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Yo Hinomura is an internationally acclaimed potter, until he becomes involved with the 108 Dragons crime syndicate, gets brainwashed, and is turned into the assassin Crying Freeman. When the lonely Emu Hino witnesses one of his missions, he is sent to terminate her, but she seduces him, and the two eventually devote their lives to the 108 Dragons. Successive episodes featured a number of rivals and evil syndicates trying to oust Yo, including the 108 Dragons' own Baya-san, the granddaughter of a former leader. Yo fights off an African syndicate, while Emu, who acclimates rather well to life as a gang member after giving up being a virginal artist, takes on a Chinese criminal hellhole. Freeman's old enemies return to haunt him in the fourth episode (part five in the U.K.), with crooked cop Nitta and former moll Kimie teaming up with a professional wrestler to help replace Yo with a brainwashed cultist. The fifth episode featured a sex-starved female gang leader kidnapping a rival boss's family in order to make Yo become her sex slave. The final part, in which Yo defeats yet another rival, this time from the Russian syndicate, received such heavy cuts in the U.K. that it and chapter four were released on a single tape.
Based on the 1986 manga in Big Comic Spirits by Mad Bull 34's Kazuo Koike and Sanctuary's Ryoichi Ikegami, Crying Freeman comes in a passable dub from Streamline Pictures, and another, from Manga Video, which comes complete with deeply offensive phony Chinese accents. Like Christophe Gans' later live-action remake starring Mark Dacascos, the animated series suffered from being overly faithful to the original. Effort expended in recreating the original artwork and characters might have been better spent on actual animation, which had degenerated to extremely cheap levels by the final installments; ironic considering that Plastic Little's Urushihara was one of the talented staff. In addition to Gans' 1997 remake, there was an unofficial Chinese version directed by Clarence Ford and released as Dragon From Russia (1991). LNV