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Manga / Crying Freeman

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Tears from his eyes, blood from your throat.

"I do not believe that a murderer could weep so piteously... He cried without making a sound. His tears fell like a soft, quiet rain..."

Crying Freeman is a seinen manga illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami and written by Kazuo Koike, which was serialized in Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1988. It follows the story of Yoh Hinomura, an internationally-renowned potter from Japan. A Chinese triad organization known as "The 108 Dragons" kidnapped Yoh and turned him into an unwilling assassin: after sticking acupuncture needles in him and implanting post-hypnotic suggestions, Yoh became one of their best assassins, killing for the group whenever he is ordered to. Whenever Yoh kills, he cries out of remorse for his victims (hence the name of the series). When solitary artist Emu Hino witnesses one of Yoh's assassinations, the Dragons order him to eliminate her — but Yoh's love for Hino could become his salvation...Set in the same universe of Kazuo Koike's Duet, and presumably Mad Bull 34.

No relation to a bespectacled, alien fighting scientist note . Has two unofficial Hong Kong adaptations which are both In Name Only, Killer's Romance and Dragon from Russia, coincidentally both debuting in 1990. It was adapted on live action film in 1995 by director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) starring Mark Dacascos.

The manga contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Pornomancer: Discussed as the reason why no woman will ever be able to kill Yoh: he's just such a perfect man, they cannot bring themselves to get rid of such beauty. The alternative? Sex.
  • Action Girl: Emu becomes one with time.
  • Acrofatic: Bai-Ya Shan is very tall and very fat, but is a lethal fighter who dual-wields butterfly knives.
  • Anti-Villain: Yoh.
  • Art Imitates Life: Koike introduced the 108 Dragons as an enemy faction in Duet, only to find out there actually is a namesake gang in Hong Kong later. Some gang members asked him if he could make a Rooting for the Empire spinoff and gave him a designer watch, so he outright turned them into the Villain Protagonists.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Completely averted for females. Male "equipment" is usually subject to some sort of censoring, but a few panels avert even that.
  • Battle Couple: Yoh and Emu.
  • Battle Strip: Before many battles, Yoh would strip completely naked.
    • So does Emu and...well, a lot of people in this series end up doing it.
  • Berserker Tears: Yoh got his moniker of the Crying Freeman because he cries whenever he commits a murder.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Yoh, to a degree.
  • Broken Ace: Yoh
  • Characterization Marches On: In the "Shades of Death" arc, Father Dragon informs Yoh that Emu is a better strategist than he is, and suggests that he allow Emu to assist him with his espionage duties. Yoh quickly replies that he wants to keep her out of such matters, and Emu agrees. In the very next short story ("The Marriage Vows") Yoh has decided that Emu is clever enough to get herself out of the type of trouble that the attractive wife of a mob boss might find herself in, and acknowledges her strength and independence. In one of the following arcs ("Sister") he openly allows her to take on the task of quelling the curse of the Muramasa sword, which is a task that he himself failed at, and by the time of "Abduction in Chinatown," Emu takes the lead in staging an extraction for Yoh when he is trapped on a covert military installation. At the closure of the series ("Journey to Freedom"), Emu is actually present during one of Yoh's assassinations. They've come a long way!
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: When Yoh and Emu make love, apparently anyone else in the clan is free to pull up a seat and Pass the Popcorn. And in the case of Baya San, join in.
  • Cool Old Lady: Hu Feng Ling, Yoh's tutor in the 108 Dragons. She's pushing 99 and still got the moves.
  • Cool Sword: The Muramasa sword that Emu receives.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Baya San to Yoh.
  • Dirty Coward: Tsunaike. He thinks of himself as a brilliant strategist, but he never does his own fighting—he’s quite content to let others do that. As a result, he’s always caught flat-footed when Freeman out-maneuvers him, and his hubris leads to a Karmic Death. Freeman actually takes the time to point out his missteps as he is being washed out to sea in the middle of an icy storm with no hope of rescue. Ouch.
  • Double Standard: Pretty heavy on this—and really unapologetic about it.
  • Due to the Dead: After Koh Tokugen is killed in the second episode protecting Yoh from a Camorra assassin, his body is buried at sea.
  • Easily Forgiven: In the short “The Marriage Vows,” Emu is kidnapped and subjected to water torture in a holding tank for a fish processing plant. It has been established by this point that she cannot swim and she is manacled to the wall, so this is extremely dangerous. She is released later, but is threatened by two huge, completely nude men. She escapes by leaping through the closed window. Later, reunited with her husband, she finds out that all of her assailants were actually members of the organization testing her loyalty. (Apparently the de facto leader’s marriage to her was not a sufficient endorsement!) The men prostrate themselves completely to the ground as she passes by them, and Emu forgives them all instantly.
  • Fanservice: Women frequently get naked for no obvious reason, but Yoh has enough nude scenes to balance the gender scale on his own.
  • Fan Disservice: Baya San is every bit as prone to taking off all her clothes as any other woman in the manga.
  • Female Gaze: Yoh undressing is usually followed by a full-page splash panel displaying his body.
