Despite being a huge Junji Ito fan, I put off reading Tomie because I wasn’t quite sure if I’d like it. Would it just be a concrete block’s worth of gratuitous gendered violence and a tired femme fatale trope? (It’s a giant book.) After working through this collection, I think that might be a limited read on the book. Tomie, from my interpretation, reflects on societal complicity on the horrors inflicted against women, both mentally and physically. It’s commentary on how dangerous society’s priority on youth and beauty can become.
There’s a thin line between violence and worship—and both are ultimately about exacting control over the unknowable, the unattainable—the enigmatic Tomie. Tomie, a manifestation of our worse social ills, is murdered repeatedly and comes back like a bad penny, propagating violence with beauty.
All of that said, I can see how this could be an uncomfortable read, so it’s not something I’d recommend to everyone without warning. While it’s not my fave Junji Ito novel, it’s definitely an engrossing collection—with some imaginative storytelling and sick illustrations to boot.