Story: Kazuo Koike
Artist: Ryochi Ikegami
Translation: Kumar Sivasubramanian
Publisher: Dark Horse
You might recall that during the ending of our manga podcast I briefly mentioned the name Ryoichi Ikegami. I was specifically talking about his work on Crying Freeman and Sanctuary. This put the idea in my head of going back and reading all those comics that I had from Viz back in the day. Then I noticed that just recently Dark Horse had released 5 omnibus trades collecting the series uncut in its original right to left format. I know the wonderful job they have been doing with the Gun Smith Cats trades, so I was really excited about reading them like this for the first time.
If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about manga then the name Kazuo Koike should ring a bell. He’s the writer of such great works as Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Excutioner, and Lady Snowblood. Funny enough, he also did the Hulk manga back in the early 70’s in Japan. Ikegami is also a popular artist in Japan and once you take a glimpse at his artwork you can understand why. Most of his work has been translated here in the States such as: Mai the Psychic Girl, Sanctuary, Strain, Wounded Man, and Offered. Even Marvel released the Spider-man manga that he drew back in the 70’s. This story is different than any other Koike stories I have read, because it’s set in a modern era (of course this book was originally published in 1986).
This story begins with a bang! Literally as Emu Hino, a 28 year old artist witnesses two Yakuza (Japanese mafia) hits performed by the same assassin. The assassin cries after he kills his targets, and it’s this moment of vulnerability that Emu focuses on so much so she develops an unhealthy fixation on him. When I say unhealthy, she wants to lose her virginity to him before he kills her on her 29th birthday. Because she knows that once an assassin tells you their name, you become the next target. She starts painting portraits of his crying face litter her studio. Instead, he ends up falling for her and eventually they get married. We learn that his name is Yo Himomura and he is an assassin for the 108 Dragons, the Chinese Mafia. But to most in the criminal underworld, he is known as Crying Freeman, the killer who sheds tears after he kills his victims. Yo was once an up and coming pottery artist, until he got hold of some negatives that the 108 Dragons wanted back.