Samurai Girl

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Samurai Girl TV Poster Image
Action-packed drama with strong female character.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The miniseries centers on a strong female Asian character who's courageous, decisive, and idealistic. Throughout the story, she wrestles with her conflicting sense of duty to her family and to herself. The miniseries thrives on suspenseful situations, and seemingly reliable characters often turn on each other. Violence is the most popular means to resolve conflict, and often the losing party is killed.


Lots of martial arts-style fighting and samurai weaponry, usually resulting in injury. In one scene, a man is shot, and another is stabbed and killed. Beatings, attempted drownings, and use of weapons like knives and swords to intimidate and force cooperation is common.


A developing romance means plenty of longing looks and suggestive contact (a couple tumbles to the sand and almost kisses, for example), but there's no sex. Women dress and act provocatively to influence men's actions.


Intermittent use of "bitch" and "ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few rare scenes have drinking in the background.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that martial arts-style fighting and samurai weaponry are central to the plot of this miniseries, so there are lots of physical battles with many injuries and deaths. In one scene, a man is stabbed and killed; another implies (but doesn't show) a man's beheading: His killer swings a sword at him and is later shown cleaning blood from both the weapon and his red-splattered shirt. That aside, this action drama -- which is based on a series of young adult novels by Carrie Asai and Renato Alarcao -- touches on Japanese legends and customs and features a strong female lead, who must draw on her own inner strength to fulfill her destiny and challenge the evil she encounters.

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What's the story?

For 19-year-old Heaven Kogo (Jamie Chung), the thought of her upcoming wedding stirs lots of emotions, none of which are joyous. The adopted daughter of a wealthy Japanese family, Heaven's marriage was arranged by her father, Tasuke (Anthony Brandon Wong), as a way to further his business prowess, and Heaven's heart is heavy as she pictures her future with a man she doesn't love. But when the wedding ceremony is interrupted by a ninja attack, and her beloved brother delivers a cryptic message before he's killed, Heaven is left to solve the mysteries her family has hidden about themselves -- and her. With the help of her brother's trusted friend, Jake (Brendan Fehr), she must master the samurai arts if she's to hold her own against the powerful forces bent on destroying her.

Is it any good?

There's good reason to cheer for SAMURAI GIRL, especially if you're craving a story with a strong female heroine. Not since Alias have TV viewers seen a woman wage war on corruption and evil with such principled tenacity (not to mention look as accomplished as the talented Chung doing it). This action-packed miniseries is never short on suspense, with multi-layered secrecy, uncertainty, and betrayal lurking around every corner. Amid the physical challenges she faces, Heaven also struggles with issues that many of her female viewers will relate to, including self-confidence, sense of duty to her family, and her own impression of right and wrong.

But the fact that this story is rooted in the samurai arts means that there's a hefty amount of violence, so it's not completely age-appropriate for kids and tweens. People are stabbed, shot, and impaled by swords, and a central plot point is the existence of a group of assassins that does the murderous bidding of their power-hungry employer. All of that said, teens and adults are sure to be drawn in by the story and the heart-pounding suspense.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how women and minorities are portrayed in the media. How often do you see TV shows or movies that feature a woman or a person of color in the lead role? Are the shows and movies that fall into that category usually in a particular genre (romance, drama, comedy, etc.)? If so, which one? Does this reflect society's expectations based on gender or race, or are our impressions of people's roles affected by the media? What other series have you seen that feature strong female or minority roles? How have such roles changed over the past few decades?

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