Crying? [2004]

The bloody story of an assassin who silently weeps for his victims, Crying Freeman began as a 1986 manga by Kazuo Koike and Ryoichi Ikegami. In addition to this six-part OVA, the story has been filmed twice in live action. The leaders of the Chinese Mafia known as the 108 Dragons brainwash ceramicist Yoh Hinamura and transform him into the ultimate assassin. Virginal artist Emu Hino witnesses a killing by Yoh, but when he comes to murder her, she seduces him and wins his heart. Defying the syndicate, he refuses to give her up. Emu and Yoh subsequently become the bosses of the 108 Dragons. They run the organization--whose illegal activities are tactfully glossed over--on the principles of honor and absolute loyalty extolled in live-action Yakuza movies. Like true love, the course of mob business seldom runs smoothly, and the body count for the entire series runs into the thousands. Hit men and women are dispatched with knives, throwing knives, swords, karate chops, pistols, machine guns, grenades, missiles, and electricity. As the plot grows more baroque, the animation grows more limited. After a certain point, the images of knives penetrating skulls, full-body tattoos, bare breasts, and awkwardly animated sexual encounters become monotonous, but Crying Freeman is definitely not for the squeamish or prudish. (Rated 17 and older, but more appropriate for 18 and older: graphic violence, violence against women, rape, torture, ethnic stereotypes, extensive nudity, explicit sexual situations) --Charles Solomon

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