Tomie vs Tomie
Junji Ito (manga series), Tomohiro Kubo (screenplay)
Yû Abiru as Tomie/Naoko
Emiko Matsuoka as Tomie
Torû Hachinohe as Kazuki
Chika Arikawa as Young Tomie
By James “Crypticpsych” Lasome
Ahh Tomie: The Japanese horror franchise that has one more sequel than Saw does, to date, and has another slated for release this year. The original story is based on a manga series by noted Japanese horror artist Junji Ito (who also drew the manga series Uzumaki on which the same-named film was based). It tells the story of Tomie, a Japanese girl with a small mole under her eye who has the ability to make men fall madly in love with her. As a result, they usually go insane, murdering and mutilating other suitors and, at times, her. However, Tomie is gifted/cursed with the additional supernatural ability of regeneration. Thus, the easiest way to create a continuing horror franchise was born. Freddy and Jason have found various ways to be reborn… Tomie just flat can’t die.
Tomie vs Tomie, the eighth entry in the series, tells the story of Kazuki (Hachinohe). Kazuki is trying to move on with his life after his girlfriend Naoko died in an accident. He still obsesses over her, though, and keeps a shrine to her in his apartment. One day, he gets a job at a mannequin plant. A mysterious, beautiful woman notices him working and convinces the foreman of the plant to introduce him to her. The woman is, of course, Tomie (Abiru). When Kazuki meets her, he is shocked to find she looks almost exactly like his lost love. Understandably freaked out by this, he spurns her seductive advances and flees. Tomie is perplexed by this as she’s never had any issue making any man do her bidding.
This is not her only problem, however, as she has regenerated “impure” this time and is slowly decaying. She knows that the real, pure Tomie is out there somewhere and is determined to find her so that she can return to normal. Meanwhile, one of Kazuki’s coworkers has fallen under the spell of ANOTHER “impure” Tomie (Matsuoka). With both Tomies trying to eliminate each other through their slaves, what will happen when they meet? And where’s the pure Tomie?
The thing I find most interesting when comparing this installment of Tomie vs Tomie with the original is that the original is ABOUT Tomie, yes, but she’s neither fully seen nor does she have many lines until near the movie’s climax. Here, the entire story here is about Tomies, impure and otherwise, with Kazuki’s story sort of being a dovetailing storyline. The title is a bit misleading though. The titular “battle” happens roughly midway to two-thirds of the way in and the story carries on further after it ends. In fact, the story really only focuses on ONE of the two impure Tomies overall, in some ways making me question whether the other Tomie was really necessary in the story.
There are similarities in style though. Both the original and Tomie vs Tomie are slow burn-type movies that build to crazier and crazier plot points until the ending, craziest and most violent of all. However, I think the first film works better than this one does as it seems to build its foreboding and dread a little better. Again, I blame this on the need to have that battle as, since the story would have been fine without it, it takes the story away from being able to build the same tension and drags some as a result. It still does keep the viewer’s interest, it’s true, but not as well as the original did. That said, Tomie vs. Tomie’s final third is pretty epically crazy, kind of blunting the pain of that build-up.
Actingwise, this film belongs to Yû Abiru. Her Tomie (the one Kazuki is introduced to, confused yet?) has quite a bit of range and emotional depth. She can play vengeful when obsessing over the impure Tomie, seductive around Kazuki, dominating around her slaves, disturbed when Kazuki spurns her, and more. It also doesn’t hurt that’s she’s VERY pretty, making the idea of her as a girl no man can resist that much more believable. While the rest of the cast more than acquits themselves and gives good performances, Abiru’s beauty and acting are what will stick most with viewers. Well… that and the crazy ending and few practical effects.
Overall, Tomie vs Tomie is a decent addition to the Tomie series. It’s recommended that the viewer at least watch the first film before checking this one out so that they have SOME idea who/what Tomie is given her more central role here. Admittedly, Tomie vs Tomie develops slowly at times and feels like its central “fight” isn’t really that necessary. However, the film still holds together well featuring good performances and some weird visuals (particularly the ending). In the end, it’s a decent, flawed film that still will make you glad that Tomie cannot die.