I’m busy working on a few things at the moment, hopefully trying to delve into some deeper forms of literary techniques and give a real proper lecture on something specific I am quite fond of. . . . SO HERE’S THE TOP FIVE REASONS I LOVE STEVEN UNIVERSE.
Ahh yes, Steven Universe. This little gem (HAH GEM PUNS) caught the world by surprise, bringing a type of cartoon that most people had either not seen in a very long time, or for some hadn’t experienced at all. The cooky advertisements and trailers didn’t do this series justice at all, with the most courageous of watchers being splendidly rewarded upon adventuring into the world of SU. What we discovered was a deep, incredibly emotional and wonderfully gripping fantasy tale of sorts, featuring a slew of interesting and complex characters that the world fell in love with almost in an instant. But I’ll save all of this description for later. NOW, ONTO THE BULLETED LIST!!!!
Ooh also side note, these aren’t really in any specific order and once again my opinion so if you have any ideas on reasons that you think should be more glamorized or focused on, leave a comment in the section below. I honestly love discussing this thing it makes me so happy to see people falling in love with the show as a whole. Oh yea and spoiler warning of course. If you havn’t seen this show yet and are interested in watching it DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE.
So anyway. LIST!!
- The Voice Acting
This is a pretty minor part of the series but still something I really have to bring up because it truly is a reason why I love it so much. The voice acting is great. I’m just gonna say it right there. The voice acting is great, so shut up and accept it ya nerds. But serslor, each character goes through an intensive wheel of emotions, displayed perfectly through animation and voice acting that really lets the viewer feel connected to each person that hops up on screen. Some people might say the show is a bit too emotional, with a good handful of crying scenes thrown around, but it’s never too much. The actors always keep such a strong sense of realism with their emotional output, portraying the feelings of the characters in an interesting way that never makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s all just super freaking good and I love it. Yea I can’t really say the same for my stuff but hey we can’t all be Steven Universe now can we.
One final thing I have to say about the voicework that could be translated into another aspect of the show is just who they choose to work each character and how that really freaking matters. In the show, all the characters can fuse, to create new and more powerful characters, each with new abilities as well as new voice actors. But the thing is, each of the fusion characters is voiced by a prominent musician, which is a nifty little thing that connects them all, but also is a hint at one of the bigger secrets to the show which was fucking brilliant and didn’t inhibit at all from the actual quality of the series itself. Like this series made me hate Nikki Minaj a lot less for a good while as they brought her on to voice a specific character. And hey if you know me, that is some water into wine shit right there.
- The Setting
At this point in animation, because we have come so far with our abilities to produce beautiful imagery and far more complicated scenes then we have ever been able to in the history of television, it is practically necessary to have amazing settings nowadays. HOWEVER. Even if it is a necessity for these scenes to look pretty, it doesn’t essentially mean they have to be interesting. Like seriously I’m sure anyone can make like a beautiful field of flowers and put like a single tree on there that’s blooooowing in the wind cus yea that looks nice. But when Steven Universe does it; there’s your pretty tree and your pretty flowers BUT WAIT. I think. . .yes I think I can see some plot, strewn about the scenery, just sitting there, waiting to be noticed by senpai and appreciated for all the beauty that they offer. Honestly I’m starting to describe one scene in particular that falls into that super cliché category of like perfect nature and blah blah blah who hasn’t seen that before. What SU does instead is actually place little items along the area, not fully explaining what they are, what they’re doing there at all, or even what the place is that houses the items. Steven travels to this field at one point covered in vibrant pink grass, trust me it’s awesome, and he sees this little hill with a Bob Ross happy tree on top and like 4-5 super important things that we have no idea what mean or do just sitting there having a plot related powwow. No I’m serious, there’s a bunch of little items just sorta chilling out and having a good time and Steven grabs one and bolts. We don’t find out what they are until much later and still a few havn’t even been explained yet and it’s just so goddam mysterious and cool. The little hints of plot importance make the scenes far more interesting, drawing your eyes to new and exciting things you know are super relevant, and not just where the characters live or work or something.
