‘Sanctuary’ (2023) Recap & Ending, Explained: Who Won The Final Tournament? Shizuuchi Or Enno?

What does it take to become a world-class athlete? No, I’m not referring to any specific sport, but in general, the most important traits of sportsmanship are motivation, dedication to the sport, and humbleness. In the Netflix Original Japanese sports drama Sanctuary, the sumo champion-in-the-making, Kiyoshi Oze, showed his incredible skill and commitment to his sport, but he lacked the most crucial quality of all: decency and humility toward his fellow competitors. The protagonist of the tale is a novice sumo wrestler named Kiyoshi Oze, aka Enno, who recently won the Jonokuchi division of Sumo and joined the famous Ensho stable to improve his wrestling. But Kiyoshi isn’t drawn to Sumo because he loves it; rather, all he needs is money. Nevertheless, despite being a talented wrestler, his bratty attitude causes all the other stablemates to dislike him. Let’s see if Oze ever learns the value of respect in order to triumph in both the sumo competition and the hearts of his spectators.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In ‘Sanctuary’ Season 1?

The story unfolds in the Ensho stable, where in the dohyo of Sumo, we see poor Kiyoshi getting beaten up by his stablemates. No matter how hard he fought, Kiyoshi kept losing. After winning the Jonokuchi division, he felt confident in his own invincibility. However, after joining the Ensho stable, he discovered that there were many more wrestlers who were much better than him. Even though Ensho, the Okayata, or Master, was aware of Kiyoshi’s extraordinary talent, he wasn’t impressed by his repeated defeats. The things that troubled him the most, more than the defeats, were Kiyoshi Oze’s haughtiness and smug demeanor. People began calling him the “problem child.”


Enku, Enya, and other experienced stable members who had already achieved success in the top divisions of Sumo exercised frequently. Enku was tough with Oze and occasionally harassed him, but Enya was a dignified man who understood that Oze needed some time to develop his true talent. He started directing Oze during the training session. Enya continued telling Oze that all he needed to do to strengthen his lower body was to practice Shiko more frequently. Every wrestler must practice Shiko since it is the basis of Sumo, but Oze found it tedious. But later, he understood how important Shiko was, so he spent all night practicing it to improve his wrestling.

Although Sumo was his true calling, Oze wasn’t particularly drawn to it. He only spent time in the stable for financial gain. Oze had a very difficult upbringing, which may have contributed to his eventual rudeness. His father, who was now a traffic controller, had formerly owned a sushi restaurant, but it went out of business, costing their family every cent. Oze’s mother, who had previously assisted his father at the business, grew unsecured both mentally and financially and turned to prostitution as a means of support. Oze loved his father and had sympathy for him, but he couldn’t stand to see his mother demeaning herself. His primary motivation for getting into the stable was to assist his father in reopening their shuttered sushi restaurant. But one day, Oze learned that his father had been in an accident and had been brought unconscious to the hospital. To pay the hospital’s costs, Oze now required extra money.


Who Is Kunishima? Who Stole Oze’s Wallet?

After diligently honing his Shiko techniques and ultimately grasping the fundamentals of Sumo, Oze started to excel in his sport. He began to succeed throughout the practice, which gave him the confidence to compete in the tournament and win the title of Enno. He was invincible in a sumo competition, defeating every opponent, but nobody was impressed by the way he behaved. While every sumo wrestler bowed before the match and remained polite after winning, Oze was different. He yelled in triumph and was even disrespectful to the stable okayatas who were sitting there. There were some nasty politics going on within the sumo association. Ozeki Okayata Inushima, a former sumo champion, despised Ensho for being his most skilled adversary; hence, watching one of Ensho’s wrestlers prosper enraged him. He attempted to scheme against Oze in order to get rid of him, but each time he tried to fire him by manipulating the match or urging Ensho to drive Oze away, he failed. In this approach, Oze was assisted by the head of the board of directors, Kumada’s illegitimate daughter, Okami San. Okami backed Oze with the help of her power and persuaded Inushima not to be concerned about Oze anymore.

