Features and Columns · Movies

Drop What You’re Doing and Watch ‘Captain Yajima’

Some nefarious ne’er-do-well is giving people around the galaxy the boot. But the heroic Captain Yajima is on the case!
Captain Yajima
By  · Published on May 19th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a short film about a space-faring hero: Captain Yajima!

Who needs chicken noodle soup when Captain Yajima exists? A bite-sized Saturday morning cartoon about an intergalactic superhero and her very smart slug colleague, Professor Genius, this new animated short film sees the titular character on the hunt for a rogue, motorcycle-riding ne’er do well who has been kicking innocent (and not so innocent) bystanders across the galaxy. Hell. Yeah.

The short is styled after the stop-motion animation of Rankin/Bass, an American production company best known for its holiday specials (perhaps most famously: 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer). Using a single-frame animation technique known as “Animagic,”  Rankin/Bass’ output has a distinctly round-edged doll-like look, a style that instantly conjures up a nostalgic, if slightly uncanny, tactility.

Captain Yajima takes this highly-specific animated language and dropkicks it into the adventure-riddled expanse of space, drawing from “Tokusatsu,” Japanese live-action television dramas typically in the sci-fi and fantasy mold — think, Super Sentai, a.k.a. the source material for the Power Rangers series.

Considering that the vast majority of Rankin/Bass’ stop-motion work was outsourced to an assortment of Japanese studios, the cultural crossover of Captain Yajima is particularly astute. It’s like Star Trek meets 1969’s Frosty the Snowman meets X-Bomber. More, please!

Watch Captain Yajima:

Who made this?

Captain Yajima is the creation of Michigan-based animator, voiceover actor, and musician Ian Worthington, better known as Worthikids. Working in the open-source computer graphics software Blender, Worthington’s style has increasingly blurred the line between 3D models and a 2D “look.” You can, and should, subscribe to Worthikids on YouTube. If you like what you see, you can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram, where he regularly posts making-of content.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.