Tag: Lord Toranaga

With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review

With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review

It’s another week and time for another winning entry from our annual student competition. This one’s a great read.

Communication in the Unknown
By Sean Tierney

You’re steps away from entering an unfamiliar building, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, in an unfamiliar land; it’s your first day at a new school and the only thing you know for certain is that you don’t. Now imagine we bottle up this tense sensation of being engulfed in uncertainty and crank the dial up to eleven, that’s the feeling encountering main character John Blackthorne in FX’s Shogun. A character who is not only navigating the trials and tribulations of an unfamiliar culture and language, but one who is also coping with the understanding that his life is in another man’s hands and even the slightest false step could put him six feet under.

While Blackthorne strives to understand the foreign land he has stumbled upon, even more is hidden behind the stoic expressions of the Samurai and their culture. Blackthorne effectively serves as a tour guide through this renowned culture as both he and the audience are uncovering the many layers all at once. There’s a notion surrounding film culture that exposition is cheap and film/TV should ‘show don’t tell’. By utilizing Blackthorne as a tour guide, Shogun subverts the need for exposition allowing the audience to see Japan for the first time through a newcomer’s eyes. That is the superpower of Shogun, the show’s ability to demonstrate rather than explain, utilizing its main character for both practical and impactful purposes.

Japanese culture has always seemed to have somewhat of an aura around it; there’s a natural intrigue surrounding the uniqueness of it, yet also kind of a mysterious nature surrounding their culture. The podcast Hardcore History, hosted by Dan Carlin, did a six-part series called “Supernova in the East” centered around the Pacific Theater during World War II. This series focuses heavily on the fanaticism of Japan’s culture and the prevailing narrative surrounding them is that “The Japanese are just like everyone else, only more so”. Continue reading “With Further Ado #301: Guest Columnist – Communication in the Unknown – A Shogun Review”