Directed by Kan Eguchi, Netflix’s ‘Sanctuary’ is a Japanese drama series starring Wataru Ichinose, Pierre Taki, and Shioli Kutsuna. The show follows a cocky delinquent, Kiyoshi Oze, on the path to becoming a pro-Sumo Wrestler. A majority of The Sumo Association and fans alike loath Oze’s attitude toward the honorable sport. However, his Stable master Ensho, a former Yokozuna Champion, sees potential in Oze and supports him as he navigates the rocky world of Sumo. If you’re wondering how Oze’s career progresses and how it affects the lives of those around him, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Sanctuary.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
Sanctuary Plot Synopsis
After his father’s sushi business runs into the ground, Kiyoshi Oze’s home life becomes a nightmare. As a result, his mother hates his father and sleeps with the men around town frequently. Eventually, a professional Sumo Wrestler approaches Oze and entices him into joining Ensho’s Stable with promises of money and fame. At the Stable Oze, alongside another recruit, Shimizu is violently bullied by other wrestlers. Though Oze used to be a Judo Champion, his fighting skills don’t help him much inside the dohyo, and he rarely scores a win during training.
Meanwhile, former political reporter, Asuka Kunishima, accompanies her boss to the Ensho Stable to cover a story about Sumo. Born in the U.S., Kunishima is a forward-thinking woman who dislikes the orthodoxical traditions of Sumo. When Oze and Kunishima first meet, they develop a hostile relationship. Soon, Oze realizes being a Sumo Wrestler isn’t much lucrative for those in the lower ranks and runs away from the stable. Shimizu follows after him, begging him not to run away from Sumo because he believes Oze can become a great wrestler if he tries. Nevertheless, Shimizu knows he doesn’t belong in the stable and quits.
In the bigger world of Sumo, legacy wrestler, Ryuki makes it as an Ozeki Wrestler and hopes to surpass his Yokozuna father, Ryukoku, in his own career. At the same time, a grave financial burden falls on Oze’s shoulders, and he realizes he has to take Sumo seriously. One of the wrestlers in Ensho’s Stable, Enya, a former high-ranking Wrestler, gives Oze advice after recognizing Oze’s talent. Eventually, The May Sumo Tournament arrives, and Oze receives his Shikono: Enno. At the tournament, Oze competes for the Junidan division while Enya aims to win his way back to the Juryo title. There, Oze reunites with Shimizu, who has realized his dream of becoming a Yobidashi and has been working as an usher for Ensho Stable.
Though Oze’s flippant behavior toward Sumo earns him the Umpire’s distaste, he still wins his first match. Meanwhile, another high-level wrestler Kunihiko Shizuuchi obliterates all his opponents in the dohyo. Inushima, Ensho’s rival, and an association member, deeply despises Oze because he reminds him of a young Ensho. Insuhima uses Oze’s unpopularity with viewers as an excuse to pressure Enzo into making Oze resign. While he visits the stable, Oze interrupts their conversation and tries to make his case. Still, he only manages to anger Inushima further due to his constant disrespect. Okami-san interrupts the steadily declining meeting and manages to make Inushima drop Oze’s case using her influence and connections.
Meanwhile, Enya secures his return to the Juryo rank. For Oze’s fight on the thirteenth day, Inushima instructs Oze’s opponent, Bagari, to play dirty and break Oze’s arms. Nevertheless, Ensho warns Oze against foul play, and Oze wins the match. Though Oze wins the Jonidan division with a perfect score, he disrespects the Umpire. As such, he receives inflated criticism from online fans. Four months later, Oze has secured a rich young man, Murata, as his patron and has started earning money through the stock market. He has made it to the Makushta division, ranking above his old stable bullies.
Inversely, Enya’s career declines after he loses his Juryo rank after injuring his bad knee again. His doctor suggests he undergo surgery that will leave him incapable of ever participating in Sumo again. Enya pushes through his pain and decides to enter the next tournament. While training, Enya wrestles a cocky Oze and easily beats him. In the next round, Oze plays dirty and accidentally further injures Enya’s knee. Nevertheless, Enya competes in the tournament but loses his match against Shizuuchi. Having lost his last chance at reclaiming his past glory, Enya retires as a Sumo Wrestler.
Eventually, Inushima puts Oze in a match opposite Shizuuchi as well. However, prior to the match, a reporter approaches Shizuuchi. The reporter knows how Shizuuchi got arrested for the murder of his family as a kid. He blackmails Shizuuchi with the information and asks him to throw the fight in Oze’s favor. In the final match, Shizuuchi disregards the reporter and ruthlessly beats Oze. When the match ends, Oze loses an ear, and his stablemates rush him to the hospital.
Sanctuary Ending: Did Shizuuchi Kill His Family As a Kid?
