‘Shōgun’ Is ‘Game of Thrones’ with Samurai—and It's Awesome

PureWow Editors select every item that appears on this page,, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story You can learn more about that process here. Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.

Read the original article on Purewow.

It feels like we've been collectively waiting for a must-see prestige TV Game of Thrones replacement since, well, the finale of Game of Thrones. And sure, maybe that final episode didn't live up to our mighty expectations, but they say it's not about the destination, it's about the journey. And boy did we love our HBO-induced Sunday night ritual that formed over a decade. Well, I'm thrilled to say I've embarked on another epic journey since Jon Snow returned to the Wall. This time, however, it's in a land, far far away: Hulu and FX.

New streaming landscape aside, Shōgun is a historical fiction miniseries based on a novel of the same name, and it hits all the notes we've been missing since the Iron Throne was melted to oblivion. The series takes place in a 17th-century Japan, largely untouched by the Western world (save a small but potent Portuguese/Catholic influence) where feudal politics are coming to a boil as rival daimyō vie to become shōgun after the long-reigning ruler of rulers dies. Viewers are immediately enveloped in a Japan of the 1600s, from the subtle interpersonal cultural norms to the the marvel that is the city of Osaka and the coastal landscape riddled with ground-moving earthquakes.

All this is happening on land when John Blackthorne (played by a husky Cosmo Jarvis), an English pilot aboard a Dutch warship, is blown ashore the Japanese coast—just in time to shake things up as an important pawn between rival lords. Captured by samurai, Blackthorne winds up at the mercy of his translator, Toda Mariko (played by Anna Sawai), a noble woman with a mysterious past and a jerk of a husband, who happens to be a dangerously accurate marksmen. The sexual tension is fierce—and this time they don't have any pesky family relations a la Daenerys and Jon Snow (thank the lord).

As the first Englishman to land in Japan, Blackthorne's fish-out-of-water point of view really hammers home just how shocking the two cultures are to one another. A pheasant stew Blackthorne makes to impress his hosts winds up absolutely disgusting their palettes while bathing more than once a month has Blackthorne scratching his head.

The more existential cultural differences are even more compelling. There's the constant reminder of seppuku, the act of suicide by sword to restore one's family's honor, which plays in deep contrast to the death by Western weapons brought to shore by Blackthorne's ship. From a great distance and without much finesse, the impact of a single cannon can rip apart (very literally) an infantry. In one scene, a practice run becomes a war scene when a cannon fires into enemy samurai. The impact is exponentially more random and chaotic compared to the precision of Japanese warfare, underscoring the impact Western interests will have on the island.

So what do we got? Warring power factions? Check. A dangerous love triangle? Check. Mysterious and nefarious forces operating on the fringes? Check. Violence? Check check check. Sounds like a surefire Game of Thrones substitute to me.

Stream it now

The Ultimate 2024 TV Show Preview