“Shōgun’ Reviews Call It The Next ‘Game Of Thrones’

Estimated read time 4 min read

The first reviews for Shōgun are riding in, and critics are definitely impressed by the historical epic based on the classic James Clavell novel. Starring Hiroyuki Sanada and a sprawling cast, the ambitious FX series starts its 10-episode run this week, and based on the reviews, Shōgun delivers a whole lot of story. The comparisons to Game of Thrones are plenty as the show delivers a deep bench of characters and political intrigue that hasn’t been seen since Emilia Clarke hopped on a dragon and set her sights on the Iron Throne.

You can see what the Shōgun reviews are saying below:

Lacy Baugher Milas, Paste:

A lavish, ambitious adaptation of James Clavell’s popular novel of the same name, it’s a series that takes big swings, demands much of its audience, and insists that complex character dynamics are every bit as compelling as sweeping, bloody battles. Though it has its flaws, the show is both a genuine spectacle and genuinely spectacular, and if there’s any justice, it should be one of the biggest hits of the year.

Nick Schager, The Daily Beast:

Forty-four years after it was originally adapted into an acclaimed 1980 miniseries, James Clavell’s inspired-by-real-events 1975 novel Shōgun returns to the small-screen courtesy of FX, whose re-do (premiering Feb. 27) may not boast the star power of its predecessor (which was headlined by Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune) but compensates with a more expansive scope and richer narrative. Large-scale warfare, one-on-one showdowns, affairs, imprisonments, executions, assassins, espionage, betrayals, subterfuge, and military strategy are all delivered by this 10-episode epic, whose saga of a wayward Englishman in feudal Japan during a time of great crisis is, if never wholly exhilarating, a stately and compelling vision of honor and treachery.

Alison Herman, Variety:

As the plot ramps up, “Shōgun” delivers the well-rendered action one would expect from a martial story. In lieu of pitched battles, however, the scope is smaller: two boats racing to get out of a harbor, or a lone fighter facing off against a group of assailants. The tighter focus could be a matter of economy, though it also reflects the show’s interest in the interpersonal moments that can get drowned out in the cacophony of war. There are superficial similarities to “Game of Thrones” — five contenders for an empty throne, a storyline about two girlhood friends on opposite sides of a power struggle. But it’s this focus on people that truly unites the two series, and qualifies “Shōgun” to take up the mantle of thrillingly transportive event TV.

Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter:

The international casting is tremendous, topped by Sanada, who serves as a producer in addition to his capacity as a source of instant authority and enigmatic, underplayed intelligence. Sawai has been tip-toeing around full-fledged stardom for several years, with supporting roles in Giri/Haji, Pachinko and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, but this feels like her arrival. The actress inhabits Mariko so fully as a fragile, wavering soul and a stealthy badass that I wish the series has been able to give her and Jarvis a chance to sell the book’s lustier moments.

John Anderson, Wall Street Journal:

Created for TV by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, this “Shōgun” has dramatic advantages over the 1980 version starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune, acceptable content having evolved to a point where the brutality and perversity of Clavell’s narrative can be presented in a manner far more frank, violent and occasionally repellent than Reagan-era standards would have allowed. Call it good, call it relaxed, but the results feel far more authentic.

Kaiya Shunyata, RogerEbert.com:

With the current abysmal streaming landscape where shows are thrown onto services to collect dust like old VHS tapes, it’s impossible not to feel like TV has been in need of shows that feel like an event. The times of epics like “Breaking Bad” are long over, as are the times where series were able to sustain more than 10 episodes. However, there are still writers and directors who are attempting to craft television shows that feel epic, though some do it more successfully than others. It’s clear from the first episode that FX’s “Shōgun” is one of these shows.

Shōgun premieres February 27 on FX.

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