Everything We Know

Shōgun: Premiere Date, Trailer, Cast & More

We break down everything we know about FX's epic new adaptation of the classic novel set in feudal Japan.

by | January 25, 2024 | Comments

TAGGED AS: , , ,

There’s more than one blockbuster TV series about battles, intrigue, and warring dynasties. Before House of the Dragon swoops back onto screens this summer, FX is going to transport audiences to 17th-century Japan for Shōgun, a 10-episode limited series set to premiere on Hulu this February. Let’s unsheath our katana and cut right to the heart of everything there is to know about Shōgun.

What’s the Premise?

Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga in Shōgun (2024)

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

Shōgun is an adaptation of the acclaimed 1975 historical fiction novel by James Clavell of the same name. The series, like the book, tells the tale of an Englishman who arrives in Japan in the year 1600, just before the onset of a vicious civil war and the rise of a feudal lord (a daimyō) to the powerful position of shogunate. Here’s the official synopsis of the series, per FX:

“When a mysterious European ship is found marooned in a nearby fishing village, its English pilot, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), comes bearing secrets that could help Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) tip the scales of power and devastate the formidable influence of Blackthorne’s own enemies — the Jesuit priests and Portuguese merchants. Toranaga’s and Blackthorne’s fates become inextricably tied to their translator, Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), a mysterious Christian noblewoman and the last of a disgraced line. While serving her lord amidst this fraught political landscape, Mariko must reconcile her newfound companionship with Blackthorne, her commitment to the faith that saved her and her duty to her late father.”

Is Shōgun Based on a True Story?

Anna Sawai as Toda Mariko in Shōgun (2024)

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

Although fictionalized quite a bit, Shōgun is based on true events and heavily inspired by real historical figures. John Blackthrone is a fictional character, but he’s modeled off of William Adams, who in real-life was the first Englishman to reach Japan, eventually becoming a samurai and serving as an advisor to the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who the book and show’s Lord Yoshii Toranaga is based on. The time period in which the series is set begins at the very end of Japan’s feudal period, and it deals with the start of the Edo period — a time of radical transformation of Japan under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Who Are the Creators and Stars in Shōgun?

Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne in Shōgun (2024)

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

Originally announced in 2018, Shōgun has been in the works for some time. Justin Marks, creator of the Starz sci-fi espionage series Counterpart, writer of the live-action Jungle Book and, co-writer of Top Gun: Maverick and The Jungle Book, created the series in its final form alongside his wife, writer Rachel Kondo.

Celebrated Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, who has appeared in several high-profile Western movies and shows, plays Yoshii Toranaga. Sanada’s past credits include Ringu, The Last Samurai, the 2021 Mortal Kombat, Bullet Train, John Wick: Chapter 4, and HBO’s Westworld, among many others. Anna Sawai, a New Zealand actress of Japanese descent, plays Toda Mariko. Sawai is coming off a leading role in the Apple TV+ Godzilla series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, and she also starred in Pachinko and F9. Cosmo Jarvis, a British actor who has appeared in films like Lady Macbeth, Calm With Horses, and Persuasion, plays John Blackthorne. Another veteran Japanese actor, Tadanobu Asano, who might be best known for playing Hogun, one of the Warriors Three in the MCU’s Thor movies, also stars as a daimyō who supports Toranaga.

The majority of the rest of the cast is made of Japanese actors who Western audiences likely aren’t familiar with. (At least, not yet.)

Is Shōgun in English or Japanese?

Fumi Mikado as Ochiba no Kata in Shōgun (2024)

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

Shōgun is primarily in English, although given the setting and subject matter, you can probably expect significant parts of it to be in subtitled Japanese.

Is There a Trailer?

A teaser trailer, which is light on dialog and primarily showcases the series’ vibe and various action scenes, was released in November. A full trailer, which features more dialogue but is still fairly light on plot specifics, came out the same month.

In January, two new trailers for the show came out. One, a teaser, doesn’t reveal too much more than the two that came out last fall. The other, a red-band trailer, makes it clear that this is going to be a violent and sexy show, featuring a pretty graphic decapitation, people getting obliterated by a canon, and some quite revealing nudity.

When Does Shōgun Premiere and Where Can You Watch It?

Anna Sawai as Toda Mariko in Shōgun (2024)

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

The first two of Shōgun’s 10 episodes will premiere on Tuesday, February 27 on Hulu. The series will also air on cable television, premiering on the FX channel, but the exact airtime hasn’t been revealed yet. Subsequent episodes will drop weekly.

Shōgun: Limited Series (2024) debuts on FX and Hulu on Tuesday, February 27.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.