Shogun – The DVDfever Review – Disney+ – Cosmo Jarvis, Anna Sawai

Shogun Shogun is a new version of the 1975 James Clavell novel, and I do remember seeing some of the 1980 TV adaptation with Richard Chamberlain, but then I was far too young to appreciate a heavily-plotted television drama, so is now the time to appreciate this?

And I do wonder if, perhaps, they should’ve held it back a year in order to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the book, but hey ho. Then again, they can always time the eventual Blu-ray and DVD releases with those.

We’re first given the onscreen text:

    “The year is 1600. For decades, Portuguese Catholics have richly profited from trade in Japan.

    They have kept its whereabouts hidden from their sworn enemies – the European Protestants.

    In Osaka, the regining Taiko has died, leaving behind an heir too young to rule. Five warrior lords are now trapped in a bitter struggle. All of them seek the title that would make their power absolute…”

And that title is, of course, the Shogun.

Leading the cast is Cosmo Jarvis (Spooks: The Greater Good) as John Blackthorne, piloting the Erasmus, a Dutch merchant ship (and a pilot is known as Anjin in Japanese, which is the title of the opening episode), as all his men sail from A to B making a living. It’s time to stop off on land, but he’s picked the wrong place if he wants a friendly welcome, since all the Japanese samurai want to kill every last sailor.

In taking a trip to Osaka, one elderly man hates the place and calls it “a shithole”, so he’s the James Cleverly of the bunch, who said the same thing about Stockton-on-Tees. I’ve not been to either place, but at least we can be glad that the Tories will be mincemeat at the next general election.

It’s also a time when samural would commit “seppaku”, i.e. top themselves with a sword to their guts, as if it’s some sort of honour, when all it will do is end your life. Don’t be a quitter, get on with your day! Have a sit down and a cup of tea and you’ll see things differently in the morning, especially if you watch Jeremy Vine, and he’ll bore you into a state of ennui.

The opener also sees John on board the ship owned by Vasco Rodrigues (Nestor CarbonellThe Morning Show), who becomes an ally, and since knowing what to do in a bad storm helps him save the Japanese also taking a trip, stopping everyone from drowning, surely that will go in his favour?

Meanwhile, the chief moaner of them all is the grumpy Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki SanadaJohn Wick Chapter 4), whose daughter is Lady Mariko (Anna SawaiMonarch: Legacy Of The Monsters), and as we know, they’re going to get it on eventually, like an episode of First Dates, but one where her father is on hand to voice is disapproval, since if he ever smiled, he’d crack his face!

But then Toranga is very distrusting of everyone, and think’s John & co. are just a bunch of pirates.

Shogun feels very deep in the lore, making it not particularly accessible if you’re not familiar with the original text. It’s also obviously doing its best to be authentic by ensuring every last line of dialogue, spoken by Japanese actors, is IN Japanese, although given that this is an English-language outlet, surely that would’ve been a better bet?

Perhaps, start in Japanese, but segue into English a few minutes in, like The Hunt For Red October, but with no strong Scots acccents?

Then again, from the first two episodes I’ve seen so far, everyone ends up shouting at each other, and usually threatening death, so it’s a bit like Eastenders, or East Asian-enders, if you like.

Shogun begins on Tuesday February 27th on Disney+ with two episodes on day one, and then each of the remaining 8 episodes are released weekly after that.

Shogun – Official Trailer – Disney+

Series Directors: Frederick EO Toye, Jonathan van Tulleken, Charlotte Brändström, Takeshi Fukunaga, Hiromi Kamata, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour
Producers: Hiroyuki Sanada, Erin Smith, Jamie Vega Wheeler, Tom Winchester, Eriko Miyagawa
Created by TV by: Rachel Kondo, Justin Marks
Writers: Maegan Houang, Rachel Kondo, Justin Marks, Emily Yoshida, Shannon Goss, Matt Lambert, Caillin Puente, Nigel Williams
Novel: James Clavell
Music: Nick Chuba, Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross

John Blackthorne: Cosmo Jarvis
Toda Mariko: Anna Sawai
Yoshii Toranaga: Hiroyuki Sanada
Kashigi Yabushige: Tadanobu Asano
Takemaru: Yûki Kedôin
Vasco Rodrigues: Nestor Carbonell
Yabushige’s Kosho: Eushin Lee
Lord Kiyama: Hiromoto Ida
Kashigi Omi: Hiroto Kanai
Father Martin Alvito: Tommy Bastow
Muraji: Yasunari Takeshima
Nakamura Yaechiyo: Sen Mars
Chiyo: Emi Kamito
Ishido’s Gray Kosho: Kengo Hashimoto
Yoshii Nagakado: Yuki Kura
Setsu: Akiko Kobayashi
Lord Sugiyama: Toshi Toda
Kiku: Yuka Kouri
Hiromatsu’s Kosho: Jaden Konishi