Shōgun (TV miniseries)

Shōgun (TV miniseries)

name = Shōgun

caption = "Shōgun Poster in 1980"
director = Jerry London
producer = Eric Bercovici
Ben Chapman
James Clavell
Kerry Feltham
writer = James Clavell (novel)
Eric Bercovici
starring = Richard Chamberlain
Toshirô Mifune
Yôko Shimada
Damien Thomas
John Rhys-Davies
music = Maurice Jarre
Richard Bowden arranger
cinematography = Andrew Laszlo
editing = James T. Heckert
Bill Luciano
Donald R. Rode
Benjamin A. Weissman
Jerry S. Young
production design = Joseph R. Jennings
set decoration = Tom Pedigo
costume design = Shin Nishida
distributors = National Broadcasting Company
Paramount Pictures
British Broadcasting Corporation
released = 1980 (USA)
runtime = 547 min.
125 minutes (theatrical version)
country = USA
language = English

"Shōgun" is an American television miniseries based on the namesake novel by James Clavell. The miniseries was broadcast over five nights, between September 15 and September 19, 1980 on NBC in the United States. As with the novel, the title is often shown as "Shōgun" in order to conform to Hepburn romanization.


The story is based on the adventures of English navigator William Adams. The series follows Pilot John Blackthorne's experiences in Japan in the early 1600's.


The miniseries, with narration by Orson Welles, starred Richard Chamberlain as John Blackthorne (Anjin-san), Toshiro Mifune as Lord Toranaga, Yoko Shimada as Lady Toda Buntaro "a.k.a." Mariko, John Rhys-Davies in one of his first major roles as Portuguese Pilot Vasco Rodrigues and Michael Hordern as Friar Domingo.

Episode guide

It was also broadcast in repeats as six two-hour parts and sometimes edited for content (particularly the omission of the beheading and urinating scenes in episode 1).The DVD release has no episode breaks. It is divided over 4 discs with bonus features on disc 5.


The mini-series was one of the highest-rated programs in NBC history and sparked a wave of historical-based miniseries over the next few years. A shorter version of the mini-series, edited down to only two hours, was released to home video and some theatres as a feature film; this version of the film includes nudity, sexuality, and violence that was not included in the broadcast version. The success of the miniseries was credited with increasing awareness of Japanese culture in America. In the documentary "The Making of Shōgun", it is stated that the rise of Japanese food establishments in the US (particularly sushi houses) is attributed to "Shōgun".

exuality and violence

"Shōgun" broke several taboos and firsts for American broadcast TV.
*It was the first network show allowed to use the word "piss" in dialogue and actually to show the act of urination.
*A man shown being beheaded early in the first chapter was another first for network TV (although the film version of the sequence was more bloody).
*The miniseries was also noted for its frank discussion of sexuality, nudity, and of matters such as Japanese ritual suicide (seppuku).
*To date, it is the only USA-based TV show/miniseries to be filmed entirely on location in Japan. Even the studio shots were done in Japanese studios.

Out of all the Japanese actors hired to be part of the cast, only two spoke English in the entire production: Mariko (Yoko Shimada) and Urano (Takeshi Ôbayashi). At the time the miniseries was made, Shimada did not actually know English and relied on a dialogue coach to help her with English dialogue.

Originally, according to the documentary "The Making of Shōgun", featured on the North American DVD release, James Clavell wanted Sean Connery to play Blackthorne, but Connery balked at doing television. Other actors considered for the role included Roger Moore and Albert Finney. It was also noted in the documentary that during the week of broadcast, many restaurants and movie houses saw a decrease in business. The documentary states many stayed home to watch "Shōgun" — unprecedented for a television broadcast. (The broadcast predated popular use of the home VCR by several years.)


* Richard Chamberlain as Pilot-Major John Blackthorne (Anjin-san)
* Toshirō Mifune as Yoshi Toranaga, Lord of the Kwanto
* Yôko Shimada as Lady Mariko Buntaro-Toda
* Damien Thomas as Father Martin Alvito
* John Rhys-Davies as Portuguese Pilot Vasco Rodrigues
* Takeshi Ôbayashi as Urano
* Michael Hordern as Friar Domingo
* Yuki Meguro as Omi, Head Samurai of Anjiro
* Frankie Sakai as Lord Kasigi Yabu, Daimyo of Izu
* Alan Badel as Father Dell'Aqua
* Leon Lissek as Father Sebastio
* Vladek Sheybal as Captain Ferriera
* Hideo Takamatsu as Lord Buntaro
* Nobuo Kaneko as Ishido, Ruler of Osaka Castle
* Hiromi Senno as Fujiko
* George Innes as Johann Vinck
* Hiroshi Hasegawa as Galley Captain
* Akira Sera as Old Gardener
* Atsuko Sano as Lady Ochiba
* Miiko Taka as Kiri


* 1981 Peabody Award
* 1981 Golden Globe, won:
**Best TV-Series - Drama
**Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama: Richard Chamberlain
**Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama: Yôko Shimada
* 1981 nominated American Cinema Editors "Eddie" Award, Best Edited Episode from a Television Mini-Series(episode 1): James T. Heckert, Bill Luciano, Donald R. Rode, Benjamin A. Weissman, Jerry Young
* 1981 Emmy, won:
**Outstanding Limited Series: James Clavell (executive producer), Eric Bercovici (producer)
**Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (episode 5): Shin Nishida
**Outstanding Graphic Design and Title Sequences (episode 1): Phill Norman (graphic designer)
* 1981 Emmy, nominated:
**Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special: Richard Chamberlain
**Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special: Toshirô Mifune
**Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special: Yôko Shimada
**Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special: John Rhys-Davies
**Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special: Yuki Meguro
**Outstanding Achievement in Film Sound Editing (episode 3): Stanley Paul (supervising sound editor), William Andrews (sound editor), Leonard Corso (sound editor), Denis Dutton (sound editor), Jack A. Finlay (sound editor), Robert Gutknecht (sound editor), Sean Hanley (sound editor), Pierre Jalbert (sound editor), Jack Keath (sound editor), Alan L. Nineberg (sound editor), Lee Osborne (sound editor), Tally Paulos (sound editor)
**Outstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or a Special (episode 5): Joseph R. Jennings (production designer), Yoshinobu Nishioka (art director), Tom Pedigo (set decorator), Shoichi Yasuda (set decorator)
**Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special (episode 4): Andrew Laszlo
**Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series or a Special (episode 5): Jerry London
**Outstanding Film Editing for a Limited Series or a Special (episode 5): Donald R. Rode, Benjamin A. Weissman, Jerry Young, Bill Luciano
**Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special (episode 5): Eric Bercovici (writer)

Theatrical release

A 125-minute edit of the miniseries was released to theatrical film markets in Europe in 1980. This version was also the first version of the miniseries to be released to the home video market in North America (a release of the full miniseries did not occur until later). The film version contains additional violence and nudity that had been removed from the NBC version.

External links


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