Teenager Midori's family moves back to the city where she lived as a child and is relieved to discover that her old friend Ryusuke still lives there. Her terrifying nightmares begin ... See full summary »
Dr. Hattori and her husband watch footage of brain surgery experiments with Manchurian, Russian and Japanese guinea pigs that had been found in the basement of a wrecked hospital. Out of ... See full summary »
Lee Hyun-min, who works reconstructing faces from skull, quits his work in a institute to stay with his Beta-allergic daughter Jin that was submitted to a transplant of heart by the ... See full summary »
A young girl looking through her father's notes finds something written about the last experiment he worked on before he went insane. Everything looks ordinary until the name "Tomie" begins appearing throughout the notebook.
A teenager called Noriko Shimabara runs away from her family in Tokoyama, to meet Kumiko, the leader of an Internet BBS, Haikyo.com. She becomes involved with Kumiko's "family circle", ... See full summary »
While stopped at a roadside phone boot for transmitting his work through Internet to the university, Professor Hideki Satomi finds a scrap of newspaper with the picture of his five years ... See full summary »
After writing a series of articles about pedophilia, the journalist Ji-won receives threatening calls on her cellular and she changes her number. Her close friend Ho-jung and her husband ... See full summary »
The search for her vanished brother Tsuyoshi leads Kaoru to the lonesome village Kozukata in the Japanese back-land. The locals react repelling to her, which the exception of the Chinese ... See full summary »
Oshikiri is a loner who has bad memories of his childhood and his grandfather, a brilliant scientist. He returns to his grandfathers mansion to try to remember what really happened to him. ... See full summary »
Demon Schoolchild Tomie is Found by a Fruit Vendor in a Crate of Oranges....,,
In TOMIE: "Forbidden Melons" (lit, trans.) experimental manga scribe turned actor/Director Ito has created a cyber-industrial collage of disturbing and stylish visions. The film has a restless, choppy structure and overall is cloaked in an impressive mid-00s steampunk/industrial feel, which manifests itself mainly in the costumes (the walrus android in particular), the soundtrack and also the massive use the Director makes of the embryonic video F/X of the time which often helps to flatten the image on screen. This flattening of the perspective is, I assume, purely intentional and gives the whole film an often bizarre, hallucinatory feel. "Forbidden Mellons" is certainly symbolic storytelling at its most extreme.
One thing that does stick in your mind is just how Yoshinobu Fujioka has indulged himself with pretty much every video effect and trick in the F/X box circa 2002. A few years back this excessive use would have probably made the film borderline unwatchable but now things have come full circle and it benefits from a coolly contemporary perspective. One example of the overblown but often inventive use of video magic has the young girl Tomie in the film kicking another character. The latter, reeling from the blow, proceeds to spiral out of the current frame in a box out effect! Few film-makers used techniques like that in those days and nowadays you'd never get away with it - but nine out of ten for sheer abstraction.
For the vast majority of its running time Tomie: 'Saishu-shô - kinjan no kakitsu' plays out like a bad trip in slow motion. The film opens on a shot of a severed walrus head standing upright on a stone floor. It is on fire and the flames have already turned it into a mis-shapen black lump. Around this grisly scene, in what appears to be some kind of subterranean lair, various streams of boiling water and molten liquids flow in rivers across the stone.
There is a narrative of sorts, centering around the - creation? kidnap?
of a new Type 90 android (the Walrusator) built by someone called
Kazuhiko and of the fortune/misfortune of the group that has come into contact with her/it. However, the bulk of the film is targeted to work on a more symbolic and subconscious level with copious use of close ups of boiling liquids, transforming flesh and even a 15 minute still image slideshow showcasing scenes of cars stuck in traffic jams. The latter will bring a smile to your face - to go from harsh, violent imagery to what seems like an interval slideshow consisting solely of shots of traffic gives you some idea of the black, enigmatic heart that beats throughout this one.
But Ito shows his true colours in the way that the film is structured and it is this that chiefly consigns the film to be filed under the label 'Experimental'. This loose collection of powerful imagery is played without any real consideration for plot or any form of narrative structure at all. It is possible to read an anarchist theme in the film centred around the tellingly named Walrusator but this is not stressed or explored with any dedication. Ito also plays with tempo and employs still images, slow motion techniques and then shaky hand-held camera to inject pace and slow the speed of the film when necessary. Ultimately, Ito's palette full of exaggerations is born and bred from a purely underground outlook.
You're probably starting to pick up the notion that this may not be essential viewing and (arguably) you might be on to something. However, if your taste is for the blatantly strange and the downright bewildering - with a gentle tinge of dark humour added to the mix - then you really should see this. Unsettling and compelling at the same time; if the idea of a postcard from the border where steampunk and industrial atmospheres collide head on excites you, then you know what to do. One thing is for sure, Tomie's deformities are horrid and not so easily forgotten...
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