Sanctuary 1, review: politics and the underworld in an unmissable cult

Sanctuary 1, review: politics and the underworld in an unmissable cult

Sanctuary 1, review

Not only the great successes of the present, Star Comics digs into its very deep catalog by retrieving an absolute cult such as Sanctuary by Sho Fumimura, another pseudonym of that Buronson who signed the legendary Hokuto No Ken, and Ryoichi Ikegami, a designer much appreciated by the Italian and non-Italian public. only for Crying Freeman. The series, originally serialized in Japan between 1990 and 1995, was published for the first time in Italy by Granata Press (between 1992 and 1993 in the container magazine Zero Nippon Comix) and was then inherited by the Perugian publisher who reprinted it. directly in 12 tankobons by completing it. This new edition of Sanctuary proposed by Star Comics is a wideban in 6 full-bodied volumes.

Sanctuary 1: it's time to change Japan

Akira Hojo is the leader of the Hokushokai company. The company is affiliated with the yakuza and Hojo, despite being very young, has already climbed the ranks of the Sagara league however his methods are unorthodox: he does not like getting his hands dirty and the usual illicit trafficking interests him relatively. Hojo wants to get his hands on politics and to do so he managed to get some compromising photos of Mr Shuichi Sakura. This is the dear old blackmail with extortion but Sakura can count on the help of her "secretary" the mysterious and taciturn Chiaki Asami.| ); }
The plan proceeds with Hojo and Asami circulating the photos and set in motion a mechanism that leads first to the resignation of Mr Sakura and then money in the coffers of Sagara. But even the best plans can suffer from some setbacks: Japan is a country in which the ruling class, at every level and type of legal or illegal institution, is elderly and does not look favorably on young arrembanti. Hojo is "excommunicated" and Tokai, an old-fashioned yakuza with brisk methods, is unleashed against him, while Asami's candidacy in place of old Sakura is rejected.

Sanctuary 1: politics and the underworld in an unmissable cult

The new edition of Sanctuary there allows you to rediscover a title that at the time of its first publication in tankobon was not fully aware of the Italian public, an audience that had obviously not yet fully developed a taste for the different nuances of Japanese comics. Sanctuary is clearly placed in the seinen "genre": it is in fact a thriller in which crime and politics intertwine showing their connections, direct and indirect, with a very realistic and theatrical cut in the dramatization of the intertwining of events and characters starting from two enigmatic protagonists Akira Hojo and Chiaki Asami.

There is an almost theatrical taste in Sho Fumimura's complex and richly twisted staging. The characters, in the first volume, are almost all introduced in media res and then proceed in analexys revealing in a slow and laborious way a whole dense network of references and connections. This allows the author to create archetypal characters, masks in the aforementioned theatrical representation, but with an active and preparatory role in the development of the plots, see for example the faithful right arm or the introduction of the antagonist who becomes an ally.

It is self-evident how the narration of Sanctuary works also and above all for the style of Ryoichi Ikegami. Here her "wild and beauty" is combined with an extremely stylish aesthetic, which harks back to the aesthetics of the late 80s and early 90s. The protagonists are impeccable in their double-breasted dresses, their perfect features. There is a use of eroticism, Ikegami's trademark, which goes beyond the simple female figure, although sex, as in all political thrillers, is a very powerful weapon, and finds an unprecedented outlet precisely in these men whose charm is all in the magnetism that they manage to convey with a glance.

The sensei does not need to change much of his style. The push is towards a realism that does not disdain photographic references (especially for the settings) halfway between Shigeru Mizuki and Hiroshi Hirata. The action and the violence are raw and bloody recalling the 70's comic strip and Takao Saito. The line is thick but precise, the use of halftones and halftones conceals a chiaroscuro that reappears when the hatching becomes more important and nervous.

It is interesting to focus on the organization of the table. Graphically, the rhythm in the reading is sustained but not fast, almost as a counterbalance to the numerous plots that intertwine. This result is obtained thanks to the use of large squares that dominate the table and often positioned on the upper part, leaving smaller squares in the lower part with the task of entering into the detail of the narration.

There are no oblique cuts of the squares but a careful use of the overhangs and above all of the cartoons open up beyond the maximum edge of the tachikiri that give a sense of important consequentiality. This scheme, often declined also vertically with large side panels, allows Ikegami to give free rein to his anatomically impeccable figures and his faces free of imperfections with penetrating close-ups and shots that linger on the gazes and proxemics of the characters.

The volume

As mentioned at the beginning, Star Comics re-proposes Sanctuary in wideban format, that is, it combines two of the original tankobons in a single volume embellished by the dust jacket and by the larger format or 15 × 21 cm. The graphic design is simple but elegant marked by gold-colored writings. The hot paperback binding is good as well as the trimming of the pages, but beware of the generous foliation of the volume (about 464 pages) and the use of uncoated paper with a heavy weight can stress the rib. The volume has no color pages or extras whatsoever: although this is not the specific type of edition for this type of content, some editorial contributions from the Italian curators would have been an interesting addition.

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