Crying Freeman is a six episode adaptation of a famous manga by Kazuo Koike & Ryoichi Ikegami.
Freeman, once a famous potter, is brainwashed by the Chinese mafia into becoming a killer. Despite carrying out his orders, he is internally conflicted, and cries for his victims (hence the title).
He doesn’t seem to mind the brainwashing much, and the 108 Dragons (the Chinese mafia) don’t hold it against him either; so he soon becomes their leader and commits himself to protecting the organization; which he comes to see as his family.
Each episode is an hour long, though the first three feel like two separate episodes put together. Typically, each episode focuses on an assassin from a rival gang who threatens the 108 Dragons in some way. Freeman goes after them, and sleeps with one of the beautiful women involved in the action (either one of the victims, or one of the killers); and it culminates in a big fight at the end.
Speaking of which, Freeman’s preferred fighting style is to take off his clothes and hold a knife between his toes as he tries to kick/cut his enemy to death. I can’t see how that would be effective against most opponents, but it seems to work for him.
The series has a deadly serious tone, with the possible exception of Freeman’s ‘sister,’ the overweight woman who was to be the heir of the 108 Dragons before Freeman’s ascension. She acts rather childish most of the time, not in a terribly exaggerated way, but enough to keep her from fitting in with the tone of the series.
The series is dark. Freeman always wins, of course, but there’s a pretty harsh cost to it. Added to that is a bleak, overwhelming sense of hopelessness that permeates the series. There’s a complete lack of ‘good’ in the world, and the only virtue is blind to-the-death loyalty to your gang.
The animation is fine, about average TV quality for the time. The character designs are on the realistic side.
This current set is from Discotek (Eastern Star), though the show was formally released by ADV Films. This release uses ADV’s subs and dub, but presents the video totally uncut with the original Japanese credits/titles.
Video is about what you’d expect from an 80′s oav without major restoration work. It’s well encoded, but the source material is a little faded.
If you’re a fan of 80′s action anime, like Golgo 13 or Fist of the North Star, Crying Freeman should work for you. And with the equivalent of 12 half hour episodes for $29.99, it’s a good deal, as well.