If there is one genre which is sorely under-represented in anime, crime drama is it. Over here, we have excellent titles like Donnie Brasco, Goodfellas, and Pulp Fiction to choose from. In anime, well, Sanctuary appears to be it.
The central focus of this anime is the yakuza, or Japanese Mafia. Akira Hojo and Chiaki Asami, childhood friends, are now grown up and trying to rise through the ranks in Japan. One takes the political route, while the other uses less honorable means. A variety of characters are presented, ranging from dirty thugs to smooth-talking politicians, with the focus primarily being on Akira and Chiaki. Both of their backgrounds are nicely presented, and they do have a good amount of depth to them. I personally liked Akira, because he's the kind of slick gangster worth rooting for.
Unfortunately, the story which holds things together is too weak. Things tended to jump around a lot, and scenes were usually a bit short. There were some neat moments, usually involving Akira pulling some slick moves (one scene involving tomato juice and a naked woman waking up in bed was quite funny, but also a bit sick). On the other hand, some parts simply had me rolling my eyes in disgust. Most of those scenes involved the inordinate amount of sexual content. Sure, these guys aren't exactly angels, but I really think the number of sex scenes were unnecessary.
The art and animation were good, and captured the mood of the scenes rather well. Dubbing is fairly average, with nothing standing out as being truly good nor painful.
If you're a crime drama fan, then go ahead and rent this title. Just don't expect anything on par with Pulp Fiction.
The Verdict: * * * (average)
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