{Manga} Review: Tomie by Junji Ito

Tomie

Tomie #1-3

Junji Ito

Translator: Naomi Kakubo

Tomie Kawakami is a femme fatale with long black hair and a beauty mark just under her left eye. She can seduce nearly any man, and drive them to murder as well, even though the victim is often Tomie herself.

While one lover seeks to keep her for himself, another grows terrified of the immortal succubus. But soon they realize that no matter how many times they kill her, the world will never be free of Tomie.

Publisher: VIZ Media
Published: December 20th 2016

Sexism, Body Horror, Child Molestation/Predatory Nature, Murder, Gore, Death, Blood Depiction, Mutilation, Dismemberment, Surgical Horror, Suicide

I was thinking about buying this one based off of an Instagram recommendation. And considering this would be my introduction to Junji Ito’s works…. I’m glad my library came through because I would have been pissed had I purchased this one.

Now, it wasn’t a bad read. It wasn’t a good read, but bad? It was an interesting plane ride that crashed and burned faster than expected. But, let me stop being an asshole and list some positives…..

Art-style? Potential in the story? …yeah that’s about it.

Coming from someone who is into dark and disturbing media, I was quite certain that this would be my thing. A woman who’s beauty makes men obsessive/murderous? Interesting concept! However, out of all of stories, I’d have to say the first one was the only one that truly stood out… And I only say that because it was the first story. After that it became repetitive.

I mean, Tomie would meet a man, they’d become obsessed with her and overtaken with the urge to murder her. She’d die in an also repetitive way and miraculously come back to life. The men would then commit suicide due to madness and Tomie gets to continue her reign of terror in another city. End scene.

Which leads me to Tomie– as a character, she felt empty? I get it— she does bad things because she can and because of attention and because she’s pretty enough to do it…. But there’s no origin? No layers to her? Even when I think we’re getting somewhere, it immediately goes back to shallow fodder. No characters have depth now that I think about it, but I could excuse that…. if our main character pulled through.

And like I mentioned above, it’s a unique concept that could’ve been great and just… wasn’t. So many things caught my interest: her regenerative nature, the mystery of what she could be. Which, I’d be absolutely down with her being shrouded in ambiguity, however, the story and everything in it was lackluster.

In a way, if I’m reaching and I probably am, I get the message— there’s probably a discussion in there about societal beauty standards and toxic masculinity and violence against women… yet execution just wasn’t great. It’s satirical nature isn’t done well enough to justify anything.

I’m just very underwhelmed…. I don’t know what this is trying to be at this point and I don’t mean to be harsh when I say this felt like a waste of time. Will I read more of Ito’s works? Yes, I would like to give him another shot because he’s not highly acclaimed for nothing. I just wish this wasn’t my introduction to his stories.

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