Thursday, May 16, 2024


I suppose this is what I get for involving myself in politics.

Shōgun is a trip to say the least. An expansive, involved, big budget, notes worthy, 10 hour epic detailing the events leading up to the origins of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is an almost impossible task to sum everything up in one concise and non-rambling synopsis, so cliffnotes version: British ship pilot John Blackmore stumbles upon the isle of Japan and gets very quickly swept up in the political back and forth between the five ruling regents of the nation, as time passes and he cheats death on multiple occasions he takes on more of the culture and becomes a right hand to the disavowed rebel regent Toranaga. It gets complex quick and this is coming from someone who has familiarity with how the government system of Japan worked once upon a long time ago, the customs and traditions of the people, and a rough outline of how each period began, so it's a caveat but if you want to watch this show I severely recommend note taking to keep the family ties straight and to not spread out your watch schedule, rather try to marathon it so you don't forget any details. It took 3 days for me to get through it and what I found simply put, was a show that does not fuck around. It's more fiction than history granted but a true commitment was made to make this as historically accurate, intriguing, beautiful, and coldly violent. To truly make the best series they could. There is zero half assing found in the 10 episodes. And as I am writing this review tale of a second season is coming to which, I have two opinions clashing like mountain goats, on one hand the show ends with a pretty wide opening for more of this story to be told and YET the showrunners claimed it would be a one and done series with no intention for continuation. I'm personally kinda leaning towards never trusting a damn word any studio system creator has to say on any matter. So to keep this from running almost into a 500 word essay let's lightning round some aspects. I completely applaud the, for lack of a better term balls deep, commitment this series has keeping the dialogue heavy on the japanese side with subtitles galore. They do indeed have a dubbed option, I watched it on Hulu, but I love getting to see japanese actors get to speak just japanese, and in a big budget american production? Whaaaaat?? Did I just pull a Sliders and jump dimensions yet again? That's fine, I'll roll with it. Casting is pretty damn good from lead to ancillary characters, Hiroyuki Sanada along with Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai are terrific leads and undoubtedly are the driving force of the whole dang story, you get invested with them quick. Top notch all around! Sweet lord, the costuming, the sets, the environments, as I said no half assing it's very detailed and has enough atmosphere to go around at times, I never thought I would see so. Many. Sets in a television show and very broad ones at that! There just isn't a damn thing on the telly like this right now. The story while a bit complex in terms of character and motivation, knows when to bump the pace up and also let you stew in this albeit foreign but nevertheless understandable political machine, I never go for political dramas or really anything politics heavy outside of The Thick Of It, I just can't stand the backstabbing and drama and overcomplex plans but here I could work with it. You don't really get the battle scope you imagine the story keeps pushing toward, if anything when the violence strikes it sucker punches you in the nose out of nowhere and it keeps you on your toes. Maybe it's more a syndrome of what Game Of Thrones has cast on television series but death strikes unexpectedly and it's appropriately grim. May be a turn off for a lot of folks who want to see samurai battle in large numbers and duel one on one, but it just isn't that kind of show and there are examples for you out there who love that particular kind of stuff. It's almost tailor made for a very specific crowd but that niche crowd has been lauding it with praise since it premiered and you never know if you'll like it if you don't try it. It's a sit, it's not a show you can have on in the background and keep up (unless you are fluent in the language and got a good memory), the ending may not do it for you but hey second season for those who want more, but there can easily be aspects you will enjoy. I can appreciate both sides of samurai media, your Ran's or Throne Of Blood's as opposed to stuff like Samurai Champloo or The Sword Of Doom. So I very much liked it and can recommend it for those select few. 3.5 stars, 8.5/10! Phew, that was a busy week. Next week will be easier as we traverse the arid wasteland and will be my first peek into the world of Mad Max.

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