‘Shōgun’s writers love all the Blackthorne and Yabushige memes from Mashable

Shōgun Tuesday is a sacred day on my X timeline.

Every week, viewers of FX’s staggering historical epic flock to the internet to post their thoughts about the show’s latest episode, whether it be shocked reactions to Toranaga’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) latest political plays, satisfaction at Mariko’s (Anna Sawai) poised verbal takedowns of her husband Buntaro (Shinnosuke Abe), or enjoyment of the many, many, many times John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) asks to be reunited with his men and his ship. Often, these reactions take the form of memes — and I can’t get enough.

As it turns out, neither can Shōgun‘s writers.

“You have these inside jokes in the writers’ room. They’re our own memes for so many years, so it’s just nice to not be alone anymore,” Shōgun showrunner, co-creator, and executive producer Justin Marks told Mashable. Marks co-created and executive produced Shōgun with Rachel Kondo, and in a joint interview with Mashable, the pair revealed their favorite internet responses to the series.

The enduring power of “my men and my ship.”

Cosmo Jarvis in “Shōgun.”
Credit: Katie Yu / FX

One of the Shōgun plot elements that’s only grown more meme-worthy over time is English pilot John Blackthorne’s insistence that he be reunited with his men and his ship. Seriously, if Blackthorne ever goes an episode without mentioning his men or his ship, we may be in an Invasion of the Body Snatchers situation, because that would not be the Blackthorne we know.

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According to Kondo and Marks, the Shōgun writers’ room also loved Blackthorne’s singular fixation throughout the series — and so did Blackthorne actor Cosmo Jarvis.

“There were some times while shooting where Cosmo was like, ‘I just think we’ve lost the thread of ‘my men and my ship’ again,” Marks said. The writers would then suggest new men-and-ship-centric lines to add, and they would inevitably end up in the show.

“It always hit, every time,” Marks continued. “Every time it started to come up, we would laugh in the edit.”

Fuji is the reaction queen of Shōgun.

Moeka Hoshi in “Shōgun.”
Credit: Katie Yu / FX

Another Shōgun meme MVP is highborn Lady Fuji (Moeka Hoshi), who endures unspeakable tragedy in the show’s first episode, yet who continues on to deliver some of the sharpest, most memorable, and even funniest reaction shots in the entire show. Take her disgusted response to Blackthorne leaving a pigeon outside to rot, or her calmly drawing a gun on Omi (Hiroto Kanai). And of course, every one of her pointed sips of tea is ripe for reaction giffing.

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“We always felt like someday Fuji’s reactions would become something, because we were always loving them in the writers’ room,” said Marks. “Then when we cast Moeka to play that part, we really felt like we had someone who had this silent film aura that we were always after.” The writers’ room have even started their own Fuji appreciation thread in honor of one of Shōgun‘s breakouts.

Yabushige is an internet icon.

Tadanobu Asano in “Shōgun.”
Credit: Katie Yu / FX

Another Shōgun breakout is Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano), the Lord of Izu. And what’s not to love? His attempts to play both sides of the conflict between Toranaga and Ishido (Takehiro Hira) hilariously never play out according to plan, he keeps a tier list ranking ways of dying, and he’s a reaction king in his own right. (Who can forget “I don’t have time for this Christian nonsense?”)

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The Shōgun writers never had anyone but Asano in mind for the role of Yabushige, keeping a photo of him with long hair and a tuxedo on the wall in the writers’ room. “It felt like, ‘this guy’s here to party,'” Marks said of the photo. “So we wrote that as the vibe for Yabushige. Then Carlos Rosario, our costume designer, came up with the black swan feather jinbaori, and we knew that was it. He was going to show up like David Bowie coming on stage, and it’s nice that people feel the same way that we do about him.”

“All the actors commandeer their characters so fully that’s it’s really hard to tangle out how we initially thought of them,” Kondo added of Asano’s fan-favorite performance. “How Tadanobu plays Yabushige now, I can’t imagine the character before he was a part of the show.”

Shōgun is full of dark comedy — just look at Nagakado’s fate.

Yuki Kura in “Shōgun.”
Credit: Katie Yu / FX

The meme-worthiness of Shōgun may seem surprising on the surface, given its gravitas and epic historical scope. But this is a show that consistently finds humor in its heaviest moments. Look no farther than the end of episode 7, “A Stick of Time.” In the episode’s final scene, Toranaga’s son, Nagakado (Yuki Kura), attempts to kill Toranaga’s brother, Saeki (Eita Okuno), during a rainy raid on Ajiro’s brothel. Just as he’s about to deal the killing blow, he slips on Saeki’s wet clothing — Marks referred to this as “the banana peel moment” — and cracks his skull open.

“Anybody who doesn’t think we’re doing a comedy in some way, I hope [episode] 7 has put that one to bed in terms of what we were after when it came to straight-faced comedy,” Marks said.

“It’s a dark comedy,” Kondo continued.

“Yeah, just about the plans we make and then how the plans life makes [can stop us],” Marks said.

“Or the plans slippery rocks make!” Kondo joked of Nagakado’s fate.

Shōgun is now streaming on Hulu.

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