Customer Reviews: Sanctuary (Volume 1)
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on June 28, 2002
This is the first of a nine volume series about two young men (30) who set about changing Japan (and the world) one from above (politics) and one from below (organized crime).
The premise is very interesting but extremely complex. I have all 9 volumes and have given this a go about three times but have never been able to move past volume 5 because of the way the story is set up. I got the feeling that you need to know how the Yakuza (the Japanese mob) is set up, as well as the geography of Japan to follow the story well. For example I have no idea what the Kanto region is. There seem to be several different factions of the Yakuza and among those factions they are again fragmented into different parties. It is hard to follow who is on whose side and who isn't on whose side and why is that person going after that person. Phew! You practically need a score card to keep up with the story!
I prefered to focus on the main characters Hojo and Asami. Two very unique men with unshakable faith and confidence in themselves that has nothing to do with arrogance. That is the reason I keep picking up the books again and again. I can not help but idolize them particularly Hojo. Here is a man who will go after what he wants without hesitation. But at the same time he has a great deal of loyalty and kindness to those he loves and likes.
Of course there is Ikegami's art work. He can easily be described as the Michelangelo of the manga world. Because of his clean and expressive drawings. You find that you can see how a character functions simply by the way that he has him/her stand. Or tilt his head. It really is phenominal.
But like another reviewer said this book has to be seriously docked for the casual and capricious dipiction of rape. It was horrible and disgusting and took away from the story.
I would recommend Sanctuary to those who are looking for an in depth manga story that will make you pay attention.
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on September 4, 2004
I'm new to manga and while I was initially attracted to Ikegami's art (art that still gives me pause it's so beautiful)the story really, really captured me. It was like a history lesson in Japanese politics and the mob (the Yakuza). All the characters were so interwoven and yes you do have to pay attention because there are twists and turns all the time. The nine volumes that it takes to tell this story never becomes dull.

The story drives all the time and is never ever predictable. The writing is exceptional. I highly recommend this series to the mature reader who appreciates not only great art but great intricate storytelling.
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on July 17, 1998
I bought the Sanctuary series without even having a clue what they are about. As far as I was concerned, Ryoichi Ikegami's art was realistic-- therefore awesome, and I wanted some samples. I never regretted my purchase. The story got me hooked from the very beginning--it was almost painful waiting for the next installment. In short, Sanctuary is about two Japanese men who survived the Cambodian Killing Fields. When they came back to Japan, they were dismayed by its state that they decided to go for separate paths to change it. Akira Hojo joined the Yakuza, while his friend, Asami went for politics.
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on August 20, 2013
I already read this whole manga once so I knew it would be good.

The drawing is flawless, the story is really not your normal manga-story and all the main characters are deep. If you like political stories with a bit of yakuza and a bit of sexyness, this is your perfect manga!
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on April 14, 2000
This is a story of two people who set out to change japan (and to some extent, the world) by unwaveringly sticking to their principles, using both Japanese politics and its underworld.
The plot details the intricate maneuverings of the two; there is little violence. Their opponents are not weak (mentally, in power, or in integrity), and their friends sometimes carry liabilities. The characters are as believable as those in any of the best western novels (the plot is far more western than eastern); this seems more like a novel that just happened to be drafted in graphic form.
Unfortunately, westerners should be cautioned that manga often contains graphic depictions of rape, which is usually treated in a humorous light. This book should be docked for that, but I'll leave it be.
The only other manga I've read is Crying Freeman, so I'm not very biased towards manga.
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on January 22, 2001
I admit, Ryoichi Ikegami's art caught my eye when I say this book, but he doesn't write the stories. The synopsis on the back cover of volume one had me very interested.
The story starts off well, about two young men in two very different worlds, one in the Yukuza (Japanaese triad) and the other aiming to be a politician, who collaborate to create an ambitious vision.
Towards the end, the story becomes a bit too convoluted, however overall it is a good story, amd well worth the read.
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