Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Tomie by Itou Junji

Itou Junji

Every male who encounters Tomie becomes obsessed with her and eventually kills and dismembers her. But Tomie is not human, and is always reborn...

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Fox, Manga Anime, Manga Reader

Rosy's scrawlings on Tomie
Have you ever watched one of the Tomie movies, even the first, and wondered just what was going on? I made it through the first couple and then all the madness just made me confused. Entertained but confused. The hubby watched Tomie Unlimited recently and had no idea what was going on. None at all. And he's a movie enthusiast used to the warped, twisted and hard to follow. The Tomie manga though, is much easier to follow and having read it I now feel quite capable of following the movies and understanding them.
Tomie, the main character of the series of manga stories, is, or was, a young girl who tempted and manipulated men for the sake of pride, rewards, control and recognition. As far as we can tell. After an accident on a school outing that leaves her appearing dead the school kids and the teacher decide that Tomie deserved her death and so they're prepared to hide her body and escape punishment. To this end, all the boys take out the tools they'd brought on the trip and, while the girls guard the area, they begin to cut Tomie's body into bits. Except Tomie is still alive. To begin with. This is just the beginning of the horror that is Tomie. She is initially a creature of revenge but that doesn't last long. Soon enough she's a creature much different. Or, creatures.
The Tomie manga is written as a serial or separate but connected stories. There are some repeating characters but the plot of each story revolves around separate incidences and Tomie has a different motivation each time. Events escalate but there's no apparent way to defeat Tomie and so the horror just continues to build and spread. This escalation could have been tiresome but the power of the stories and the body horror just makes the series addictive and morbidly intriguing.
There's an old school body horror style to the writing of the Tomie manga that is greatly appealing. It is often difficult to say that body horror is elegant but in this case, likely because of the format and the drawing style, that's just what it is. This elegance is lost in the movies, supplanted with shock inducing amounts of gore and violence, so it was a pleasure to read the manga. If that too can be said of a horror story revolving around the repeated dismemberment of a particular girl. Ah, the convoluted mental twists that well written psychological horror can send you on, especially when body horror is included.
The art of Tomie is bold and dark. The panels are highly detailed. The lines swirl and the amount of black used increases whenever the madness of the story takes over. There's also a sketchy style involved but it is muted for the focus on the madness in the characters' expressions, the beautiful appearance of Tomie and the strange elegance to Tomie before the real body horror begins. In Tomie, the eyes are the window to the psychological horror. Darkness literally takes over and they become increasingly wild and wide.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who love horror, disturbed minds, escalating madness and the Tomie movies.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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