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Welcome to the 6th installment of Gamen Watch Reviews. Today, we’re going to be reviewing Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar back in 2013. Beware of spoilers.

 

This series is probably the best show on Cartoon Network currently, rivaling even Kids Next Door for its spot. (Though I haven’t seen much Adventure Time, I heard that’s pretty good.)

 

 

Premise:

A little boy called Steven Universe (no way that’s his real name XP) lives with three oddly-colored humanoids called Gems, who have magic powers and fight strange monsters. Members of this Gem race are based off real-life gems, such as Pearls, Rubies, or Diamonds. Steven is apparently a hybrid between a human (his dad) and a Gem (his mom), the latter of which gave up her physical form to make him. Alright, interesting concept, I’ll see where it takes it.

 

 

First impression:

The first few episodes made me hungry. XP I mean, a lot of them were pretty food-based. But I heard Rebecca used to work on Adventure Time, which was pretty food-based too, and you’ll notice a lot of characters have an AT-esque design. Throughout the first season, the episodes I was mostly into were the temple adventures because of their ethereal scenery, though I had a sneaking and pretty-much-accurate suspicion about Connie having some potential.

 

Speaking of which, the Steven/Connie pairing is totally inspired from Bobby/Connie from King of the Hill. :P Look them up, see what I mean.

 

 

Characters:

The main characters of SU are Steven Universe and the “Crystal Gems”: Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst. Steven is depicted as your lovable boy who likes to have fun and wants to feel like part of the Gems. The other Gems, as you’ll catch on quickly, have quirky personalities that are distinctive from one another. Each Gem has complex backstories and characterizations that will develop as the series goes on. My favorite character happens to be Garnet for a couple of reasons. ;P

 

More about the Gems, this show strongly supports homosexuality. The entirety of the Gem race is all female (okay, technically they’re “genderless” beings, but that’s just their work-around, plus they all use female pronouns). I’m not against homosexuals, heck I include homosexuals in my stories… I just think they overdo it. The main criticism I’m throwing out is the lack of gender diversity. All of the important characters in the series are female, except Steven himself, while the other male characters are mostly minor. I would’ve been alright with Ruby/Sapphire being the sole lesbian pairing (and maybe Pearl/Rose because of the drama), but since all the Gems are female, then obviously they’ll all have to be homosexual unless they do like Rose. I dunno what it is, I just think it makes homosexuality seem less special! :P

 

Anyway, aside from the Gems, there are human characters who live in the main setting, Beach City. Most of the humans are the subjects of filler episodes. Each of them has a unique design that compliments their occupation or their character.

 

 

Story pacing and Theme:

Steven Universe takes a while before it provides us some form of deeper story, and most of the episodes feature an adventure or a crazy antic Steven gets involved in. However, almost each episode introduces a notable or important fact, either something minor like the Gems’ lifespans or something major like Amethyst’s backstory. SU introduces its grander story in a careful, one-step-at-a-time sort of fashion, but come the Season 1 finale, the step is so sudden and dramatic, it will keep you enthralled.

 

Then Season 2 becomes a bit more story-heavy, though we still make time for fun adventures. We’re currently at an arc where Peridot is helping the Crystal Gems… I think this is the only time that the writers wrote too quickly. I didn’t like Peridot’s decision in the latest episode. The arc mainly focused on Peridot adjusting to life on Earth, and the Gems trying to teach her Earth’s peaceful ideals. Given Peridot’s loyalty to her Homeworld, she was having a hard time understanding, and they were pacing this conflict well. …So I find Peridot’s ultimate decision to talk back to Yellow Diamond hard to believe. I think she reached that decision too quickly, especially given the previous episode where she thought destroying the Earth was a good thing. However, I’ll hold out hope she will face more internal conflict on this matter.

 

But this brings me to my next topic: Steven Universe has a great overall storyline, with terrific worldbuilding and great use of foreshadowing. There are numerous fan theories on many of the concepts, perhaps based on the implied foreshadows or otherwise. No different than One Piece, in that sense… except SU is starting to get a bit more predictable. We’re far enough in the series where the writers are beginning to confirm or deny certain theories, but so far it seems that they mostly confirm theories. I mean, sure, it was hinted there are four Diamonds a while ago, and we could pretty much guess Pearl’s background… but when all the fan theories begin to make these points, these just don’t come off as surprising when they actually happen. (It’s pretty much canon now on who Rose Quartz really is, but I’ll be surprised if she isn’t. :P)

 

However, if you choose not to look at fan theories, it will become more of a treat, and besides, the series leaves plenty of other surprises. Regarding the conflicts in the series, besides the once-in-a-while monster attack, the series features realistic everyday problems between its characters, such as Steven’s growing-up issue (Dipper Pines, anyone?), Connie’s controlling mother, and even Amethyst’s feelings toward her own background could be construed as suicidal (if this wasn’t a kids’ show). Most of these conflicts last for only an episode, others longer, but they’re very relatable problems that can drive out your emotions.

