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5 Reasons Why Shōgun is a Must-Watch

From the epic saga of power to the breathtaking production and costume design mirroring Feudal Japan to the commanding portrayal of the cast, Shōgun is your new weekly viewing habit, now available on Disney+.



No more rotting in your bed, spending your nights doom scrolling. Shōgun, now available on Disney+, is one of the biggest and most anticipated shows of 2024. Ready your popcorn and make TV night an event worthy of lengthy and admittedly nerdy conversations with friends once more. 


An engrossing historical drama, based on a best-selling novel with underlying themes of greed, loyalty, treachery, power, and passion –– satisfying every viewer’s appetite. Shōgun is produced by FX, the same studio that carries critically acclaimed shows such as The Bear, What We Do in the Shadows, American Horror Story, and Fargo. Here are five reasons why it deserves to be part of your must-watch list: 


1. The plot and the twists



Shōgun is big, bloody, and beautiful. While it is rooted in the real history of the period, the show follows fictional feudal lords as they each work their way to acquire more power and control. You will find yourself rooting for characters while suspecting others of their real motives. Cunning characters, their shady background, and twisted views will keep you on your toes as you immerse yourself into the worlds of a great Japanese military ruler, a Japanese noblewoman, and a Dutch pilot, all with their personal agendas. 


The miniseries is a classic story about the fight for power and control but what the show does is depict Japanese culture in a way that’s never seen before on a show of this scale. 


Is Shōgun worthy to stand among the favorites that ultimately changed the way we watch series? We will soon find out, but Shōgun does not disappoint for sure. Shōgun explores the political, cultural, and religious state of Feudal Japan as it collides and falls into chaos.


2. The source material



Shōgun is based on James Clavell’s renowned book, selling more than 15 million copies. It is set in 1600 Japan at the dawn of a Japanese civil war. And if you’re thinking you’ve seen a show like this before, it’s probably because it had previously graced TV–in 1980. The show was a hit and is considered one of the most successful miniseries produced by its home network. 


Why recreate something that’s already great then? In the case of Shōgun, the reason is multi-faceted. To honor the book’s fans and the author’s dedication to accurate details, to tell the story from a more Japanese-centered lens, and to reflect the political climate of the time and relate it to today’s landscape are just some of the driving forces behind the move. And if that’s not enough reason for you, even the author’s daughter, Michaela Clavell, who has been managing James Clavell’s publishing rights since 1981, approved of the show’s magnificent portrayal, which she expressed during the press conference. She serves as an executive producer for the show.


3. Japanese veteran actor and martial artist Hiroyuki Sanada leads the cast



Yes, the show’s lead does look familiar. Yes, you’ve seen him wield a katana many times before. And most recently, you’ve seen him in big Hollywood films alongside Keanu Reeves in John Wick and Brad Pitt in Bullet Train. But before all of that, he was also in Sigaw Ng Puso, a 1995 Filipino film with Lorna Tolentino and Sharmaine Arnaiz! Sanada is, indeed, no stranger to extravagant productions and heavy and dramatic storytelling. His decades-long career and expertise in the world of the samurai (he’s a martial artist, too!), made him a perfect fit as the show’s producer. 


Other members of the stellar cast include actress Anna Sawai, who plays Lady Toda Mariko, and recently appeared in Emmy-nominated limited series Pachinko. Cosmo Jarvis, known for his 2022 performance in Persuasion, stars as John Blackthorne. Acclaimed Japanese cast members include Tadanobu Asano (Welcome Home, Monet), Hiroto Kanai (Tuna Girl), Takehiro Hira (The Swarm), and Moeka Hoshi (Dependence). 


4. The top-tier costumes and production design



No Japanese historical drama is complete without the iconic samurai armor, kimono, and katana. Soon, you’ll be wielding your own Japanese sword and designing your costumes based on your favorite characters. The show exerted clear-cut direction to bring every aspect of the show, including gestures and etiquette per societal class, to accurately portray 1600 Japan. Shōgun employed a number of Japanese experts to serve as consultants for the show, including three masters of gestures. The group of advisors ensured that movement and behavior among the different classes of the Japanese characters were accurate to the time period. 


Travel back in time and live in Japan’s history defining era. Centuries-old castles, fishing villages, traditional home interior, and the 1600 Japanese landscape, including vegetation come alive as the show deploys an undefeated commitment to preserving the show’s accuracy to the most minute details. 


5. The big-gun directors



For a show of this scale, you need visionaries willing to spend years to make this show a reality. Shōgun employed the minds behind some of the most beautiful and captivating stories of recent times. 


You may know Frederick E.O. Toye, who directed 4 episodes of Shōgun, for helming Watchmen in 2019 and The Terminal List in 2022. Thriller series director Jonathan van Tulleken directed 2 episodes of Shōgun, bringing with him his recent work with the post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller Snowpiercer in 2020. Japanese director Takeshi Fukunaga is no stranger to bringing Japanese stories to the screen with his recent work, Ainu Mosir. Hiromi Kamata also joins the list of top-gun directors, notable for his work in Selena: The Series. These visionaries together make Shōgun a cinematic masterpiece you cannot miss.




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Carol Lawrence
Carol Lawrence
May 05

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