Shōgun was a Disappointment

Shōgun was a Disappointment

My wife and I recently finished the FX series Shōgun. The launch publicity and industry hype all promised a memorable viewing experience. The 1975 novel by James Clavell and it’s first TV adaption in 1980 were both big cultural events in their time. Japanese products from cars to TVs to the Walkman were becoming ubiquitous and there was an increased interest in Japanese culture and history.

Unfortunately, the new adaptation of Shōgun was a disappointment. Almost all of the characters were shallow. Cosmo Jarvis’s Blackthorn had some of the biggest flaws, but we were also disappointed by the performances of Anna Sawai and Hiroyuki Sanada, despite all the hype about them. We didn’t feel there was any chemistry between Jarvis and Sawai and the script didn’t develop their relationship in a believable way. We felt there was an attempt to stay true to period, but there were a lot of misses when contemporary perspectives were artificially inserted.

While there was a lot of focus on the setting and costumes, a lot of the film let the soundstage show through. It also felt like the focus on keeping the setting dark and wet, the stunning beauty of Japan and the featured historic places just never came across.

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