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You can now stream the original Shōgun miniseries — here’s how

You can now stream the original Shōgun from the '80s!

Yoko Shimada and Richard Chamberlain in Shogun.
Paramount Television

After making a tremendous debut earlier this year, FX and Hulu’s Shōgun is easily one of the top TV series of 2024. In addition to being critically acclaimed, Shōgun is such a massive hit that FX is already planning additional seasons to what was originally a standalone adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 novel. It was also one of Hulu’s most-streamed series of the year, so it’s understandable why FX wants to keep the show going.

This isn’t the first time that Shōgun has taken audiences by storm. The original TV adaptation of Shōgun from 1980 was widely considered one of the greatest miniseries ever made. It also had the distinction of being the first and only U.S. production to be filmed entirely in Japan. At the time the new Shōgun premiered earlier this year, the original miniseries wasn’t available to stream. But thanks to the new adaptation, fans can now find the 1980 incarnation of Shōgun on one of the major streaming services.

Where is the original Shōgun available to stream?

Richard Chamberlain in Shogun.
Paramount Television

The 1980 adaptation of Shōgun is now streaming on Paramount+. Although the miniseries was broadcast on NBC over five nights, the production was handled by Paramount Television. That’s why Paramount retains the rights 44 years later.

Paramount was well-aware that a new adaptation of Shōgun was coming and yet the studio still waited until months after its premiere to pull the original out of the vault for Paramount+. The Shōgun Blu-ray was released in 2014, and it is still readily available on Amazon. But until now, streaming options for the miniseries were limited.

What’s the difference between the two versions of Shōgun?

Toshirô Mifune and Yôko Shimada in Shogun.
Paramount Television

Since both adaptations of Shōgun take their inspiration from Clavell’s story, many aspects are the same in each miniseries. In 1980, Richard Chamberlain had the leading role as John Blackthorne, an English sailor who is shipwrecked in Japan in 1600. In order to survive, Blackthorne adapts to Japanese customs and culture, and he finds a potential forbidden love affair with Lady Mariko (Yoko Shimada). Blackthorne is also caught between Lord Toranaga (Toshiro Mifune) and his enemies in a battle for Japan’s future.

FX’s adaptation shook things up by placing Mariko (Anna Sawai) and Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) as main characters whose importance in the story may even eclipse Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis). Mariko and Lord Toranaga’s narratives are also given more time to develop. And most notably, Sanada has top billing over both Jarvis and Sawai.

There are also other points of divergence between the two adaptations. As a narrative choice, the vast majority of the Japanese dialogue in the original Shōgun was presented without subtitles. The justification for this was that it would place the viewers in the same situation as Blackthorne, who couldn’t understand what was being said. That also had the unintended affect of making parts of the miniseries harder to follow.

Additionally, FX’s Shōgun was always intended as a cable presentation, and its TV-MA rating allows it to go farther with its mature content than the 1980 adaptation was allowed to explore. Regardless, the original Shōgun is still worth revisiting, especially since any follow-up seasons for FX’s Shōgun are at least a few years away.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell is a freelance writer for The Manual, Digital Trends, Fandom, Yahoo Entertainment, and more!
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