  • Femme Fatale: Kimie Hanada; it backfires when she tries it on Yoh.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Several characters go into battle in the nude. Exploited by Bai-Ya Shan, who counts on her opponents' revulsion at seeing her unclothed to throw them off and make them more vulnerable to her attacks.
  • Going Commando: It would be faster to list examples of women actually wearing underwear.
  • Handy Feet: One of Freeman's skills, and makes him especially deadly with a knife. The training sequence explaining Freeman's proficiency with his feet is rather amusing.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Though it doesn't have very much gunplay, the balletic violence and the sense of honor are very evocative of this genre.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Both Yoh and Emu.
  • Hypocrite: At one point Yoh is confronted by an assassin who cannot comprehend why Yoh cannot be faithful to Emu, and mocks Yoh's definition of "family". The hypocrisy here is that the assassin in question raped somebody in the middle of a job.
  • In Love with the Mark: Kickstarts the plot in a big way.
  • Lady of War: Emu evolves into this.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: There are three: Two made in Hong Kong and one French-Canadian produced adaption.
  • Love at First Sight: Emu becomes attracted to the handsome and sad hitman she saw first right after he accidentally killed his targets in front of her.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: If you're too squeamish to see a naked male body, don't read the manga.
  • Male Gaze: When Emu is waiting for Yoh to come after her, the reader is treated to a full-page spread of her showering, with an insert panel showing a closeup of her nipple. The series continues in a similar fashion.
  • Manchurian Agent: Yoh.
  • Meaningful Rename: When Yoh becomes the leader of the 108 Dragons, he is given the name Long Tai-Yang, literally "Dragon Sun". Likewise, Emu takes the name Hu Qi-Lin, "Tiger Pure-Lotus".
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Enforced; Emu must remain faithful to Yoh, but Yoh can have as much sex as he wants with anyone he wants. It's the law of his clan.
  • Mystical 108: The mysterious organization that employs Yoh is "The 108 Dragons".
  • Nepotism: Averted as it nearly destroyed the 108 Dragons.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted, as Baya San squats down to urinate in one scene.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Baya San at first.
  • Rape as Drama: At one point an associate of Yoh's, Dark Eyes, is violently raped in the middle of a job. After saving her and having her injuries tended to, Yoh allows her to face her rapist and kill him when confronted by the man.
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: The tattoo artist Zi Yan Zhu, after she refused to go through with poisoning Freeman.
  • Resignations Not Accepted
  • Romancing the Widow: This is one of the stories in the “Journey to Freedom” arc. The widow of Togoku Oshu is a geisha who is being harrassed by an Abhorrent Admirer. This becomes particularly squicky when the man is introduced by boasting to her that any woman nowadays can be bought if enough money is offered, before revealing enough on-hand cash to pay her substantial financial obligations. The implication is very clear that he does not intend to take “no” for an answer. Fortunately, Freeman has already decided to act as her protector and quickly defuses the situation. (It doesn’t hurt that he also has enough money with him to clear her debts.)
  • Sex–Face Turn: Kimie tried to seduce Yoh as part of a plot to kill him and replace him with a look-alike; instead, she falls in love with him, and betrays her accomplices to the 108 Dragons.
    • Also Zi Yan Zhu, the tattoo artist who drew the dragons on Yoh's body. She was employed by the Mafia to poison him, but she simply couldn't find it in herself to do the job.
  • Sex Signals Death: Subverted. Emu knew Yoh would kill her for witnessing one of his murders, and she didn't want to die a virgin. She asked him to have sex with her as her last wish; however, Yoh couldn't bring himself to murder her — so he made her his partner instead.
    • Though in later chapters, other women shown to "involve" themselves with Freeman then fall under this trope; a couple of them very graphically so.
    • Then subverted again with Kimie Hanada, whose "involvement" is far more graphic then every other female character in the manga, even Emu, but she is spared to the manga's end.
    • Not only women, but several men come under this also; including getting killed mid-coitus, also coitus interruptus, and one ambushed while in afterglow with his mistress (she's spared).
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Well, for a given value of "good". Emu firsts sets eyes on Yoh when he pulls off a hit, but sees him crying and thinks he's really a gentle person at heart.
  • Stout Strength: Baya San.
  • Taking the Bullet: Done to an absolutely ridiculous degree. No less than eight different people jump in front of Yoh to protect him from an assassin who has nearly Bottomless Magazines, before Yoh is able to kill the assassin.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The 108 Dragons that Yoh is a part of is a Triad.
  • Their First Time: A big plot point: Both Yoh Hinomura and Emu Hino are virgins, and since she witnessed one of his murders, she's his soon-to-be victim. When Yoh goes to her Big Fancy House, Emu tells him that he can kill her and she won't refuse... but as her last wish, she asks him to do it with her. Yoh tells Emu that he's a virgin too and accepts to be her first and last - and not only do they "deflower" each other, but he falls for her and takes her in.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Averted because it's the possible motif of Battle Couples in the 108 Dragons. Yoh has dragons tattooed on his body, and Emu gets tiger tattoos later on. Also, Hu Feng Ling has a full-splash of a tiger on the front part of her body and another on the back.
  • Use Your Head: Baya San does this to a terrorist in a head in "Eternal Love".