Shizuuchi grew up in Rausu, Hokkaido, with a single mother and a younger brother. His mother is a volatile woman who is affectionate towards her children when it suits her, and other times abusive. Though the fate of Shizuuchi’s father is unknown, it is most likely that his father either died or left his mother shortly after the kids were born. As such, Shizuuchi’s mother is angry about the fact that she has to take care of the boys on her own and takes it out on the young children.
Shizuuchi has also been a Sumo Wrestler from a young age. He participates in kids’ Sumo Wrestles and wins his first trophy as a child. On that day, his mother is very pleased and tells Shizuuchi she is proud of him when he wins his matches. However, when the family returns home, they find the outside of their house plastered with notices and complaints about unpaid debt. Eventually, Shizuuchi’s mother succumbs to the pressure and decides to give up.
She murders her youngest son under a cherry blossom tree. When Shizuuchi finds her, she tells him to smile through the bad parts of life and then commits suicide. When people discover this incident, they see a bloody Shizuuchi standing in front of his dead family with a smile on his face and assume he is the one who killed them. Instead, Shizuuchi mourns their death and crafts a shrine in their memory.
Who Tried To Fix The Match Between Oze And Shizuuchi?
After Shizuuchi fails to comply, the reporter, Yasui, tries to take his story to gossip magazines and tarnish Shizuuchi’s name. Shizuuchi is close to defeating Ryuki’s record and can become a threat to Ryuki’s Sumo Wrestling career. As a result, Yasui believes either Ryuki or Ryukoku had been the one to anonymously contact him about Shizuuchi, asking Yasui to blackmail him.
One publication agrees to print Yasui’s story but pulls out at the last minute due to pressure from an outside power. Eventually, that power approaches Yasui and picks him up from a bar in a car for a chat. Inside the car, Yasui finds Mr. Ito, a wealthy patron of the Stable Ryuki belongs to. Ito tells Yasui he is the one who called in the tip as a way to protect Ryuki’s career. Ito drops Yasui at his ex-wife’s apartment, and Yasui realizes Ito keeps tabs on his daughter in order to threaten Yasui. Therefore, Yasui stops pursuing his story and backs away.
Eventually, Ito reveals to Ryukoku that his wife is the one who asked him to rig the Shizuuchi/Oze match. Ryukoku has been tough on his son from the beginning. As such, his wife pays special attention and care to Ryuki and tries to ruin Shizuuchi’s career for Ryuki’s benefit. Ryukoku asks his wife to leave due to her dishonorable actions.
Does Oze Beat Shizuuchi?
After Oze’s first fight with Shizuuchi, he gets hospitalized, and the doctor has to reattach his ear. Though he physically recovers after a while, he is still mentally traumatized by the fight. To rub salt in the wound, Inushima asks Umayama to go over to Ensho’s Stable with his boys and spar with the Stable. When Oze wrestles Umayama’s best wrestler, he experiences flashbacks to his traumatic injury and flinches in fear. Eventually, all Ensho boys lose to the Umayama. One of the Umayamas provokes Oze into assaulting him with a bucket.
Inushima uses this opportunity to dismiss Oze from The Association as a Sumo Wrestler. He gives Ensho an ultimatum and asks him to either shut his stable down or dismiss Oze. Therefore, Ensho has no choice but to let Oze go. Okami-san, the illegitimate daughter of the head of The Sumo Association, offers to talk to her father about it, but Ensho turns her down. Even Kunishima, who has started to love Sumo because of Oze and his disregard for customs, shows up outside Inushima’s house and begs him to change his decision.
In the end, Ryukoku’s word makes Inushima give in and withdraw his dismissal. Okami-san and Ryukoku used to be together before Okami-san left him and married Ensho. Therefore, she calls Ryukoku and asks him for a favor, and he delivers. However, Oze tries to leave the Ensho Stable since he thinks he can no longer fight. Before he can leave, his mother arrives at the stable and tries to talk to him. She finds out he’s saving up to get the family sushi restaurant back and crudely tells him to stick to Sumo Wrestling.
Oze realizes he is still responsible for his father’s hospital bills and devotes himself to Sumo. He trains harder and watches Ensho’s old matches. Eventually, he begs Ensho to train him and puts in hours and hours for Shiko and other training. Along the way, he starts respecting Sumo and its customs. His passion fires up the rest of the Ensho Stable, and the other boys start training vigorously too. The next time Umayama arrives at Ensho for a spar, Oze and the others thoroughly beat their competition.
By now, Shizuuchi returns to the Tournament and gets paired against Oze again for their first matches. Oze’s training has made him a better wrestler, but Shizuuchi has years of experience compared to Oze. Moreover, Oze’s past experience with Shizuuchi might still be traumatizing even though he has worked through it with Enya and can now take a slap to the face without flinching. Still, the match is equally stacked since they both have something to prove. The fight begins, but the show ends on a cliffhanger, with no indication of who might have won, leaving itself open for a second season.
Read More: Where is Netflix’s Sanctuary Filmed?