Tokusatsu Nightmare Fuel By Toei Ltd.

It's Halloween and I think about trying to imitate Shogo B'Stard's post on "One Good Scare" where he talked about Spielban's Youki and Flashman's Zoburanda (where Changeman actor Hiroshi Kazuoki appeared as a guest star) -- I just thought I'd want to get nostalgic about those "good old days of Long Long Ago 20th Century" -- back when Super Sentai had that much nightmare fuel together with some Kamen Rider and Metal Hero. But as said, this entry is subject to criticism for whatever I've missed! So try to bear with this rather long rant on nightmare fuel!

80s nightmare fuel

I could think about the pros and cons of 80s to 90s Tokusatsu series. 1987 is perhaps a nightmare fuel year with Kamen Rider Black, Hikari Sentai Maskman and Chojinki Metalder. Yes, I'm talking about Metalder and just watching the cult classic which only lasted for 39 episodes (presumably due to lack of appeal to younger audiences and budget) made me think, "WTF! God Neros is really scarier than that idiotic Grimlord from VR Troopers!" Yes, I thought about how God Neros is indeed an intimidating villain of sorts and he was also voiced by the late Takeshi Watabe. I'd actually hate to have him sign my paycheck! There was also Tube Empire from Maskman and Gorgom from Kamen Rider Black to name a few. While it's no secret that I don't care too much about Showa era riders but these era had good nightmare fuel in spite of lower quality special effects because of its time!

I could remember how I enjoyed watching Maskman and Kamen Rider Black for the scare. What moments can't I forget got me hiding under the blanket or at least got scared? I could remember the Bee Necklace episode, the Silkworm Mutant kidnapping people, the real estate episode, Bilgenia popping up to harass Black, Shadow Moon's awakening or just Gorgom in general are a pretty good scare. Sure, the Gorgom priests don't have much common sense with their "we're just doing our job in giving you stupid, unbelievable plans" but I can't deny how scary they were. I still can't forget how Bishium exploited an outcast street dancing girl to give those bee necklaces that kill people. For Maskman, I can't forget that episode where Fuumin (disguised as an idol) used a blood-filled pen in hopes of turning humans into mutants, that episode when a child became a monster, that episode where Kenta fell for who's actually a monster or just every Zeba-focused episode should make me shudder. It's really that scary, isn't it?

With Super Sentai -- it seems that Hirohisa Soda loves giving a scare with most of his series. While Dai Sentai Goggle V and Kagaku Sentai Dynaman started out lighthearted wile he started giving bigger nightmare fuels during Chodenshi Bioman. Speaking of which -- I remembered how Bioman gave me a few chills such as Doctor Man's origin story (which I wanted to become the world's greatest genius as a child prior to seeing that episode and being told I'd grow old fast if I kept up with such an idiotic plot) or just him in general -- he was such an intimidating presence! For Kosuku Sentai Turboranger -- it really made me think that not only was Ragorn scary but one episode practically scared me too much namely the one where Dango Bouma turned people into dumplings. Today, that would just be CGI dumplings rather than the scary rubber limbs, wigs and clothing! Liveman too was also full of nightmare fuel such as the mutation scenes or Great Professor Bias himself is a nightmare himself!

Years later, I had the chance to check out both Dengeki Sentai Changeman and Choshinsei Flashman. Yup, those two shows really had some good scary material. Changeman's Gozma is already nightmare fuel on its own with many of its plans. Heck, I even want to think that the one true Dark Specter should be Star King Bazoo -- he's a real intimidating threat that you can't discount and he would be more than ready to face of betrayers and deserters! Also, Flashman having its deadly plans of genetic manipulation is just scary such as the scary atmosphere of the Reconstructive Empire Mess, its ruler Lar Deus and the devious Lee Keflen. They have several plans that really make you want to pee your pants!

