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Junji Ito : Tomie Photo

Japanese Horror: Contains elements of horror that may be unsettling for some readers

By Mika OkaPublished 10 months ago 3 min read

In a schoolyard, Tsukiko Izumisawa, a member of the Photography Club, sells a photo to a girl and then notices a handsome boy named Yamazaki passing by. She asks his permission to take his picture, mentioning his popularity with the girls. While photographing Yamazaki, Tsukiko spots Tomie Kawakami, a new transfer student and member of the disciplinary committee, watching from an alley. Later, Tomie confronts Tsukiko for selling photos at high prices and confiscates pictures of Yamazaki. She warns Tsukiko that she’s doing her a favor by not reporting her to a teacher. It is revealed that Tomie is known for her petty actions, such as getting a boy suspended.

During lunch, Yamazaki asks Tsukiko to take photos of Tomie. Reluctantly, Tsukiko captures pictures of Tomie unaware. Tomie allows Tsukiko to take as many photos as she wants and encourages her to spread them around the schoolyard. As Tsukiko photographs her, Tomie inquires about the potential selling price of the photos. Tsukiko sarcastically remarks about the high demand due to Tomie’s popularity, unaware that a teacher is standing behind her. The teacher scolds Tsukiko for selling photos, and Tomie revels in the exposure. Tsukiko apologizes, agrees to quit the photography club, and accepts any punishment, including suspension or expulsion. As Tsukiko leaves, Tomie congratulates the teacher.

Later, Tsukiko receives the developed photos of Tomie but is shocked to discover that each photo reveals a second diabolical head emerging from Tomie’s hair. Out of revenge, Tsukiko scatters the photos around the campus. Tomie picks up one of the photos and becomes visibly enraged. Meanwhile, Yamazaki warns Tsukiko that Tomie has sent Taichi and Kimata, two boys under her influence, to murder her. Yamazaki misleads Taichi when he arrives, while Tsukiko hides in the photography room. Yamazaki informs Tsukiko that the coast is clear, but then attempts to strangle her, claiming Tomie ordered him to kill her. Tsukiko fights back, throwing photo development fluid in Yamazaki’s eyes and escapes.

At home, Tsukiko is reprimanded by her mother for her school suspension. When her mother leaves, Tsukiko notices Taichi and Kimata standing guard outside her house. Tomie appears in the hallway, claiming they need to talk. Tsukiko questions Tomie about her motive for wanting her dead, and Tomie laughs it off, denying any influence over Yamazaki. Tomie offers food as an apology for getting Tsukiko suspended and rambles about her family’s supposed connections to famous artists. Tsukiko rejects the offer, believing Tomie is a pathological liar with a mental illness.

Tomie begins trembling, and Tsukiko taunts her, mentioning how the photos exposed her true monstrous nature. Suddenly, a second head emerges from Tomie’s hair, and she screams. Taichi and Kimata rush in, restraining Tsukiko while attempting to help Tomie. They discover a hideous head with hair on its face protruding from Tomie’s head. Tomie screams for them to chop off the swelling, and as they use a machete to hack at it, Tsukiko, tied up, helplessly watches. They eventually behead Tomie and realize the extent of her grotesque nature.

Available on Netflix

My Interpretative Reflection

Tomie, as a member of the disciplinary committee, abuses her authority and manipulates others to do her bidding. This mirrors real-world scenarios where individuals in positions of power may exploit their authority to intimidate or harm others.

Tomie appears popular and charming on the surface, but her true nature is revealed to be malevolent. This serves as a commentary on the superficiality of popularity and the idea that one's true character may be hidden beneath a façade.

Tsukiko's actions in taking and sharing photos without consent have consequences. It's a reflection of the digital age where privacy violations, such as sharing compromising photos without consent, can lead to severe repercussions and the potential for revenge.

Tomie's vindictiveness escalates, leading to physical violence and even an attempt on Tsukiko's life. This highlights the dangers of bullying, which can have severe consequences and, in extreme cases, can push victims and bullies alike to acts of violence.

Tomie's monstrous nature, revealed through the photos, represents how deceit and manipulation can ultimately be exposed. It suggests that individuals who engage in harmful actions may not be able to hide their true nature forever.


Previously published on Medium


About the Creator

Mika Oka

Sharing her unique perspective on the world as a hearing-impaired autistic person with bipolar disorder despite the challenges.


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    Mika OkaWritten by Mika Oka

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