- The Lore
This is probably one of those things you’re gonna hear a lot about SU so if you’re reading this you’ve most undoubtedly had these words screamed at your face by a number of people already. But yea. The Steven Universe lore is deep, and awesome. The way the story and world of SU is represented through the show allows for the viewer to get invested yet understandably know very little about what’s actually going on. Each episode tells us more about the characters, about the world, and about the actual goals of the show as a whole. The main drive for a very long time isn’t some world-saving ideology but simply a day-to-day type of lifestyle, showing us the bare bones of what these people can do, and how they interact with one another. One huge example of this style is shown through the interactions with the character of Steven’s mother, Rose Quartz. Rose’s character is referenced throughout the entire series, being defined as a gentle, loving, compassionate, powerful, endearing, beautiful, positive adjective here, kind of character. Yet, for the longest time the only thing we really knew about her was that she is Steven’s mother, and the former leader of the crystal gems. Besides that it was pretty much a fuckload of nothing, maybe referencing a few powers here, wishful thinking there, and a lot of starry eyed memories full of wonderment and soaked pants on Pearl’s avenue. Yea that’s right I went there. Besides the relationship melodrama, almost everything about Rose could have been learned within the first few episodes if someone decided to open his goddam mouth and ask some fucking questions STEVEN. But the thing is, it’s really okay. Steven as we’ve learned is not really an inquisitive character. He likes to ask a few questions to sate his current curiosity and then completely moves on with his life leaving HUUUUUUUGE plot cliffhangers that the viewers have to claw at the walls to get any relief from not having them answered right away. We could have learned everything about his mother immediately if he asked the crystal gems about, but the way we see his character is caring and socially adept, understanding it as a touchy subject for him and for the gems so he shies away from it at times. We could understand more about the gems and their homeworld in its entirety but Steven doesn’t really care. He has everything he needs with the gems on Earth who constantly sing him words of praise and affection, telling him that they are always going to stay right here. Honestly it sounds like a terrible bit of plot convenience, but in reality the way each episode tailors to filling you in on how characters grow and interact with each other more so then the actual plot, it all really makes sense in the end. No really trust me. Like I’m serious it makes sense. HEY DON’T GIVE ME THAT LOOK I SWEAR IT DOES I’M NOT LYING.
- The powers.
Yea so Steven Universe is a fantasy sci-fi mix where most-to-all the main characters aren’t even human, so of course there are gonna be some crazy powers going up in this bitch. Each of the gem characters specifically wield some kind of weapon specially tailored to their personality and design all while able to manifest some internal gem powers that flow along with it. Lapis Lazuli controls water using it to allow her the ability to fly. Jasper’s bullheaded personality manifests into a helmet she uses to charge at her opponents and slam literally headfirst into battle. Even Steven, who has a lengthy arc throughout the series where he utilizes and learns to control the powers given to him by his mother, uses a powerful shield that can block and nullify attacks, as well as hold loads of other properties that are like, way too complicated to truly explain in a crappy once a week blogspot *cough*. But I digress. Part of the main pull for this series is definitely delving deeper (look ma, alliteration) into the uses and manifestations of these powers. We went nuts finding out Steven has healing properties in his spit, and absolutely loved trying to find out the limitations of that very power. Each time two gem characters fuse, they create an entirely different character with their own abilities and personalities, but especially their abilities. Did I mention abilities? When we saw the first real fusion between Amethyst and Pearl to create Opal, this blew our freaking minds. Not to mention her weapon which combined the sword and whip from the previous two to create a massive star bow that wiped out a whole legion of crazy bird monster things. . . who’s names are unimportant and therefore do not deserve me doing any research on. Regardless, discovering what different powers each gem has, and their specific uses for them is such a treat. We know very little about actual gem physiology. Where do these powers manifest and why? What factors adjust the creation and use of their specific weapons? And of course, what will new fusions look like, and how will they combine the weapons into new and badass ones? The abilities are so interesting and obviously well-hidden making us yearn to see more but the show continues to only give us in bits, never fully opening up the whole thing for good reason. Even if they didn’t give these treats to us in parts, they would still be more than enough to garner a well-deserved chunk of praise, making us anxious to see the next one, built up on the hype of how cool they can really be.
- Duh, It’s the Characters.
Oh geeze where do I even begin. When I first saw the commercials for Steven Universe I was absolutely bored with it, before I even gave it a chance. Each character was some odd looking trope with the main Steven being an idiot who shouted random things and usually took away from any actual seriousness that the show might have been trying to build up in its scenes. And honestly. . . I wasn’t completely wrong. A lot of these characters follow specific tropes that justify their actions, dictating the way they act around others and what their dialogue might look like in the end. Steven is kind of an idiot who seems to tank a few of the more serious tones of the show with his tomfoolery (yes I said tomfoolery GET OFF MY BACK) and only occasionally delves into something important himself, usually letting the other characters set the tone or growth for the show. But regardless of how much of an idiot everyone can be throughout this whole thing, you will fall in love with each and every single one of them. I guarantee it you will find something to appreciate with all of these nonsensical characters bouncing around your screen just begging for you to love them.
