March 4, 2024

CABLE | 'Shōgun' Battles Samurai Lords on FX

"Why tell a dead man the future?"
Yuka Kouri Rachel Kondo Justin Marks | Shōgun FX
FX Productions
Shōgun, the exciting new FX miniseries (first adapted in 1980) based on the 1975 novel of historical fiction of the same name by Australian-born British WWII prisoner of war James Clavell and created by married screenwriters Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, explores the late isolationist Sengoku period of feudal Japan during the turn of the seventeenth-century when only capitalist Portuguese Catholics had access to the closed island empire nation in a sweeping samurai epic.

Filmed in Vancouver and set in Osaka shortly after the reigning Taikō (supreme leader) dies, leaving a power vacuum to a scheming Council of Regents in his place on the brink of civil war, Japanese icon Hiroyuki Sanada (also an executive producer) stars as a Lord Toranaga in the midst of a brutal power struggle between him and the five other feudal lords (daimyō) seeking rule over Japan. Cosmo Jarvis as a stranded Englishman "barbarian" voyager, whose sudden appearance disrupts the Christian-Japanese economic dominance, and Anna Sawai as the guarded aristocratic translator, Lady Mariko, flesh out the main cast of characters intriguingly.

How Shōgun sets up its multi-layered interpersonal political allegiances through different bitter rivalries between the lords and their houses feels more than vaguely reminiscent of the violent conflicts in pursuit of power Game of Thrones made famous. It thrillingly weaves in European Christian colonial influences of faith and greed against the brutal honour of Japanese tyranny effortlessly. Thanks to its lavish production design and a clear attention to period detail, this series adaptation's fidelity to Japan's historical carnage lives up to the labyrinthian source material.

Shōgun airs weekly on FX and is available to stream on Disney+ Star in Canada (and on Hulu in the U.S.).

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse

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