In the Season 1 finale of Westworld, Maeve was shocked to discover evidence of other parks outside of her own. As she travelled through the control rooms with Felix and Hector in tow, she stumbled across a group of hosts styled as feudal Japanese warriors. It was the first sign of Shogun World — but wait, what is Shogun World on Westworld?
It has now become clear that there are several parks outside of the titular one. There are six in total, though fans have only seen Westworld and the Raj, which was where the Man in Black's daughter went to hunt Bengal tigers. The promo for Season 2 Episode 5, "Akane no Mai," provides a glimpse at Shogun World, a park modeled after Japan's Edo period, according to the official Delos website. It's described as catering to "those for whom Westworld is not enough," offering a place where "the true connoisseur of gore can indulge their fantasies with the slash of a katana." It allows guests to play at being warriors while presumably engaging in all the brutality one has come to expect from a Delos park.
Maeve will be traveling to Shogun World soon, but the journey has been highly anticipated by fans ever since "The Bicameral Mind." And there's a lot to look forward to in this new facet of Delos Destinations.
While viewers may have expected to see Medieval World or Roman World next, because both featured in the 1973 film that Westworld was based on, showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan had a few different reasons for choosing Shogun World instead. One in-universe explanation was that it was simply a good business decision for Delos. "But also if you're doing a theme park, you wouldn't limit it to the Western European or North American experience," Nolan told Entertainment Weekly. "You'd try to reach a global audience. So the idea is you have a texture here that's totally different."
Nolan also spoke at length to several outlets about his love of Akira Kurosawa films, as well as the link between Westerns and Japanese samurai films. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said:
The reason we went with the shogun, Imperial Japanese motif for that world is in large part because of the beautiful relationship you had between the golden age Westerns and the golden age samurai films. As soon as Akira Kurosawa would make a film, it would get remade with cowboys. The idea that those stories worked in two very distinct genres and languages, and the relationship between those genres, to me was irresistible as an homage to how Kurosawa was responsible for some of the greatest Westerns of all time.
While Joy shared Nolan's cinematic tastes, it was also more personal for her. "It's wonderful to work with actors we haven't worked with before," she told THR. "This allows us a lot of access to Asian actors and the Asian community, which is very important to me as part-Asian myself."
Like Westworld and the Raj, Shogun World won't necessarily be wholly accurate to the time period it references. Nolan dubbed it a "composite" to EW, pointing out that the other parks had also taken on various aspects of the worlds they depicted to create something that hit all the expected notes without being super faithful. The time Shogun World is meant to reflect spanned 300 years, while Westworld often references anything from the Civil War to the early 19th Century. It evokes a period and a feeling, much like movies do.
Viewers will find out if it's a world they're curious to explore further when Episode 5 airs on May 20 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.