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At the beginning of the 17th century, England, Spain and Portugal were battling it out on the seas to conquer new territories and trading posts. John Blackthorne’s ship runs aground on the Japanese coast. The surviving crew members are starving and in poor condition. Bold and fearless, Blackthorne is chosen by a local lord to share intelligence on the foreign nations, then to train his army. First a pawn in a complex and subtle game of powers between Japanese noble warriors, he immerses himself in customs to survive and regain his freedom. In this, he will receive help from the beautiful lady Mariko, a christian lady who acts as a translator.

The images are beautiful, but that’s not enough to compensate for an average scenario. At the time, Japan was divided into rival fiefdoms. Three rival foreign nations were present. To say that the political context was complex and conducive to war would be an understatement. Unfortunately, the series struggles to convey this complexity. The first episode is confusing. The characters aren’t detailed enough, and a few snippets from their past aren’t enough to identify with them. The actor who plays Blackthorne is nice, but he’s nothing like a seasoned sailor damaged by life. The series adopts a contemplative, sedate pace, which can be disconcerting when you’d expect a lot of action. The use of Japanese as the only audio language helps us to better perceive the isolation of the English character, but it’s painful…

For the oldest among us, the novel by James Clavell had already been adapted in a miniseries in 1980, with Richard Chamberlain.

Miniseries, 10 episodes (50 mn), 2024

With : Hiroyuki Sanada / Lord Yoshii Toranaga, Cosmo Jarvis / John Blackthorne “Anjin”, Anna Sawai / Toda Mariko

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