Friday, October 10, 2003


Some of you probably thought it was a video game eh? :) But no, I'm talking about James Clavell's SHOGUN, starring Richard Chamberlain, Toshiro Mifune and Yoko Shimada. It was shown in Philippine television in the early 80's as a huge TWELVE part series. Is anyone reading this old enough to have seen this and liked it? It just came out on DVD and I grabbed a copy immediately. I'ts been more than 20 years and this series has lost none of it's power.

A lot of people may not realize it, but Shogun had a huge impact on people and culture, specially in America. Certainly books, comics and other films (more notably by Akira Kurosawa and Hiroshi Inagaki) have been around a long time before, but none of them have made such a hard and long lasting impact as Shogun had. And for many Americans, Shogun was their very first exposure to Japanese culture. It has been reported that movie and restaurant sales went down during the time Shogun had been showing on TV. And a huge number of Japanese restaurants opened and a lot of American men took Japanese brides. You come away from watching this series knowing how to speak some Japanese. Even I learned a few useful words and phrases here and there.

Chris Claremont was so inspired by Shogun that he brought the X-men to Japan and introduced a Japanese character named Mariko (the name of the lead character in Shogun), whom Wolverine fell in love with. Before this, Wolverine was a ticking time bomb, crude and berserker. In the Wolverine limited series written by Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller, Wolverine went through basically the same journey that the hero of Shogun, John Blackthorn (Anjin-san), did. Wolverine and Blackthorn were at first looked down upon because they were foreigners. Gaining the respect of the Japanese, each earned their respective names Gaijin-san and Anjin-san. Each went through hell and emerged through the other samurai.

Some of that probably rubbed off on Miller that Ninjas started appearing in Daredevil, and he eventually did RONIN. Pretty soon a lot of other comic books were having ninjas or samurais and all sorts of other Japanese things in their comics. Miller continues right to the present with MIHO on Sin City. Shogun is one of the reasons why manga and anime are so accepted and welcomed in the western world, and to us as well.

Sapphire and Steel!

One of my most favorite Sci-Fi series is finally coming out on DVD! Like Shogun, very few of you may not remember this or even heard of it, but during its time (1979), Sapphire and Steel was phenomenal. Sapphire and Steel wasn't that high profile even during its time. But it WAS way ahead of its time. It had stories, concepts and characters that were so strange, so fantastic that it probably turned off a lot of viewers. But it thrilled quite a few...including ME. It was like X-Files with super powers. Sapphire (Joanna Lumley) was beautiful and mysterious, Steel (David McCallum) was quite and cool and in control. Silver (David Collings) was awesome as a guy who could replicate any object just by touching it. It was a series that had one of the most disturbing and unforgettable endings. I can't wait to see it again.