How long can a shallow story, about determination and manliness keep a thinking fan's interest?
Well, this particular shallow story can keep it up its whole length of 108 chapters.
It is a story about two young boys who, after surviving the horrors of Cambodia war and its aftermath, return to Japan, deem it unworthy of their ideals, and decide to “conquer” it.
The hellish conditions the two boys survived account for the forging of their iron will, but not for the charisma and their suaveness. And the mangaka emphasizes that aspect of them the most. Also their motivation for rising to the top is a bit rickety; they hated the image of Japan they witnessed after they returned from Cambodia: Listless Japanese living niche lives, so they decide to rule the worlds of politics and Yakuza in order to recreate Japan in their own, hard-boiled image. It is not a bad premise, but it can not rid itself completely from the smell of cheese.
So the story foundations are shaky, but we can easily let it slide, since most of the time Sanctuary reads like Jojo with suits; the characters are making cool poses in their cool clothes while spewing manly one-liners. That art directions should not come as a surprise since the story is written by the father of posing, Yoshiyuki Okamura, AKA Buronson, the man who made Hokuto no Ken.
Additionally, the story manages to maintain its grip on our interest by alternating between the escapades of Akira, who tries to become a Yakuza boss, and Asami, who tries to become the Prime Minister of Japan. Of course, their aggressive pursuit of the top provides an abundance of adversaries; champions of the establishment, or ambitious hot-shots like them, who manage to test their mettle in a variety of situations.
At this point you have a good idea about how the manga reads. The “battles” have enough blood and intrigue to ensure entertainment, but as the manga progresses the realism factor drops. That lack of realism becomes annoying during the end of the manga, when the plans of our two debonair boys grow in scale and reach macroeconomic levels and the resolution of the conflicts becomes more and more far-fetched.
In general, the flashy package that is Sanctuary manages to hide its shallowness pretty well, aided by the spectacular drawings of Ryoichi Ikegami, and delivers an entertaining story, which has its thought-provoking and inspirational moments. If you ever enjoyed one Shounen work, you will find something here for you. 7.0/10.