 

 

Animation and graphics:

At first glance, it appears like your average children’s cartoon, however Steven Universe takes place in a very beautiful, atmospheric, and ethereal form of what is apparently Planet Earth. One could almost place their selves in SU’s locations and feel the very atmosphere. The graphics in Season 2 are a great improvement over Season 1, with one of my pieces of evidence being the blue sky.

 

The creators of the show draw inspiration from many sources, such as anime, videogames, or even other cartoons. Their form of storytelling is comparable to that of several anime, and in some episodes, and they use classic anime double-sided screens. (Connie’s outfit in “Sworn to the Sword” is even similar to a certain DBZ character’s outfit.) Fans of the N64 or Gamecube will recognize those consoles in Steven’s room, not to mention dolls of Sonic or other characters. I found Peridot to be similar to Jenny Wakeman from the cartoon, Life as a Teenage Robot (keyword: “Cluster”), and like I said before, some characters bare Adventure Time-like appearances.

 

 

Music:

Steven Universe primarily has gentle piano soundtracks that compliment the majestic tone of the series, and other tracks that fit well with the world’s atmosphere. Since SU draws inspiration from videogames, some people will compare the tracks to those found in certain games. For example, the Sea Spire sounds like Donkey Kong Country’s “Aquatic Ambience”, and the Lapis Battle theme sounds like Kingdom Hearts.

 

Every few episodes, we are treated to an original song that is sung by the characters. Normally, cartoons throw in songs for comical purposes, but SU’s songs are used for the characters to express their inner emotions, and many of them are either gentle or catchy to the point that you may hum them in your head.

 

 

Verdict:

Steven Universe is a wonderful cartoon with beautiful scenery, characters, and music. The conflicts are very relatable and realistic, and the story buildup is well paced… for the most part. The only problems are a lack of balanced gender diversity, and if you look at fan theories, the series will start to feel more predictable, since they confirm a lot of theories.

 

 

PROS:

Beautiful graphics

Beautiful music

Relatable characters and problems

Great story and worldbuilding

 

CONS:

Series gets kind of predictable

Not enough important male characters

Peridot’s decision was unusually sudden

 

Rating: 8.9

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gamewizard-2008's Profile Picture
gamewizard-2008
Gamen Watch
Artist | Student | Digital Art
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Hello, guys, it's me, Gamewizard2008, also known as the King of Crossovers. ;) I'm the author of the Gameverse series, a massive crossover series in the FanFiction archive; check it out if you want. Recently, I got in a Digital Arts program and now I draw pictures of my characters and scenes from my stories.

Here's a link to my FanFiction profile. www.fanfiction.net/u/2421321/G…

Fanfic friends: Numbuh 6.13 (Mika), Numbuh 227, Depthcharge2030, Dynamite Girl, Rhy-Rhy, Arissaprincess321, AzureSkyMoon

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:iconcesarlocodellapiz:
CesarLocoDelLapiz Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016
Just sayin', but, YOUR FAVOURITE GAME IS SONIC '06???!!! OMG 
You're a hell of a survivor. I wonder how not a single Sonic Fan (like me) have tried to kill you yet...
I mean, I'm not gonna do such I thing but, maaaaan... you're really brave to say that... 
You'd better get a bodyguard or something
Reply
:icongamewizard-2008:
gamewizard-2008 Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016  Student Digital Artist
That's been established since 2009. :P But really, people make such a big deal over it, it's stupid. Sure it's glitchy, but the levels are fun and the controls are easy to adjust to. People over-emphasize how "bad" it is.
Reply
:iconcesarlocodellapiz:
CesarLocoDelLapiz Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016
In my opinion, that could have been the best Sonic game ever.
It could if it wasn't for the glitches, for having a too sad story (I mean, it has a great plot, but it might have been a little more lighthearted, with some jokes, you know?) and... well... a human princess giving a kiss to a dead antropomorphic hedgehog...
But aside from that, It could have been a Sonic Adventure 3 or so. Exactly what we, the fans, are still looking forward to get...
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:icongamewizard-2008:
gamewizard-2008 Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016  Student Digital Artist
It's the only SA3 you're going to get at this rate. ;P But it's still a great game!
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(1 Reply)
:iconflippythebear:
FlippyThebear Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2016
hey there
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:icongamewizard-2008:
gamewizard-2008 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Who're you?
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:iconflippythebear:
FlippyThebear Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016
Flippy from happy tree friends will you join me
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:icongamewizard-2008:
gamewizard-2008 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Huh?
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(1 Reply)
:iconcartoonfanboyone:
cartoonfanboyone Featured By Owner Edited Dec 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Tell me about Sarah's birth home.
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:icongamewizard-2008:
gamewizard-2008 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2015  Student Digital Artist
In notes.
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