Shōgun is a new series based on the 1975 novel Shōgun by James Clavell, and it premieres next February 27 on Disney+. The series has an exceptional visual section, and works with a lot of respect and historical rigor. It presents us with a very well-represented historical framework on which it builds a story of betrayal, loyalty and honor. It is a series with much more political content than expected, and when two great samurai families confront each other for power, the show is anything but boring.
The series begins with the arrival in Japan of John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) and his crew. Blackthorne is a British and Protestant sea dog who arrives in a region where Catholicism is practically established, but he does not do so through the front door. His ship runs aground on the coast and he and his crew fall into the hands of one of the most renowned families in all of Japan, the Yoshii Toranaga clan (Hiroyuki Sanada). Blackthorne will find himself involved in a bloody rivalry between clans, and the fact that one day she was his captor will end up being one of the great pillars of his destiny.
Blackthorne represents all of us, and the series uses him to explain the political conglomerate in which the Toranaga clan is immersed. The story takes us by the hand, taking advantage of Blackthorne’s total ignorance of everything around him. He learns, and so do we. Although Blackthorne could be said to be the protagonist of the story, Toranaga carries much of the dramatic burden. Sanada is excellent in this role, that of a tormented leader who has the power in his hands to achieve peace or war.
The series is forged over a slow fire. It takes its time to explain the ins and outs and motivations of each of the characters. Don’t expect big battles in every episode, but there are more than one memorable moment in the first eight episodes. The sets take your breath away, and the costumes are beautiful. The episodes that I was able to see were in the original version, and the vast majority of dialogue in Shōgun is in Japanese, and the language barrier between Blackthorne and the Japanese families is important to understanding the story.
Shōgun is a feast for the eyes. The series knows how to balance words and katanas well. You will have tense conversations about politics and betrayal and bloody battles in the open field. Shōgun is the definitive samurai series. The characters evolve around concepts such as honor, jealousy, love and ambition, and none of them reach episode 8 being the same as what we were shown in the Pilot. Shōgun premieres on Disney+ on February 27. The series was created by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks and is based on the book of the same name by James Clavell. At the end of this month we will receive the first two episodes, and subsequently one a week will be released until we reach ten.
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