By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

Tomie. Tomie. Tomie. This manga has been on my wish-list for years, and I finally got it in 2023 after a great discount deal on the big book by Junji Ito. Even though I love Ito, most of his work is expensive. With two paid online library subscriptions, I try to be as prudent as possible when it comes to spending money on physical books. Back to Tomie… What a hypnotizing collection of stories for horror fans!

“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.”  That’s part of the blurb for the book. One can guess how each story is going to end. This isn’t a horror thriller; it’s just a bizarre supernatural tale about one girl rising from the dead again and again, only to die in the most gruesome ways. The protagonist is like the mythical Hydra, who grows more heads if you cut it.

Junji Ito’s black-and-white artwork pulls you into the strange world of Tomie, who’s already dead when the manga begins. Her classmates are grieving her brutal demise – she’s cut into multiple pieces by unknown assailants and thrown around town. Everyone is however shell-shocked when she turns up at school a day after her own funeral, as if nothing had happened. Soon, a twisted story of how she met her end unravels.

Tomie as a character is frustrating, she is an exceedingly beautiful self-centred teen who has high expectations from the men she dates. Sooner than later, those in a relationship with her are overcome with the need to rip her apart. But with each resurrection, Tomie only gets more brattish than ever. It’s interesting how Ito makes the reader sympathise with the murderer, rather than the victim. Most men in this collection start off as smart intelligent beings that are reduced to obsessively possessed killers with madness sparkling in their eyes. The artwork is unsettling and fantastic!

Overall, ‘Tomie’ is a grippingly grotesque horror manga that never bothers to explain the origins of its devastatingly beautiful monster. It deserves a whole animated series of its own, instead of a stray episode featured in ‘Maniac’.

It’s a 5 on 5 from me.

Subscribe to our Podcast show by the same name on YouTube.

Listen to ‘The Closet’ Horror Comic Series Review