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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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.