Mar 12 2024


I’m old enough to have watched the Richard Chamberlain/Toshiro Mifune version of Shōgun back in the day, but I don’t remember it well enough to fairly evaluate the quality of the 1980 version this long afterwards. I remember it was a huge hit at the time, part of a resurgence in the limited series/miniseries format that followed in the wake of Roots a few years earlier.

Having at least three lead characters, two of them Japanese, sharing the main storyline seems likely to work better than focussing as heavily on our English central character’s experience of Japan as the earlier adaptation did.

The first four episodes of the 2024 take on the story have me gripped, not to mention glad that we’re getting episodes weekly rather than being invited to devour the whole story in one lump. I’m glad that I now have a whole week to think about how the fourth episode ended with things taking a distinct turn for the worse1 for Lord Toranaga’s attempt to quietly outmanoeuvre his fellow regents.

Lots of reviews of Shōgun have made comparisons with Game Of Thrones and that’s not unreasonable because it’s referring to early seasons of that show, when Game Of Thrones was still seen as ground-breaking work, perhaps the best fantasy show on television.2

Fair to say that I’ll be watching all ten episodes of Shōgun with great interest despite my having a general idea of how the story turns out. Shōgun looks likely to repay as much attention as you’re willing to give it.

  1. I’m deliberately being vague. Watch the first four episodes and you’ll understand why.↩︎

  2. Except by those book readers who were vexed that some book plotlines never made it into the TV show. I’ve not read a word of George Martin’s version of the story (I’ve read some of Martin’s short fiction from earlier in his career when he was better known for his science fiction that his fantasy work) so I didn’t have a dog in that fight.↩︎