Crying Freeman (Koike Shoin version) Vol. #05 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Release Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2007



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Koike Kazuo / Ikegami Ryoichi
Translated by:Kumar Sivasubramanian
Adapted by:Kumar Sivasubramanian

What They Say
Once a humble ceramics artist, the infamous assassin known as Crying Freeman has risen in power to become the head of the 108 Dragons, the most powerful criminal organization on earth. But power has its price, and there is no end to the number of rival groups gunning for 108 Dragons's turf - and for Freeman's head.

Faced with an army of kidnappers and a host of assassins, each more deadly than the last, how long can Freeman's luck hold out? Will the Dragons be torn apart by warring rivals or poisoned by betrayal from within? Will Freeman's sensitive, compassionate heart be the Dragons's redemption or their downfall? Can Freeman and his loved ones survive the painful realities that come with living in a world of vicious gangland warfare?

The Review
Manga classic Crying Freeman comes to a dramatic conclusion with Freeman taking on the demons of his past. That means leaving HK to go back home to Japan, where the forces of money, power and honor are seem to run deep in the underworld. These three elements are also the foundations of the 108 Dragons. Without money the group would not be able to maintain its small army of thugs. Without power, the 108 Dragons would not have the influence to keep a territory like Hong Kong under its thumb. Without honor there would be little cohesiveness keeping the members together bound by more than blood and money.

After conquering each continent and their most formidable gangs, Freeman has to take on his home and the demons of his past. And unlike previous battles he takes on this enemy head on. Even when his enemy is the town's people he grew up with, he does not compromise or hesitate. A dragon does not back down once he sees his objective. He must be killed and in this story Freeman is the only one that seems to do all the killing.

Easily the weakest volume in the series, this final edition of Crying Freeman while possessing all of the traits that made this series so memorable, does not have much of a narrative holding it together. After Koike concludes the high action military inspired ?gPomegranates?h arc, Koike decides to use a what should have been a side-story to weave an ending for a series that could have easily been a few arcs longer. In ?gthe Journey to Freedom,?h begins his long path to ?gtrue freedom?h by indirectly taking on all of the remaining underworld powers of Japan. A good idea when considering the financial power Japan had at the time of this series?f original publication. Sadly the execution is lacking here. The premise for all of this is based on the idea that Freeman would decide to return to his personal roots. Given what Koike has written up to this point there really was no point for him to do so, let alone for him to go undercover as a construction worker in his home town. Yo has long asserted that he had no connection to his past. Living as a freeman means he only looks to the future. Furthermore, Koike himself has set precedent by creating a situation where Hinamura could forgot much his past when he underwent the intense training/brain-washing when initially taken in by the 108 Dragons.

As far as ending go, this one just was not very conclusive. I likened it to the end of an arc, than the end of a series. Freeman's ties to his past were now completely cut, but where does he go now? I cannot believe Koike intended to make the yakuza, particularly the bumbling gangs Freeman defeats, the elite of the mafia world. What happened to the Italian gangs Koike mentioned at the start of the series? What of the gangs in Southeast Asia? I almost felt that Freeman shed tears on that last page because his adventures were over. I know I was crying for that very reason.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 14.95
Pages: 384
ISBN: 1-59307-499-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left