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It is not often I recommend a modern TV show but Shōgun is the exception. Five episodes into a ten episode miniseries and it has lived up to what I hoped it would be: well written and acted, exciting and suspenseful, beautifully shot with amazing costumes and settings that make you feel like it really is in 17th century Japan. The subtitles are a bit distracting as the dialogue is complex and you need to pay attention but that is a minor quibble. It is the first show I can remember looking forward to the next episode being released in a very long time. It is also one of the few examples of a remake of an older show/movie that isn’t a disaster.

I have read James Clavell’s 1152 page book Shogun and I watched the 1980 Shogun miniseries so I know the basic plot but it still is quite enjoyable. It captures the weird dichotomy of Japanese culture, on the one hand beautiful and fascinating while not shying away, at all, from the cold brutality and disregard for life in Japan, where honor can demand the slaughter of an entire family including an infant for a transgression in protocol. Early on a Japanese lord has an English sailor slowly boiled alive. This would carry forward to Japanese behavior in World War II, exhibiting cruelty that seems inhuman to Americans and a fanaticism that led men to fly planes into American ships in kamikaze attacks. It is bizarre to look at modern Japan and the effeminate, weak men that live there and imagine they are the descendants of samurai and kamikaze pilots.

The clash of civilizations is quite good with an English sailor trying to understand the ways of Japan and his own seemingly barbarous behavior continually befuddling the Japanese with the added confusion of a language barrier, while behind the scenes there is plenty of intrigue both between competing Japanese factions vying for power and European powers that seek to control Japan for their own purposes. The Jesuits don’t come across very favorably in the series (or the book as I recall).

Another point in it’s favor, the bitching from historical revisionists demanding to know why there are not black characters in a show set in 17th century Japan, including a bullshit, made-up Japanese proverb and an alleged black Shogun. We wuz samurai and sheeeiiit!

Some of the CGI is a little clunky but it is a big task to create a realistic looking 17th century Japanese city and huge armies of Japanese warriors.

The Critical Drinker agrees:

You shouldn’t pay to watch it but that shouldn’t stop anyone from watching the show if you know how to internet at all. Shōgun is a reminder that it is still possible to make good TV shows and movies.


  1. Max Wiley

    “It is bizarre to look at modern Japan and the effeminate, weak men that live there and imagine they are the descendants of samurai and kamikaze pilots.”
    The result of being Westernized after WW2. It is a credit to the Japanese that they have retained as much of their culture as they have, which gives me hope for them after the collapse of the Western “Rules Based (Dis)Order.”
    Some Japanese behavior in WW2, especially towards POWs, was shocking to western sensibilities, but only because we had spent several hundred years turning warfare into a gentleman’s game for elites with first unwritten and then codified rules. When struggle becomes existential those rules will go right out the window.
    War is cruelty and you cannot refine it, and in the era of 5GW war is everywhere.

  2. Yankee Terrier

    Good writing as always Arthur. Having spent a lot of time in Japan , I agree mostly, and am particularly amused at the neo woke concept of a black shogun…That is hilarious… The current Japanese displaced an aboriginal people a long time back and there are a small number of them left. They are the Ainu, and supposedly looked liked New Guinea Abos until they were ( depopulated then diluted) The Japanese went to special trouble so as to not have any body dark around at all, not to mention in a position of power.

  3. Jeffrey Zoar

    It was many years ago I read the novel Shogun and I still think about it once in a while, it was just that good

    The transition of postwar Japan and Germany from warrior alpha male societies to dependent effeminate pacificists shows that it doesn’t take long at all. Indeed these transformations, in such a short time, would be too incredible to believe if we hadn’t actually witnessed them. I kind of think about AINO of 40 years ago vs AINO of today in the same sense.

  4. argh

    I liked the book, and it would be as interesting to see as anything made anymore

    but for fuck’s sake, they could find an Englishman to play a Portuguese priest yet picked a half Armenian to play the English character?

