Epic new Disney drama nets 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating – and deserves it

A classic returns

(Image credit: Disney+/FX)

Over 15 million people can't be wrong. That's how many copies the novelisation of Shogun has sold, so it's only right that it receives the most prestigious of television adaptations. Luckily, Disney+ and FX are on hand to provide. 

Added to Disney+ on February 27th with a double instalment, the first two episodes of Shogun have gone down a treat with both viewers and critics alike with the series (at the time of writing) boasting both a 100% critics rating and a 95% audience rating - and can you blame them? With a 1000+ page novel to squeeze into 10 episodes, there's no shortage of story to tell.

The story revolves around a struggle for power in feudal Japan circa 1600. A title card from the very beginning reveals that with a newly emerged power vacuum, 5 warrior Lords will serve as a council of regents until the deceased Taiko's heir comes of age. Of course, they all have their own agendas. To me, it all feels a bit like Game of Thrones and that impression isn't dispelled by the trailer below which shows the massive production values in the series. Plus, it's brutal as heck with The Guardian describing it as "Gruesome from the get-go", and after watching the first couple of episodes, we can confirm that opinion. 

The rogue element of the plot is the arrival of a group of European sailors suffering from scurvy, specifically Englishman John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) a supremely talented but brash 'Pilot' or 'Anjin' as the locals refer to him. Where does he come into the equation? We spend our time in the first episode between his arrival and the struggles of one of the council, Lord Toranaga who is perhaps the only Regent with noble intentions. 

I can't help but feel that this is the kind of prestige TV we would never have seen before the rise of streaming services. Yes, it has been adapted previously decades ago, but today, without a massive budget and hundreds of actors, it would seem impossible. It's primarily in Japanese with subtitles, but don't let that put you off. In fact, it's a refreshing change from Hollywood staples and a period of history I know embarrassingly little about. With new episodes weekly, I hope that will change soon. 

If you're after the best of what's to come in March on Disney+ check out our guide

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer

Andy is T3's Tech Staff Writer, covering all things technology, including his biggest passions such as gaming, AI, phones, and basically anything cool and expensive he can get his hands on. If he had to save one possession from a fire it would be his PlayStation 5. He previously worked for Tom’s Guide - where he got paid to play with ChatGPT every day. When it comes to streaming, Andy will have his headphones glued in whilst watching something that will make him laugh. He studied Creative Writing at university, but also enjoys supporting his favourite football team (Liverpool), watching F1, teaching himself guitar, and spending time with his dog.