Is Toranaga’s Son, Nagakado, Dead In ‘Shogun’? Did Naga Die In The Book?


Perhaps there was a reason why we were shown young Toranaga’s calm and sincere demeanor during his first battle. Toranaga had always been different. The first scene of Shogun episode 7 established a loud and clear distinction between him and his son, Yoshii Nagakado (or Naga, in the book). Nagakado was nothing like his father nor will he ever be. Like most warriors of his age, Nagakado was a reckless lad who believed war and fury were the answers to everything in this world. Toranaga, on the other hand, avoided spilling unnecessary blood as much as possible. He was the master of tactics. He believed in winning the war without unsheathing one’s sword.

Spoiler Alert

At the end of Shogun episode 7, Nagakado picked up a band of warriors from his father’s military and attacked Toranaga’s half-brother, Saeki Nobutatsu (or Zataki in the book), who is five years younger than Toranaga. Nagakado’s motives were simple. He wanted to kill his uncle and liberate his father from the new Regent, who had brought dishonor to the family’s name. But even though Nagakado’s intentions were good, his plan wasn’t properly chalked out. He just wanted to kill Saeki, but he didn’t know how. Nagakado made a surprise visit to the Tea Shop and attacked Saeki, only to slip to his own death in the most reckless manner possible. The thing is, Nagakado was neither an ace warrior nor a skillful strategist. He was an impulsive lad who wanted to make his father happy and yearned for his validation. But in desperation to do so, he dug his own grave. However, in the book, Naga didn’t meet a similar fate and never really attacked his uncle. He remained alive until the attack on Osaka.

In the FX series, Nagakado had become a burden for Toranaga and his army. Toranaga never wanted to declare war on his worst nemesis, Ishido, and the other Regents, and was waiting for them to commit a mistake so that he could turn the tides in his favor. But it turned out that it was his own son who sparked the first flames of war by killing Ishido’s messenger, Jozen, in episode 4. Perhaps Toranaga had something similar in mind: to bring Ishido into the wild so that he could capture him easily, but at that moment, Toranaga wasn’t prepared to deal with the fallouts of his son’s impulsive actions, which changed the course of the war forever. Toranaga was forced to come up with a tactic to deal with the danger looming over their heads, but it turned out he had nothing. Moreover, more than half of his army suffered a massive loss during the earthquake.

The question here is: why did Toranaga decide to surrender? Except for the few hot heads in Toranaga’s army, including his own son, only the Tea Shop owner, Gin, was able to crack the mystery. Now, I could be wrong here, but maybe Gin wanted to suggest a similar assassination attempt on Saeki, but Toranaga didn’t approve of it. It could also be speculated that it wasn’t Nagakado’s idea to attack Saeki. Instead, it was Omi who poisoned his mind, like earlier.

Toranaga, on the other hand, knew that it would be futile to wage a war against his brother while his entire army was on alert. A masterful strategist like Toranaga believed in attacking his enemy when they least expected it. He wanted to make Saeki feel that he had won the battle, but the war was far from over. Maybe on their way to Osaka, Toranaga’s hidden army from Edo would attack Saeki and his army in the woods. But now, when Nagakado had already made one assassin attempt on him, he wouldn’t let his guard down any time soon. Toranaga had to re-strategize everything from scratch and become the Shogun, a title that he had been running from since the very first episode. Maybe Toranaga’s secretive plan, Crimson Sky, is still in motion, and Saeki’s betrayal was part of it. Toranaga wanted to end the evil regime of Ishido by any means possible, but he couldn’t launch an attack on the guarded city of Osaka. His army wouldn’t be able to penetrate the city, and therefore Toranaga needed a strategy to bring the city down, and maybe his surrender was part of his grand plan to penetrate the city walls. Only the upcoming episodes of Shogun will tell better.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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