Sanctuary: An immersive series about the Japanese sport of sumo

Sanctuary: An immersive series about the Japanese sport of sumo

2023-06-09 14:07:00

Violence, discipline, sweat and adrenaline. These are the key ingredients of a series that aspires to show the rest of the world what really goes on behind the scenes of a 2,000-year-old Japanese sport that few of the rest of us really understand.

In order to achieve this, Asylum respectfully “borrows” elements from both ancient Greek tragedies and Rocky Balboa. With a vehicle always the charismatic protagonist, who, in order to be able to pay the hospital for his sick father, agrees to start fighting. Having no respect for the sport, its champions and its strict traditions in the first place. Which, as you can imagine, comes and goes gradually as one victory follows another.

Caution. The “bark” here may be the realism with which the matches are depicted, the result of a year of hard preparation of all the actors who play wrestlers, but the real ambition of the talented creator is to show us what happens in the training room. Where the relationships between equal wrestlers, belonging to different grades-classes, as well as the unbreakable bond of teachers-students are simultaneously characterized by incredible cruelty and deep tenderness. Where in the ring what is ultimately contested is personal ambition and greed with the humility and bowed head imposed by tradition.

Yes, some of the characters are cliches. And, yes, those who criticize the fact that we don’t see any non-Japanese wrestlers, who have in fact monopolized interest in the sport for the past two decades, are right. But all of these are minor quibbles, since in its entirety Adytos succeeds in conveying to the viewer the complexity of the structure of a national sport that requires its athletes to completely dedicate their lives to it.

Creative: Khan Engutsi
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
The series is streamed by Netflix.

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