Netflix’s ‘Sanctuary’ follows the story of Kiyoshi Oze, who becomes a sumo wrestler to make enough money to sustain his family. His father is old and weak, and his mother is up to no good. Oze vows to live a better life, especially for his father’s sake. When offered the life of a sumo wrestler, he decides to pursue the career, believing it will help him financially. Soon, however, he learns that there is much more to the sport and dedicates himself to achieving greatness.
The many challenges in Oze’s life are presented realistically, making the audience sympathetic to him. Throughout eight episodes, his character goes through significant development, and the events in his life make one wonder if there really is someone like him. Is he based on a real person? Let’s find out.
Is Enno Based on a Real Sumo Wrestler?
No, Enno in ‘Sanctuary’ is not based on a real-life sumo wrestler. There is a sumo wrestler named Enhō Akira, who wrestles for Miyagino stale, but there is no similarity between his and the character in ‘Sanctuary.’ The story for the show is written by Tomoki Kanazawa and directed by Eguchi Kan, who brings the world of sumo wrestling alive through the story of their fictional character. In doing so, they have tried to stick to as accurate a portrayal of the sport and the wrestlers are possible.
In the Netflix series, we meet Kiyoshi Oze, who becomes a sumo wrestler at a young age to fend for his family. In real life, too, many sumo wrestlers start young. In recent years, most of its rising stars come from high schools or university sumo programs. Aspiring wrestlers start very young. Kyuta Kumagai started training around the age of ten and became the under-10 world champion. A glimpse into his daily regimen shows how hard he works. According to his father, Kumagai’s talent was natural, and he was not taught anything from the beginning. He realized his son had the talent needed to be a sumo wrestler when Kumagai won a tournament in kindergarten.
One of the things that ‘Sanctuary’ uses to give weight to Enno’s story is to pit him and his fellow trainees as underdogs. While that arc might seem fit for movies and TV shows, sumo wrestling is no stranger to underdogs becoming champions. For context, there is the story of Tokushoryu, a sumo wrestler who was the lowest-ranked competitor when he entered the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo. He had no expectations from it, but he ended up winning the 15-day contest, becoming the first bottom-ranked sumo wrestler to win a top-division title since March 2000.
As depicted in the show, the life of a sumo wrestler is demanding. It includes hours upon hours of intense training, which gives the wrestlers their humungous and intimidating physique. Director Eguchi Kan revealed that the cast of actors dedicated themselves to a rigorous regimen to get the physique for their roles. He said: “While filming progressed, I witnessed that the cast literally threw themselves into physical remodeling and training and also worked hard on their performances, and in the process, real tears, anger, and growth occurred. Inwardly, on top of the theme of the ‘great white tower,’ I came to feel strongly that I wanted to depict a pure interaction and how heat gathers and becomes a great heat.”
According to Netflix, all the actors underwent about one year’s intense physical training. They trained under Hollywood experts, and to give them the unique build of a sumo wrestler, they worked with the coach and nutritionist who work with Olympic athletes. Some of the background actors were real sumo wrestlers, and the actors also went through six months of sumo wrestling training to understand the technique and craft involved in it. Wataru Ichinose, who plays Enno, profited from his experience as a professional martial artist to get into the character’s skin.
With all this in mind, it is clear that Enno is a fictional character that the writer created to invest us in his journey and make his challenges and struggles more personal to the audience. However, in crafting his character, they looked towards real-life sumo wrestlers so Enno would be grounded in reality, making him believable and someone the audience would want to root for.
Read More: Where is Netflix’s Sanctuary Filmed?