The Seven Highly Nightmare Fueled Heisei Era Kamen Rider Series!
In the past, I remembered watching Kamen Rider BLACK and there was a lot of scary stuff in that show. There were the Gorgom monsters which didn't look too much like rubber suit villains. There were a great deal of scary stuff to think about. I can't forget the times I hid under the blanket when there were some scenes that were really generous amounts of nightmare fuel. Its sequel Kamen Rider BLACK RX may have been lighter and softer but some Crisis Empire scenes were still all that scary.
Now it's time to explore the Heisei era Kamen Riders. While some of the Heisei era Kamen Riders are on the lighter and softer side, it wasn't always like that. Sure Super Sentai went more on the fun side since Gaoranger but Timeranger was anything but lighter and softer. I could name at least seven series that really had high amounts of nightmare fuel!
Warning: Reader's discretion is advised. Some Kamen Rider series aren't as warm as friendly as they are today! Read at your own risk!
Kamen Rider Kuuga
Kamen Rider Kuuga was the beginning of the new era of Kamen Rider. In spite of not having some of the Showa era's elements there were some things you can't ignore. Kuuga is a very nightmare fueled show with lots of blood and death. The Grongi are a more dishonorable version of the Yaujta from the Predator franchise. While the Predators only hunt down the strong and acknowledge their opponents, the Grongi don't acknowledge any honor at all. They'll play games with the weak in their ruthless game. One game has the Grongi killing children to pregnant women all the while blending in with everyone as humans to avoid immediate detection. Just watching Kuuga makes one think, "Is that supposedly a child's show in Japan?" It's incredibly mind-boggling that how the same Naruhisa Arakawa who served as the head writer for Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger, Tokosou Sentai Dekaranger and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger made a name for himself writing the super serious Kamen Rider Kuuga.
Kamen Rider Agito
The nightmare isn't over and Kamen Rider Agito proves it. The new series has a series of complex mysteries to the events. The Unknown (actually the Lords) have been killing certain people left and right but what for? Then you realize that the Lords aren't targeting everyone as there's a much deeper reason behind their actions. The show tries to be more complex with its mysteries especially the movies behind the actions of the monsters of the week. Who are they killing and what are they planning to do? Then it turns out that everything has to do with the cycle of human evolution as the whole enemy has to do with a struggle against fate itself.
Kamen Rider Ryuki
I know that I love Kamen Rider Gaim above this show and way above it. But I can't ignore Kamen Rider Ryuki as the real culprit behind how it ended weren't the writers but executives. The show starts with the phenomenon of Mirror Monsters and mysterious disappearances. Then you have a real conflict among Kamen Riders who have a motive for joining the Rider War. The show just gets more and more conflict which may have risen above its predecessors that parents started to freaking complain about what's going on. The show also introduced other horribly evil characters like Takeshi Asakura/Kamen Rider Ouja who's almost like Sword Saint Bilgenia with the Kingstone from Kamen Rider Black. Sad to say, too many executive meddling gave the show a bad wrap up that it's as if the alternate ending was written because of all the angry audiences.
Kamen Rider Faiz
Well people know I don't like this show as much as Agito but I can't deny this show still has the generous nightmare fuel going on. The Orphnochs may look "dull and gray" but I feel like it gives them the gargoyle feel. There's still many deaths involved, there's that really annoying Masato Kusaka who'd do anything for power, there's all those frightening scenes involving humans mutating into Orphnochs accompanied by the conflict between the two. For a mutant/human war, the series exceeds the PG-13 rated X-Men films in terms of violence when the show is primarily for children. It's a show starting to fall apart but I can't deny that I do enjoy the part of the human/Orphnoch war myself.
Kamen Rider Blade
While the show can get criticized for its weaker acting than previous seasons but I don't deny the nightmare fuel of the Undead. Yes, they're Undead and it's real nightmare fuel for this whole season. The Undead can't be destroyed and they have to be locked in the cards again. There's also the problem of how the Undead operate as they can also blend among normal people. They start killing sprees here and there. Worse, you can't kill them. How scary is that?
Kamen Rider Hibiki
Okay, I said I think Kamen Rider Ghost can be more interesting than this series but I can't deny the Makamou do have their own fair share in this list. While I find most of the characters boring but the Makamou just attack when you least expect it. There's a budget for the giant monsters and the creatures. Sad to say, Kamen Rider Hibiki's pretty boring on the first half, Toshiki Inoue did try to add conflict in the second half but left it with his worst possible finale. EVER!
Kamen Rider Kabuto
The one-shot wonder of Shoji Yonemura. As much as I find Souji Tendo annoying with his high and mighty attitude, I still enjoyed the Worms plot. The Worms feel like more intelligent and sentient versions of the Xenomorphs from the Aliens franchise. They may not be the Xenomorphs but they were done so well it's scary. The Worms plot really makes you think who's worse between humans and worms as the show progresses. It really scares us with the reality of how evil humanity can get as Masato Mishima even exceeds the Worms towards the finale.
After Kamen Rider Kabuto, we started settling for lighter and softer. Kamen Rider Den-O had less scary foes with the Imagin. Kamen Rider Kiva was more a Danny Phantom type of Kamen Rider than a nightmare fueled one. Kamen Rider Decade was so numb that well, I'd say I won't want to watch it all over again. A lot of Kamen Riders today have probably taken the lighter and softer as part of innovative writing to survive as maybe, just maybe there's been too many parental complaints in the past or a lot of bad events may have happened.
Does a less scary Kamen Rider series mean it's not good? Not at all. Kamen Rider Ryuki may have all the nightmare fuel but Kamen Rider Gaim was able to do better. Kamen Rider Kiva may be a world full of rainbows and teddy bears but I think it's better than Kamen Rider Ghost. My preference for darker and edger and lighter and softer isn't based on the nature of the show alone but also on my mood or if the show's writing appeals to me.