Meanwhile, as Oze, aka Enno, started to win match after match, his fan base grew. Enno’s arrogance used to make some people dislike him, but others admired him for his attitude and his sport. Kunishima, a sports desk reporter, was one of them. She was a young, feisty reporter who prioritized equality over all else. She handled sports news and considered producing a fantastic piece about sumo wrestling to establish her worth at work. Tokitsu, his senior editor, was by her side the entire time. She was appalled by Sumo and its strange regulations when she first attended the Ensho stable to cover the story. But she was always drawn to Enno, who was a little different from the others. She couldn’t take Sumo’s sexist regulation that women aren’t permitted in the dohyo, which irritated her the most. However, as time passed and she became attached to Sumo, she also became attached to Enno and his distinct demeanor. However, Oze was in love with Nanami, a young woman who constantly planned ways to extort money from Enno. Even though Enno was more drawn to her physical attractiveness than to her romantic appeal, Nanami managed to trick him. Enno raised a substantial sum of money for his father’s medical expenses, but Nanami snatched his wallet, which Enno was completely unaware of. Later, Enno met a man named Murata, who flaunted his wealth and influence on him, in a bar. Enno enjoyed partying with Murata occasionally since he recognized that he was a big shot. Later, Murata told Enno that he would like to be his patron. Enno agreed because all he could hear was the word “money.” He had no idea, though, that Nanami was the mistress of Murata, who had used Nanami to get Enno’s attention. Enno later learned that Nanami had been having an affair with Murata, which devastated him.


What Happened To Shizzuchi? What Did He Do To Enno?

Enno had to compete against Shizuuchi, a big mute guy with a scar on his face who had been the tournament’s unbreakable champion for years. Shizzuchi, however, ran into several issues because of his troubled history. When Shizzuchi’s father abandoned him and his younger brother, he was just a little child. As a result, his mother, who was left to raise the children alone, became abusive toward them. She was a heavy drinker who frequently vented her rage at her children. One day, when she could no longer handle the burden of having to raise her boys, she killed her younger son and committed suicide. Little Shizuuchi witnessed that right in front of his eyes, leaving him with a lasting emotional scar. He picked up the knife and pretended to have murdered his sister and mom. Since then, stories about his horrifying history have been circulating until one day; they went too far. A reporter who had been informed by a higher-ranking sumo official obtained some information on Shizzuchi. The reporter approached Shizuuchi and threatened to release the information if he didn’t throw the forthcoming match with Enno. Shizzuchi, though, was unafraid. When his mother and brother died, he was the one who took up the knife since he didn’t want everyone to view his mother as a failure, so he didn’t care if the reporter leaked the information. When we anticipated that he would lose the match to Enno the following day at the tournament, the exact opposite happened. Not only did he overcome Enno, but he also smashed his teeth and tore off his ear. Enno was brought to the hospital after surviving a severe injury. Though he quickly recovered after his successful surgery, the trauma of being beaten up by Shizuuchi lingered in his memory.

Who Fixed The Match Between Shizuuchi And Ryuki?

Another renowned stable was the Rukyuko stable, where Ryuki, the sumo champion and son of Okayata Ryukoku, was groomed to be an invincible wrestler. However, Ryuki’s father was never happy with him, no matter how many accomplishments he had. Ryuki’s mother, in the meantime, was a persistent seeker of the best outcomes for her son. So Ryuki’s mother was concerned when the tournament announced that Ryuki would face Shizzuchi, an unparalleled fighter who had never lost a match in his entire life. She spoke with Mr. Ito, the owner of their stable, to set up Shizuuchi and Ryuki’s bout in advance. Ito hired the reporter to extort Shizzuchi, but as we saw in the first round, Shizuuchi was unresponsive to the blackmail. The strategy did, however, succeed in the following competition, and Shizuuchi was compelled to forfeit the game. Ryuki’s back was spared, shocking everyone in Japan as to why Shizuuchi withdrew himself from the bout. However, Ryuki was relieved that he would no longer be forced to accept his certain defeat, but he was puzzled like everyone else. He was unaware that the match had been fixed by his mother. Later, Ito told Ryukoko that it was his wife who had requested the favor from him. Ryukoku held the greatest rank in Sumo, the Yokozuna, yet he had no room for cheating in his heart. So, infuriated by the information, he requested that his wife leave him and his son.

What Happened To Enya?

