There are five of these creepy, nasty little J-horror films: Tomie, Tomie: Replay, Tomie: Reborn (I know, I know) Tomie: Another Face and Tomie: Forbidden Fruit.

Tomie (pronounced Toe-mee-ayy) is a beautiful teenage girl. She seduces every man she meets and drives them crazy, makes them hurt each other, their friends and their families. Eventually their guilt and horror get the better of them, and they turn their anger toward Tomie, and they kill her in some brutal way. Methods include decapitation, dismemberment, incineration, freezing, impalement, drowning and falls from great height.

But Tomie, it turns out, is not an ordinary teenage girl. She is, apparently, some kind of ancient demon who takes the shape of a teenage girl. She has, apparently, come into our world many times over the past millenia or so, wrecked a whole bunch of people’s lives, been destroyed, and come back, again and again and again.

So, you kill Tomie because she’s ruining your life, and a few days later Tomie shows up to ruin your life all over again. Only this time she’s really mad.

Maybe she goes after your friends or family first. And you can’t very well say “Hey! You’re not supposed to be walking around, I dismembered you in the bathtub and bury you in the woods!” Because that would tend to cast a shadow of suspicion upon you. So you kind of have to take it and go crazy as she dismantles your life and drives you to suicide.

My favorite of the series is Tomie: Replay, where she emerges from the belly of a girl in the opening credits (don’t ask me), grows to maturity in a fish tank in the basement of a hospital, and goes on to ruin the lives of some hospital administrators.

There are always a couple of great set pieces in each movie. Tomie can spring back to life from even a speck of blood, so even if you’ve incinerated her body, if a speck of her blood got on your rug while you were cutting her up, she can grow back from that. Oh my gosh it gets icky.

In Tomie: Forbidden Fruit, there’s an ugly-duckling schoolgirl whom Tomie befriends, and when the girl’s father kills Tomie with a meat cleaver, cuts her up and dumps her in the river, the girl goes to find Tomie’s head and carries it around in a gym bag while it grows little stumpy limbs again. There’s a priceless scene where the girl is pushing Tomie’s severed head around in a baby carriage and runs into a fussy matron, who bends over to coo at what she thinks is a baby, and is instead confronted with the severed head of a teenage girl, who says something like “Could you stop staring? It’s very annoying,” upon which the woman screams and runs away.

Good fun for the whole family.

Tomie: Reborn is directed by Takashi Shimizu, who later went on to direct Ju-on and its American remake, The Grudge.
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4 Responses to “Tomie”
  1. urbaniak says:

    I haven’t seen those but I keep thinking of my favorite sushi place, which is called Tomoe. Based on your descriptions, the possibilities for “Tomie: Tomoe” seem endless.

    • Todd says:

      Mr. Urbaniak is picky about his sushi. Tomoe is the most exclusive, most authentic sushi joint in Greenwich Village. You can tell it’s authentic because it’s the size of a shoebox, the decor is Early Junkshop, the tables are miniscule and it’s always crowded. How crowded? They don’t allow tables of three, that’s how crowded. They can’t countenance the idea of a chair going to waste for the hour it would take to eat your meal.

      The food is very good, but if it came down to a battle between Tomie and Tomoe, well, let me put it this way: in the first Tomie movie, she gets a job at a noodle restaurant and inside of a week the entire staff is dead, including the boss, who is found hanging backwards out a broken window with an umbrella rammed through his mouth and out the back of his head. I’d like to see gourmet sushi do that.

      Maybe at Nobu.

  2. greyaenigma says:

    Tomie was created (well, the character was) by my man Junji Ito. She’s possibly even more disturbing/destructive in the manga (although I haven’t seen the movies… yet).

    Ito also wrote Uzumaki which also had a movie adaptation, which is delightfully… twisted.

    In conclusion, I like sushi.