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'Shōgun' Reviews Are In: Is Disney's Japanese Epic the New 'Game of Thrones'?

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If you’ve been watching television for long enough — and this writer certainly has — you’ve undoubtedly heard about “the next big thing.”

You know, “the next ‘Seinfeld,'” “the next ‘The Office,'” “the next ‘Band of Brothers,'” “the next ‘Lost,'” or “the next ‘Game of Thrones‘” have all been bandied about in the last 30 years to varying degrees of success.

(Spoiler alert: Most shows will unequivocally fail to live up to those standards, but that hasn’t stopped the bombastic comparisons.)

Despite the poor track record of these lofty expectations, if you’ve heard anything about the new FX/Hulu/Disney+ (Disney owns all three) show “Shōgun,” you already know which seminal television show it’s being compared to.

If you don’t, here’s a smattering of reviews from around the web (see if you notice a trend):

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  • “FX Miniseries ‘Shōgun’ Is the Most Transportive TV Epic Since ‘Game of Thrones’: TV Review,” the Variety review begins.
  • “‘Shōgun’ Gives a Classic TV Miniseries a ‘Game of Thrones’-Level Makeover,” says the Rolling Stone review.
  • “Shōgun review: Cosmo Jarvis channels his inner Tom Hardy in a show that might be the next Game of Thrones,” the U.K. Independent claims in its review.
  • “Sex, violence, ‘Game of Thrones’-style power grabs — the new ‘Shōgun’ has it all,” states the NPR review.

And so on and so forth.

A quick glance at the show’s introductory trailer certainly shows off high production values, violence and tons of drama — all hallmarks of HBO’s wildly popular fantasy drama series.

Did you watch the first television adaptation of “Shōgun”?

The show itself, apart from the “Game of Thrones” comparisons, has largely gotten glowing reviews for its acting, writing and production, which were all things “Game of Thrones” was lauded for.

Not only were all of the aforementioned reviews all positive, “Shōgun” has debuted to a perfect Rotten Tomatoes critic score (100 percent) and an equally sterling 96 percent audience score.

Now, nobody would blame you, dear reader, for being suspicious of universal praise, but from everything this writer has seen of this show, “Shōgun” genuinely seems like the political-drama epic (“Game of Thrones” may have been known for its gratuitous violence and sex scenes, but it was the political drama that served as the undercurrent of the entire show) that television fans have been clamoring for.

“Shōgun” is based on a 1975 novel by James Clavell, which itself is loosely based on the real-life exploits of 17th-century pilot and English explorer William Adams — the rare Westerner who successfully assimilated into Japan’s notoriously cloistered culture.

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In the show, John Blackthorne, who is Adams’ analog in “Shōgun,” is thrust into a splintered Japan as the reigning military ruler has died, and multiple people are making various claims to the proverbial throne.

“Shōgun” looks to focus on that political intrigue, told from the viewpoint of Blackthorne.

The original novel inspired a 1980 adaptation that NBC aired as a miniseries.

Now, it appears that the show could get a new lease on life in 2024 — and the reviews are suggesting it will.

“Shōgun” is currently available to watch on FX and Hulu, and Disney+ in some international markets.

The first two episodes were released Tuesday, with new episodes dropping weekly. “Shōgun” is slated to run for 10 episodes.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Birthplace
Hawaii
Education
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech




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