Shane shares his thoughts and gives his review of Shōgun on FX & Hulu, a show that is loosely based on the English navigator, William Adams.

Beautiful. If you can sum this season up into one word, it’s “beautiful”. Shogun has absolutely rocked every episode from all aspects; the acting, story and character development, all the way to the landscape showcasing majestic views of nature – and they don’t let that come in between getting to experience another powerful and ancient culture to the absolute detail and realism of history. The main setting is on Japanese culture around the 1600s, where the feudal system run by “shoguns”, or military leaders, is split over the future of the country. A very young leader from the royal bloodline has yet to grow to the age of emperor, so the 5 regents, who are shoguns nominated as political council, rule the land until such a time comes for the young leader to mature. Ishido Kazunari currently holds absolute power as ruler of Osaka Castle, the royal castle and bastion of the Japanese. With that power, he somewhat controls the other regents in direction and decision making over the people. Lord Yoshii Toranaga enters as one of the most powerful shoguns, and the “rebel” to the ruling class as he avoids Ishido’s bidding and circumvents his will with intentions to serve the true ruler of Japan, who has a soft place for Yoshii as his mentor.

Enter John Blackthorne, English maritime pilot who is seeking Japan in an attempt to expand trade, just as the Portuguese, their enemy, have already done. Blackthorne is a brash man among one of the most cultivated civilizations in all of history. There is a particular scene where the cooking of the two worlds clashes in style and refinement which unfortunately leads to a wildly tragic situation. Religion plays a minor role in this which I’m happy for because although it was a major driving force for colonization back in the day and I would have hated how religion would have been the driving factor in this, but boy did it play some key parts, which I was thoroughly surprised with. Toda Mariko probably has the greatest story arc besides Blackthorne, while each competes for the top spot easily. Mariko is a descendant of the royal blood caught in a complicated spiral of worth and meaning while serving as Blackthrones translator.

The true meat and potatoes of this show is the filming, the overall picture they show you down to the smallest detail. It’s incredible reading about how they got some of the scenes, the clothing, and even the mannerisms accurately down to what they had in everyday life. I read they even planted a tree, and with filming taking multiple years, they were able to use it throughout the show as it bloomed. Producer Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Yoshii, says this is one of the first times he’s been a producer and couldn’t be happier as he sets out to make the most authentic piece of film he’s ever done. That’s a lot of weight coming from a person involved with “The Last Samurai”, which starred Tom Cruise, as the movie crushed it in overall production of authentic history.

Shōgun is a masterpiece, pure and simple. It captivates from start to finish, weaving a complex tale with effortless grace. Every episode is a symphony of storytelling, seamlessly blending intrigue, suspense, and emotion. Each twist and turn keeps you on the edge of your seat, while the meticulous attention to historical detail immerses you completely in its world.

I really enjoyed the backdrops of feudal Japan, as the series explores the intricate web of power dynamics and cultural clashes with remarkable depth. The characters are richly drawn, their motivations nuanced and multifaceted. As the story unfolds, you find yourself drawn deeper into their struggles and triumphs, rooting for some and despising others.

In short, Shōgun is more than just a TV show – it’s an immersive journey into another world, a masterpiece of storytelling and visual artistry that will leave you breathless and longing for more. I’d give the first season a 9.2 out of 10.

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