Two notes here: 1) I know I said this would be weekly, but I couldn’t hold back my thoughts on this series any longer and 2) Yes, Steven Universe is television and not film, but it’s really good regardless!!!!
The first thing I need to say about Steven Universe is: I was wrong. I completely misjudged this show, so much in fact that I sometimes feel really bad about it.
Backstory: In the last post, I said that I’m really picky about which movies I watch; this is DOUBLY true for cartoons. When you’re raised on Golden Age cartoons like Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry (not to mention the renaissance of the 90s), the bar is set really, REALLY high. In the last five years or so, I’d noticed Cartoon Network churning out a lot of what I liked to call “dumb-stupid cartoons.” These are series that have minimal plot but a LOT of really bad/raunchy jokes (I won’t name any names, but if you look at a listing of recent shows, they kind of stand out). And when Steven Universe was announced, I instantly pegged it as one of those cartoons. So I ignored it.
Fast forward to the end of 2015: all of my comic book friends began raving about Steven Universe, and when I let it slip that I hadn’t seen the show, they all begged me to check it out. I resisted for most of 2016, until last month, I finally gave in and checked it out (the first two seasons are on Hulu). It took three episodes but I.Was.Hooked.
From left to right: Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet
Despite the name of the show, this series isn’t dumb at all! Quite the opposite actually, the backstory is increasingly complex and the show deals with some pretty serious issues at times (racism, war, bullying, etc.) while also spreading positive messages about making friends, cooperation, overcoming hatred, and so on.
Here is the gist of Steven Universe: The Earth is protected by a trio of heroes called the Crystal Gems, Amethyst, Garnet and Pearl. They are aliens from the Gem Homeworld that fought against their own kind over 1000 years ago (under their leader Rose Quartz) to keep the Earth safe. About 10 years before the show starts, Rose (in love with a human named Greg Universe) surrendered her physical form to make her son, Steven. Steven is a Gem/human hybrid who has his mother’s Gem where his belly button should be. As the show goes on, Steven learns to harness his powers while facing a growing threat from the Gem Homeworld (which is still seeking to conquer the Earth for its resources). Along the way Steven has made friends with additional gems including Peridot (whom I LOVE!!!) and Lapis Lazuli, both gems that originally come from Homeworld.
Lapis Lazuli is blue, Peridot is the green short one and that’s Steven on the end
A really cool part of the show is fusion, where two Gems can fuse together to create a totally new Gem! For example, Garnet (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!) is actually a fusion of Ruby and Sapphire, they just prefer staying fused together, though they will separate occasionally from time to time for various reasons. Pearl and Amethyst can form Opal, Pearl and Garnet can form Sardonyx, all three of them can form Alexandrite and just recently, I discovered that Steven and Amethyst can fuse to form Smoky Quartz (there’s more but I don’t want to give ALL the fusions away).
I’m nearly caught up with the series now and I still can’t get over how wrong I was about this show. The one thing I wish was different is the episode lengths. Each episode is 11-12 minutes in length, which isn’t that long at all. I wish the episodes could be longer!
It looks like eventually we’re going to be seeing the Gem Homeworld and (hopefully) meet the mysterious Diamonds who run everything (they’re called White Diamond, Yellow Diamond and Blue Diamond, but except for a few mentions and a sort-of flashback to Yellow Diamond, we haven’t actually SEEN any of them. There used to be Pink Diamond too, until Rose Quartz shattered her, it’s kind of a long story).
In closing, I’m really glad I gave this show a chance; it just goes to show you shouldn’t (with some exceptions) judge a show on its name only. If you haven’t seen Steven Universe, please go check it out!!
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