Made in 1980, Shogun, starring the iconic Richard Chamberlain, is one of the western world’s best-known tales of feudal Japan. The hit from years ago will soon gain a competitor in the form of a new FX series of the same name.
After three decades, viewers will get the chance to experience a fresh take on the story of the British sailor shipwrecked on the coast of Japan, who is taken captive and becomes a pawn and player in the fight for power between rival samurai.
Shogun will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting series of the coming months. We’ve gathered the essential information about the show, which will take you to the fascinating yet brutal world of 17th-century Japan.
Shogun release date
According to the latest information, Shogun, consisting of 10 episodes, will premiere in February 2024.
In the US, the series will be available on Hulu. In Europe, Shogun will hit Disney+.
The FX limited series is based on James Clavell’s best-selling book, published in 1975.
Shogun tells the story of English sailor John Blackthorne, who is shipwrecked near Izu Peninsula on the southwestern coast of Japan, making him the first Englishman to reach the country.
He enters a world where family houses vie for power, with the ultimate goal to become Shogun – the leader of Japan. Blackthorne is taken into the household of Lord Toronaga, and is then witness to the assent of his new ‘master’ and the palace intrigue that it involves. Here he meets the enigmatic Lady Mariko, a female samurai from a dishonoured house who is torn between love and duty.
Set against the backdrop of an emerging civil war, Shogun is a tale of love, honour, culture and power.
The story is loosely based on the real-life rise to power of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 1600s, aided by his shipwrecked advisor William Adams, who was not only the first Englishman to reach Japan but also the first to attain the status of samurai.
James Clavell, writer, screenwriter, director, and World War II veteran, spent three years researching for the novel. Although Shogun is romanticised, it’s agreed that Clavell portrayed the realities of 17th-century feudal Japan well. The famous 1980s’ series starring Richard Chamberlain was a relatively loose adaptation of source material. The FX series is expected to be a much more faithful version.
Shogun is the third instalment of Clavell’s Asian saga, all of which chart the impact and relationships of European/Americans and the Japanese. Preceded by King Rat (1962) and Tai Pan (1966), Shogun (1975) takes place much earlier than the other books.
The first trailer for the series promises a full-blown historical epic:
The series will feature a primarily Japanese cast:
Hiroyuki Sanada – Lord Yoshii Toranaga
Cosmo Jarvis – John Blackthorne, the English pilot and castaway
Anna Sawai – Toda Mariko, a female samurai from disgraced family
Tadanobu Asano – Kashigi Yabushige, a close ally of Toranaga
Hiroto Kanai – Kashigi Omi, the young leader of the fishing village
Takehiro Hira – Ishido Kazunari, a powerful bureaucrat and Toranaga’s chief rival
Moeka Hoshi – Usami Fuji, a widow
Tokuma Nishioka – Toda Hiromatsu, Toranaga’s trusted general and closest friend
Shinnosuke Abe – Toda Hirokatsu, Mariko’s husband
Yuki Kura – Yoshii Nagakado, Toranaga’s ambitious son
Fumi Nikaido – Ochiba no Kata, the mother of the heir and Toranaga’s greatest enemy
Justin Marks, who was one of the writers of Top Gun: Maverick, is the showrunner for the series. Shogun is executive-produced by Michaela Clavell, Edward L. McDonnell, Michael De Luca and Rachel Kondo. Hiroyuki Sanada produced.