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'Shōgun': Release Time, Trailer and What You Should Know About the FX Series

Get all the details on this adaptation of James Clavell's epic novel and when to stream it on Hulu.

Aaron Pruner
Aaron Pruner is an actor, writer and dad living in Los Angeles. His words have appeared at places like The Hollywood Reporter, Playboy, Inverse, The Washington Post, and Rotten Tomatoes. Fun fact: Aaron once played Charlize Theron's nerdy boyfriend in a Japanese Honda commercial.
Aaron Pruner
5 min read
hiroyuki sanada as lord yoshii tanaga in shogun key art
Kurt Iswarienko/FX

Inspired by James Clavell's iconic 1975 novel, Shōgun is FX's new limited series that explores the beauty, violence and political backstabbing of feudal Japan. Much like the book, the series takes inspiration from history and explores the unlikely relationship that grows between a British navigator and one of Japan's five warlords as the country heads toward civil war.

Co-created by husband-and-wife duo Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, the highly anticipated show features Hiroyuki Sanada, Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai, and marks the second adaptation of Clavell's book. In 1980, a hugely popular miniseries that starred Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune took the TV world by storm and gave NBC record-breaking ratings. It was nominated for 14 Emmys and won three for Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Supporting Actor. Will FX's Shōgun hold up by comparison? 

Here is everything we know about the upcoming series, including where to stream it and the release date.

Shōgun release date and time on Hulu

cosmo jarvis as john blackthorne in shogun
Katie Yu/FX

The show will premiere its first two episodes on FX and Hulu on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at midnight, with each new episode airing weekly until the finale on April 23. You can also watch the premiere live on FX's cable network at 10 p.m. ET on Feb. 27. Each episode will be roughly an hour in length. Below are the episode titles, for reference:

  1. Anjin
  2. Servants of Two Masters
  3. Tomorrow is Tomorrow
  4. The Eightfold Fence
  5. Broken to the Fist
  6. Ladies of the Willow World
  7. A Stick of Time
  8. The Abyss of Life
  9. Crimson Sky
  10. A Dream of a Dream

What is Shōgun about? 

hiroyuki sanada as lord yoshii toranaga in shogun
Kurt Iswarienko/FX

Shōgun takes place in the year 1600 after the death of the taiko, Japan's supreme ruler, which causes a power struggle within the Council of Regents. With the arrival of British navigator John Blackthorne (Jarvis) on the shores of feudal Japan, the country's tumultuous political landscape is disrupted as war becomes imminent.

Blackthorne is seen as a threat by everyone but Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Sanada), a samurai who's hesitant to pursue the title of shōgun. He sees this newcomer as a potential asset, considering his knowledge of the world outside of Japan and experience with naval warfare. 

An outsider in a mythical land, Blackthorne is thrown into the deep end of pre-Edo Japan's culture and politics. It's a lot for Blackthorne to process. Jarvis explained during the show's presentation at the 2024 Television Critics Association winter press tour that he had some homework to do. "I learned at the same pace that Blackthorne learned things," he explained. "I sort of tried to familiarize myself with the basic geopolitics of 1600, the Catholics and Protestants, Queen Elizabeth and stuff."

The relationship between Blackthorne and Toranaga -- which is based on the real one between warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu and British pilot William Adams -- disrupts the natural order of things and sets in motion events that may eventually lead (historically speaking) to a peaceful period for Japan.

Fans will see a mostly Japanese cast in FX's Shōgun

eita okuno as saeki nobutatsu, anna sawai as toda mariko and hiromoto ida as kiyama ukon sadanaga in fx's shogun on hulu
Katie Yu/FX

Jarvis is one of the only non-Asian characters seen in the FX series, a detail that completely sets it apart from the original miniseries. Joining him and Sanada in the cast are an impressive roster of Japanese talent, including Anna Sawai as Toda Mariko, Takehiro Hira as Ishido Kazunari, Toshi Toda as Sugiyami, Fumi Nikaido as Ochiba No Kata, Yasunari Takeshima as Mura, Hiro Kanagawa as Igurashi, Tadanobu Asano as Kashigi Yabu, Ako as Daiyoin, and Yuuki Kouri as Kiku, among many more.

How will this adaptation of Shōgun differ from the 1980 miniseries?

cosmo jarvis as john blackthorne and anna sawai as toda mariko in fx's shogun on hulu
Katie Yu/FX

Shōgun is already drawing comparisons to Game of Thrones. With political in-fighting, gruesome battles, jaw-dropping violence and epic world-building, the two programs have a lot in common. But unlike HBO's fantasy juggernaut, FX's Shōgun is based on historical events. And authenticity was at the forefront of everyone's minds during the production process. 

The majority of the series is spoken in Japanese, with subtitles for viewers at home to follow along. Justin Marks explained to the Television Critics Association crowd why such a simple detail expanded the scope of the series.

"One of the things, in looking to the book, that we felt was a really under-appreciated aspect of James Clavell's work was that actually it did an incredible job of telling a story from a variety of points of view," Marks said, "And using now, I think, a different audience standard that we can do this show in the language of the country where it is set, that we can have this in Japanese and that we can be subtitling it, and using subtitles not as a device to hold us further apart from another culture in another language, and the people who speak it, but to bring us closer to their inner thoughts, and who they are, and what they feel, meant that we could tell a story that was a lot more layered maybe than anything that could have been done before."

Culturally speaking, there was a proverbial elephant in the room that haunted Marks throughout the whole process of bringing the show to life. "How do we reflect this experience authentically in a way that feels like it is speaking with something new to say?" he said. "How do we get closer to not making the mistakes of the past when it comes to earlier depictions that Hollywood has done of stories set in Japan or set in other cultures?" 

One of the ways Marks and Kondo bridged the gap was by bringing on as many consultants and experts as they could to put each world-building detail under the microscope. Clavell's daughter Michaela has an executive producer credit on the series, as does Sanada -- which is the first time he's been entrusted with that type of responsibility.

"I could hire Japanese crew, specialists for the samurai drama -- wig, costume, props, everything," Sanada told the members of the TCA. "For the first time ever, I had a team to make it authentic as much as possible. I was so lucky and happy. Of course, responsibility was heavily on my shoulder. But more than that, I felt fun and happiness to create the authentic drama with a Western crew and Japanese crew together."

Will there be more Shōgun on the way?

hiroyuki sanada as lord yoshii toranaga on horseback in fx's shogun on hulu
Katie Yu/FX

Much like the 1980 miniseries, FX's Shōgun is a standalone limited series. The 10-episode story covers the entirety of Clavell's book. There is no plan, currently, to expand the story for a second season.