You Hinomura was an ordinary Japanese potter when a run-in with a Chinese mafia changed his life forever. Now an assassin for the 108 Dragons, Yo is the perfect killing machine. As a sign for remorse over his victims, he sheds tears after eliminating his targets. Because of this, he is infamously known by the Dragons and every other crime gang as "Crying Freeman."
Crying Freeman was first published in English by Dark Horse from March 8, 2006 to March 14, 2007. Dark Horse also released a digital version of the title from November 2, 2011 to February 8, 2012. The publisher Creek ＆ River Co has similarly released a digital edition of the title on June 29, 2015. The series was also published in Polish by Japonica Polonica Fantastica from 2006 to 2009.
This manga is hard to get into, in that the main character is really difficult to sympathize with or get invested into. His basic premise of an assassin that doesn't actually want to kill works and as far as that went it was a reasonably strong story. But from there, he somehow becomes the head of the organization that kidnapped him in the first place, who were first portrayed as the villains, but they suddenly become the side the reader is supposed to be on the side of, with no justification given for why the reader should suddenly sympathize with them over any of their opponents. This is compounded by the fact that
Freeman, as well as most of his companions, have very little character. The protagonist being a blank slate can work if the people surrounding them have strong characters that push them along, but here that wasn't the case. Rather, he's a character completely lacking personality and with no clear motivations or goals beyond the immediate situation he's in, but still the one pushing the plot somehow most of the time. This combined with the fact that there isn't really much of an overarching narrative, results in a story that doesn't really have much substance at all and is essentially pointless. The manga does have its strong points though, in that while Freeman may not have much of a character that's interesting or easy to sympathize with, the way he handles situations is interesting and pretty cool. What I mean by that is that while it really doesn't matter why he's doing any of what he's doing or who he is at all really, the actions he takes that make up each of the individual stories that make up the larger story are all pretty interesting. He dealt with opponents in ways that often had him being clearly overpowered, but in the end still looked pretty cool and were pretty varied, with strong action and a good sense of style, and that in a way can hold up the manga reasonably. The art was strange, in that it clearly had a lot of effort put into it, but it looked pretty bad to me with the shots that were supposedly meant to be eye catchers often being the worst of the lot, but it was something I got used to eventually.
tl;dr: A manga that's lacking substance overall but has a decent amount of good moments.
I cannot say if one should like or dislike Crying Freeman, this title starts out with such great potential but ends up being a pile of swill. In fact if Crying Freeman began and ended with the first story arc, then I would say it was a manga classic that all should read. From this great high point does this title fall, and fall hard it does right into a murky pit of crud.
The story its self starts out semi-realistic, it’s not crazy or over the top for this genre of story, but slowly the inclusion of crazier and silly elements
are added making it feel slitted. One can tell the author must have been looking though a murky puddle of muck as the story ends up going no where and seems rather piecemealed together. The characters are also a disjointed mess. Some are refreshing and interesting, while others are painfully irritating.
The art here stands out here as a strong point as it features the wonderful line work of Ryoichi Ikegami. Who’s style is much more realistic then the manga norm, which features a lot of detail and cross hatching. This is one of this older works so the art is a bit dated by today’s standards but still comes though very well.
I enjoyed Crying Freeman but over time less and less so. The first story arc is stand out piece of work but by the third arc the story just seem silly and ridiculous. I enjoyed the first story arc so much though, that I would at least say I over all enjoyed the story.
I’d say it is at least worth picking up the first volume of Crying Freeman for the first story arc, as that story is a stand out piece in the mobster genre.
I had this one on the back burner for a while, hoping I could dose up on some manly when I was feeling the need, but it fell quite a bit short of my expectations. The premise is quite interesting, a softhearted, handsome man with a natural charm forced to kill for a foreign mafia, but it doesn't do enough with the premise to warrant further attention.
Crying Freeman feels like a humorless eighties cop film. The overall aesthetic is bland and melancholic, lacking characters that draw the reader in or give reason to care about what's happening. Side characters are
thrown in to be violated or injured simply to showcase how gruesome the world can be, coming off flat and heavy handed.
The art's decent, no real flair to it or anything unique. It does the job of covering the action and setting, but the realism leaves much to be desired. Could have easily been simple traces of real life locations, which is off putting and unimaginative.
If you're looking for a crime story, this might be a decent piece to check out, but otherwise Crying Freeman is so middling I can't truly recommend it.
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