Polish cover of volume #1
|Written by||Kazuo Koike|
|Illustrated by||Ryoichi Ikegami|
|Magazine||Big Comic Spirits|
|Original run||1986 – 1988|
|Original video animation|
Daisuke Nishio (ep. 1–3)|
Shigeyasu Yamauchi (ep. 4–6)
Higashi Shimizu (ep. 1–3)|
Ryunosuke Ono (ep. 4–6)
|Music by||Hiroaki Yoshino|
|Released||September 1988 – January 1994|
|Runtime||50 minutes (each)|
Crying Freeman (クライング フリーマン Kuraingu Furīman) is a manga series written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. Crying Freeman follows an assassin, a Japanese man hypnotized and trained by the Chinese mafia (called the "108 Dragons") to serve as its agent, and covered in a vast and complex dragon tattoo. A quiet but complicated killer, Freeman reflexively sheds tears after every killing as a sign of regret.
The manga was originally serialized by Shogakukan on its magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1998. It was first published in North America by Viz Media in comic book form. Viz later republished the series in graphic novel form in two versions: an initial set and longer volumes that combined the initial volumes together, dubbed "Perfect Collections." From 2006 to 2007, the manga was republished by Dark Horse Comics in five volumes.
The story was adapted into an anime OVA by Toei Animation, released from 1988 to 1994. Crying Freeman has also been adapted into three live-action films: two in Hong Kong in Cantonese and an English-language adaptation in Canada.
Yō Hinomura, a Japanese potter, comes into the possession of some film showing an assassination by an agent of the 108 Dragons, a powerful Chinese mafia. Seeking its return, they kidnap him. Subjected to forced hypnosis, Yo is effectively brainwashed into acting as the 108 Dragons' principal assassin yet - cruelly - is permitted to remember his innocent past at the moment he kills, shedding a tear unconsciously each time that he does so. He is given the codename "Crying Freeman" as a result.
One of his killings is witnessed by Emu Hino, a lonely and beautiful Japanese artist. Knowing he must kill her, she paints his portrait and waits for him to come. When he does so, she tells him that she is tired of being alone and wishes to end her life. She asks for a favor before he kills her - to make love to her, so that she will not die as a virgin. He grants her wish, but finds he cannot kill her and they fall in love. The killing she witnessed was of a yakuza boss, however, so the yakuza want to find her so that they can find the killer. One of the yakuza attempts to enter Emu's home and force her to disclose the name of the killer, critically injuring her. Freeman takes her to the hospital and tells her to meet him at Hinomura Kiln, where he intends to part with her. Instead, she accompanies him back to the 108 Dragons, where he tattoos her with tigers and they marry.
The heads of the 108 Dragons decide to name Freeman as their heir. He is given the Chinese name Lóng Tài-Yáng, and Emu is renamed Hǔ Qīng-Lán, as both pass the tests given to them. It proves not as easy as that, however, as they must contend with challenges to the leadership from Bái-Yá Shàn, the granddaughter of the leaders of the 108 Dragons, and attempts to destroy the Dragons from other underground organizations.
- Yō Hinomura (火野村 窯 Hinomura Yō) / Crying Freeman (クライング フリーマン Kuraingu Furīman) / Long Tai Yang (龍太陽 lit. "Dragon Sun")
- Voiced by: Toshio Furukawa (Japanese); Stephen Tremblay (English, Manga UK); Steve Bulen (English, Streamline/ADV)
- Yo was the son of a famous potter and a rising pottery star himself. During a visit to America to showcase his works, a photographer hid secret pictures of the 108 Dragons in one of his pots. Yo found the photos and was asked by the Dragons to surrender them, but refused. As retribution, Father Dragon had him kidnapped and put under hypnosis to make him the perfect assassin, as he was considered the perfect candidate to lead the 108 Dragons.
