Tomie: Unlimited Blu-ray Review
Tomie Unlimited comes to UK Blu-ray courtesy of Bounty Films via Eureka with a 1080p resolution encoded using the AVC codec and framed within a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
Straight to video and from the looks of it shot using reasonable (prosumer?) HD cameras, the transfer is hard to gauge. The opening sequence is a flashback/dream sequence with the colours skewed to reflect this. The sepia/orangey hues throw everything out of kilter and highlight major problems in depth, detail and noise. The image is flat, hair is a muddy clump more akin to a felt hat in terms of clarity and darker tones show significant blotches and hazy noise. Whites are blown, blacks crushed, gradation struggles against banding and in general anything that could go wrong does.
However, we then cut to reality and a title sequence that utilises high res photography and things are far better. The stills, stylistically drained of colour, are crisp and clear, with enough fine detail to indicate the source material is the one to which blame must be apportioned.
The film proper generally sits in between these two examples, neither excelling beyond budgetary roots or falling below the admittedly low standard already set by other lo-fi Japanese splatter films. The cameras clearly struggled with low light, the final reel being the climactic sequences in shadow showing the most obvious examples of some horrific noise. Close-ups in good light however can display reasonable detail – it would be hard to make a grand case for the extra definition, but the strongest flaws of the picture are by far ones that are not dependant on the extra lines. Colours fringing, blooming, lack of depth and all round problems in low light will be there no matter what I’d wager.
Transfer or source material, this is sporadically passable and frequently lamentable.
One track - Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.
There isn't a great deal to be said of this track, it serves a function and little else. It feels quite wide but remains simplistic, like a TV programme, refraining from layers and bringing whatever is the focus of the narrative at any moment to the fore. Levels keep fairly even, the music doesn't have quite the punch a sub-less track should be prioritised to give.
Speech is coherent and well rounded when actors are close or speaking directly to camera. Once again, imperfections may be more an effect of production rather than the disc, as it sounds very much like a directional mic just failing to pick up actors perfectly when they are too far away or a pair hold a conversation and one turns his back/shoulder to obscure his mouth. Anything mid distance such as shots from the back of the classroom picking out the teacher's voice at the front muddies very obviously.
Ko Nakagawa's score is handled satisfactorily but nothing more. It has minimal range and the guitar riffs denoting a moment of shock fail to really punctuate the soundscape.
It's a track that highlights a lack of polish, like the visuals, be it on the disc or the material side of things. It's hasn't the same glaring deficiencies as the image, but there's little to recommend it beyond.
A Discussion With Noboru Iguchi – 1080p – 55:06
The director, though asked for brevity by the interviewer, goes into some depth on a range of subjects, from his beginnings in the industry via Sion Sono and the adult film market, to his motivations to explore such odd subject matters. If you thought he'd come across any less odd, perhaps assuming he was making such films as Zombie Ass purely as knowingly post-modern scatological jokes, think again – less than five minutes in and he's already admitting to an enema fetish. You wouldn't get that on a Wogan interview.
Trailer – 1:16
Tomie: Unlimited is very much limited in its appeal. As a J-horror it lacks the intrigue, simmering tension or coherent mystery to be uncovered. Tomie fans will find it offers another slight twist to the story, adding the gore factor. For most it'll be a curiosity to gawp at thanks to the attachment of the name behind The Machine Girl.
The disc is restricted by the material, it was never going to look a million dollars or sing in your ears, but even by those low standards it still manages to highlight just how little it was deserving of the high storage capacity of a Blu-ray disc. The image bounces between alright and a noisy mess, whilst the sound fails to justify a lossless track. The extras, namely the feature length interview with Iguchi is perhaps a prime example of why less is so often more, serving only to highlight the lack of depth in his material, somehow it seems even seedier than the films themselves.
As a set, this has “fans only” written all over it, and even then it's worth questioning whether the DVD would suffice.
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