  5. pyrrhus

    Shogun was a great and fascinating novel, comparable to McMurtry’s great novel Lonesome Dove…and this version of Shogun, on which Clavell’s daughter was a key adviser, is totally outstanding….Unlike the first production, which was also quite good, the current version is extremely Japanese in every way, and provides fascinating insights into Japanese history…

  6. Gryphon

    My Grandfather (mother’s father) was in the US Navy, Pacific Theater, before and during the War. He said that the ‘cultural disconnect’ between them was…. Strange. His first encounter with the IJN was as the LST he was a Chief (the Cook, actually) on, encountered a couple of Lifeboats, tied together and full of half-dead Sailors. Of course, they pulled over to Rescue them, and would have taken care of them like any POW’s. But when the Ship idled up to them with a Ladderway down, and guys ready to help, the Lieutenant in charge of those Boats pulled out his Pistol, yelled at his crew, and started shooting. two other of them opened up with Rifles, and several Americans were Shot, one was killed. It was a total WTF moment- they couldn’t comprehend that guys whose Ship had been Sunk would keep Fighting from the Lifeboats. The Ship pulled away, and the Captain ordered a 40-Millimeter Anti-Aircraft Turret to Sink them. Everybody wondered ‘What kind of Crazies are we Fighting’? And they found out when the Kamikazi Attacks began.

    • SirLawrence

      ha! Indeed. Now imagine the victors and their culture of Progress.

      It took them a couple generations, but they finally mastered the same level of fanaticism. The virtues of suicide in the war on reality. Or “hate” as it is often known. Why teach the kids to land? Their glory is in the clouds!

      We now have legions of war karens and numale corporatists, urban bugmales and soyjack hipsters and cannabis kids, e-thots and tiktok and onlyfans whores, incel basement bois and Naval Special Warfare Rudder Swimmers destroying stronk girls chances at the podium.

      All tasked toward the great honor of destroying themselves for the hive. The future is a brown female, after all. It has been foretold. It shall be. Smash that like button!

      Heritage American culture was sunk in the harbor during breakfast sending the heart of the Western Man to the depths. The occupation of the bugpeople and their cloud city overlords plods on with administrative efficiency, methodically snuffing out any emergent notion of who we are or from where we came and for what purpose it was all formed to pursue.

      From sea to shining sea. From coastal open-air commerce communes to red clay redoubts, the monoculture of homognized transfatties and banal high fructose dopamine drips reigns on.

      And three out of four mudsharks agree, it is still your fault, Whitey.

      The warriors at the bottom of the sea heave a great sigh as their seeds have all stayed in their pods to become clerks and merchants and middlemen profiteers now. Tell me, friend, how is your Commerce doing today?

      The few men remaining cower behind the avatars of the Gynocracy and totems of Wakandian skinsuits required to cleanse common sense into approved memes of wisdom that they are allowed to propagate such that their outrage never wakes the kraken and his armada of Saxon bones.

      Thomas Sowell Agrees, “don’t let them divide us.”

      The ides of march madness have arrived. Fill out your brackets. The Empire of the Debt, is settling in the east. Many soft hands rubbing, hoping the Netflix special about the fall of FUSA will cast a black man with a posh British accent to play The President who finally banished the Great Orange to his beachfront prison in New Florida so we could all become united again. Hail GDP.

  7. Bean Dip Tray

    A JT Rastus Jar Jar Binks Samurai! That would be gut busting morale maintenance.
    Throw in some jive and a rapping Confucius.
    The beat box is booming, homie.
    Substack had a hilarious WTF is all this negrolatry with some funny photos.
    H/T to the original.
    How long until Japan has mandatory diverse cultural enrichment?
    That was masterful how they got rid of the Ukrainian skank as Ms. Japan and \how about the guy with the six barreled electronically fired shotgun taking out the anti-COV-LARP politician.
    We can laugh at the Nambu pistol and WWII tanks later.

  8. Pingback:Shōgun Review – Dissident Thoughts

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