Enjoyed Shōgun? Here Are 8 Similar Historical Dramas to Binge

Created by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, ‘Shōgun’ chronicles an astonishing story set in 17th-century Japan against the backdrop of an impending civil war. Shōgun Yoshii Toranag is struggling with political foes when a mysterious European pilot, John Blackthorne, is shipwrecked on his shores. Realizing that the sailor’s knowledge may tip the delicate balance of power in his favor, the shōgun employs an enigmatic translator, Toda Mariko, to elicit the foreigner’s assistance for the impending civil conflict.

An adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 novel of the same name, ‘Shōgun’ is a rich historical drama highlighted for its high production quality and attention to detail in depicting the authenticity of the period. Just as the miniseries transports us to a different era and immerses us in a unique culture, these eight shows like ‘Shōgun’ present their own enthralling historical narratives.

8. Gunshi Kanbee (2014)

‘Gunshi Kanbee’ presents a historical tale set during Japan’s Sengoku period, based on the life of the legendary strategist Kuroda Kanbei. As the nation plunges into chaos, Kanbei traverses the treacherous landscape, using his cunning intellect and strategic prowess to overcome formidable adversaries. Rising from humble origins, Kanbei ascends to prominence, earning the trust of powerful feudal lords and shaping the course of history with his visionary leadership.

Written by Yoichi Maekawa, ‘Gunshi Kanbee’ draws us into the intrigue and drama of feudal Japan, portraying the complexities of loyalty, honor, and ambition. Fans of ‘Shogun’ will appreciate the series’ epic scope, intricate plotting, and authentic depiction of historical events.

7. Sanada Maru (2016)

Written by Kōki Mitani, ‘Sanada Maru’ unfolds a gripping tale set in Japan’s feudal era, focusing on the legendary samurai, Sanada Yukimura. Amidst the chaos of the Sengoku period, Sanada Yukimura rises as a valiant warrior, defending his clan against rival warlords and imperial forces. Tasked with safeguarding the treasured Sanadamaru fortress, Yukimura navigates intricate political alliances while facing relentless adversaries.

With his unwavering courage and strategic brilliance, Yukimura becomes a symbol of resilience and honor in a tumultuous time of strife and upheaval. Crafted with meticulous attention to historical detail, ‘Sanadamaru’ will appeal to those who like the authentic recreation of Edo-era Japan in ‘Shōgun.’ Both shows offer a captivating portrayal of Japan’s turbulent past, blending action, intrigue, and character-driven drama.

6. Three Kingdoms (2010)

‘Three Kingdoms’ retells the epic saga of ancient China’s turbulent period, marked by the warring states of Wei, Shu, and Wu. Amidst political intrigue and military conquests, warlords vie for power and dominance, forging alliances and betrayals in their quest for supremacy. Based on Luo Guanzhong’s 14th-century book, ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms,’ the series follows the lives of key figures such as Liu Bei, Cao Cao, and Sun Quan as they forge a path through the landscapes of power struggles and battlefield tactics.

With engaging cinematography and storytelling, ‘Three Kingdoms’ brings to life the legendary heroes and battles of Chinese history. Fans of ‘Shogun’ will appreciate the intricate political dynamics, strategic warfare, and rich cultural backdrop depicted in this historical drama.

4. Yasuke (2021)

Netflix’s ‘Yasuke‘ unveils a mesmerizing tale set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan, loosely based on the historical African samurai Yasuke. grapples with his past while navigating a world of mysticism and warfare. Created by LeSean Thomas, the anime follows Yasuke’s journey as he becomes entangled in a conflict between warring factions and confronts supernatural forces threatening the realm. As the African samurai battles both external foes and internal demons, we are drawn into epic battles, intricate plot twists, and moments of introspection.

With stunning animation and a richly detailed setting, ‘Yasuke’ immerses us in a unique blend of history and fantasy, offering a fresh perspective on samurai lore. Much like John Blackthorne in ‘Shōgun,’ Yasuke faces cultural clashes and stands out in Japanese society, providing a fascinating alternate exploration of how such a scenario would have historically played out.

5. Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (2021-)

Netflix’s ‘Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan’ is a docudrama that delves into the warring era of Japan’s Sengoku period, exploring the power struggles and conflicts that shaped the nation’s history. Through a blend of dramatic reenactments and expert analysis directed by Stephen Scott, the series chronicles the rise and fall of feudal warlords vying for supremacy, including Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Amidst battles and betrayals, alliances are forged and broken, leading to pivotal moments in Japan’s unification.

With its gripping storytelling and vivid portrayal of historical events, ‘Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan’ captures the intrigue and drama of the Azuchi–Momoyama period, offering viewers a captivating glimpse into the lives of legendary figures. Enthusiasts of historical dramas like ‘Shogun’ will appreciate the series’ exploration of similar themes in true history, including political intrigue, military strategy, and the clash of cultures.

3. Blue Eye Samurai (2023-)

Under the creative direction of Amber Noizumi and Michael Green, ‘Blue Eye Samurai’ takes us to Japan’s Edo period, when the Tokugawa shogunate closed its borders to all foreigners as well as their goods. The animated series presents an alternate historical narrative that centers around Mizu, a half-white, half-Japanese samurai on a quest to hunt down the four white men who illegally remain hidden in Japan. Abandoned at birth, Mizu was brutally bullied as a child due to her bright blue eyes giving away her foreign lineage in a time of extreme xenophobia in Japan. After training under a blind blacksmith who takes her in, Mizu sets off on her hunt, concealing her eye color and gender while navigating the treacherous streets of small towns and cities alike.

With the backdrop of political upheaval in the empire, Mizu comes across engaging characters who challenge her to develop her views while lending aid in her seemingly impossible mission to kill her father, who is one of the four white men. The series features gripping character arcs, stunning visuals, and a gritty exploration of the time period’s social realities. Like with Toda Mariko, enthusiasts of ‘Shōgun’ will find an in-depth discourse on Edo-era Japanese women and onna-musha in ‘Blue Eye Samurai,’ along with politics, cultural intricacies, and foreign influences.

2. Shogun (1980)

An earlier adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 novel, the miniseries is loosely based on the real-life English navigator William Adams, who ended up serving as a high-ranking official to the Shogun. The 1980s show was well-received and stood out for its authenticity, along with mature themes and shocking content that even modern television censor boards would swoon at. If you liked the Hulu version of ‘Shogun,’ the trailblazing miniseries will serve as an interesting watch to witness how well the 80’s production re-created the era with practical effects and resources of the time.

1. Rome (2005-2007)

Set in ancient Rome, the series delves into the intricate web of power, politics, and betrayal during the final years of the Roman Republic. The narrative centers on the lives of two soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, as they witness the crumbling political landscape. Another side of the story depicts the rise of Julius Caesar and the fall of the Republic. Through their eyes, we witness the manipulation, ambition, and literal backstabbing that characterize this infamous period in history.

Just as ‘Shogun’ draws us into its era and culture, ‘Rome’ masterfully blends historical accuracy with compelling storytelling, offering an immersive experience into the world of ancient Rome. Both series are known for their attention to detail and compelling portrayal of an epic historical tale.

Read More: Is Shōgun Based on a True Story?