Previously considered the final installment in a loosely-related series of films featuring the character Tomie, Tomie: Forbidden Fruit (Tomie: Saishuu-sho – Kindan no Kajitsu) follows the Hashimoto family’s brushes with the infamous beauty. Kazuhiko Hashimoto (Jun Kunimura; Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Alive, Godzilla: Final Wars) fell in love with a beautiful woman years ago in his youth. But something terrible happened and eventually he found and married another woman. However, his passion for that particular beauty never left and he named his daughter after his lost love: Tomie. Tomie Hashimoto (Aoi Miyazaki; Synesthesia, Yume Kikuchi of Someday’s Dreamers) has grown into an unpopular teenage girl, but one day she encounters a beautiful girl around her own age with the same first name. Tomie quickly becomes friends with Tomie Kawakami (Nozomi Ando; Sakuya: Yokaiden, The Suicide Manual), but things get messy when Kazuhiko sees a familar face. Based on the manga by Junji Ito comes Tomie: Forbidden Fruit from Adness America.
MSRP: $19.99, Collection $29.98
Audio: Japanese 5.1 DD, Japanese 2.0 DD
Extras: Tomie trailers, Making of “Tomie: Forbidden Fruit”
Notes: Review is based on a Retail purchased copy of the final product.
Tomie Hashimoto is an easy target for bullies. Daily, she serves the needs of three bitchy kogal classmates who like to cause trouble and fire weapons, like crossbows. An outcast in a small town, the shy girl prefers to consider herself less like a human and more like a vampire (Read: she’s emo). However, while looking in an antique shop, she meets a strange girl who pulls her away from looking and wants to become friends. Being too passive to resist, Tomie is dragged down the street by this unusual-yet-attractive girl her own age. She quickly fishes Tomie’s ID out and introduces herself as having the same name. That evening, Tomie can only think about her odd encounter with the girl and the expensive cross Tomie had been eyeing inside the antique shop.
Tomie Hashimoto prays daily for her deceased mother at the miniture shrine inside the Hashimoto home since her father won’t. Kazuhiko is a practical, hard-working man, but he can’t be bothered to pray for his wife when it has been ten years since her passing. At the suggestion of the other Tomie, Tomie H. asks her father about getting contact lens. Kazuhiko agrees that she would look cuter without the thick, black frames on her face. At school, the usual trio of kogals starts to bully Tomie about her new look. Tomie is still too passive to repel their insults and demands for things like money. Back at home, Tomie asks her father to go off for the day so that she can spend time with her new friend. Kazuhiko agrees to become scarce and gets ready to go when he sees a beautiful teenage girl walk past him. The old man can’t help but stare at her.
Tomie Kawakami begins to dissect Tomie’s room, going from weirder to weirder subjects that Hashimoto likes studying. Tomie K. remarks that the room is full of bad karma. The constant teasing over her interests, being bullied, and her father start to sadden Tomie H. when Tomie K. pulls her close for a gentle kiss on the lips. Tomie K. orders the young girl around, and Hashimoto easily falls into the role of underling. Tomie K. discovers that Hashimoto is interested in writing and has Hashimoto read one of the stories to her. As she listens, Tomie easily begins to figure out the story’s details without needing further explaination. Regarding the story, Tomie asks if Hashimoto has ever eaten human flesh before. Of course Hashimoto says no, and Tomie responds that she will let her one day. Kazuhiko returns from spending the day gambling with two cakes for the girls to eat. Tomie stares at the miniature shrine dedicated to Mrs. Hashimoto and begins to ask questions of Kazuhiko about loving another woman. Kazuhiko doesn’t really understand the questions or why the girl storms off stating that cakes aren’t enough to make her forgive him. Tomie H. comes into the room only to find her friend gone. Tomie screams at her father and leaves him stunned by everything that just happened.
The two girls begin to spend lots of time together as Hashimoto starts to fall for and serve her friend, as if nothing else in the world matters. To Hashimoto, Tomie is everything, and she can forget her troubles, like the school bullies. As the two girls watch the sunset, Hashimoto swears she wants to be with Tomie forever. Tomie agrees, saying that she was here before Hashimoto was born and will still be here after she dies. Meanwhile, Kazuhiko continues to work at his job in an ice house that freezes objects (flowers, wedding dresses, etc.) into solid bricks of ice to preserve them. As he leaves work, Tomie Kawakami stands across the street waiting for him. They go to a park to talk as Kazuhiko tries to figure out why Tomie, if she is Tomie, didn’t die twenty-five years ago when they found her blood everywhere. The conversation turns creepy as Tomie remembers another man forcing himself on her while Kazuhiko watched, and how he eventually gave up trying to be with his beloved as she continued to see the other man.