- He was then trained by Mother Tiger in assassination techniques and martial arts. After his training was complete, he also received a giant dragon tattoo covering his body. Because he cries in remorse for his victims after he snaps out of his trance (it seems later to just become habit due to the fact that he willingly takes on missions), he earned the name Crying Freeman. Freeman possesses incredible agility and strength, and is considered the strongest man in the world. Each of his senses have been honed and sharpened and he is able to adapt to any situation. Initially shown to use guns, he comes to prefer daggers, which he can proficiently wield with both his hands and feet.
- In addition to being the strongest man in the world, Lóng Tài-Yáng is also one of the most handsome, and no woman has been able to resist his charms, which he takes full sexual advantage of after Emu Hino becomes his wife.
- Emu Hino (日野 絵霧 Hino Emu) / Hu Qing Lan (虎清蘭 lit. "Tiger Pure-Orchid")
- Voiced by: Chiharu Kataishi (Japanese); Edita Brychta (English, Manga UK); Edie Mirman (English, Streamline/ADV)
- A young artist whose father had died, Emu Hino was once a rich girl whose wealth disappeared with his death. All that was left to her was the old family mansion. One day, she witnessed Freeman chasing and killing a Japanese crime boss in Hong Kong, after which she asked his name, to which he only replied "Yo". When she saw his tears after the murder, she was intrigued and immediately fell in love with him.
- Soon, she became witness to Freeman's murder of Shudo Shimazaki, the head of the Hakushin Society, which caused both the police and the yakuza to tail her. She returned home only to find that Freeman was waiting for her. Emu then requested that Yo take her virginity before killing her, to which he complied. Later, Yo could not bring himself to kill her as he had fallen in love with her, and the two eventually escaped to Hong Kong. At first, Mother Tiger disapproved of her, as she thought that Emu was weak, but Emu's strong will and resolve earned her the respect of the 108 Dragons. She was given the name Hǔ Qīng-Lán by Grandfather Dragon and married to Lóng Tài-Yáng. She had a giant tiger tattooed on her back and two cubs on her torso for the children that she and Yo could not have.
- In the middle of the series, Emu gained possession of the legendary cursed katana Muramasa from an assassin who targeted Freeman. She then went to Kowloon to master swordsmanship. During this period the Muramasa recognized her as its true owner. As one of the leaders of the 108 Dragons, Emu is more resourceful and clever than even her husband, and as fearless as he is in the face of opposition. The first true owner of the Muramasa, she is quite dangerous as a sword master.
- Hu Feng Ling (虎風鈴 lit. "Tiger Wind Chime")
- Voiced by: Nobuyo Tsuda (Japanese); Rosemary Miller (English, Manga UK); Catherine Battistone (English, Streamline)
- Also known as Mother Tiger, she is the former female head of the 108 Dragons. She took on the task of training Freeman, honing him into the best assassin in the world and the strongest man alive. Like Emu Hino, she has a Tiger tattooed on her body, which signifies her position in the 108 Dragons. She has adopted Freeman as a son and Emu as a daughter-in-law. While skeptical of Emu at first, she came to recognize her strength. Grandmother Tiger had a son in violation of the 108 Dragons' rule that the leaders are sterilized to prevent them from having children, as the organization survives on individual talent and not on heritage or legacies. Mother Tiger came to regret her decision as her son became a cold-blooded killer even in his early youth and was exiled to a remote island.
- Bai Ya Shan (白牙扇 lit. "White Ivory Fan")
- Voiced by: Dump Matsumoto (Japanese); Debora Weston (English, Manga UK); Barbara Goodson (English, Streamline)
- The granddaughter of Father Dragon and Mother Tiger who challenges Freeman for the leadership of the Dragons shortly after his succession. She attempts a coup d'état immediately after Lóng Tài-Yáng's and Hǔ Qīng-Lán's wedding, kidnapping the latter as well as Father Dragon and Mother Tiger with the aid of Camorra and Elder Mercury, one of the Ten Planets who was loyal to her father. She was defeated by Freeman and subsequently forgiven and accepted back into the Dragons, from then on becoming his faithful and devoted "little sister", acting as a personal maid and bodyguard for her older brother and his wife. A giant woman in both aspects of height and weight, Bái-Yá Shàn is practically invulnerable to most attacks, as she has survived multiple gunshot wounds. She often goes into missions naked, which is quite nauseating for her opponents. Her weapons of choice are two butterfly swords, but she also likes to keep an automatic rifle handy.
