Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spookey Month: Oh, Look, It's Tomie! And Tomie!

Tomie. So lovely. Too beautiful to live, too immortal to die. Or... something like that. This is the trailer for the 1999 Japanese horror film Tomie, based on the grisly manga series by Ito Junji. Like Tomie's various body parts, the Tomie films have taken on a life of their own, the most recent being 2007's Tomie vs Tomie.

Isn't this trailer creepy? I think it's the semi-documentary presentation of the street scene with a farty electronica soundtrack. The furtive, anonymous guy with the mysterious bag and his protective reaction when the other man bumps him. If you're familiar with the Tomie stories-- as I am-- you don't need to see the denouement in order to feel gooseflesh. You already know what's in the bag and why he's so concerned...

The manga stories are generally set in high schools, though. Not having seen this film, I'm not sure how closely it follows the comic's very loose storyline. I don't remember Tomie kissing any girls-- in the stories she's aggressively hetero-- but in 1999, why not? A decade before Katy Perry and a billion YouTube videos of drunk suburban kids made girl-girl kisses aimed at impressing heterosexual boys blandly mainstream and even cliche, they were a sure-fire way to label your protagonist as dangerously transgressive. From expression of love to movie trope to cynical marketing scheme to lame attention-getting ploy in just ten years. That's progress for ya!

Tomie has been played by a number of young women over the years beginning with Kanno Miho. I'm loathe to cite Wikipedia, but their Tomie films article has this gem:

Tomie is played by a different actress in each film, and the role is as coveted by Japanese actresses as Emmanuelle is in France.

That really puts Tomie in perspective, huh? That's the best comparison you could come up with, Anonymous Wiki Contributor?

This is what happens when you let just any idiot edit your encyclopedia. Taken at face value, it may even be true. Just as porn actors covet parts in sleazy porn movies, many of us covet a lot of stupid-ass things as much as certain Japanese actors covet the role of Tomie, but most of us are sensible enough not to use our desires for crap as a basis for comparison. For example, "Tomie is played by a different actress in each film, and the role is as coveted by Japanese actresses as a cheeseburger is by me at lunch."

Also true, but no less ludicrous.

I want to see this added to the entry on the James Bond film series: "James Bond has been played by a number of different actors, and the role is as coveted by British and American actors as Emmanuelle is in France."

Notice how the statement is also unattributed. The only time you'll ever find a reference to the parts of Tomie and Emmanuelle being somehow equivalent in status is in the mixed-up mind of that particular Wiki editor. You won't find it in a quote from any of the Japanese actors who have played Tomie.

Nothing like third Tomie Sakai Miki telling the Mainichi Shimbun, "I wanted to be Tomie as much as I'm sure any French actor has wanted to be Emmanuelle. In fact, whenever we compare the desire for any part here in Japan, our standard of reference is Emmanuelle. Even though we have no idea who or what the hell Emmanuelle is."

Note to Wikipedia-- you might want to edit that sentence into something non-idiotic.

Tomie vs Tomie's Tomie looks the most like the comic Tomie as far as I'm concerned. They even gave her Tomie's little beauty mark, just below her left eye:

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