Pearl is the calm and serious gem who plays everything by the book; a well of knowledge that loves to prove herself and show that she’s right in front of others. But after a while you see she can become hectic and insecure in the face of adversity she knows nothing about, losing her grip on the superior elegant flare she keeps up at all times. You learn that her past was of a worker, almost like a slave even, looked down upon by the higher ups, only serving a single purpose and nothing more. Every time she excels at something is a little victory for her because of this, and you slowly start to see this pride building up in her, easily relating to her because of course you know what it’s like to want to succeed when others said you couldn’t.
Amethyst, the crazy do-what-I-want go getter with a spitfire personality and not a single lick of class, plays off as the action girl, the brute who simply follows the others along, going with the flow and living each day for herself. She finds something she likes and goes for it, never failing to speak her mind when it matters (or doesn’t sometimes) always showing off her cool attitude towards the world. Woosh, in a second we find out she was created for an incredibly nefarious purpose on Earth, simply developing in the wrong way, leading her to join the good guys instead of fighting alongside the gem forces she was created for. We learn she is absolutely torn up inside about this, playing it off like it’s cool because she has no one to go too, feeling lost, like she doesn’t have a shoulder to lean on. Her upbringing was wrong, she was a mistake, so each and every time we see her finding acceptance, fitting in in her own eyes, we can relate to that. Especially as a kid who might be watching this. Who doesn’t know the feeling of wanting to be loved for what you truly are, trying to shy away from the harsh ties that bind you, and just wanting to feel like you belong?
And then you have the final gem Garnet. Garnet is the leader. She’s the powerhouse, the tactician. She’s cold and calculating, resolute in her plans and always knows what’s best for her team. AND OF COURSE THAT SHIT GETS KICKED TO THE CURB LIKE SO FAST!!!! Garnet is on a constant journey for self-discovery, understanding that she is the product of a gem-fusion that just refuses to separate because the two that combine to make her are so goddam in love that it hurts. It’s also kind of disgusting and some points because their flirting is cringe worthy BUT THAT’S BESIDES THE POINT. Garnet now has to come to understand what life is for her, what her role is in the world, and her sudden change into team leader once their true leader, Rose Quartz AKA Steven’s mom gave up her body to make Steven. Yea it’s not a natural birth it’s kind of weird don’t worry about it though. Garnet is the product of a relationship, showing the serious implications that fusion has in creating something entirely new (oh hey look I made a reference to that song they sing oh hey I’m so clever). We journey through her mindset getting a look at what it means to be created this way and how it affects what she sees in the world around her. Her serious nature brakes down as Steven grows, telling us she doesn’t have to put on such an act anymore and builds up this playful nature whenever he’s around. I swear to god my heart flutters whenever she smiles at him and then says, “I love you Steven,” like that is the realest cutest shit I have ever seen in a goddam kid’s show. I don’t think you can name a character that just outright says it like people do everyday. It feels real, it feels absolutely cute and it adds so much to the way these characters see each other, showing us their deeper connections in such a subtle way it blows my mind. It’s so simple but it’s so deep and she just continues to do little things like that throughout the series. Of course she has her more complex moments where we delve deeper into character, but these little bits of affection and whatnot absolutely make the show. It breaks so many tropes and clichés by having them slip out of characters for a few seconds and just become real honest to god people that do and say silly little things with the ones they love. AGGHHHHH I LOVE IT.
And I mean then there’s Steven. Steven is just loveable. He’s goofy and sensitive and a kind good-natured kid who we just watch grow up this entire series. He learns from his mistakes, he gets excited over stupid things and you just can’t help but love him. He’s also the best kind of character to trail for this style of story-telling since he once again doesn’t always like to pry into the lives of others, giving them space at certain times. And every character is hilarious, oh of course they are hilarious. They just burst out with ridiculous one-liners or do some crazy action that is so nonsensical you can’t help but laugh.
I could spend so much time just gushing about how much I love this show, and maybe I will one day. For now I’m gonna try and make it as professional as possible while also throwing in GAHs and random cursing all over the place. If you agree with any of my word vomit up there send me a comment or something cus discussing good cartoons is one of my favorite passtimes. Who knows I might have missed something uber important, so seriously let me know. As for Steven Universe, I am absolutely sure I’ll come back to it one day, because there is still so much I want to discuss.