- Bái-Yá Shàn is very emotional, openly crying in moments of fear, doubt, and sorrow; at times, she still seems rather like a little girl despite her age.
- Huang De Yuan (黄徳源) / Koh Tokugen (in Streamline Dub)
- Voiced by: Ryusei Nakao (Japanese); Vincent Marzello (English, Manga UK); Jeff Winkless (English, Streamline)
- A member of 108 Dragons and assistant to Freeman on his missions, who first worked with him after his kidnapping and hypnosis. After Freeman forced him to assist in helping save a critically wounded Emu Hino, he realized that the two were meant for each other and defended Freeman's actions to Mother Tiger. After Freeman took over leadership of the 108 Dragons, Huáng Dé-Yuán became his right-hand man. He died from wounds he took in fighting a Camorra assassin who had targeted Freeman out of revenge for his killing of Camorra's leader.
- Bugnug (Anteater) / Dark Eyes
- Voiced by: Yoshiko Sakakibara (Japanese); Nicolette McKenzie (English, Manga UK); Melanie MacQueen (English, Streamline)
- The secret leader of the Askari group (also called African Tusk or Horn of Africa), Bugnug is an exotic and muscular African beauty specializing in African throwing blades. She controls the organization through her lieutenants Jigon and Shikebaro, who are the ostensible leaders. After Freeman killed Jigon and Shikebaro, Bugnug launched a surprise attack on him. However, Freeman won her over in the middle of the fight, resulting in a truce and halt to the fighting between the 108 Dragons and Askari. Bugnug shares the same blood type as Freeman, and was his blood donor, helping save him from the wounds he had sustained in their fight. Freeman later helped her defeat a coup d'état in her organization against her, as well as avenging her rape at the hands of Oshu. Bugnug fell in love with him and Freeman gave her the name "Dark Eyes", although she knew that he was already married. Since then, the Askari have been a valuable ally to the 108 Dragons, and Bugnug occasionally assists Freeman on assassination missions.
- Ryuji "The Blade" Hanada
- Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (Japanese); Bob Sessions (English, Manga UK); Kerrigan Mahan (English, Streamline)
- The second most powerful member of the Hakushin Society, after the Society's leader was assassinated by Freeman, Ryuji attempted to kidnap Emu with the tacit support of the police. He was wounded in the attempt by Freeman, but survived and managed to see his face. Freeman later returned to assassinate him.
- Kimie Hanada
- Voiced by: Masako Katsuki (Japanese); Liza Ross (English, Manga UK); Catherine Battistone (English, Streamline)
- The wife of Ryuji Hanada and the most powerful woman in the Hakushin Society hierarchy. Following Ryuji's death, she ensnares Detective Nitta by managing to get compromising photos of them together taken, securing his cooperation in her scheme to locate Emu and get revenge for Ryuji, although she and Nitta quickly become lovers. Kimie is usually dressed in a kimono and has a large tattoo of a Buddha that covers her back. She was nearly killed by Freeman, but he spared her when he forced her to promise that she would help erase his past as Yo Hinomura. Later on, she became a follower of Kumagaism and assisted its leader Naiji Kumaga in his plot to seize control of the 108 Dragons by creating a clone of Freeman. Tasked by Kumaga to sleep with Freeman in order to learn his sexual habits and patterns to then pass them on to the clone, she subsequently fell in love with him and betrayed Kumaga.
- Oshu Tohgoku
- Voiced by: Ryūzaburō Ōtomo (Japanese); Tony Clay (English)
- A championship pro wrestler, Oshu is a massive, powerful man, over two meters tall and strong enough to twist I-beams out of shape with his bare hands. He is not a formal yakuza member, but has very close ties to the Hakushin Society, as Ryuji Hanada and Shudo Shimazaki looked after him and supported his wrestling career, respectively. He thus bears a grudge against Freeman for their assassinations.