Enya, who competed in Sumo’s top level, Juryo, was severely injured in his knees during a bout. He found it extremely difficult to continue wrestling as a result. Despite having a sore knee, he continued to defeat capable opponents, but in the Ensho stable, during practice, when he called Enno to fight alongside him, Enya not only lost but also severely sprained his knee. Enya was unable to compete due to medical restrictions, but he didn’t want to cancel his event. Shizuuchi was purposefully placed in opposition to Enya by Okayata Inushima so that Enya would lose. And that’s exactly what took place. Enya lost to Shizuuchi in the tournament, but although suffering from a terrible knee condition, he competed with zeal. Enya’s family did not consider his defeat a setback because they were grateful for his success throughout the years. Unfortunately, Enya was unable to perform. When the time came for him to retire, his stablemates bid him farewell with respect, love, and tears.

Who Won The Final Tournament? Shizuuchi Or Enno?

Enno was unable to forget the moment when his ear was severed during his bloody fight with Shizzuchi. It lingered in his memory like a trauma, causing him to put off practicing for a very long time. Umayama was given the go-ahead by Inushima for their stable members to practice with Ensho stable, which was nothing more than a calculated attempt to mistreat and abuse Enno. Enno became angry at one of Umayama’s wrestlers, who deliberately sought a confrontation with him. Inushima has been waiting for this. Enno’s harsh actions in dohyo caused Inushima to suspend him from wrestling, which ultimately broke the backbone of Enno. Enno’s melancholy set in as a result of losing his love interest and not even having enough money to pay for his father’s medication, so he made the decision to quit the stable. While this was happening, Enno’s real supporters stepped in. On the one hand, Kunishima, who had fallen in love with Enno, approached Inushima and urged him to reverse his decision to fire Enno, but Inushima ignored her appeal. Finally, on the other hand, Okami Sam, a previous lover or partner of Ryukoku and the daughter of the chairman Kumada, requested a favor from Ryukoku. She asked Ryukoku to persuade Inushima to withdraw his decision to fire Enno. Inushima had no power over Okami Sam’s or Ryukoku’s decisions; therefore, he revoked the dismissal of Enno. Enno was given the opportunity to return to wrestling and compete in the tournaments once again. Enno, who used to be arrogant and boastful and never bowed before a match, began to be humble. He politely begged Ensho to teach him how to be perfect, which astounded Ensho and the other stable members. Enno began working hard to excel in his match, and after a long time of training, we notice that he has evolved into not only a better sportsman but also a better person. Enno, who had never knotted his topknot, ultimately accepted it and began to resemble an actual sumo wrestler. However, his match was rescheduled with Shizuuchi once again, his greatest fear ever. But Enno didn’t back down this time.


The series concluded with the battle not revealing who won. Perhaps it was Shizzuchi, who had never lost a bout in his life, or perhaps it was Enno, who, with more dedication and practice, would grow into a new Shizzuchi. But the series ends without revealing the winner because, regardless of who wins the match, the series served its purpose in demonstrating that Enno needed a change in his attitude to become a great player, and he did change for the better. The Enno we saw in the second half of the season was a modest individual who grew to value Sumo as a sport. And, in the end, it was with his victory that he confronted his greatest nightmare once more, so it makes no difference whether he wins or not in the bout. He had already won the match of his life, which would eventually bring him good wishes from his followers and immense success.

In the end, we saw Kunishima getting ready to write the most incredible article on sumo wrestling, but the series didn’t reveal whether or not her article would reclaim her lost position on the politics desk. We also watched Enno’s father begin to recover from his comatose state. He also gazed up at the television while confined to his hospital bed, and a tear flowed from his eyes as he felt proud of his son.


Final Words

In a nutshell, Sanctuary is a marvelous Japanese sports drama. It’s full of amusement, emotions, and surprises. This series combines a sports drama with a dark comedy, which I found to be clever and intriguing. The story does a fantastic job of describing in detail what goes on within a sumo stable, as well as the highs and lows that each wrestler experiences inside of themselves. The plot is incredibly alluring since there is constant uncertainty. Although, being a series, the plot occasionally drags, showing the prolonged preparation time of Enno and his stablemates, it manages to pick up steam once more and resume its initial trajectory. Each performance is exceptional and merits appreciation. The most admirable aspect of the show is that, although it showed a sport that only allowed males to participate, it used Kunishima’s character to advocate for equality in this area. She very softly and casually raised the issue and called for a change to be made in the sport of sumo so that women would be allowed to participate alongside men. Although there hasn’t been a formal announcement, the cliffhanger at the end suggests the possibility of a second season. We definitely wouldn’t mind if Sanctuary season 2 appeared on Netflix, since then we could finally find out who won the match—Shizuuchior Enno—and how the outcome of the contest affected both of their lives.

Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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