An animated adaptation of a popular manga (comic book) series, SANCTUARY tells a complex tale of shifting loyalties, deception, and betrayal among gangsters and politicians in modern Japan. Simple but powerful graphics, modeled closely on the original artwork by Ryoichi Ikegami ("Crying
Freeman"), replace flashy effects and excessive violence to bring a new dimension to anime.
Friends since their school days, Akira Hojo, an ambitious young yakuza, and Chiaki Asami, private secretary to Sakura, a parliamentary member of the Diet, have forged an alliance designed to put Asami on the fast track to a political career as part of their plan to bring young men into the ruling
bureaucracy. Hojo and his assistant, Tashiro, attempt to blackmail Sakura with photos of him taken during a tryst with a prostitute, but Sakura calls their bluff and throws them out of his office. Secretary General Isaoka of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) receives copies of the
incriminating photos and suggests that Sakura not run for reelection. Sakura insists to Asami that his constituency remains solid, but Asami turns against him and declares his own candidacy for the parliament seat.
Deputy Police Chief Kyoko Ishihara and Detective Ozaki observe and monitor Hojo's activities, hoping to get enough evidence to put him behind bars. Hojo's aging syndicate boss, Don Sagara, warns Hojo to leave politicians alone.
Newly released from prison, Tokai, a reckless gangster who was Hojo's mentor, comes into conflict with the more polished Hojo. Asami initially gets the Secretary General's approval to run for Sakura's seat, but is betrayed when Isaoka suddenly backs another old party member in the race.
Don Sagara doesn't trust Hojo's ambitions and manipulates tensions within his group to get Tokai to eliminate Hojo. In a showdown for control of their syndicate, Hojo shoots and wounds Don Sagara, leaving him permanently disabled, and assumes the position of Don himself, with Tokai confirmed as
his ally. Asami joins an opposition party and begins a new campaign. Police Chief Ishihara learns of Hojo's and Asami's school ties and resolves to watch their rising careers with interest.
One of the few anime productions to deal with modern Japan in a realistic style, SANCTUARY tells a compelling story of two young men seeking to force a change in the nation's political structure by bringing in new blood. The theme of youthful dissatisfaction with the aging ruling elite is rare in
Japanese entertainment and may signal a social upheaval in the making.
One of many animated productions based on Japanese manga, this one is notable for sticking closely to the sharp, detailed style of the original, a popular series which is also available in an English edition. This is the first in a continuing series. Oriented to character rather than action, the
animation emphasizes the faces and overall look of the characters and their places in the varied urban settings. Scenes of misogynist sex between the unsavory male antagonists and various prostitutes serve to illustrate the characters' depravity. Lacking a woman protagonist to balance these
portrayals--other than the ineffectual Chief Ishihara--these scenes may put off some viewers while, of course, titillating others. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: An animated adaptation of a popular manga (comic book) series, SANCTUARY tells a complex tale of shifting loyalties, deception, and betrayal among gangsters and politicians in modern Japan. Simple but powerful graphics, modeled closely on the original artw… (more)