Hiroyuki Sanada In ‘Shogun’: Cast, Review, And More | CoolJapan

Forbidden romance, human greed, and the horrors of wartime are some intriguing themes you’ll find in Shōgun starring Hiroyuki Sanada. The Japanese series reached nine million views globally in six days, making it the top scripted series premiere globally for Disney General Entertainment.

Shōgun starring Hiroyuki Sanada

Witness the talents of Hiroyuki Sanada — Japanese actor, singer, martial artist, and producer of ‘Shōgun’. (Photo from: Disney+ Singapore) 

Shōgun is an adaptation of the 1975 novel of the same name by James Clavell and a refreshed version of the 1980 miniseries. It also takes inspiration from real-life historical figures. Set in feudal Japan in 1600, the story starts with a British sailor named John Blackthorne. He winds up in Japan as a castaway struggling to communicate with the locals, quickly making himself clear that he is not part of the Portuguese religious leaders who have already established a profitable trade relationship with the Japanese. 

British actor Cosmo Jarvis (whom you might have seen in the British series Peaky Blinders) plays the role of John Blackthorne AKA the Anjin or “pilot” of the ship that marooned on Japan’s shores. He gets thrown into the middle of the country’s strained political state and becomes useful for Lord Yoshii Toranaga’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) plans. 

Toranaga is a renowned bushō or warlord, a brilliant strategist even when the odds seem stacked against him. He comes from a prestigious family in the country and claims he does not seek the title of shōgun, or the highest military title a man can achieve in Japan.

When the Taikō or the supreme ruler of Japan dies, he appoints Toranaga as one of the five members of the Council of Regents. The leaders were meant to share power until the young heir of the Taikō turned sixteen. However, the other members plotted to impeach Toranaga, leading him to gather his allies and enlist the Anjin to train his troops and Lady Toda Mariko as the translator.

The series boasts a notable repertoire of cast members including Tadanobu Asano as Kashigi Yabushige, Hiroto Kanai as Kashigi Omi, Takehiro Hira as Ishido Kazunari, Moeka Hoshi as Usami Fuji, Tokuma Nishioka as Toda Hiromatsu, Shinnosuke Abe as Buntaro, Yuki Kura as Yoshii Nagakado, Yuka Kouri as Kiku, and Fumi Nikaido as Ochiba no Kata.

Ready to get transported into a gory yet glorious era? Here are three reasons to add this show to your watchlist. 

1. Shōgun will fuel your curiosity about Japanese history and culture

If this is your first time watching Japanese period drama, you can bet you’ll gain a deeper understanding of various Japanese concepts and rituals. The presence of a character like John Blackthorne serves as a bridge for viewers, easing them into the complex world of the samurai – Japanese warriors bound by bloody beliefs and lofty ideals.

The creators of the show aimed to make the show as authentic as possible so you’ll discover intricate costumes, meticulously produced sets and fascinating landscapes.

2. The power struggles surrounding Hiroyuki Sanada’s character will keep your eyes glued to the screen

When you first watch the show, tangled political and personal relationships might feel overwhelming. But all of these add to the allure of the show. You’ll find yourself trying to figure out who’s friend or foe of the powerful Yoshii Toranaga. Unravelling the secrets and true motives of the characters will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the show.

3. Anna Sawai’s portrayal of Mariko will captivate you

Anna Sawai portrays the captivating character Toda Mariko, a woman of grace, mystery and strength. Intelligent and skilled in fighting with the naginata spear, Mariko carries a troubled past despite her calm exterior. Her world is disrupted when the “barbarian” Blackthorne enters the picture, opening the door for her to rediscover her purpose and prove herself loyal to Toranaga.

Despite the male-dominated era of Shōgun, you’ll be impressed by the power the female characters wield in manipulating the political tides in their favour.

Where to watch Shōgun in Singapore

Ready to witness the strengths of the show for yourself? Episodes 1 to 10 of the series are now available on Disney+

(Cover photos from: Disney+ Singapore)