June 02, 2006

TOMIE: ANOTHER FACE (1999) short stories on video

Region 1 US DVD (Adness)

Tomie's back - in three parts!

Tomie next appears in 3 short stories, made either for the direct-to-video market, or maybe TV. They're shot on video in fullscreen 4:3 and the compilation even appears to have ad breaks between the stories.

The first starts with a typical love triangle at school. But when Tomie is in the triangle and already dead – it’s not going to have a happy outcome. Actress Luna Nagai certainly looks the right age and is very good at simpering, but she has a tough time in conveying malevolence. Again, this story introduces Tomie's basic modus operandi and at the very least features a convincing and shocking death scene.

The second story is about a photographer who searches for his childhood sweetheart and finds that, even ten years on, she hasn’t aged. This has less surprises, and starts playing with Tomie's look. Once you start covering her in make-up and changing her hair, she doesn't look the part any more. I liked the wall-to-wall music here, but it's very derivative of Massive Attack and Twin Peaks.

Finally, the last story manages to keep you guessing. A lovestruck salaryman is warned of Tomie’s ex-boyfriends and her history of being murdered (!). How can she be stopped? There’s some new twists here for the character, and this segment is the bloodiest, with a rousing finale.

This is all not as bad as other reviews had warned, but it’s very unambitious, only skimming the potential of the manga and hardly using any of the original visual ideas. Tomie: Another Face concentrates instead on her sexy schoolgirl allure and un-schoolgirl-like potty mouth. It reads more as a morality tale about older men dating young girls.

This is really only for Tomie completists and certainly not a good way to enter the series. It's soapy, rather than creepy, focussing on crimes of passion, rather than extremes of madness.

Mark H

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