In Hollywood there is a maxim: if a series or movie is promoted during the Super Bowl, this means that the studio behind the production gives it priority and believes it has a hit on its hands. And which series received this treatment during the high-profile soccer match? Shogun, the adaptation of James Clavell's best-seller, which premieres the first two episodes on February 27 on Disney.
In the 30-second spot it is sold as a story of betrayal, deception, tradition, desire, loyalty, revenge, seduction, brutality and power and without the need to offer dialogue: it is enough to print these thematic principles on the screen and let Shōgun boasts technical deployment based on epic battles, a sophisticated artistic direction that transports the viewer to a Japan in the 1600s with a civil war atmosphere and a slow motion arrow that hints at the style of action.
The story focuses on Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), who fights to stay alive as the enemies of the Council of Regents gang up on him. When a mysterious European ship appears abandoned in a nearby fishing village, its English skipper, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), arrives loaded with secrets that could help Toranaga tip the balance of power and end the enormous influence of Toranaga's own enemies. Blackthorne: Jesuit priests and Portuguese merchants.
The fates of Toranaga and Blackthorne are inextricably linked to their translator, Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), the last of a disgraced lineage. As she serves her lord amidst this tense political landscape, Mariko must juggle her recent friendship with Blackthorne, her commitment to the faith that saved her, and her loyalty to her late father.
One of the attractions of Shogun is that, despite being a United States production, it has an almost entirely Japanese cast and also has diversity behind the cameras. For example, it is created by the couple formed by Justin Marks (Top Gun: Maverick) and Rachel Kondo, who is of Japanese descent, and Hiroyuki Sanada himself as producer as well as Eriko Miyagawa, who was in Silence by Martin Scorsese.
The production was not without problems in its development process: filming was to begin in 2019 but was delayed when FX, the Disney channel that commissioned the project a year earlier, was considered not in conditions. Thus in January 2020, when the coronavirus was preparing to paralyze the planet, the initial screenwriter Ronan Bennett was fired and Marks and Kondo were hired to present their vision of Clavell's novel.
Finally, between September 2021 and June 2022, the ten episodes were filmed between Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan, led by Jonathan van Tulleken in direction, who has signed episodes of series such as Trust, Upload or The changeling. And, if someone isn't enough with a 30-second trailer, here's the full trailer: