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Sanctuary Volume Nine
posted December 19, 2005

Creators: Sho Fumimura, Ryoichi Ikegami
Publishing Information: Viz, $16.95
Ordering Numbers: 1569312354

This whole series was a gas right up to the end, including this final volume. In the concluding chapters to the saga of young go-getters Hojo (the gangster) and Asami (the politician) and their efforts to transform the entire nation of Japan, we get a lot of political backstabbing and final gambits, tough-guy Mr. Tokai's stalking of his former boss Hojo, and enough last-minute surprises to keep even readers of the entire saga guessing.

I still hold the same opinion of the series I did when I reviewed the fifth volume for the print magazine: Sanctuary is highly-entertaining trash distinguished by Fumimura's effective use of soap-opera and Ikegami's stylish art, which in no way resembles a serious statement on political and social issues that is sometimes claimed for it. It may be that I'm just unfamiliar with Japanese aesthetics to the point I can't recognize the bombastic, luridly over-the-top dramatics of much of Sanctuary as legitimate, informative art. But for me, Sanctuary is more about nice-looking clothes, beautiful people and impossible melodramatic moments. The last scene is a weepy-eyed keeper.

This is a $17 book, I noticed, which is also too bad. Sanctuary entertains with craft chops that most people who enjoy American film's junk equivalents would be highly entertained, but probably not $126 worth.

This review was written in the late 1990s as part of a then-ongoing freelance gig; I apologize if it reads oddly or seems incomplete.