways and I feel Tomie is the one that is often overlooked and it’s a shame as it’s a fantastic film series that if you like the style of Japanese horror you should check out!
Tomie is a sinister character who invokes violence and murder in those whose lives she enters, and that’s what makes her film series so interesting as no matter what you do, you can never get away from her! And now it’s time for us to take a look at a comic book version of the manga, one that was given away at Halloween Comic Fest in 2016 to get readers hooked and make them want to buy the massive graphic novel that Viz Comics was gearing up to release. The comic is 32 pages of the story, and I chose this as I found it to be an interesting release and will give us only a taste and I hope will also make it so that you my readers will want to check out the manga as well as the film. I want to thank Gotham News Stand Books, an Ebay seller, for having this comic in stock and making this update possible. I also would like to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, I am ready as we have a meeting with Tomie planned, and you don’t want to make her wait as you will not like her when she is mad.
Tomie # 1 ***
Released in 2016 Cover Price FREE Viz Comics #1 of 1
Tsukiko returns to town. Her camera has been stolen, and her friend Yamazaki has been missing for sometime. Once she is back and walking down the street lost in her own thoughts, a car pulls up and the driver is Tomie! Tsukiko is shocked to see her so soon again and then tries her best to ignore her, but when she says that Yamazaki is at her home and is very weak and sick and has been asking to see his friend…Tsukiko against her better judgment gets in the car with Tomie and they head to her home. Once inside Tsukiko meets Tomie’s “Dad” an old man who also has her stolen camera and informs her that she can have it back as he wants her help to find out why his daughter comes back from the dead, can multiply and why she uses her charm to seduce men into killing her! He then shows Tsukiko a bowl of acid that houses a mutated Tomie head and claims that the acid stops it from growing! Tsukiko has no interest in helping the father as she wants zero to do with Tomie, and when she is told that Yamazaki is not at the home she gets mad and starts to leave. But Tomie has plans of her own as she uses some of the acid from the head bowl to burn her father’s face (who turns into a young man) and then brainwashes a person in a suit of armor to attack Tsukiko who is forced to run up the stairs in order to not be chopped up by the knight’s sword. While trying to hide, she finds an old man in a cage who informs her that Tomie and her friend took over his home and have done experiments on his daughter and that the one saying he is her father is not and is a young man with shape shifting powers. Tsukiko promises the old man she will save him and then runs back into the knight who by accident lets out the home owner’s daughter who now is a massive creature that has many Tomie heads growing out of her. She takes out the knight and Tsukiko comes downstairs to see Tomie and her friend waiting on her as from behind the creature is making its way downstairs. Tsukiko grabs her camera and uses the flash on Tomie and then wakes up outside the mansion! By the time the police show up, they are able to rescue the old man from the cage, but Tomie and her madness are long gone.
This story is called Tomie: The Mansion and is one of many creepy Tomie stories from the mangas, and man I have to say I loved every second of it! The plot of this issue has Tsukiko who has been a target for Tomie for years being tricked to go and be stuck inside of a mansion with the idea of having her be experimented on in order for Tomie to understand the mutations that are happening to her body now that she has returned from being murdered so many times. Throw in a creepy dead eyed teenage boy who can take on the look of others, a poor teenage girl who was experimented on that is now a massive misshapen creature that bares the cursed look of Tomie with many heads as well as a old man in a cage, and you have this twisted tale. This story has really does have a haunted house feel to it and that adds a true classic horror feel to it and by throwing in a creatures locked in a room and a knight wandering the halls it feels like it could be a William Castle film! Our hero is Tsukiko Izumisawa, who was a school mate of Tomie’s many years ago who loved taking pictures, over the years she has escaped the wrath and attempts at her life by the demon Tomie and in this one once more she has luck on her side as she escapes her trap. Tsukiko shows that she is a caring person as she puts herself in danger in order to check on a friend and that her love of picture taking is what helped save her life. The Old Man in the cage and his poor daughter are sadly victims of Tomie as the daughter made a big mistake of letting her into their home on a rainy night, and for her kindness she was turned into a grotesque creature and her father forced into a tiny cage. The daughter is really the saddest character in the comic as her life is over and she is no longer normal but is now a massive monster who has lost her soul and her own identity thanks to mad scientist type experiments and tests. The shape shifting teenage boy is a creepy young man with black dead eyes who almost wears a false skin to take on another appearance. He is also wanting to find out why his friend Tomie is the way she is and he is cold and cares nothing for human life. Tomie in this issue is as evil as ever as she uses, lies, charms her way into getting what she wants and she takes pleasure in torturing those who cross her path. She as well even hurts her own friend with acid to his face in order to make him turn back to his normal look. She also has zero love for her own clones, and you can tell she really wants to kill and make Tsukiko suffer as she hates her one time classmate. Tomie is just so evil it’s hard to explain; all I can say is that she is cold and uncaring. I do like how mad she gets about her picture being taken with the flash on, as she gets so made she even starts name-calling! I wish Viz would have released more and more Tomie comics for Halloween as it would have been great to get one every year. Plus it would be a great way to try and get more and more American readers into the story of Tomie. The cover for this FREE comic is pretty cool and is black with Tomie is silver in the background and the interior artwork is done by Junji Ito and is fantastic stuff! If you are a fan of Japanese manga horror or even want to test the waters and see if you like it, track down a copy of this comic and give it a read. Also take a look at the artwork below to see they style and the mood of this comic by the one and only Ito.
Tomie is a great spooky manga as well as film series and is one that you should really check out if you are into Japanese horror as it really is up there with Ringu, Ju-On and One Missed Call and will surely send a shiver down your spine and become one of your favorite foreign film series. And I for one would love to see more Tomie movies and manga to come out soon as after the terrible past couple of years I think we all could use a good fright. For our next update, we are leaving the horror behind and will be entering the world of Hanna-Barbara cartoons as we take a look at Inch Eye Private Eye as well as his one old school comic appearance! So until next time, read a horror manga or two, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time as we have some cases to solve with Inch High!