🔖 3 min read

Spring 2024 has been quite the season for anyone intrigued by the samurai theme. Two very well-received pieces of media just hit our screens and pushed samurai warriors to the forefront of entertainment. The biggest of these was, of course, Shōgun. The FX historical drama was an instant hit.

Not long after Shōgun’s premiere in the final days of February, Rise of the Rōnin came exclusively to the PlayStation 5. The Japanese-developed action RPG boasts strong reviews that show early buyers enjoyed a great take on the Bakumatsu period. The game’s developers were even watching the show, praising its very Japanese visuals.

Now, we have quite a range of recent top-class and trending samurai media to delve into. However, even with what we have now, the best may yet be to come.

A worthy obsession with Samurai pop culture

YouTube video

Rise of the Rōnin has the makings of a sleeper hit. Sony bizarrely launched it on the same day as the long-hyped Dragon’s Dogma 2. Its 8.6 user score and 76 critic score on Metacritic do show that there’s quality there. Funnily enough, it may be appreciated in a similar way to the original Dragon’s Dogma down the line and keep selling for years to come.

On its quality as a video game, Rise of the Rōnin gets to rank alongside the likes of Nioh, Ghost of Tsushima, Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, Way of the Samurai 4, and Total War: Shogun 2. There has also been a rise of popular samurai titles in another line of gaming entertainment. At the iGaming site with a five-star review, 20 spins, and £25 bonus for new players, Ninja vs Samurai and Silent Samurai Mega Cash Collect continue to be a draw.

In this line of entertainment, success relies greatly on having a strong and popular theme and then offering mechanics that appeal to players. Both of the samurai slots tick these boxes. In one of the newest forms of entertainment in the UK, samurai stories are also taking centre stage. Manga has suddenly carved out huge sections of major bookstores, with over two million copies of manga sold in 2022 alone. Of them, Vagabond, Blade of the Immortal, and Lone Wolf and Cub have reached a wide audience with their samurai themes.

More Samurai action to come

YouTube video

Samurai have become wildly popular in video games, on TV, at online casinos, and in manga translated for UK readers. On the way may be even better samurai stories to get immersed in. A sequel to Ghost of Tsushima seems inevitable and has been heavily rumoured, fuelled by job listings put up by its developers, Sucker Punch.

Away from PlayStation, the Assassin’s Creed series finally looks to be exploring Feudal Era Japan. With the series revolving around subterfuge and sneaking, it seems bizarre that it hasn’t already explored the pinnacle of the ninja. It should arrive by March next year. While not strictly historically tied, Phantom Blade Zero, which was announced a year ago, looks very promising and clearly taps into the samurai theme.

Of course, samurai will also remain a prominent part of the translated and subtitled manga and anime scene in the UK. Still, for the more heavily mainstream side of entertainment, it’s these three games that look to build further on this superb moment of samurai media.