Samurai Shadows: The Dawn of the Year’s Grandest Epic

Embark on a journey through 17th-century feudal Japan in a saga where loyalty, intrigue, and the fate of empires hang by the edge of a samurai's sword

Hulu and FX are rolling out their own Game of Thrones with samurais, and what we’ve seen so far hints at it being the show of the year: “Grand, bold, and beautiful.” The new epic saga is set against the backdrop of 17th-century feudal Japan and its samurai culture.

Adapted from James Clavell’s 1975 novel, which was previously made into a miniseries in 1980 starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshirô Mifune, Shôgun follows Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), who finds himself betrayed by his Council of Regents as they unite against him. However, he discovers a glimmer of hope after a mysterious European ship wrecks near a fishing village. The English captain, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), carries with him a secret that could tip the scales in the power struggle between Lord Toranaga and his adversaries.

The series also delves into the power struggle between Portuguese traders and Jesuit priests through its translator, a Christian noblewoman named Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai) who harbors her own secrets as the last descendant of a banished and dishonored lineage. As war threatens to engulf them all, Mariko and Blackthorne will ally themselves in an attempt to reclaim “power, faith, and freedom,” or so the official synopsis suggests.

Alongside Sanada, Jarvis, and Sawai, the cast is rounded out by Hiroto Kanai as Kashigi Omi, the young leader of the fishing village where Blackthorne’s ship lands; Takehiro Hira as Ishido Kazunari, a powerful bureaucrat and Toranaga’s main rival; Moeka Hoshi as Usami Fuji, a widow searching for a new purpose amidst the strife; Tokuma Nishioka as Toda Hiromatsu, Toranaga’s most trusted general and closest friend; and Shinnosuke Abe as Toda Hirokatsu (also known as Buntaro), Mariko’s jealous husband. In smaller roles, Yuki Kura appears as Yoshii Nagakado, Toranaga’s brash son eager to prove his worth; Yuka Kouri as Kiku, a courtesan renowned for her artistry across Japan; and Fumi Nikaido as Ochiba no Kata, the revered mother of the heir, who will stop at nothing to eliminate Toranaga and the threat he poses to her son.

Early reviews of Shôgun already peg it as “one of the most compelling and impressive series of the year” and describe it as “Grand, bold, and beautiful” , alluding not only to its ambitious scope but also to its meticulous visual presentation.

Shôgun will premiere its first two episodes on Hulu, FX and Disney+ on February 27, 2024, and will then release an episode weekly until the tenth and final episode of the season on April 23.


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