‘Shogun’ TV Show vs. Book: Differences Revealed by Producer

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FX’s new miniseries ‘Shogun’ is stirring up quite the conversation, especially when it comes to how it stacks up against James Clavell’s original 1975 novel. The show, set to premiere this February, dives into the riveting story of Lord Yoshio Toranaga and British sailor John Blackthorne in 1600s Feudal Japan. But if you’re expecting a scene-for-scene remake of the book, think again.

The scoop comes straight from The Direct, where the show’s producers shared some behind-the-scenes insights. They made it clear that adapting such a hefty book wasn’t about copying every detail but more about capturing its essence. Michaela Clavell, the daughter of the original author and an executive producer on the show, mentioned that with a book as massive as ‘Shogun’, they had to be selective. ‘You can’t show it all even in 10 hours,’ she said, highlighting the necessity to focus on key parts of the story.

One of the most intriguing changes is the shift in narrative perspective. Unlike the 1980 miniseries that largely followed Blackthorne, this version aims to balance the viewpoints between him and Toranaga. This approach, according to Clavell, aligns more closely with the book’s multifaceted storytelling, offering a richer, more rounded experience.


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Justin Marks, the co-creator, and showrunner, brought a fresh pair of eyes to the project, having not been familiar with the original series or the book. He and Rachel Kondo were drawn to the story’s potential for new interpretations, particularly in today’s context. Marks expressed a desire to build on Clavell’s foundation and explore uncharted territory, making the story relevant for a contemporary audience.

The series doesn’t shy away from the brutal realities of the era it portrays. Both Marks and Kondo emphasized their careful approach to depicting violence and gore, striving for authenticity without glorification. Their goal is to present action in a way that feels real and immediate, reflecting the serious consequences of violence.

As the premiere date approaches, fans of the book and newcomers alike are eager to see how ‘Shogun’ will reinterpret this classic tale for the screen. With its fresh perspectives and thoughtful adaptation, the series promises to be an exciting journey through a pivotal moment in history.

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