Emu Hino, a beautiful twenty-nine-year-old virgin, has accidentally witnessed a gangland hit performed by a handsome assassin who sheds tears for his victims at the crime scene. Now Hino is marked for death by the Chinese Mafia and is soon visited by Yo Hinomura, better known as “Crying Freeman.” But before he is supposed to kill her, Hino begs Hinomura to take her virginity. Afterward, Freeman finds that he cannot bring himself to complete his lethal task. Instead, the pair fall in love and together try to break the hypnotic conditioning that turned Hinomura from a humble ceramics artist into a reluctant killing machine. But to do that, they will have to face crooked cops and gangsters, as well as the dreaded Chinese organization that created Freeman in the first place. Easily the best known of the Kazuo Koike–Ryoichi Ikegami collaborations (partially as a result of an internationally co-produced 1995 live-action B-film adaptation), Crying Freeman is full of the wild sex and violence that supercharges works such as Offered and Wounded Man. But the characterizations are stronger and more memorable here, even as the tale itself becomes wildly digressive in the later volumes. The result is a pulpy classic of macho 1980s manga from the men who defined the genre. Prior to the Dark Horse edition, the series was released in a now out-of-print edition by Viz from 1989 to 1994.
Based on the cult hit PlayStation 2 game, Culdcept is one of the rare video game–based manga that are really good, whether or not you’ve played the game. The story takes place in a fantasy world in which duelists called “cepters” battle each other with magical cards. The main character is a headstrong young cepter who goes to the big city to gain worldly experience, accompanied by her magic talking staff/old man/advisor. Soon after arriving, she saves the city from being destroyed, becomes a hero, meets a band of oddballs, and sets off on a grand adventure. The art is fabulous, the world is richly detailed, and the story is filled with humorous gags and larger-than-life characters. All in all, it’s a wonderful title. (RB)