|Written by||Junji Ito|
|Published by||Asahi Sonorama|
|Magazine||Monthly Haloween, Nemuki|
|Original run||1987 – 2000|
Tomie (富江?) is a Japanese horror manga series written and illustrated by Junji Ito. The manga has been adapted into a live action film series with nine installments to date. Tomie was Ito's first published work he originally submitted to Monthly Halloween, a shōjo magazine in 1987, which led to winning the Kazuo Umezu award.
These terse tales of terror tell the story of a high-school girl named Tomie, who can be seen as a living embodiment of lust and all the negative emotions that go along with it, such as jealousy. Tomie is the ultimate self-destructive entity, yet ironically she survives anything. She is identified by a mole under her left eye.
She possesses an undisclosed power to make anyone fall in love with her. Through sleight of hand, or emotional manipulation, she drives these men into jealous rages that inevitably lead to brutal acts of violence. Men kill each other over her; and girls are sometimes driven to jealous rages as well. Tomie is inevitably killed time and again, only to regenerate. Tomie is bound to go on forever in this way.
In the first story "Tomie", she returns to school after an announcement that she had died, much to the horror of her friends and teachers. It transpires that during a school trip, her fellow students and favorite teacher murder her and dismember her body.
Each story tells a different viewpoint of how she lived and died, with some recurring characters. The teacher (Takagi) who murders her in the first story returns several times, and though clearly insane, he still is under Tomie's thrall (even though he has noted that he understands why people fall for her). Yet at the same time he is hinted to have his own agenda, encouraging research into what makes Tomie tick. In a chapter where a copy of Tomie burned a kidney from a previous Tomie in a hospital, Takagi appears from out of a pantry and expresses his disappointment with his experiment, so he burns down the entire building in an attempt to kill any other Tomies.
Her hair is a major factor in the stories. It kills as well as possesses, such as in the story of a young girl (Chie) who steals the hair of her father's ex-lover (Tomie) and puts it in a box. The hair grows despite it not being attached to anything. Chie's best friend borrows the hair and discovers that it can be attached to her body, which then takes the place of her regular hair. But there is a price to pay for everything in these stories. The stories are gruesome but draw the reader in with horrors that hide just around the corner.
Tomie also has the ability to use her cells to make a copy of herself using someone else's body. When a boy (Tadashi) killed her, Tomie's "father" (really Takagi trying to encourage an experiment) immediately allows the doctors to do a kidney transplant with another girl (Yukiko) who really needs it. Tomie's kidney starts to hurt Yukiko, so the doctors take it out. The kidney grows Tomie's head and small limbs, and tried to seduce one of the doctors with flattery, though he found it absolutely horrifying. Meanwhile, Yukiko appears to be not only completely cured, but she has grown taller and has darker, prettier hair. When she tries to hook up with one of her friends whom she met at the hospital, he refuses because of her change in attitude and the fact that he would become a replacement Tadashi (who she had a crush on before Tomie came), so she becomes furious and begins to act more cruel. When the fire that Takagi caused spreads, the boy attempts to get Yukiko out. However, when he reaches her room, she has made a complete change into Tomie. She tells him "thank you, but my name is Tomie."
Later it was revealed there are several copies of Tomie roaming around the world, each with an individual mind. Sometimes the two Tomie copies would be jealous of each other and try to have each other killed. The kidney in the paragraph above had its head severed, and the head grew into a copy of Tomie. The new Tomie burned the kidney soon after her completion.
When her body scattered into pieces, each fragment of her body is capable of regenerating into a complete and independent body. It is also shown that even if Tomie's body is not injured, her body will attempt to sprout another Tomie through budding, a process usually begun if Tomie is emotionally stressed.
Although her body is mortal and weak against all assaults, her regenerative power makes her immortal. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to regenerate her body if it is greatly damaged.
The last few chapters make up one final story arc. In this arc, it is revealed that a Tomie can age if she is an original Tomie and has not copied herself. This fact becomes an important part of the storyline, as a man, disgraced by a Tomie in his past, works to get his revenge on Tomie by making her old and ugly, and captures a Tomie named Ayaka in a block of cement with the help of Ayaka's older sister. The two then wait for many years before finally breaking the block, revealing that Tomie had escaped from a small crack in it many years ago.
Tomie has been adapted into a series of Japanese horror films released between 1999 and 2011. There are to date nine films in the series.
The films manage to recreate the atmosphere of the manga. Most of the stories occur during the dark of night for its sense of eeriness, and the films generally follow suit.
Tomie's sexuality in the films is more ambiguous. In the manga, Tomie's attitude towards other women seems to range between thinly-veiled hostility and outright murderous rage (unless she stands to profit from them), while the film incarnation is known to seduce women as well as men.
Ito's Tomie stories were originally published as serialized comics in Japan between 1987 and 2000. These stories have twice been released in the United States. The 1997 release by ComicsOne featured "flipped" artwork, whereas the 2005 releases by Dark Horse Comics reprint the artwork in its original right-to left format. The Dark Horse releases are under the title "Museum of Terror," volumes 1 and 2.
Junji Ito won the 1987 Kazuo Umezu Prize for his work on Tomie. Since then, the manga has spawned a cult following and is still generally praised by fans and critics alike. Zone-SF stated that "Ito achieves his emotional impact by combining gross-outs with psychological suspense and the perennial but always effective genre technique of portraying dreadful things happening to decent people. The Tomie stories also fascinate in the way they exemplify a distinctly Japanese cultural variation of a prevalent pan-Asian and even worldwide theme that underlies the ubiquitous patriarchal, male chauvinistic domination of society that still prevails despite all the efforts of the feminist movements."