Sanctuary follows the story of Enno, a rebellious sumo wrestler whose unorthodox tricks and cocky attitude help him advance but upsets the sumo industry that believes in traditions. The series is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
The life of the family of Kiyoshi Oze, also known as Enno, is filled with debt. To not have a life like his father, Enno accepts the offer of Ensho to join his stable as a sumo wrestler.
Ensho promises Enno status, money, power, and women. Looking for the same, Enno leaves his family behind. He becomes a sumo wrestler not to be a Yokouzuna like every other sumo wrestler, but just to earn money.
Enno often disrespects years of traditions, stays away from the immense practice required, and makes use of an unorthodox style and a punk attitude when he is competing in dohyo. Many despise him, but he doesn’t care.
Journalists Tokitsu and Kunishima visit Ensho’s stable to cover a story on them. Kunishima is especially looking forward to writing an exposé that will help her get back into the political department from where she was kicked out.
On her very first day, she causes trouble by entering the dohyo, in which women are not allowed. Apart from that, she also takes note of Enno, who, unlike others, isn’t very focused or interested in competing.
When Enno doesn’t get paid enough because he isn’t a Sekitori, he revolts because he thought all he had to do was be a sumo wrestler. He even decides to run away from the stable.
Shimizu, Enno’s friend, who, like him, is also a misfit, encourages Enno to go back. He believes that he is the one who should be running away, not Enno. Enno is strong; he just doesn’t know that yet.
Enno’s father gets involved in an accident, giving the young wrestler motivation to work harder. The newfound determination doesn’t help Enno defeat his seniors.
An advice from Enya, the star wrestler of Ensho’s stable who has a last chance at competing, stays in Enno’s mind. Enno makes the best use of it and finally defeats a fellow wrestler at Ensho’s stable.
Tokitsu and Kunishima notice Enno’s progress, and Kunishima gets lost in the sumo world while cheering for Enno to get better, though he is just as mannerless as the other sumo wrestlers.
At the May Tournament, Enno wins matches but doesn’t win over any fans, considering how cocky and arrogant he is. Many sumo legends also see his gestures as disrespectful to the sport and its years of traditions.
At the event, the one player who strikes fear in everyone’s minds is Shizuuchi, with his scarred face and quiet demeanor. Enno had been meeting Shizuuchi in a park for a while now, not knowing the threat he is.
Meanwhile, Inushima and Umayama, on behalf of the Japan Sumo Association, force Ensho to make Enno resign. Okami-san, who is the daughter of Chairman Kumada’s mistress, reminds Inushima of his past mistakes and persuades him to give Enno another chance.
During the next bout, Inushima and Umayama play tricks in order to make Enno lose. Enno sees through these tricks and grabs the victory for himself. Even Ensho gives him tips to beat the wrestler from Umayama’s stable.
While Enno rises through the ranks, Enya falls. He returns to Juryo but hurts his knee right away, which results in him going down a division. Apparently, the only way that Enya’s leg will now heal is through surgery, and after the surgery, he won’t be able to compete anymore.
During a practice session, Enno injures Enya’s leg further. Enya begs the doctors for something that will stop his pain and help him compete because this is his last chance.
At the tournament, Enya does enter the dohyo and gets defeated by Shizuuchi. The fans give Enya a hero’s goodbye. Enya’s loss affects each and every sumo wrestler from Ensho’s stable, including Enno.
At the next event, Enno will be competing against the feared Shizuuchi. Before the match, a reporter named Yasui confronts Shizuuchi and asks him to lose the match, or else he will expose his past to the world.
The rumor and a news article from the past suggest that Shizuuchi killed his mother and baby brother as a kid. In exchange for keeping this a secret, Shizuuchi needs to lose to Enno.
Shizuuchi does the opposite. He not only defeats Enno, but while doing so, he completely destroys him, leaving him blood-soaked with an ear missing. It turns out that he doesn’t care if Yasui exposes him.
Sanctuary ending explained in detail:
Who planned to expose Shizuuchi?
After defeating Enno, Shizuuchi withdraws from the tournament. Yasui goes looking for the person who emailed him asking him to make Shizuuchi quit. He first assumes this person has to be Ryuki-zeki, whose record was in danger with Shizuuchi climbing up the ranks.
It is later revealed that Ryuki’s mother made Ito, the patron of Ryukoku Stable, do this. Ito stops Yasui from writing a controversial article against Ryuki.
Ryuki’s mother had Ito do this by seducing him. Ito stayed loyal to Ryuki’s father, Ryukoku, who himself is a Yokozuna. He told Ryukoku about this, and Ryukoku wasted no time in throwing his wife out of the house.
What happens to Enno?
The beating Shizuuchi gave Enno leaves a mark on him. He is haunted by the memories of Shizuuchi’s attacks. Enno is afraid to get back in dohyo and gets spooked the moment someone raises a hand on him.
Enno pours out his frustration when his friend and patron, Murata, forces him to party with him. Murata later gets revenge on Enno by sleeping with Enno’s girlfriend.
Inushima and Umayama plan to humiliate Ensho’s stable while it’s down by arranging a keiko with them. During the keiko, Enno is made fun of for being too scared to take a hit. Enno resorts to violence and hits one of Umayama’s wrestlers. The move results in Enno’s dismissal.
Does Enno get back to sumo wrestling?
Okami-san calls Ryukoku and reminds him of a promise he made to her before she left him. To keep that promise, Ryukoku invites Inushima to his residence and asks for a favor.
Ryukoku tells him to withdraw Enno’s punishment and only ban him from the next tournament. When Inushima attempts to argue, Ryukoku brings up how many times he has given Inushima victories in the past, although he lost to Ensho all the time. Inushima is then forced to make this change.
To lift up the spirits of a depressed Enno, his mother comes back and gives him the scolding he needs. Enno returns to dohyo. The difference here is that this is not the old Enno. He is now more respectful towards others and the sport itself.
Ensho teaches Enno a new technique to beat Shizuuchi. Enno works hard, and after taking inspiration from him, the other wrestlers follow in his footsteps as well.
Another keiko takes place between Umayama’s stable and Enno’s stable, and this time the former’s stable faces the wrath of the new Enno and Ensho’s wrestlers. Enno later joins the January Tournament, where his first match is with none other than Shizuuchi.
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