90s nightmare fuel

The 90s were somewhat an iffy era considering that fads change all the time. One thing I've noticed is that nightmare fuel has been greatly reduced for some time -- presumably due to the fact that it may no longer sell as well as it used to in the past or censorship issues would prohibit it. It started having the development of better CGI and better graphics. I mean, which era was it when children first had their taste of 3D graphics that would gradually evolve into the eighth generation console 3D graphics today? I could remember how fascinated I was by the rather blocky 3D graphics of the first two Tekken games (though hated the games due to its not so responsive controls back then). The same was happening to entertainment -- newer innovative ideas for special effects were born into the writing!

Chikyu Sentai Fiveman may have been what you'd call the lowest point of Hirohisa Soda's career but it did have some good scares. Perhaps the best example is the finale arc -- Vulgyre's transformation was a real nightmare to watch! The huge revelation that Meadow was merely an illusion made Dordora crack that she was aboard a gigantic overgrown beast the whole time. The whole molting scene was a real nightmare together with the revelation that Chevalier was set up from the very beginning! So much for all the slapstick humor that Fiveman tends to have in most of its run -- though there were also some nightmare fuel episodes such as Romanov's literally bloodthirsty prince, the Sidon demon episode or when the Galactic Demon Sword was used by a child courtesy of Billion.

Chojin Sentai Jetman is perhaps one of the most nightmarish seasons for most of its run -- in spite of the occasional humor. If anybody in Jetman was THAT SCARY -- it'd be Count Radiguet himself! I always thought how I wished actor Daisuke Tachi were more active in Tokusatsu or how he should have been Shadam in Dairanger or Iwao Daimon (played by Yuji Abe) in Tokosou Exceedraft -- instead he wowed audience by actually convincing us that he too can be a good guy when needed in said show! Jetman was so full of nightmare fuel such as I was almost scared to sleep at night with that House Jigen episode or well the fear Radiguet may pop up anytime at random. I can't get over how Radiguet also mutated into Raguem showing he's not to be messed with! He manages to spring up one way or another such as murdering Juuza and later leaving Tranza as a vegetable for life! But Radiguet wasn't the end of the nightmares either!

People know I still prefer Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger over Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger yet I can't deny the latter's nightmare fuel. Bandora may be one large ham of a Tokusatsu villain thanks to the late Soga Machiko. However, I can't deny that while she has her crazy antics that makes you laugh (especially her occasional "I've got a headache!" thing) -- many of her crazy plans towards children can be nightmarish. For example, she wants to turn children into apples and eat them or remember when she was trying to summon her god Dai Satan in a nightmarish ritual ripped out straight from horror movies? I could remember how Dai Satan footage was used in Mighty Morphin' and found it that scary -- I wonder did American soccer moms panic when that footage was used? Zyuranger's finale itself is a real nightmare such as the world coming to an end, no water to drink, a dangerous plague -- can you imagine what in the world is going on? For a child focused series -- it sure contained way more scary material than Abaranger could ever offer!

Gosei Sentai Dairanger itself was also one of nightmare fuel aside from the overly generous use of BLOOD. Yes, blood! I thought about how the Gorma were indeed a creepy society -- n questions asked! Maybe, my only complaint at times is how Rintaro Nishi tends to occasionally make Shadam look like a Three Stooges villain and how for the nth time that I wished Daisuke Tachi were playing said character! The very idea of a beheading festival, the whole power struggle or not to mention plenty of the plans are just plain scary! I still think about what if I saw Dairanger as a child and would have I been able to sleep with all that nightmare fuel especially the "leave it to audiences to decide" finale? I don't know how I could have handled Gara's personified grudge turning into mud (as the real Gara finally get rids of her evil half) and how I'd handle Shadam realizing he's just in a clay body which may indicate he forgot his real body no longer existed as there's some kind of forgetfulness that comes with madness!

Ninja Sentai Kakuranger itself was focused on Japanese mythology. IMHO, it really has some huge degree of nightmare fuel such as one episode where the Youkai were planning to butcher children. Ugh, it's like as if it was taken straight from the horror movie! I could also think of the sadly short-lived Prince Junior (perhaps due to Kenichi Endo having other stuff to do in real life) or how Daimaou is no pushover either. I mean, Daimaou even sacrificed his own son for his awakening! There's even that episode where Daimaou forcibly links Ninjaman to one of his monsters and the world was nearly coming to an end. Also, the finale itself is just so full of nightmare fuel. Hurricanger and Ninninger couldn't reach this level of scary even if both shows have their own charm to the audiences!

