In a season full of reveals (some surprising, some inevitable), one of the most exciting aspects of the Westworld Season 1 finale was a glimpse at another park—one centered around Asian samurai, which folks assumed was Samurai World. This promised viewers that Westworld is only the beginning, and that the world surrounding this park is far bigger than we ever imagined. We now know that Westworld Season 2 will delve deeper into what’s officially called “Shogun World,” and ahead of the premiere later this month, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are ready to reveal some details.
Speaking with EW, Nolan says the reason they went with Shogun World first instead of Medieval World or Roman World (which exist in the original Westworld film) is because in the world of the TV series, the developers of Westworld would be wanting to reach a global audience that’s not limited to the Western European or North American experience. And, well, because Nolan loves Japanese cinema:
“And selfishly, it comes down to being obsessed with Japanese cinema as a kid and earnestly wanting to make an homage to Akira Kurosawa and the other films I grew up watching. My older brothers and I watched Sergio Leone Westerns and Kurosawa’s classic samurai films and were fascinated to discover they had the same plot. You had this wonderful call and response between these two genres — with the gunslinger and the ronin. They have identical tropes but are set within different cultures. Frankly, this was just a great excuse to go and make a samurai movie with all the trimmings.”
Joy has a more personal tie to wanting to explore Shogun World:
“For me, it’s also personal. I grew up in Asia, and I remember as a little kid being in Taiwan watching films there and being so awed by these new worlds of entertainment. You saw new talents with the actors, new fighting styles, new types of wardrobe. It was exhilarating to me. So we looked to all our [department heads] to make sure we had the full thrill of exploring Shogun World … researching hair and production design and costume, working with choreographers who were skilled at fighting styles we haven’t seen before, and of course working with incredible talent, from Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi, and the other actors that we cast and the extras filling it out. It was wonderful to see that world come alive.”
The duo confirm that just like with Westworld, this park isn’t specifically tied down to historical accuracy. Shogun World is based on the Edo period, between 1603 and 1867, but because this is Westworld after all, Nolan says it also reflects the violence of some Japanese cinema:
“In addition to Kurosawa films, which are plenty bloody, I grew up watching the Sonny Chiba films — those are the ones Tarantino is riffing on in his films with the superfluidity of gore and mayhem; this sense of an alternately brutal and beautiful world that raises the volume on what the guests might be looking for. It wasn’t just about gore, it’s also about being immersive. We wanted to feel like our story dropped into a totally different world. Basically, we have a whole episode in Japanese.”
Nolan was quick to note that fans shouldn’t expect a majority of the second season to take place in Shogun World, but we will get a significant peek at the park and possibly a tease of some others:
“We want to try and gently temper expectations. Most of our season is spent in Westworld — the eponymous Westworld. But we do get a chance to glimpse some of the other worlds. And we have a couple of episodes that are spent in Shogun World with one of our storylines, while our other storylines continue elsewhere. So I say we’re trying to temper expectations, except to say that I think the stuff we did for Shogun World is spectacular.”
Yep, can’t wait. Westworld Season 2 premieres on HBO on April 22nd.