Shogun Review: If the chatter around the show continues to be this strong, then 2024 has a Game of Thrones affair in the form of Shogun, a Japanese-American series based on a 1980 novel by the same name. Mounted on a very striking scale, the period political series is extremely ambitious and mostly live up to those lofty goals, even if Shogun doesn't acquit itself of a white saviour complex. But thanks to some fine acting from the cast, especially the great Hiroyuki Sanada, and an immense commitment to its material, that doesn't come off as a major issue. Shogun: Here’s How To Watch Hiroyuki Sanada's Historical Japanese Series Based on James Clavell’s 1975 Novel.

Shogun is set during the 1600s when feudal Japan was going through a civil war. Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) finds his position of power at peril thanks to some bitter rivals, but that sees a major change in dynamics when an English ship gets shipwrecked in the land, whose captain and crew get captured. The captain, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), not only faces the wrath of the local generals but also of the scheming Portuguese who have already set their base in Japan and call him a heretic for not believing in their faith.

Watch the Trailer of Shogun:

However, Toranaga sees an opportunity to change the powerplay through Blackthorne, when he realises what Portuguese plans to do with his country. Another major character to note here is Mariko, who acts as an interpreter between Toranaga and Blackthorne, but there is more to her than being a mere translator.

A Still From Shogun

Shogun, created by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, is a gorgeous series with some eye-popping production design that commits to the era and the locales where it is set. There is absolutely no compromise of the scale in which the visuals and the action are mounted, making for some gorgeous small-screen television that feels large-screen.

Most of the show's characters speak in Japanese, and even though that makes things a little difficult to follow, considering the number of characters and political points made while following the subtitles, the commitment to the language makes the proceedings feel authentic. How I Met Your Father Review: Hilary Duff and Suraj Sharma’s HIMYM Spinoff Sneaks in One Decent Surprise in an Otherwise BLAH Beginning.

A Still From Shogun

Which brings us to the politics of the show. Even without the difficulty of balancing both language and the subtitles, the show sets up enough power drama and conflicts to make it an occasionally confusing watch, but that also means you need to give your complete attention here. This isn't hard to do since Shogun has enough to get going on screen, with the show dropping enough plot twists to keep the momentum going. If that's not enough, Shogun doesn't compromise on the brutality (there is a boiling sequence I just can't burn out from my brain) and the violence, and occasionally the sex too.

A Still From Shogun

The actors are perfectly cast, with Hiroyuki Sanada relishing the spotlight and putting up a pitch-perfect portrayal of the shrewd feudal lord. Another standout performer is Anna Sawai, who was quite good in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Cosmo Jarvis, being the outsider's POV of the feudal politics of the country he is trapped in and slowly sucked into it, is decent.

Final Thoughts on Shogun

Shogun is a visually stunning and ambitious series with an engaging screenplay and gorgeous production design. Led by the outstanding Hiroyuki Sanada, the cast delivers commendable performances. Occasionally confusing and sometimes a bit too talkative, the show otherwise lives up to its ambitiously set benchmarks while not compromising on the violence and gore. Shogun is streaming in India on Disney+ Hotstar.


(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 29, 2024 10:52 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website