Forget ‘Game Of Thrones’: FX’s ‘Shōgun’ Director Compares U.S.-Japanese Epic To A Different HBO Hit

Long-awaited FX epic Shōgun, which launches tomorrow, has been compared to HBO epic Game of Thrones by all and sundry, but director Jonathan van Tulleken has different comparators in mind.

While van Tulleken acknowledged the adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 tome is “an epic, a spectacle,” he told the BBC this morning that a better comparison would be another HBO series, Succession, along with Netflix’s House of Cards.

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“Truly it is a character piece and it is about this intrigue,” he told the Today program. “This is a dangerous world where violence can come out of nowhere but the real danger is in the machinations. A conversation can be as dangerous as anything else. A better comparison [than Game of Thrones] would be Succession or House of Cards.”

Based on the 1,200-page novel, the highly-anticipated series is set in Japan in the year 1600, at the dawn of a century-defining civil war. Producer Hiroyuki Sanada stars as Lord Yoshii Toranaga who is fighting for his life as his enemies on the Council of Regents unite against him. When a mysterious European ship is found marooned in a nearby fishing village, its English pilot, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), comes bearing secrets that could help Toranaga tip the scales of power and devastate the formidable influence of Blackthorne’s own enemies.

The book was made into a limited series for NBC in 1980. Van Tulleken said FX’s version, which is a Japanese co-production, has been laser focused on avoiding the western gaze.

“This is made hand in hand with the Japanese because it is a story about two cultures encountering each other and seeing ourselves in each other,” he said.

“We are way past [the western gaze] in terms of audience sophistication and the stories we want to tell. What we really want to tell is a story of political intrigue, imprisonment and entrapment.”

Launching tomorrow, the series is created by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks. Van Tulleken directs the first two episodes. Deadline revealed last week he is helming Amazon’s Blade Runner 2099 epic, replacing Jeremy Podeswa.

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