Monday 31 January 2022

Miniseries REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger: The Legacy of the Master's Soul

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger: The Legacy of the Master's Soul

Even though a Super Sentai series only really runs for a year, thanks to the likes of V-cinemas, Returns movies and other spin-off projects many of them feel like they last for a whole lot longer. The arrival of the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club has only expanded the avenues for additional projects, with Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger getting in on the action at the end of 2021 with Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger: The Legacy of the Master's Soul. This three-part miniseries follows Masters Red, Blue and Pink in the lead-up to the first episode of the main series, acting as both a direct prequel and shedding some light on the choosing of Koh, Melto and Asuna to become the next Ryusoulgers.

Master PinkMaster Red

Shortly before the Druidons returned to Earth, the three masters spent their time carefully assessing who should be their successors. As Master Red trained with Koh and Master Blue spent time studying with Melto, Master Pink's decision to choose Asuna was brought into question by Isuka – another student believing herself to possess superior skill.

As a young girl arrives claiming to have been previously saved by Master Red, a Minosaur suddenly attacks the Masters. Soon it becomes a race to find who the Minosaur was born from, as each of the Masters have their own individual leads to pursue. 

Master BlueThe Mysterious Minosaur

Although The Legacy of the Master's Soul acts as a direct prequel to Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger (as well as timeline-wise taking place some time after the events Super Sentai Strongest Battle), for the most part it tells its own self-contained story with minimal involvement from the main Ryusoulger cast. While Koh, Melto, Asuna, Towa and Banba all make appearances in the miniseries, it's very firm in this not being their story. Instead it's a chance to learn more about the Masters themselves and the lessons they passed down to pupils. At only 15 minutes per episode there simply isn't enough time to do pull it off flawlessly, but it does to a great job of humanising them in a way the show hadn't before. While a little more time directly spent with the "real" Ryusoulgers might have been nice, a piece like this is a huge boon to making the show's tribal lore/setup feel that more fleshed out.

A notable downside to a prequel miniseries such as this though is that although it's an opportunity to flesh out the world with previously established characters, their supporting cast are characters we're very unlikely to ever see again. Which is a shame, because The Legacy of the Master's Soul has quite a bit to offer in this respect. While Hana feels more along the lines of Ryusoulger's usual victim-of-the-week archetype, the dive into other members of the Ryusoul tribe brings out some pretty interesting faces – each an alternative candidate for succession (although in Red's case it's an alternative master rather than pupil). Isuka plays the part of the more arrogant student, confident in her own abilities but lacking that significant emotional attribute. Former blue candidate Mayu is instantly likeable, and a character such as hers (now a Ryusoul researcher) would have been a great asset to the team in the main story. Finally there's Nire, who turns out to be a particularly important figure in both the events of this story and the events that set the main series into motion. All of them are really fun characters in their own right, and in some respects actually more interesting than the Masters themselves. 

What's most interesting about The Legacy of the Master's Soul is how it seeks to highlight the failures of the three Masters as well as continue to prop them up as the figures of authority we knew them as from Ryusoulger. Not that the series ever painted them as infallible, but much of the drama in this special either comes from either their failures or the failure to recognise something. For example – Master Pink fails to truly recognise Isuka's ambition until she takes matters into her own hands, while Master Blue's failure to recognise Mayu's feelings are what ultimately results in her leaving his tutelage. These are both fairly trivial matters compared to that of Master Red though, who finds himself at the centre of an emotional struggle regarding the death of his own master.


As each of the potential Minosaur suspects come into play the special almost becomes a "whodunit" of sorts, with each person linked to a Master having reason for a Minosaur to develop from their negative emotion. While it doesn't play this angle up to particularly great effect, the final segment does offer a final twist before it launches straight into the lead up of Ryusoulger's first episode. The multiple victim angle of the special is also crucial in highlighting the Masters' greatest failing – the fact that they don't manage to finish the job. And that's the ultimate tragedy of this – had they managed to correctly identify who created the Minosaur then the following events could have gone very differently. 

That all said, those looking for the high-octane action sequences that Ryusoulger frequently delivered may find themselves disappointed as this is far more of a character-driven piece than it is the usual Super Sentai formula. While there are some transformed fight sequences present, as perhaps suggested by the overall running time they are relatively short and feel more like a story necessity than any sort of impressive showcase. What it does have in their place though are some nice untransformed sword fighting moments – largely of the training variety but still appreciated in the way that they make the characters feel skilled beyond their Ryusoulger powers. Showing this onscreen is yet another aspect of how Ryusoulger manages to its world that little bit more lived in. 


While Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger: The Legacy of the Master's Soul simply isn't long enough to develop these supporting characters in a significant way, its attempt to humanise them by highlighting their fallibility make it an interesting little spin-off piece nonetheless. Even in presenting context to Ryusoulger that isn't necessarily needed to get the most out of the series, the little insights it does offer as well as the focus it chooses shows the potential these Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club spin-offs have in creating much fuller worlds within the Super Sentai universe. Supporting characters usually have far more to offer than the main series allows them, and projects like these are the perfect way to explore them.


M said...

It was nice to see references to the Sailor Moon Live-Action ("pretty" good show by the way) in this Miniseries. The three Masters had roles on it: Master Pink was Sailor Moon and Blue was Tuxedo Mask. The Miniseries even hints that Master Blue had feeling for Pink.

Anonymous said...

Any particular reason for the switch from word ratings to stars?

Alex said...

Attempting to streamline the reviews a bit and I've wanted to drop the words for a while now as I'm not keen on summing things up as basically as that any more. I've been toying with dropping ratings altogether for a while now, but this seemed like the best middle of the road solution for now.