Shogun Series Review

Deepanjana Pal

A Bold Prestige Project

Lavishly-produced, smartly-plotted, and beautifully-designed, the show is the best among the spate of recent historical fiction on our screens, feels like a flare of hope at a time when the entertainment business seems riddled with anxiety and uncertainty.

Explores Japanese History

Despite being an American show, a significant chunk of Shogun is in Japanese and set in a historical period that isn’t widely known. Shogun places Japanese court politics of the 1600s alongside the bitter rivalry between Catholics and Protestants in those times.

Adaptation of James Clavell's Book

Set in Japan in the 1600s, Shogun is an accomplished adaptation of James Clavell’s tome by the same name, updated in a way that the narrative respects history and follows the novel’s beats without getting mired in the Orientalist exotica that riddled the original.

Great Cast

Shogun is at its best when its Japanese cast takes the spotlight, exploring the themes of loyalty, honour and ambition. Sawai is mesmerising as Mariko, who gets to be a lot more than a romantic interest.

Weaker Links

The sub-plot of Mariko’s love story is arguably one of the weaker links of Shogun along with Jarvis as Blackthorne, whose portrayal of the foreigner feels especially overwrought and laboured compared to the pitch-perfect performances by Sanada as Toranaga and Tadanobu Asano

Not for The Faint Hearted

The violence in Shogun escalates swiftly, its gore offering an unnerving contrast to the elegant beauty of its elaborately designed sets and landscapes. While it may be too cerebral to fit the tag of “Game of Thrones set in Japan”, this show is certainly not for the faint-hearted.