Review © Mandi Apple, 2002.

Directed by Ataru Oikawa, 95 min. starring Miho Kanno, Mami Nakamura, Yoriko Douguchi, Tomoro Taguchi, Kouta Kusan, Kenji Mizuhashi, Rumi (II) and Ikko Suzuki. Based on the Tomie manga by Junji Ito, originally published in 'Big Comic Spirits Weekly'.


Considering this film not only boasts a storyline taken straight from the hands of the extremely popular and brilliant manga artist/writer/genius Junji Ito (who also produced the manga for Uzumaki, Higuchinsky's fantastic film, as well as Kakashi) involving a beautiful-girl-monster-murder-victim who not only won't stay dead but keeps on regrowing bits of herself, but also a pretty damn good cast, including Mami Nakamura (the eponymous Tokyo Trash Baby) playing Iszumisawa Tsukiko and Miho Kanno (from Eko Eko Azarak and Hypnosis) as Kawakama Tomie, you would expect this film to be totally awesome, right?

Wrong.

I wouldn't go so far as to call it 'the worst movie of the decade' as some other reviewers have done (I'm saving that particular nugget for Evil Dead Trap), but to call it "slow-moving" (as it's described in www.imdb.com) is to drastically understate the point. Tomie doesn't really move at all, which is a huge shame because so much more could have been done with Ito's creepy and out-there manga. In this film, action is replaced by characters talking about the action you never get to see. For instance, the entire first chapter of Ito's manga (which is absolutely vital to the rest of the short stories) is eliminated from the film (save for a few chunks of dream-recall by Tsukiko) and is only discussed in a conversation between Detective Harada (played by Tomoro Taguchi) and Dr. Hosono (Yoriko Douguchi).

Worse still, the film looks like it was made on a budget of £5 (and all of that was spent on vats of fake blood), and its worst crime of all is to continually assume that you, the viewer, have read Ito's manga and know the story before seeing the film, which leads to plot convolutions on an epic scale. Oh, and the English subtitles suck so bad that you need to decode them into something understandable even before you can get into the astonishingly confusing plot.

But whilst the suffering actors struggle to make the best of a poor adaptation, and the acting is good quality (unlike the cheapo special effects), Tomie not only fails to scare a bunny with a nervous disposition, but could bore you into an early grave.

Synopsis
Luckily, having read (and loved) Ito's manga, the plot didn't confuse me so much, although some terrible liberties have been taken in rewriting it for the screenplay.

Basically, the film revolves around a twenty-year-old girl, Izumisawa Tsukiko (Nakamura), who is suffering from trauma-related amnesia and insomnia due to what her mother has told her was a serious road accident three years previously. Tsuki not only keeps on dreaming of herself covered in blood, but also a headless figure of a girl, and the name 'Tomie'. She visits a hypnotherapist, Dr Hosono (Douguchi), to try and solve her problems. Tsuki is living with her boyfriend Saiga (Kouta Kusano) above an empty apartment. However, unknown to her, her former high-school teacher Yamamoto Tanabe has just moved into the downstairs apartment, carrying a mysterious plastic carrier bag…

After the police get to hear of Tsukiko's weird repeating of Tomie's name, and knowing her true background which she has repressed, Detective Harada (played by Tomoro Taguchi) visits Dr. Hosono and tells her the real reason for Tsuki's amnesia: three years previously, Tanabe and seven of Tsuki's classmates had conspired to murder a friend of hers (who had stolen her boyfriend), named Kawakama Tomie (Kanno). Even though the body was never found, all of the murderers gave themselves up and all of them pleaded insanity and were put into mental hospital.

However, Tanabe has escaped, and the police are looking for him. Add to this the fact that there are reports on the police files that not only was Kawakama Tomie murdered three years before, that she had also been reported murdered five years before, and at some time during the Meiji period (19th century) as well! (Confused yet?)

The detective tells the doctor that something about Tomie drives men so mad with desire that not only will they kill others merely on her command, but they end up murdering her as well in jealous rage. But somehow she just won't stay dead…

Of course, unbeknownst to them, the content of the carrier bag Tanabe brought into the apartment is a little creature, which eventually (over a few days) grows into a full-sized new-and-improved Tomie, complete with her trademark black beauty spot under her eye (her only distinctive feature). Tomie only has one goal in mind: to destroy Tsukiko completely, to steal her latest boyfriend Saiga and to kill all her rivals and friends, and then to use Saiga to kill both Tsuki and herself…

Despite this film's apparent awfulness, thankfully the Tomie manga series has spawned three more films - the (supposedly) infinitely better Tomie:Replay (which still hasn't made it to an English-subtitled version, sadly), Tomie:Rebirth, and the very last film in the series, being made this year (2002), entitled Tomie: The Final Chapter, Forbidden Fruit.


Scan from Junji Ito's original Tomie manga


Scan from Junji Ito's original Tomie manga

 

Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: 3/10
Sex: 1/10
Violence: 0/10
Confusion Rating: 9.3574 x 13 to the power of 47/10
Scare Factor: -1/10
Litres of tomato ketchup: at least 20
***Approach with caution***


Tomie Wallpaper

You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]

You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Mandi Apple, Alex Apple, 2002

Snowblood Apple Filmographies:
Miho Kanno
Mami Nakamura
Ataru Oikawa

Links
There is an official website for Tomie:Rebirth based here: http://www.daiei.tokuma.com/tomie/ with a trailer on the 'Yokoku' page link.
There's a new official site for Tomie:The Final Chapter, Forbidden Fruit (in Japanese) based here: http://www.daiei.tokuma.com/TOMIE/, along with a trailer here: http://www.daiei.tokuma.com/TOMIE/traler/index.html.
Alexis Glass owns and runs the fabulous http://junjiito.mutagene.net/ which is a very dedicated page about Junji Ito and his work, with many links and news items.

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