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Critic Complains That Show Set in 1500s Japan Didn't Have Any Black Characters

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The reviews for Disney-owned FX’s new hit miniseries “Shōgun” have been absolutely glowing.

That is, apart from one notable exception.

The series, based on a 1975 novel by James Clavell, follows the story of an English explorer in the 1500s who finds himself smack-dab in the middle of an intense political conflict unfolding in the Japanese empire.

Though many seem to be enjoying the show, one critic — writer William Spivey  — felt it was failing for one major reason: There is no black representation.



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The article is titled “Where Are the Black People in Shogun?”

Noting that there are historical accounts of a few Africans having made their way into Japan around the same time the show was set (though his claims may be dubious, this writer is no historian), Spivey argued more of these rarely-seen migrants should have made their way into the show’s story.

“Perhaps the 2024 version of Shogun will break ground in future episodes and include the Black people present at the time, though they didn’t in 1980,” he wrote.

“There is a range of hues among the Japanese people depicted; maybe one will be revealed to be Black. There are some upcoming naval scenes pitting Japanese ships against Europeans, so there’s hope some Black sailors will appear.”

Have you seen "Shōgun"?

The article, which originated as a blog on Medium, has received some seriously harsh criticism, to say the least.

The general public appears to be getting sick of diversity and inclusion being placed above accurate historical storytelling.

Just take a look at some of these reactions on X.

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Further throwing Spivey’s historical acumen into question, look at the opening quote of his (paid) article: “‘For a Samurai to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood.’ — Japanese Proverb.”

Sure, that sounds like a cool quote… but it’s not a Japanese proverb. Or at least, not one that any Japanese person has heard of.

In fact, many places attribute that quote to a 19th century French naval doctor, Georges Maget. Thanks to that attribution, people who aren’t race baiters can learn that “black blood” is a French term (“sang noir”) for a person of non-noble descent.

“Shōgun” is currently available to stream on Hulu.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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