- It is implied that Oshu secretly assists the Hakushin Society with its killings, and fights with a large dagger designed in the sword breaker style, where one side of the weapon is inset with special serrated teeth that Oshu uses to entrap and break an opponent's blade. Oshu is also a member of Kumagaism, and was instrumental in Kumaga's plot to kidnap Freeman to clone him, nearly killing Bugnug after capturing and raping her. During Freeman's captivity, he came to develop respect for him, and did not reveal that Freeman had successfully converted Kimie to his side and was posing as the freeman clone. In a death match with Freeman, his superior size and strength were defeated by Freeman's agility. After Bugnug hit him with a thrown knife as the coup de grâce, Oshu asked that the 108 Dragons adopt his family before committing suicide.
Kidnappers Organization (K.O.)
- Nina Heaven
- Voiced by: Gara Takashima (Japanese); Pamela West (English, Manga UK); Wendee Lee (English, Streamline)
- A blond-haired woman who leads the Kidnappers Organization. She first learned about Freeman a few years ago during one of his earlier assassinations at a hotel, where she worked as a receptionist and took photos of him during the hit. Ever since that day, she has been sexually obsessed with Freeman. Ten years later, she uses K.O. to lure him in by kidnapping a prominent family in Los Angeles' Chinatown. After Freeman is captured, Emu Hino leads a mission to rescue her husband and the hostages, as well as to wipe out K.O. for its audacity to attack the 108 Dragons. Nina is killed in the aftermath of this incident.
- Larry Buck
- Voiced by: Seizō Katō (Japanese); Graham Parker (English, Manga UK); Wally Burr (English, Streamline)
- A large, muscular, American ex-soldier with a tattoo of the Japanese deity, Kishimojin, on his back who serves as the leader of the ex-Green Berets in the Kidnappers Organization. During his tour of duty in the Vietnam War, he was somehow rendered impotent. Within K.O., Larry has found a purpose in life to create a place where people like himself can belong to - a country for soldiers. Eventually, Larry is pitted against Freeman in a duel to the death by Nina and was eventually slain by the assassin.
- Voiced by: Bin Shimada (Japanese); John Swasey (English)
- A young wakagashira (underboss) of a Yakuza group, Tsunaike harbored ambitions to eventually become the leader of all crime syndicates of Asia. His plan to do this involved igniting a gang war between the Yakuza and the 108 Dragons. After both groups are sufficiently weakened, Tsunaike would move in to take over their operations with the help of his contacts in the Russian Connection, a Russian mafia organization. He also decided that Freeman would be major obstacle to his dreams for power and vowed to kill him. Tsunaike is assisted in his efforts by Tanya, a beautiful Russian assassin who is also his lover. Attacking both Yakuza and members of the 108 Dragons, Tsunaike gradually became bolder and he eventually set a trap for Freeman. However, he and Tanya severely underestimate Freeman's abilities as an assassin and both are killed.
- Voiced by: Megumi Terase (Japanese); Shawn Taylor (English)
- A beautiful Russian woman with short, bobbed hair and pale skin, Tanya is a highly skilled assassin affiliated with the mafia syndicate, Russian Connection. Originally sent to aid Tsunaike in his efforts to take over the Yakuza operations in Japan, Tanya eventually became Tsunaike's lover and faithful follower. She has taken part in several missions to eliminate high-level Yakuza and 108 Dragons leaders on Tsunaike's behalf. When Tsunaike sets a trap to kill Freeman, Tanya challenges the assassin to a duel and is killed.