Convinced that his Tomie has come back to him, Kazuhiko destroys his wife’s shrine and burns everything connected to the woman in a large fire. His daughter comes home to find her mother’s memory destroyed and her father saying they had held on too long. The shrine is no longer needed since he has Tomie again, Kazuhiko explains to his daughter. Kazuhiko starts to act even stranger as he tries to get fit again for beloved. Sitting in the dark one evening staring at a meat cleaver, Kazuhiko is lost in thought when his daugter returns home. Tomie H. is wary of his odd nature, but continues on as normal. Later that night, a noise brings Tomie H. downstairs, looking for the source. Her father is standing outside with a smile on his face, and she comments on how creepy he’s acting. Hashimoto calls Tomie and the two spend the next night together, acting out one of Hashimoto’s stories. Tomie ties up Hashimoto on the bed and tells her to wait until Tomie returns. Hashimoto doesn’t really feel comfortable doing this, but agrees to follow any order from Tomie. Downstairs Tomie berates Kazuhiko over his gloomy daughter and convinces him that things can return to the way they used to be… but back then he didn’t have a daughter. Meat cleaver in hand, Kazuhiko walks up the stairs towards his daughter’s room. Again, Tomie berates Kazuhiko over naming his own daughter after her. He pauses on the steps for a moment before realizing that Tomie is a monster. Turning around, Kazuhiko lunges at the beautiful girl, knife swinging.
Taking the body to the ice house, Kazuhiko chops Tomie up into pieces and tosses them into a river. The next morning, his daughter manages to free herself from the knots and comes down to find Tomie. Tomie’s father is still out of it from previous night and starts to strangle his daughter, originally seeing the body of the dead Tomie questioning him rather than his own flesh-and-blood. In a bizarre tell-all confession, Kazuhiko explains that he killed Tomie and shows his daughter the pictures from twent-five years ago when he first met Tomie Kawakami. Having been driven insane by recent events, Kazuhiko tells Tomie about cutting up the body and tossing the pieces into the river, which leads Tomie to go seek out the remains of her only friend. Laying on the shoreline is Tomie’s head. Hashimoto begins to cry when the head comes alive and speaks to her. Somehow Tomie is alive, and Hashimoto is going to take care of her best friend any way she can.
Tomie: Forbidden Fruit follows the same standard rules for any Tomie work: she can’t die. As odd as that may be, Tomie is essentally immortal and can be regrown from even the smallest of pieces. Forbidden Fruit doesn’t break any new ground as a j-horror film or even as a Tomie title, which is unfortunate given some of the high-profile casting in the movie. The script could use some work to make it more thrilling, especially if you’re trying to go for the psychological-horror angle. If you’ve seen or read one Tomie title, the ending is pretty predictable, but it’s possibly odd if this is your first look at the long-running series. Forbidden Fruit works well for a stand-alone title, but it fails to do anything to wrap-up the series like the original Japanese title suggests. The cast stands out very well, with veteran-actor Jun Kunimura leading the two highschool-girls through the slightly-creepy storyline. Nozomi Ando fits the Tomie requirements perfectly, balancing the bossy demeanor of the character with her undeniable beauty. Aoi Miyazaki’s sweet nature is as easy to see on-screen as it was to hear in her performance as Yume in Someday’s Dreamers. Sadly, they don’t ever let Aoi even come close to showing how equally beautiful she can appear if you take away the dull haircut and clothes.
Tomie: Forbidden Fruit is predictable and not the dark tale the cover and trailers try to insinuate. As a standalone film, the movie is pretty so-so at its best moments. As something to scare you, you’re better off going elsewhere with your money. Despite the dull script and somewhat-poor pacing of the story, the cast still manages to show that they can give a solid performance. The lesbian undertones of the relationship between the two girls perk up my own interests, yet it never goes anywhere other than to help convince Tomie Hashimoto to serve the evil Tomie Kawakami. The video is clean with 5.1 and 2.0 Japanese audio tracks to enjoy. The subtitles are flawless and with no missed lines. The DVD extras available are the trailers for the five Tomie titles Adness America has licensed and a solid “Making Of” featurette running at twenty-eight minutes. The lengthy setup, rather dull servitude of Hashimoto caring for Tomie’s head, and predictable ending push Tomie: Forbidden Fruit into the unexciting category faster than anything else. Even the lame reference to Ringu during a discussion by the three kogals seems like a cheesy ploy to try to make the character Tomie seem scarier than Sadako. Tomie: Forbidden Fruit is a boring punishment of a film with a sexy wrapper. Do not be fooled into thinking that the hinted romance between the two attractive Japanese girls on the cover will save this movie from being anything better than a j-horror crap-fest.