This is the first graphic novel I’ve made a post about. A japanese Manga by Junji Ito, the collective works of the Tomie series.
Tomie first appeared in Japan in 1987 and developed on from there up until 2000. Tomie follows the tales of Tomie, although she has the appearence of a beautiful woman, she is a demon like succubus with a particular set of powers. Men are driven crazy by her as are women and yet there are a particular set of people who are resistant to her charms or can figure there is something not quite right about her. She is recognised by a mole below her left eye.
When we first meet Tomie she takes the appearance of a young school girl who has died but suddenly comes back. We then get to find out why this is such a shock to everyone. With each story of the Tomie series we find out more of what she is capable of. She can make men be bessoted by her, she can make them do her bidding, she also knows how to push people’s buttons and how to get under their skins and can drive people to suicide. She can lead people to kill her but she keeps coming back, often making things worse.
Tomie does more than manipulate people psychologically, she can kill do the killing herself, she can shapeshift, mutate and replicate herself also, you see how in some of the stories she’s at war with other forms of herself.
As traditional with a lot of mangas it is drawn in black ink and as with Japanese Manga because of the way Japanese is read from right to left, that format is kept even though it is translated into English, if you’re not used to it can feel unnatural. Although not unusual with manga it actually works with horrors like Tomie because everything seems jarring already, like you’re not quite thinking straight. This is of course the effect Tomie has on people.
Compared to other mangas and graphic novels I’ve read (more will follow), there isn’t quite the character development you’d expect and (largely because of it’s episodic nature) I wish some of the characters who could resist Tomie’s charms could appear more often in other stories. There is enough with this edition to keep you gripped, especially when you see the two sides of Tomie the beautiful and the ugly.
The artwork is magnificent (see pic below) and there are many iconic scenes in this series. This is what has probably made it popular in the west on top of the premise of Tomie herself and it had also been produced in motion picture format as well. Even today over thirty years after Tomie first appeared she has had quite a significant following along with many other of Junji Ito’s works.
Tomie’s story isn’t the best I’ve ever read but that doesn’t really matter. The artwork itself is enough to add an extra dimension of the stories.
The most sinister thing about Tomie is how familiar she seems. Although not quite a shapeshifting demon (at least I don’t think so) some of us do meet a Tomie or two in our lives. Someone who sends us verbal poison, makes us assume the worst and brings out our dark sides even when we can’t see it. If any of you out there know (or suspect) such a person in your life, I beg you to blank them out of your lives, to keep away from them if you can. You are not what they tell you, you have so much potential to be something better. You are something better. That’s at least what I got out of Tomie.