Original video animation
|1||"Portrait of a Killer"|
|Emu Hino, a lonely and beautiful Japanese artist witnesses a Chinese man killing three men, then his eyes well up with tears. He introduces himself as Yō, then leaves. She later sees him assassinate Shudo Shimazaki, leader of the Japanese Hakushin Yakuza. He was concerned about the distribution of narcotics in Japan by the 108 Dragons, a powerful Chinese mafia. She gives Yō's name to the police. When Yō arrives at her house to kill her, he grants her wish to make love to her first. During the night, yakuza led by Ryuji "The Blade" Hanada, enters Emu's home to force her to disclose the name of the killer, critically injuring her. Freeman and Koh kill the yakuza and shoot Hanada then take Emu to the hospital, telling her to meet him later at his family's Hinomura Pottery. There he tells her the story of how the 108 Dragons turned him into the assassin, Crying Freeman. He takes revenge on the yakuza and then is severely punished by the 108 Dragons for refusing to kill her. He implements an elaborate plan for them to disappear in the destruction of the Hinomura Pottery. During the confrontation, he stabs Kimie Hanada and Detective Nitta near their hearts, but spares their lives on the condition that they spread a story of Yō and Emu’s deaths.|
|2||"Shades of Death Part I - Fusei Kakurei"|
"Fusei Kakurei" (風声鶴唳)
|In Hong Kong, Yō and Emu get married in a Chinese wedding and are given new names, Long Tai Yang and Hu Qing Lan. When they are nominated as the organization's successors, Freeman is attacked by an disguised assassin indicating a traitor in their ranks. They go to Macau in search of evidence and track Chen, a mask-maker, but Chen is killed before they can trace his employers. Later, in the rice fields, granddaughter Bai Ya Shan arrives, demanding leadership of the 108 Dragons. She kidnaps her grandparents and takes them to Wolon Island, daring Freeman to rescue them. Freeman and Koh suspects Don Carleone's Kamora's Organization is behind Bai Ya Shan. Freeman lets himself be captured and beaten, and finds that 108 Dragons elder member Planet Mercury is behind Bai Ya Shan, and supported by Kamora’s Organization. After they reveal themselves, Freeman attacks and kills them all. He then defeats Bai Ya Shan and establishes his control over the organization. Later Don Carleone's female companion Kiche seeks revenge for the Kamora Organization. She shoots Koh and follows him to Freeman then engages Freeman in a duel with knives on the deck of the 108 Dragons submarine. Freeman kills her, but Koh eventually dies from her bullet.|
|3||"Shades of Death Part II - Eternal Love"|
"Hiyoku Renri" (比翼連理)
|As a test of her fortitude, Emu is kidnapped by 108 Dragon operatives, tortured and threatened with rape, but does not break, confirming her position beside Freeman. While flying to Japan with Bai Ya Shan, Freeman's plane is hijacked by Askari agents but after landing Freeman and Bai Ya Shan kill the revolutionary terrorist hijackers. They follow a survivor stabbed with a tracking device to Shikebaro's base but they decide to return to headquarters and discuss their strategy. During the 108 Dragon meeting a gunman bursts in and kills the leaders named after the Ten Planets as they sacrifice themselves to save Freeman. They hold a funeral ceremony for the dead leaders, including an empty coffin for Freeman. Freeman poses as a hair stylist and seduces Miranda, Shikebaro's lover and then kills him. Freeman then follows her to Jigon's mansion and kills him but not before Jigon kills Miranda. As he leaves, Freeman is attacked by Bugnug, the real leader of the Askari. He wounds, but does not kill her, and they form an alliance and he calls her Dark Eyes. Meanwhile Emu acquires the ancient Muramasa, the cursed Sword of Darkness. She and Bai Ya Shan take it to master swordsman Professor Gouken Ishida at Kowloon Castle, to teach her how to use it if it accepts her. A local gang, the Seiraitan threaten them but she delays them until Freeman arrives, the dragon and tiger united and the Seiraitan accept them as leaders.|
|4||"A Taste of Revenge - Oshu Tohgoku"|
"Oshu Tohgoku" (雄首冬獄)
