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.
More Videos Like This
- Everything that Worthikids makes is straight-up gold. So, it’s hard not to recommend his entire library of original short films. For my money, these two are must-watches: witches figuring out how Tinder works and what happened to Emperor Palpatine after Darth Vader threw him down that Death Star shaft at the end of Return of the Jedi.
- And here’s Worthikids’ deliciously absurd clown-run food truck series, Bigtop Burger.
- In the vein of Captain Yajima, here’s another video from Worthikids inspired by Rankin/Bass: the ooky-spooky Hatbox Troubles.
- Other Worthikids videos make use of existing audio. My favorite is this terrifyingly expressive re-creation of an episode of Monster Factory, a YouTube show run by Polygon where the McElroy brothers do ungodly things with video game character creators.