Sunday, February 14, 2010

Museum of Terror 1 - Tomie 1

by Junji Ito

I've finally worked my way through my ever-growing pile of books to read to reach my Boxing Day spoils. I don't read manga - the only time I've ever read any was the first volume of Tezuka's Buddha - but I've felt like that could be an oversight on my point. This horror volume came highly recommended by the manager of my comic store, and was only $5, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It's strange, and in the same vein as Japanese horror movies like The Ring and The Grudge (except that the requisite creepy kid is older here).

Tomie is a high school student of exceptional beauty. She is so desirable, that she invariably causes a level of obsession in the men who fall for her, also invariably resulting in her being hacked to pieces by them, although she always seems to return from the dead, growing new bodies out of the remains of her old one.

This book touches on a lot of themes that I think are common in Japanese manga. First, there is the obsessive nature of adult men towards beautiful teen girls. It seems quite acceptable here, as no one ever comments on the inappropriateness of the obsessions, only on how far things seem to go. Also, there is a strange approach to relationships; teen girls buy photos of the boys they like, and violent behaviour appears to be overlooked by the authorities.

At its core, this work seems a little misogynistic, but perhaps that is partly the author's intent. I don't feel like I know enough about Japanese culture to really comment on a lot of what I see here; I am simply pointing out the differences. This is a strange, and disturbing piece of work. It's also pretty damn cool in places though...

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