Hello interweb, Nate here. So I realize that my content on this blog consists of superheroes and comic books that usually focuses on Marvel and DC. However, I recently fell in love with the cartoon that’s currently airing called Steven Universe and just wanted to get a review out there mostly because I wanted to review this cartoon. There’s only two seasons made thus far however a third season is in production. Also this review is going to be 100% spoiler free so if you’re fully caught up with the series don’t expect me to spit out some fan theories or opinions on certain story lines in the series. You’re more than welcome to discuss spoilers in the comments but make sure to point at that you’re comment have spoilers as to not spoil for others. With that said, let’s get to the review
Steven Universe is an animated cartoon on Cartoon Network made by Rebecca Sugar, who previously worked on the show Adventure Time (fun fact, this is the first Cartoon Network cartoon made my a woman). The main story focuses around a group of aliens living on earth called the “Crystal Gems” who defends earth from other gem aliens. The Crystal Gems includes Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven (yes, the main character’s name is actually Steven Universe), and they’re all actually gems with the exception of Steven whose half gem and half human. Basically the gems all have a gem stone located somewhere on their bodies and these gem stones produce a physical body for them to use. However because the body of the gems are basically made out of solid energy produced by their gem stones, they’re able to shape shift and have a various other abilities such as fusion where multiple gems combine their physical form into a single, stronger form. Steven gains his gem from his mother, Rose Quartz, but gains an actual biological body from his father which differentiates him from the other Crystal gems.
While the show has a really good overarching plot that goes throughout the series, the main focus of the show is character development and interaction. There are lots of emotion in the series with different relationships between the characters and a huge driving point that effects the character interaction is the pre-history of the cartoon. I’m not going to say what the pre-history of the show is because I promised that this review would be spoiler free, but I will say that it is so fascinating and all the characters are effected by it. When you read most comics starring superhero teams, the teams often have to form first and then the relationships build of from there such as Young Avengers or the New 52 Justice League. But here, the characters have known each other for thousands of years (gems don’t age and thus can’t die from old age) and so the established relationships are already set up. On top of that, Rose Quartz (who was friends with Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl) died before the show in order for Steven to be born so those three characters are effected by the strong friendship they had with Rose (before anyone complains, Rose being dead was established very early in season 1 so I wouldn’t consider that a spoiler). Overall, we still don’t know much about the pre-history of the show after season 2 and it’s clear that the show relies on the pre-history a lot.
The shows themes are also very fascinating to me and are actually very well written for a show on a kids television network like Cartoon Network. While the gems are sexless (except for Steven whose male) (because they’re essentially rocks and rocks don’t have biological systems like that), the gems all adopt the female gender and thus we basically have a show staring BA females with little to no males in the main roles. The cool thing about this is not that the show’s cast is primarily women, but the fact that they’re gender really isn’t relevant to the show and isn’t really brought up often. They could’ve easily written in a story about sexism or have the show emphasize the fact that they’re women, but instead they’re just a defending the Earth and no one really gives a care about who they are and I really like that. This also applies to Steven to an extent since he’s the only male Crystal Gem but he’s never really mocked or insecure about his masculine side in all that is happening around him. Fusion I feel also plays with this theme of identity as you’d expect fusion to be some type of “Yu-gi-oh!” thing with combining monsters together to get a stronger person, but it’s actually kind of a big deal since you’re literally combining your body with another person’s. There’s also something really cool with Garnet in the series but for spoiler purposes I’m just going to leave it at that and those who have seen the series probably knows what I’m talking about
The animation for the series is gorgeous and I absolutely love it. The character designs kinda remind me of Adventure Time with it’s simplicity, but because the designs of the characters are simple they’re easier to animate and thus leaves room for more beautifully animated backgrounds. Like I said, the character designs are simplistic but I honestly love most of them. The cool thing about the series is that the body types are very diverse so not every character has the same looks to them like other shows do. Garnet’s design makes her look BA, Pearl is tall and thin, and Amethyst is short but thick. The colors are varied but are usually bright and nice to look at.
I like most of the characters, with the only exception being Pearl, but I’ll get to each character and briefly go over my opinion on each. The logical start I think is Steven since he’s the main character. I like Steven, but he’s not my favorite character. The thing I like about Steven is that he acts just like a kid because a lot of kids in cartoons don’t act like kids. So the fact that Steven is a kid and acts like a kid is awesome. Now you’d think that would get annoying quickly, but honestly it doesn’t and he’s just a great character to star as the main lead.
Next let’s talk about Garnet. Garnet is by far the most popular gem and if you’ve finished season 1 than you probably know why. Honestly without giving out spoilers, there’s no way for me to really accurately express my opinion on her character. Garnet and Amethyst I honestly can’t tell who I like better. Most people would say they like Garnet more, but I really like Amethyst and Amethyst was my favorite gem for a long time. So just know that I really like Garnet and she’s BA.
Amethyst was my favorite gem for a while. Her personality is fun and the diversity of body type can be shown here with her since she’s shorter than the other gems but is also thicker. She’s basically just wants to have fun all the time. Although half way through season 1, we learn about her backstory and it’s kinda sad since she always thought of herself as a “mistake”. I don’t know why but I can just relate to her character the most out of all the other characters.
Pearl is my least favorite character of the series. Her relationship to Rose is rather interesting as she seemed to be the closest out of all the Crystal Gems. However, her personality just get on my nerves at times and I just don’t like her at times. She’s kinda like that one person you know who get’s upset at you for having fun because she sees it as “immature” or something like that.
Two other characters I want to talk about real quickly is Connie and Greg Universe. Greg is Steven’s biological father and I really appreciates his character. He doesn’t fall into the “dumb goofball dad” stereotype and supports Steven to the best of his ability. I also like how he’s not depressed all the time with the death of Rose and all since that happens a lot in shows.
Connie is Steven’s closest friend and hinted to have a romantic connection with him. She starts out shy and reserved but over time has made a great relationship with Steven. Even going as far as getting sword lessons from Pearl.
Overall, Steven Universe is a great cartoon with brilliant characters, writing, animation, and themes that makes it such a brilliant cartoon. Overall a definite 5/5,very few flaws and great elements that holds the show together.
So this is the first animated series I’ve reviewed on this blog and frankly I really think it turned out fairly well. So I’m thinking of reviewing an actual comic book cartoon. So I decided to review either Wolverine and the X-Men or Spectacular Spider-man. Choice is yours!