Japanese Director, Kenta Shinohara, defines his episodic Youtube channel, Animist, this way: “’Animist’ is a person who believes that every material thing has a soul; a human being that worships Animism. In this channel, we bring lifeless objects to life.” The channel showcases episodic adventures of action-figure dolls who sword fight household Japanese objects or engage in similarly action-figuresque fighting and action. The pieces are short, but have some very cool in-camera effects, as well as motion control use.

“I upload my stop motion anime on a YouTube channel, Animist,” Shinohara told us. “The concept of my video is ‘Bringing dolls to life.’ I buy the figures online and shoot the animation in my studio.” Shooting with a Canon EOS RP and Godox lights, Shinohara hangs the dolls on a rig he made himself—it can be seen in the making-of film featured here.

“Making stop motion animation with figures commercially available in the market is difficult,” he told us. “The dolls aren’t specially made for stop motion, so they have limited movement. To manage the situation, I polished my animation techniques, and learned film directing.”

Shinohara says his goal is good animation every time, “even if the dolls cannot move precisely.” The result is an entertaining example of what the dolls might do if they could come to life, without any hands actually playing with them. This lends the pieces an element of satisfaction. We get to watch the toys move in that stiff, limited way that action figures do, yet actually to kick some butt and have some fun.