I’m pretty sure I watched the original Tomie film sometime in the mid-2000s but I don’t remember anything about it other than ~typical Tomie things~ and I did not realize that there were eight additional films released after that! Not all of them are easy to find, which limits my options quite a bit, so last night I watched what I could find on Tubi. Tomie: Beginning
This 2005 straight-to-video release was actually a great place to jump back in because it is based on the first Tomie manga by Junji Ito, and as I am presently rereading the entire Tomie omnibus, it’s all pretty fresh in my mind. The events of Tomie: Beginning apparently contend with everything that occurred right before the first film takes place.
Told in a dual timeline in which two former students reminisce in their dilapidated school rooms about what happened to their former classmates, alongside the past events as they unfolded, it’s standard business-as-usual stuff as far as Tomie is concerned. Tomie is the beautiful new girl who shows up at school, the boys are driven mad with desire for her, the girls are insane with jealousy, and Tomie’s out there making friends, influencing people, and getting chopped to pieces, as per usual.
This film takes aspects from the first story, where the entire class hacks her to bits and hides the disparate body parts around town, as well as the story about the photography club, where Tomie recruits goons to do her bidding for her, in addition to how we see her blood soak into things and spawn more Tomies. There is a marvelous (good? bad? I don’t know, it’s just silly!) scene where Tomie’s chopped-off ear sprouts wriggling little tendrils and tentacles, and slithers off into the underbrush. If that’s specific to any of the stories I don’t recall, but it was fun to watch.
I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it when I was younger, but Tomie’s is a complicated narrative. She’s presented as selfish and manipulative and generally just horrible in every way that a human can be, but she perpetually and seemingly inescapably experiences horrible trauma herself, in her eternal cycle of murder and rebirth.
Further, her story isn’t hers at all, it’s always told through of eyes of the people who are reacting to her–and over and over, framed as an evil succubus “who gets what she deserves–” never mind the misogyny and violence of the men who “can’t control themselves.” A lot of folks have written about this in a more savvier manner than I have, but whether you delve further into it or not, these are reflections and observations worth spending some time with.
…and I do believe that Tubi has at least two more Tomie movies if you want to spend even more time on it.
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