Shōgun Season 2? How FX Can Continue Despite The Challenges With Adapting The Books

 Hiroyuki Sanada in Shōgun.
Hiroyuki Sanada in Shōgun.
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It’s been almost a month since FX’s Shōgun wrapped its limited series run on the 2024 TV schedule, and the more I think about that ending, the more I love its finality. Of course, when something turns out to be a meteoric hit like Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo’s adaptation of James Clavell’s literary blockbuster, a second season is always something to consider.

Yes, that’s even in the face of such a definitive ending as the one seen in Shōgun’s finale. It looks like thoughts of that very nature are indeed happening at this point, and the further adventures of Hiroyuki Sanada’s Lord Toranaga could come to those with a Hulu subscription in the future.

However, there are some concerns that I have about that prospect, and they’re linked to the challenges that lie in a post-Shōgun world. So let’s not waste any more sticks of time and get into how FX could continue this particular saga, and the developments that seem to be in the works as we speak.

Hiroyuki Sanada accepts a message from Hiroto Kanai in Shōgun.
Hiroyuki Sanada accepts a message from Hiroto Kanai in Shōgun.

Where Shōgun's Rumored Currently Season 2 Stands

In news that surprised me, while also landing in the realm of the expected, Variety recently reported that sources informed them of Shōgun star/producer Hiroyuki Sanada signing a new deal with FX. That deal wasn’t just a standard first look agreement though, as the announcement specifically stated that the Bullet Train star has pledged to return as Lord Yoshii Toranaga; for a potential Shōgun Season 2.

What’s more, he might not be the only figure returning, as Cosmo Jarvis and his John Blackthorne character are also mentioned as potentially returning. As someone who marveled at just how fantastic the results of FX’s Shōgun turned out to be, I have to admit I’m also extremely iffy on the prospect of a Season 2. Part of that is because of the challenges with adapting the books, which have come up during talks with executive producers Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks.

Anna Sawai being escorted by armored guards in Shōgun.
Anna Sawai being escorted by armored guards in Shōgun.

What Shōgun’s Executive Producers Have Said About Season 2

A continuation of Shōgun’s story doesn’t seem like a natural fit for whatever is allegedly in the works over at FX. In prepping for my own interview with Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo, I’d encountered several different variations of their uncertainty to carry the story into a Season 2, especially after all of the time and effort it took to get the 10-episode limited series off the ground.

So with that uncertainty in mind, I asked both Kondo and Marks about how their feelings had changed closer to the airing of Shōgun’s finale, “Chapter 10 - A Dream of a Dream.” Kicking off this part of the discussion was Justin Marks, who shared these very forward thinking thoughts with CinemaBlend:

I do think for us it's like, if there were ever another story or future stories of [Shōgun], it would just have to be better than what has already come before us. And I don't know if anything could be better than that book that we had. I'd be lying to say that we haven't discussed our kind of fan fiction fantasies while making this show like the sort of, ‘Oh my God, you could tell a story about this person. You could do this, or you could continue this.’ And I'm not even talking about the Asian Saga, I'm just talking about the more Shōgun possibility.

I can’t blame Justin Marks for wanting to do better than Shōgun Season 1 if there was to be a Season 2. The fact that this is a high water mark that needs to be cleared is part of why I’m bummed that we seem to be headed for Shōgun Season 2. I’m only further inflamed when taking into account the fact that James Clavell has already given all involved a natural continuation, even if it’s through a more anthological approach.

Fumi Nikaido in FX's Shogun
Fumi Nikaido in FX's Shogun

FX Could Continue Adapting The Rest Of James Clavell’s Asian Saga

If you take a look at the Asian Saga Wikipedia page, you’ll see that Shōgun is just the beginning of a story that spans over almost 400 years of history. Following the fictional trading company of Struan & Company, we’re shown a family dynasty that builds and changes through the years, with some recurring references and characters tying it all together.

Rather than just returning to James Clavel’s Shōgun for a Season 2, the option to flesh out the rest of the Asian Saga could be a more beneficial continuation of this enterprise. Hiroyuki Sanada, Cosmo Jarvis and any other previous cast members could also return, regardless of their Season 1 status.

While the initial reports have Lord Toranaga coming back for more adventures, I'm not so secretly hoping this concept is really what's at work. Especially when the past has shown us that James Clavell novels outside of Shōgun also appeal to audiences en masse.

Pierce Brosnan stands dressed in a tuxedo while attending a party in Noble House.
Pierce Brosnan stands dressed in a tuxedo while attending a party in Noble House.

Other Installments Have The Same Brand Recognition As Shōgun

Author James Clavell alone has a decent following, and it’s not only because of his work with Shōgun. While other works of his have been adapted into film and television projects, there’s another installment that has a similar sort of brand recognition as the previous adaptation of FX’s latest hit: the 1981 novel Noble House.

Adapted into a 1988 miniseries starring Pierce Brosnan, it’s another piece of the Struan & Company legacy that has pop culture relevance. Just as Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo’s talents have reinvented Shōgun as a modern hit, they could very well do the same for the further installments of this six-book saga. Or if they’re not interested, someone else could pick up the baton and continue the story.

Cosmo Jarvis in Shōgun.
Cosmo Jarvis in Shōgun.

The Asian Saga Could Continue The Story, With Or Without Shōgun’s Showrunners

As we come to the end of this discussion on the potential future of Shōgun, I have to stress that the idea to adapt the Asian Saga is just my fan pitch for how to continue. It isn’t even certain if Season 2 is actually going to happen, though we’ll probably know soon enough, as it’s a question that will affect how the FX series will compete at this year’s Emmys.

However, despite their uncertainty of how to continue this story, there’s still a spark of hope that the Asian Saga could find its way to Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks’ desks. That’s thanks to these further remarks that Justin had to offer in his chat with CinemaBlend:

I'm reading [Tai-Pan] right now, which is awesome. It's just a great book. Like it's the same thing and I really resisted all this time just to have it on the nightstand, and then and it's like, how can he repeat this great book? And then you read that book and you're just like, ‘God, he is just good every time.’ And it's completely different from Shōgun, but it's good in all the same kind of ways. You know, it's just a page turner with great characters at the center.

If James Clavell could continue raising the bar, then so could Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks. Of course, the big question is whether they feel recharged enough to even dare get back into the saddle of the author’s mythic creation, or any long term series effort for that matter. It did take a lot to bring Shōgun to the screen, and who knows what complications await the potential future of this burgeoning brand?

For now, I have to remain steadfast with fellow CinemaBlend writer and Shōgun enthusiast Rich Knight, as his list of things Shōgun did right and wrong includes the positive of the series having a pretty definitive ending. But the more we learn about the truth behind these rumors and other participants who could be along for the ride, the better we’ll all be able to decide whether this story has a shining future or a bleak road ahead.

As it stands, the complete season of Shōgun's 10-episode run is currently streaming on Hulu. Whether that'll continue to be known as a limited series, or something greater, will unfold in due time. In either case, should the end result be as meticulously crafted as its current predecessor, I'll be happy to accept more of the wonders that potentially lie ahead.