Is Sanctuary Worth Watching? Japanese Drama Review

Sanctuary is a Japanese drama for those of you who like Sumo. This is a perfect depiction of a sumo wrestler’s struggle to the top. For those of you who don’t like series with the theme of boxing and other fights, don’t try to watch this. Check out the full Sanctuary review below!


Details Drama

Title: Sanctuary: Seiiki (サンクチュアリ -聖域-)
Episodes: 8
Release Date: May 4, 2023
Genres: Drama, Sports
Country: Japan
Original Network: Netflix
Available On: Netflix

Sanctuary Japanese drama Review

Synopsis and Plot Summary

J-drama Sanctuary’s storyline follows the story of Kiyoshi Oze, a delinquent who takes to the world of sumo as a wrestler under the name “Enno.” He charmed fans with his cocky attitude but also disappointed an industry steeped in tradition.

Kiyoshi Oze was often labeled as a hopeless case for not being motivated to train, frequently missing practice, and going against his more experienced seniors. But he gradually delved deeper into the world of sumo.

This drama mainly depicts Oze and the young people who travel the world of sumo as they struggle to find their way in life. Including Shimizu, who loves sports but is not blessed with the ideal physique, and Kunishima, a newspaper reporter who gets relegated to covering sumo.


Sanctuary Japanese Drama Review

Sanctuary is a decent enough Japanese drama in 2023. What I love most about it here is its excellent cinematography, slow motion ‘stop action’ that allows the eye to see and appreciate things you can’t see in fast and furious clashes. in the ring.

The plot and script are well laid out and you can watch the series from several different levels. As I said before it is centered on a young man named Kiyoshi, who comes from the Fukuoka region of Japan.

Kiyoshi’s childhood memories are filled with happiness and warmth, protected by his parents, who run the family sushi restaurant. But now his life has changed a lot.

His family had to close shop due to business failure, his father now works odd jobs as a traffic guard at a construction site, even at an advanced age.

Meanwhile, Kiyoshi’s mother goes to extremes to make money for herself by recklessly borrowing large sums of money and then having sex with men for her livelihood.

Despite being trained in judo as a boy, Kiyoshi also did not do much hands-on work and instead abused his powers by fighting and looting random people.

One day Kiyoshi meets Ensho, a man he has known since his judo days, and tries to get Kiyoshi into sumo wrestling. Actually, he had no interest in the traditional form of sumo, Kiyoshi only with the amount of money that was made there.

It was his first step towards becoming a sumo rikishi wrestler in holy dohyo under his wrestling name, Enno.

To me, this series isn’t just about the mystique of sumo or the regimentation and ritualism that have been ingrained for over 1500 years.

It’s about the truth of the sumo spirit and what happens when egos fall behind and these great men find their own ‘sumo’.

For a few minutes (but mostly less than a minute) of something as seemingly innocuous as pushing someone to the ground or out of a circle.

But those few minutes were brutal, they were a test of heart and soul and body. These great people were extraordinary and it was not an easy life at all.

The side story is also interesting, and while not fully explored, it provides the driving context for what drew these great men of Shizuuchi and Oze to Sumo and kept them there.

Then should you watch this? For me, I keep watching this for the sumo tradition and I think it’s an interesting thing. I also enjoyed the main character’s battles and struggles to develop.

I think all the actors/actresses did a great job. If you can’t handle boxing or any other hand-to-hand fighting movie – then you shouldn’t watch this.

For me, bullying is not so bad. What I hate is journalists talking about how it’s okay and then nothing happens. That’s what bothered me about it.

The male lead is also a bully but that doesn’t mean he should be treated as one either. But there’s also a problem with her not being respectful—it’s so complicated but still not right.


Sanctuary Japanese Drama Cast

Main Role

Ichinose Wataru as Oze Kiyoshi / “Saruzakura

Support Role

Sometani Shota as Shimizu

Pierre Taki as [Sarusho stablemaster]

Koyuki as Hana

Kutsuna Shioli as Kunishima Asuka

Taguchi Tomorowo as Togitsu

Kitaro as Oze Koji

Yo Kimiko as Oze Sanae

Maiguma Katsuya as Yasui

Teramoto Rio as Nanami

Kaneko Daichi as Murata

Kaku So as Ryuki

Sendo Nobuko as Yayoi


My Verdict

Overall, this is a series that makes easy points. It has the usual villains who have the face of pure evil and are easy to hate. Also, the main cast is built with mischievous characters.

For those of you who like Japanese culture and sumo, maybe you should watch this. But not for those of you who can’t handle traditional fighting series. My rating for Sanctuary Japanese drama review is 6,8/10

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