Mariko in 'Shōgun' Despises Her Husband Due to Her Family's Complicated Legacy

Toda Mariko is a powerful player in 'Shōgun' on FX, but she has a complicated relationship with her abusive husband.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Apr. 10 2024, Published 11:56 a.m. ET

Anna Sawai as Mariko in 'Shōgun'
Source: FX

Spoiler alert: This article contains plot details for Shōgun on FX and Hulu.

As one of the first big television hits of 2024, Shōgun has earned critical acclaim and record-breaking viewership since its February 2024 premiere. Based on the loosely historical 1975 James Clavell novel of the same name, Shōgun follows Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), a daimyo of feudal era Japan, who attempts to affirm his rule against his political rivals. Meanwhile, English sailor John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) becomes his international captive.

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Toranaga and his constituents attempt to navigate political intrigue, scandal, and bloody warfare in one of the most violent periods of Japanese history. At his side is Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), a highborn Japanese woman whose intelligence proves to be an invaluable asset to Toranaga. However, Mariko's position is tainted by her family history. By that same measure, it has also deeply impacted her relationship with her husband. Why does she hate him so much? Well, he doesn't make it difficult.

Shinnosuke Abe as Buntaro in 'Shōgun'
Source: FX
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Mariko's hate for her husband stems from her family's actions.

By the time we meet Mariko in the first episode, she is already married to Toda Hirokatsu aka Buntaro (Shinnosuke Abe). As a samurai, Buntaro displays mastery with a bow and arrow and would later become a decorated war hero. On the surface, he is fiercely loyal to Lord Toranaga and genuinely wishes and fights for his lasting reign. However, he harbors darkness when it comes to his marriage to Mariko.

The two of them were joined in an arranged political marriage. Although he eventually began to fall in love with her, that affection shifted drastically after Mariko's affluent family fell from grace.

Years before the events of the series, Mariko's father Akechi Jinsai (Yutaka Takeuchi) assassinated Lord Kuroda, the former daimyo. His actions sullied his reputation as well as that of his entire family, including Mariko.

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At a certain point, Mariko even sought permission to commit seppuku over the dishonor. However, her husband wouldn't allow it. From there, he becomes abusive toward her and frequently reminds her of her father's actions. This, coupled with the fact that she has curried more favor with Lord Toranaga than he has, opened up an enormous rift between them.

Ever since, Mariko has deeply resented her husband for both rejecting her wishes and subsequently subjecting her to torture within their strained marriage.

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Mariko and Buntaro sitting down together
Source: FX

Despite this, Mariko remains an important figure in Lord Toranaga's inner circle. She uses her privileged upbringing and education to maintain her place as one of the daimyo's vassals and even becomes a liaison between Toranaga and Blackthorn thanks to her fluency in English. However, Mariko continues to be haunted by her father's actions, which her cruel husband never lets her forget.

New episodes of Shōgun premiere every Tuesday on FX and Hulu.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call, text, or message the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Dial or text 988, call 1-800-273-8255, or chat via their website.

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