Sanctuary (Vol.1) , copyright 2004 by Sho Fuminmura and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami is about Japan having “no heroes”. It’s about two men who enter into the world of crime and politics, on different paths, who rise up within their organization’s ranks of power. They are ambitious and determined and will stop at nothing to transform Japan into their own “sanctuary.”
Akiro Hojo runs the Roppongi Hokusho Society. He is yakuza (mobster) with a no prior criminal record. He’s good looking and charming and very ambitious. When the story opens he establishes his authority as someone not to play with when it comes to doing business. A photographer with damaging photos of a politician decides to up his price because he considers Hojo a “small time yakuza.” The photographer soon regrets that move after they’ve paid him a visit. The politician whom Hojo had him follow is a member of the Liberal Democratic party. Hojo’s plans to blackmail him into giving up his constituency finds himself facing a formidable adversary. Dietman Sakura’s private secretary,Chiaki Asami, ends up kicking them out of his office.
Little does Sakura know that Hojo and Asami already know each other. They grew up together and survived the horrors of the Cambodian killing fields together. Asami has plans to enter into Japanese Parliament while Hojo has plans to be the leader of the yakuza. There are many facets to Hojo’s character that I find engaging. While he is cold and calculating when the job calls for it, he is loyal and sympathetic to those in need. He is smart and driven and is extremely loyal to his friends. Asami seems more elusive to me in this volume (1). I know he gets his financial backing from Hojo. I know he has dreams of being prime minister of Japan and that he is loyal to his friend. I’m sure as the series progresses, his character will start to become a little more fleshed out for me.
Deputy Chief Ishihara is an elite of the police department. She plans to expose the yakuza organization by going undercover. Regretfully, her cover is already blown before she even meets Hojo. They meet at the bar and he pretty much flirts with her and then drugs her. Hojo dupes her into thinking that they’ve had sex (he empties a can of tomato sauce on the sheets). His cleverness only makes her even more interested in him.
There are all kinds of colorful characters in here along with plenty of political suspense and intrigue. Almost all of the characters in here do a lot of plotting and scheming behind each other’s back. This volume(1) seems to focus more on Hojo’s rise to power and how Asami’s path to political power might take a bit longer. The artwork in here is just lovely and the plot is complex and very engaging. This is one of the few manga’s that’s kept me turning the pages. The first volume does end on a cliffhanger (hate those) and the author does leave you wanting to read more. Thank goodness I had the forethought to order the second volume while I try to locate the third.
The original distributor of this series was Shogakukan which is a Japanese publisher who owns Viz Media here in the US. The series is rated M for mature audience. This series ran from 1990 to 1995 and already some titles are OOP. It’s a completed story within 12 volumes. I hate to rave about a series that has quite a few missing volumes but this series so far is very good. Anyway, great story, great artwork, my grade, A.
[tags]Sanctuary Manga Review, Sho Fumimura (writer), Ryoichi Ikegami (Illustrator)[/tags]