Maybe I could also talk about Denji Sentai Megaranger's nightmare fuel. Javious himself is nightmare fuel even if he just gets disposed off later by Dr. Hinelar's most brilliant mind. I could think of other nightmare fuel involve Gurail's rather chilling plots (and he's one scary mofo you'd hate to mess with) who was later written off and eventually got replaced by the Neziranger. I even think the Nezirangers deserve the name Psycho Rangers even more than the actual Psycho Rangers -- they showed real sure signs of mental breakdown and nightmare fuel! I still think Gurail should have probably stayed longer and get into conflict with the more dangerous Nezirangers too. Not to mention, Dr. Hinelar himself can be real nightmare fuel as he's proven how evil humanity can get or that humanity is tainted with it. He becomes the epitome of that in said episode when he could care less what happens as long as he's on top.

GoGoFive became the last 90s series and it's really full of nightmare fuel. The villains themselves were indeed that scary and shows what a family shouldn't be. Perhaps the most controversial one has to be Grand Bitch eerrrr Witch Grandienne herself. She's ruthless and doesn't really care about even her own children who she exploits to her very selfish ends. The temporary departure of Zylpheeza and the arrival of Salamandes were already scary episodes. The unleashing of a deadly virus was already scary itself. It really had me thinking it's good that the GoGoFive are better equipped than the Rescue Police because they're dealing with much bigger disasters! What was also nightmarish was the rumor that the world would end by 2000 -- the finale itself nearly brought the end of the world! Grandienne literally enveloped the Earth with her malice in her spirit/okubi form as she even uses her own sons Zylpheeza and Salamandes as mindless minions! Wow, what a bitch she really is, right?

 Nightmare fuel past the 90s era 

While I can still enjoy newer shows but it's a case to case basis since it's not an issue if something is new or old -- it's all about the quality of innovation and implementation put into it. Super Sentai started taking a turn for a series of more lighter and softer content starting with Hyajakuu Sentai Gaoranger (though it tried comedy with Carranger in the 90s but it didn't do much to raise ratings) and almost every series that succeeded it whether in the 2000s or right now the 2010s. I think about how the era starting introducing more lighter and softer materials to work with!

However, it didn't mean there wasn't some nightmare fuel to work with. Mirai Sentai Timeranger and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters may be considerably Yasuko Kobayashi's most serious work with some generous nightmare fuel. Timeranger's Londarz may not be all that bwahahaha evil but some of the alien criminals give some of the most nightmarish episodes such as the Genbu Space, a deadly plague from the 30th century hitting the 20th century, the whole carnage episode and not to mention tons of blood. Kamen Rider Kuuga as the first reboot for the Kamen Rider series for the Heisei era is also filled with nightmare fuel. The Grongi play a deadly game which may be similar to the Yaujta. It's really a scary season and it succeeded which is part we've had the first seven Heisei era Kamen Rider seasons that were nightmare inducing!

How nightmare inducing were the first seven eras? I thought about how Kamen Rider's nightmare didn't end with Grongi. Eventually, the Lords came and they were supposed to be humanity's protectors but why are they killing certain people? It turns out that they were killing people simply for having the potential to become Kamen Rider Agito because they think humans should just stay the way they are. Kamen Rider Ryuki started presenting lots of nightmare fuel which was sadly rebooted all thanks to the stupidity of executive meddling -- pressing the reset button making it like it never happened! Kamen Rider Faiz was well full of nightmare fuel and it's said to be Toshiki Inoue's most serious work -- he even made a cameo at the end of it! Blade was so full of those Undead monsters that really pops out nightmare fuel way too much! Hibiki well I found it kinda boring but it still had good scary monsters. Kamen Rider Kabuto somehow made a throwback to popular sci-fi culture such as the Harvesters from the Independence Day film from the 90s. Then the nightmare fuel actually started to dwindle perhaps because lighter and softer was the new trend that time!

