Shogun Season 2 Just Inched Closer to Being Confirmed

Is Shogun season 2 about to be announced or does FX just really want an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy?

“SHOGUN” -- "A Stick of Time" -- Episode 7 (Airs April 2) Pictured: Hiroyuki Sanada as Yoshii Toranaga.
Photo: Katie Yu | FX

The possibility of a second season for FX’s brilliant drama Shōgun just increased dramatically.

While rumors of a hypothetical second season have persisted since season 1 wrapped on April 23, Shōgun season 2 is now closer to reality than ever. Today Deadline reported that FX had cut a deal with Shōgun producer and lead actor Hiroyuki Sanada to return for a second season. Obviously, there are many other line-items that must be checked off before creating a season of television, but getting the star to put pen to paper on a contract suggests that the network (and its corporate parent Disney) is serious about this thing. The news also comes as somewhat of a surprise given the show’s ending.

In our own breakdown on the potentiality of a Shōgun season 2, we noted that it would be difficult to continue the story of Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Sanada) and his establishment of the Edo Period. The 10-episode series ends confidently and concretely as does James Clavell’s 1975 book of the same name upon which it is based. Even Shōgun‘s first adaptation in 1980 was a TV miniseries that received no followup. One thing that we forgot, however, is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. And when there’s a lot of money involved, it’s pretty easy to find a will.

Shōgun was a major success for Disney, pulling in millions of viewers across FX, Disney+, and Hulu. But that doesn’t make moving past the source material any less risky, as the latter seasons of Game of Thrones could tell you.

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Given the fact that Sanada is back in the fold, it does seem as though Shōgun season 2 will be a direct continuation and not an anthology as many suspected. Including Shōgun, Clavell wrote six historical books set in Asia known as “The Asian Saga.” One of these books, Gai-Jin, is set in Japan during the 1860s and features one on Lord Yoshii Toranaga’s descendants. If Sanada is to return as the actual Toranaga, that precludes the series from depicting his descendant in a 200-year time jump.

Deadline‘s story about Sanada returning to Shōgun season 2 was accompanied by reporting that FX is seriously considering submitting the show in the “Outstanding Drama Series” category at the Emmys rather than the “Outstanding Limited Series” category. With HBO juggernaut Succession no longer on the air, the drama category has become up for grabs. Meanwhile, the Limited Series roster looks to be as competitive as ever with shows like Baby Reindeer, True Detective: Night Country, and Ripley all vying for the trophy.

This raises the possibility that FX is engaging in some shrewd politicking that would make Toranaga proud. There is no such thing as the “Industry Awards Show Police Department.” Nothing is stopping Disney from submitting Shōgun as a drama even if it was intended to be a limited series. Still, Shōgun winning the drama award and then never producing additional seasons could rub many folks in the industry the wrong way. By signing a contract with Sanada and creating a paper trail for a second season they may never intend to create, Disney would be buying good will and generating plausible deniability.

Is that what’s happening here? Probably not. Is it far more likely that a network merely wants another season of a successful show? Almost definitely. Has conspiratorial thinking rotted my brain down to the stem? Absolutely. But that doesn’t change the fact that enacting a grand Crimson Sky-esque plot to win an award would be the perfect way to pay homage to Lord Yoshii Toranaga and Shōgun.