|After a shoot-out, Dark Eyes is confronted by the massive and powerful Oshu Tohgoku who rapes her and dumps her in the sea. Freeman finds and rescues her and plots his revenge on Tohgoku and the Hakushin. He challenges Tohgoku at a public wrestling match but loses. The Hakushin take him to their headquarters where Master Naiji has a clone prepared to replace him at 108 Dragons. Kimie Hanada is ordered to sleep with Freeman to reveal his secrets, but he convinces her to support him instead. Freeman then switches places with his clone who is killed by Tohgoku on Naiji's orders. Thinking Freeman is the clone, Naiji sends him with Tohgoku and Kimie to take control of 108 Dragons. Naji then travels to 108 Dragons headquarters, but Freeman reveals that he's still alive and in control. Sensing defeat Naiji invokes a spell, causing everyone except Emu to collapse. She then uses the Muramasa to kill him. Tohgoku challenges Freeman to a match which Freeman wins, but he leaves it to Dark Eyes to take her revenge and deliver the killing stroke with her throwing blade.|
|5||"Abduction in Chinatown - Battlefield of Kishibojin"|
"Senjō no Kishimojin" (戦場の鬼子母神)
|In Los Angeles Chinatown, Mr Wong asks Freeman for help to retrieve his kidnapped daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter after already paying the ransom to the Kidnapper Organization (KO). His second daughter, Wonshaku, helps by accessing Pentagon databases to gather information. When an attempt is made on their lives, Freeman suspects he is the real target and takes the place of a traitor in the Wong group who is picked up by a skyhook. He is taken to KO headquarters and greeted by Larry Buck, also known as Kishimoji. Freeman meets Nina Heaven who declares her desire for him and wants him as a partner but he refuses. Meanwhile Wonshaku introduces a virus into the KO network and Bai Ya Shan lands from the sea to rescue the hostages, but unfortunately she is captured. Separately, Wonshaku tries to free the hostages by impersonating a US Colonel, but is also captured. To entertain her troops, Nina arranges a fight between Freeman and Larry Buck, after first inciting her troops with an erotic dance. Emu and Dark Eyes infiltrate the camp to rescue everyone and their plan is successful. As they leave Nina tries to shoot Freeman, but he kills her as he gives her a parting kiss.|
|6||"The Russian Connection - The Light in the Darkness"|
"Mumyō ryū sha" (無明流射)
|Russian mafia boss Nicholaiev and Japanese yakuza Tsunaike plan to cut out the 108 Dragons trade and Nicholaiev offers Tanya to help him. Meanwhile Freeman sees a woman pass in a car he remembers from his past. When Freeman learns that 108 Dragons business is being squeezed he travels to Japan. Japanese Boss Watajima raises his concern about offending the 108 Dragons with Tsunaike. An unknown group carries out strikes against the Japanese yakuza, and the leaders suspect 108 Dragons. They consider settling with them but a Tsunaike accuses the old leaders of cowardice. They agree to hire assassin Choko Tateoka to kill Freeman. Tsunaike privately hopes to take over following the bloodbath that would ensue. Tateoka ambushes Freeman, but fails and is killed. Freeman confronts his contacts in Japan who deny dealing with the Russians. Tsunaike implements his plan with Tanya to wipe out the yakuza leaders, and blame it on the 108 Dragons. Freeman agrees to meet Tsunaike on the docks, even though he suspects a trap. When the 108 Dragons submarine destroys a ship arriving in port with 3,000 Russian mafia men, Freeman goes after Tsunaike, killing Tanya first. He finds Tsunaike holding the woman from his past as a hostage, they fight and Tsunaike is killed, freeing the innocent woman who does not recognize Freeman.|
- AnimeOnDVD.com - Graphic Novel Comparison Charts Archived 2007-07-01 at the Wayback Machine.
- 作品ラインナップ 1980–1989 (in Japanese). Toei Animation. Archived from the original on March 3, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
- 作品ラインナップ 1990–1999 (in Japanese). Toei Animation. Archived from the original on March 3, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014.