It's a contrast to what happened to Super Sentai from 2001 to 2007 where nightmare fuel wasn't really heavily done. Gaoranger started having less nightmare fuel which the Orgs were more lighter and softer in many ways. Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger was action-focused though there was the plot of the possible death of Ikku due to having an alien scorpion egg inside said character. Abaranger may be lighter and softer than Zyuranger but I don't want to deny that Dezumozoryla may still give the chills. Dekaranger had plenty of intense moments such as hostage scenarios and negotiations. Magiranger's Nezire? Well I can't really take them seriously. Boukenger was more of a happy series.

A new contrast started with Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger and Kamen Rider Den-O. Den-O was a shift to Kamen Rider getting lighter and softer and so was Kamen Rider Kiva. Kiva was more of a lighter and softer but based on horror -- there may be occasional scares and serious moments but it's really a good departure from the usual nightmare fuel. Gekiranger on the other hand had some nightmare fuel in it aside from good action scenes -- who could forget about Long in the second half or maybe you can think about the plots of the Rin Juken in its quest for world domination? Go-Onger may also be a fun series but there's still some occasional scares such as the finale in itself was anything but funny or the time when Sosuke turned into bronze. Shinkenger is mostly a fun series though I still can't deny how the Gedoushu could be scary for some like how they get out of crevices or how Juzo is a constant unaligned menace of a killer. Tensou Sentai Goseiger does have it in the finale when Buredoran reveals he's a fallen angel called Brajira. Gokaiger? Well not much but some episodes can be scary. Basco is a good villain who can add to some scare factor considering that he's even deadlier than the Zangyack itself!

Also, just because Kamen Rider after Kamen Rider Decade started deviating from the darker and edgier doesn't mean nightmare fuel hasn't been there. Kamen Rider Fourze's villains still have a scary atmosphere and there's still some occasional nightmare fuel. Kamen Rider Wizard does have the Phantoms though sadly Wizard wasn't really my cup of tea after I fished it. Kamen Rider Gaim has some good nightmare fuel with the Helheim though it's not used as much. Kamen Rider Drive may be a fun drive though there's still that occasional nightmare fuel. Sometimes, I even think about it that having a lack of nightmare fuel can also be a good thing -- it gives alternatives on how to enjoy Toei's Tokusatsu and having too much of it can derail the plot. Kamen Rider without nightmare fuel can work if you've got a good script!


Nightmare fuel -- post-Gokaiger!

Post-Gokaiger Super Sentai still has some nightmare fuel but still not as much either. Sometimes, it's there to balance the show. In the case of Go-Busters -- it does have some nightmare fuel with the characters such as the Messiah Virus or Enter's sadism. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger well not so much while I can't deny that Demoss is indeed a scary villain. Ressha Sentai ToQGer not so much either and it took Kiva's approach of lighter and softer with how it dealt with horror elements with the villains. Shuriken Sentai Ninninger has been more focused on fun even with all the supernatural enemies they have. Doubotsu Sentai Zyuohger does have the occasional nightmare fuel but I just don't find it to be too scary compared to what came after it.

I thought that the nightmare fuel started to return once again around 2017. Ucchu Sentai Kyuranger started reintroducing more nightmare fuel -- at least for the main villain in Don Armage. Sure, he's got hammy minions but Don Armage is someone you don't want to mess with and you'd hate to work under him! Kamen Rider EX-AID had both Kamen Rider Gemn prior to his decay and Kamen Rider Chronos as nightmare fuel. Kamen Rider Build would have Faust and later the arrival of Evolt as real nightmare fuel. It's not too intensive but I guess they were there to help balance lighter and softer as much as possible huh? Just my hunch really that some nightmare fuel helps balance the show from becoming too light -- which can be said for Kyuranger due it being mostly a lighthearted show in spite of its rather darker setting of a Universe under Don Armage!

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Somehow, the nightmare fuel is something that somehow gives the fun in Toei's Tokusatsu or just any show in general. After all, there's a good occasional scare but too much of it can be detrimental to a good plot, right?

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