The 1995 live-action film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Nationality: Emu and Netah are changed from Japanese to Caucasian Canadians, and the primary setting relocated from Tokyo to British Columbia.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Emu's last name is changed from Hino to O'Hara, and the Triad clan the 108 Dragons are changed to the Sons of the Dragons.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Koh willingly betrays Yo and dies only moments before he can shoot him, in comparison to his Heroic Sacrifice in the source material.
  • Aerith and Bob: The plot is relocated from Japan to Canada, but the majority of character's names are unchanged. While Emu (絵霧) and Netah (新田) are fairly normal names in Japanese, they're more than a little unusual in the film's new setting, especially considering the characters Adaptational Nationality.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's a fair amount of untranslated Mandarin and Japanese dialogue.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Yo prefers hitting his targets square on the forehead.
  • Dirty Cop: Netah attempts to blackmail the Yakuza, and after that fails willingly works with them to hunt down Yo, whilst carrying on a heated affair with the boss' wife.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Said verbatim by Emu O'Hara. Completely justified, as she has taken a few bullets and suffers from a large blood loss.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Yo fends off hitmen right after making love to Emu, still in his underwear.
  • The Power of Love: It's Emu's affections that finally break Yo's programming and lead him to rebel against his employers.
  • Mark of the Beast: Yo has a dragon tattoo along his chest and back to symbolize his servitude to the Sons of the Dragon and his role as the Freeman.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Yo isn't shy about stripping down and showing his well-developed physique.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The film is generally well-regarded for its faithfulness to the story and tone of the original work, despite some name changes and making Yo more expendable in the eyes of his gang.
  • Rasputinian Death: Ryuji is variously immolated (multiple times), shot at point blank range, stabbed, slashed, and impaled, and still has no trouble firing his gun and hitting targets dozens of feet away. It's a block of C4 planted right next to him that finally does him in.
  • Slow Mo: This film's action sequences are quite heavy on the slow mo for cool factor.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: A Yakuza chastises his partners for smoking on the job before they're all brutally picked off one-by-one with a bow-and-arrow.