With less than two weeks to go until Westworld finally returns for its second season, we're still waiting to learn even more about the show's still-mysterious second park, Shogun World. Now, after a promotional website offered up more teases last week, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are shedding even more light on the park that will take visitors into Japanese history.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nolan opened up a bit about the decision to create Shogun World in the first place, rather than trying out adaptations of the Medieval World and Roman World parks in Michael Crichton's 1973 Westworld film. The story-logic answer is a question of marketing, but the personal answer is rooted in fun.
"Part of the reason we’re going to Shogun World instead of to Roman World or Medieval World is, yes, you saw those in the original film. But also if you’re doing a theme park, you wouldn’t limit it to the Western European or North American experience. You’d try to reach a global audience," Nolan said. "So the idea is you have a texture here that’s totally different.
"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."
Nolan and Joy also confirmed that the park's setting will be the Edo Period of Japanese history between 1603 and 1868, but noted that, like the Westworld park, the Shogun World park will be a "composite" featuring "artifacts from across 300 years" to make it more fun for guests. Nolan also confirmed viral teasers hinting at even more gore in Shogun World, comparing the experience to Kurosawa and Sonny Chiba films, but noted that there's more to it than just blood.
"It wasn’t just about gore, it’s also about being immersive," he said. "We wanted to feel like our story dropped into a totally different world. Basically, we have a whole episode in Japanese."
So, apart from that "whole episode in Japanese" (it's unclear whether Nolan meant a full episode or an episode's worth of Japanese material spread out across the season), how much can we expect to see of Shogun World in Season 2? Well, Nolan said we can expect to spend "a couple of episodes" in the second park over the course of one storyline (Thandie Newton's Maeve is shown in Shogun World in the latest trailer), while other storylines will stick to Westworld for the time being. That said, there is one other interesting tease in Nolan's remarks:
"Most of our season is spent in Westworld — the eponymous Westworld. But we do get a chance to glimpse some of the other worlds."
"Other worlds." Plural. Does that mean we're getting even more new park introductions before the season is out? Well, that Delos viral website did tease four more locations we don't know about yet. It sounds like we might learn more soon...
Westworld returns April 22 on HBO.