Shōgun is a masterpiece that deserves every bit of your attention

Hiroyuki Sanada in Shogun (FX/Disney+)

FX is known for its thought-provoking, high quality shows like The Bear and Reservation Dogs, and it adds to its impressive back catalogue with a new masterpiece: Shōgun.

The Disney+ exclusive adapts James Clavell's iconic book into a 10-part drama led by Hiroyuki Sanada, Cosmo Jarvis, and Anna Sawai as Lord Toranaga, John Blackthorne and Toda Mariko, respectively. Set in a fictional version of Japan in 1600, English pilot Blackthorne finds himself thrust into a civil war he doesn't understand when he and his crew are shipwrecked off the country's coast and he is taken in by Toranaga, just as unrest between the feudal lords is beginning to surface.

Some critics have compared Shōgun to Game of Thrones, but this feels derivative. Shōgun is something all its own, a historical drama that expertly weaves court intrigue, civil uprisings and brutal warfare together with finesse.

Shogun (Disney+)
The war epic adapts James Clavell's iconic book into a 10-part series, and is led by Hiroyuki Sanada, Cosmo Jarvis (left), and Anna Sawai (right). (Disney+)

For a show about Japan made by Hollywood, it's awe-inspiring how much care and detail has gone into making the series feel authentic. The sets and costume design, for one, are remarkably beautiful, as is the cinematography used to bring the narrative to life.

Most of the characters speak Japanese and — unlike in the previous 1980 adaptation — their words are translated through subtitles. The story is also more well-rounded so that Blackthorne is not the sole focus. Viewers will learn of Lady Mariko's struggle to avenge her late father, and watch as Lord Toranaga faces the lonely prospect of leadership where enemies lurk around every corner.

Shogun (Disney+)
For a show about Japan made by Hollywood, it is awe-inspiring how much care and detail has gone into making the series feel authentic to the country it is set in. (Disney+)

Sanada and Sawai are particular highlights of the series thanks to their subtle yet moving portrayals of their characters. Jarvis, too, presents an intriguing performance with his gravelly voice and open, honest approach to Blackthorne.

The series has been described as "bloodless" but, if anything, it proves that less is more. Shōgun can hardly be called bloodless when it depicts seppuku and beheadings in gory detail — these scenes are more impactful because the show is not oversaturated with violence.

Shogun (Disney+)
Shogun has impressive writing, stunning sets and costume design, and also features stylish cinematography that brings the story to life beautifully. (Disney+)

That Shōgun is able to balance these aspects of the story so well is thanks to its impressive writing. The drama has several intricate narrative threads, but they're written in such a way that viewers can easily understand Japan's complicated history and come to care deeply for the extensive cast of characters.

They mean something, their story means something, and to be completely transported into Clavell's world through the writing, acting, and visuals is magnificent, to say the least.

If the prospect of watching a series mostly in Japanese seems daunting, simply think back to Parasite director Bong Joon-ho's Golden Globes acceptance speech: "Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films".

The same is true of TV, and Shōgun is an a masterpiece that deserves every bit of your attention.

Shōgun premieres with its first two episodes on Disney+ on Tuesday, 27 February, and will continue to air weekly.

Watch the trailer for Shōgun:

This article originally appeared on Yahoo TV UK at