Sanctuary (Japanese: ?, Hepburn: Sankuchuari) is manga written by Sho Fumimura, and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. It was serialized in Big Comic Superior from 1990 to 1995, then released into 12 volumes by Shogakukan. It was published as 46 comic books and collected as nine volumes in America by Viz Graphics from 1995 to 1997. Sanctuary was a bestseller in Japan, and inspired an anime OVA and a live action film.
Sanctuary is a story that featured two childhood friends, Akira Hojo and Chiaki Asami, who are ruthlessly struggling to set a new paradigm of living in Japan. However, the two friends took radically different paths (playing rock-paper-scissors to decide their roles): Akira chose the dark path and joined a Yakuza gang, while Chiaki strived to become the youngest member of the Japanese Diet. As survivors of the Cambodian killing fields, the two characters developed an unmatched aggression and survival instincts, helping them to achieve their common ultimate goal: making Japan their own sanctuary.
The story starts with Hojo as a minor mob boss and Asami as a political advisor. The plot first focuses on their rise to positions of greater power. Hojo's rise is decidedly quicker than Asami's, whose struggle to get to the top lasts the entire manga. Hojo is a Yakuza Don by book 2. The story then follows his attempts to gain control over the entire Yakuza while secretly paving the way for them to become a legitimate enterprise. Asami, meanwhile, must try to enter the Diet by forming his own party that represents the younger people of Japan. He is constantly opposed by the current Dietmen, who are aging politicians intent on holding onto power (often considered to be a thinly-veiled reference to the Liberal Democratic Party).
By the end of the series, both Hojo and Asami succeeded in their ambitions. Hojo successfully united all of the major Yakuzas under his banner to extend the longevity of Yakuza (through educational reform) while Asami successfully became the youngest nominated politician to become Prime Minister of Japan. At the end of their journey, they returned to where it all began, Cambodia. Unfortunately, Asami died due to illness.
- Akira Hojo (, H?j? Akira)
- Voiced by: Sh? Hayami (Japanese); David Kaye (English)
- Portrayed by: Toshiya Nakasawa
- Don of the Sagara Alliance (?, Sagara Reng?). Asami's childhood friend, he is heading towards domination over Japan's Yakuza corporations. By the end of the story, Hojo runs for the Diet.
- Chiaki Asami (?, Asami Chiaki)
- Voiced by: Kazuhiro Nakata (Japanese); Paul Dobson (English)
- Portrayed by: Hiroshi Abe
- Ambitious and strong-willed politician. He lived in Cambodia with Hojo's family in the 1970s. Asami's personal nemesis is Isaoka.
- Norimoto Isaoka (, Isaoka Norimoto)
- Voiced by: Takeshi Watabe
- An "old fox" with all the connections one can imagine at every economic, politic and illegal level possible. He served a prison sentence in Sugamo Prison after World War II.
- Tokai ()
- Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (Japanese); Scott McNeil (English)
- Hojo's former mentor, a through-and-through Yakuza who serves his boss efficiently, with an unshakeable loyalty.
- Reiji Tashiro (?, Tashiro Reiji)
- Voiced by: Tomokazu Seki (Japanese); Brian Drummond (English)
- Portrayed by: Toshihiko Sakakibara
- Young assistant of Hojo, who saved his new-born baby years ago. As with Tokai, he would give his life for his boss.
- Kyoko Ishihara (?, Ishihara Ky?ko)
- Voiced by: Hiromi Tsuru (Japanese); Nicole Oliver (English)
- Portrayed by: Azusa Nakamura
- Deputy-chief in the district of Tokyo. Born in 1965 (vol.1 chap. 2) she is 27 at the time of the story. Went to Tokyo University. Kyoko later falls for Hojo and the feelings are mutual.
- Ozaki ()
- Voiced by: Unsh? Ishizuka (Japanese); Ward Perry (English)
- Portrayed by: Naomasa Musaka
- Subaltern of Ishihara, he knows Tokai very well, but he's a good policeman nonetheless.
- Besitt (?, Bisetto)
- The Trade Minister of the U.S. who falls for Asami and becomes a loyal foreign ally.
- Asami's lover, a university student.
- Murata ()
- Hojo's advisor in the Yakuza.
- Wong Chi-Yeung (, K? Shiy?, Chinese Mandarin: Huáng Zhìyáng, Jyutping: wong4 zi3 joeng4)
- A Hong Kong Don who at first double crosses Hojo and Asami before later aiding them again.
- Masanobu Miyamura (?, Miyamura Masanobu)
- A Don who owes Hojo his life.
- A Don from Kobe and ally of Hojo.
- Shinichiro Sengoku (, Sengoku Shin'ichir?)
- The son of an old school politician who is both a trouble maker and playboy. He does everything he can to avenge his father's death and joins forces with Asami.
- Kisuke Nakagusuku (?, Nakagusuku Kisuke)
- Leader of the Okinawan mafia.
Viz Media's English release was translated by cultural anthropologist Matt Thorn. It was nominated for the 1995 Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material.
- Volume 1 (Japan): 1990-12-01
- Volume 2 (Japan): 1991-06-01
- Volume 3 (Japan): 1991-09-01
- Volume 4 (Japan): 1992-04-01
- Volume 5 (Japan): 1992-11-01
- Volume 6 (Japan): 1993-05-01
- Volume 7 (Japan): 1993-11-01
- Volume 8 (Japan): 1994-03-01
- Volume 9 (Japan): 1994-07-01
- Volume 10 (Japan): 1994-10-01
- Volume 11 (Japan): 1995-03-01
- Volume 12 (Japan): 1995-06-01
Sanctuary was adapted in both a one-shot anime OVA and live-action theatrical release. Both versions were released in North America by Viz Media.