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The manga Sanctuary is a Seinen political and Yakuza drama written by Sho Fumimura (a.k.a. Buronson of Fist of the North Star) and drawn by Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman, Mai The Psychic Girl, and Spider-Man: The Manga), originally published from 1990 to 1995. (For the live-action TV series on the Sy Fy Channel, go here.)

Akira Hojo is a charming, dashing, and ruthless thirty-something leader of a small Yakuza society with his eyes on the top and the ambition and skill to climb the ladder as quickly as he can. Chiaki Asami is the trusted advisor of a member of the Japanese Diet who takes advantage of opportunity to steal his superior's seat and use it to launch a campaign to reform Japanese politics. Little do most know that the Asami's opportunity was arranged by the actions of Hojo.

Hojo and Asami were children of Japanese expatriates in Cambodia in 1975 -- the year the extremist Khmer Rouge seized power and tried to roll Cambodian society back to an agrarian "Year Zero", killing anyone who was too intellectual or who got in their way. The pair became Fire-Forged Friends and developed a talent for ruthless practicality in order to both survive Khmer Rouge work camps and eventually escape back to Japan. Disturbed by the peaceful, decadent, and listless state of the Japan they returned to, they agreed that they needed to reshape society into something that they could consider a "sanctuary". Their plan; one of them drops out of high school and joins the Yakuza, providing under-the-table funding and dirty works to support the other as he rises to the top of the political world. (The two played scissors-rock-paper to decide their roles.)

The manga was published in English by Viz Media starting in 1995; they also released translations of the anime OVA and the Japanese live-action film adaptations.


The manga Sanctuary and its adaptations contain the following tropes: Edit

  • All Elections Are Serious Business: Played it straight.
  • Badass Grandpa: Secretary-General Isaoka, the power behind the throne of Japanese politics; even the Prime Minister answers to him.
  • Big Bad: Isaoka is the longest-lasting adversary both Asami and Hojo face in the series, with ties to many of their other adversaries.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hojo and Asami finally achieved "sanctuary" but the latter dies.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Mr. Tokai.
  • Born Lucky: How Asami and Hojo survived Cambodia
  • Brains and Brawn: Hojo's brains to Tokai's brawn
  • Cast of Snowflakes
  • Dating Catwoman: Hojo and Deputy Tokyo Police Chief Kyoko Ishihara.
  • Fan Disservice: From an old Yakuza boss getting it on with some young woman to Tokai having his way with some inexperienced girl, Sanctuary is full of fan disservice.
  • Faux Action Girl: Kyoko -- she rapidly degenerates into "Hojo's girlfriend, on the other side of the law".
    • Also the visiting American politician, in a way - it isn't long before she's more interested in Asami than in politics.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm : Occurs quite often.
  • Heroic Sociopath: Tokai.
  • Ho Yay: Tokai. For example, when Kyoko's Dragon Ozaki needles him about "taking it up the ass" from his one-time protege Hojo:

 Tokai: (smirking) "You should let him do you, too! It's not just your ass! It rattles your whole insides! Wham! Wham!" (to Kyoko) "You want Hojo to give it to you so bad you can't stand it, can you!"

And he has many, many other lines like this throughout the series.