Time to cover the second animated series about humanoid gems or precious stones on this blog. It is about a human boy with superpowers and his three guardians from outer space. Let us take a look at Steven Universe, what to expect and then talk about what everyone really came here for when they read the review title.
Note: This will be a different style of review from most using a bullet point style. Something similar to my Harley Quinn G-View. Basically I will keep it simple while explaining just enough to let readers know whether this show is for them or not.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi/Science Fantasy, Slice of Life
Themes: Aliens, Coming of Age, LGBT+, Superheroes.
Number of episodes: 180 (5 seasons and 1 “limited series”), 12-13 minute episodes and 1 movie.
Plot Summary: Steven Universe is set in the fictional town of Beach City, Delmarva, where the Crystal Gems live in an ancient beachside temple and protect humanity from monsters and other threats. The Gems are ageless alien warriors who project female humanoid forms from magical gemstones at the core of their being. The Crystal Gems comprise Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl and Steven—a young, half-human, half-Gem boy who inherited his gemstone from his mother, the Crystal Gems’ former leader Rose Quartz. As Steven tries to understand his gradually expanding range of powers, he spends his days with his father Greg, his best friend Connie, his magical pet lion, other residents of Beach City, and the Gems, helping people in need, facing dangers of Earth and beyond and dealing with many emotional struggles.
Let us begin with the highlights:
1: The show as a whole is a coming of age superhero series going over destiny, heroics, existentialism, love, loss, purpose, race, sexual orientation, watermelon tribes and other important life values.
2: Everything related to the Gems, be it the Crystal Gems or other Gems (Of course there are more) is really cool and one of my personal favorite parts of the show. Every time the Gems get an episode dedicated to them I have a fun time learning more about them. Be it their origin, personalities, code of ethics, view of life, the great war, the HUGE reveals and more.
3: The people of Beach City, Delmarva are hit and miss. The main humans like Steven, Connie, Mr Universe and the Pizza Family are all cool but others like Lars, Mayor Dewie and Onion are “meh” to me. I would say I like half the population. Having said that each side-character has their own story to tell and with a show with close to 200 episodes expect all of them to get their time to shine. I admit some of the characters I did not much care for went in very interesting directions. My opinions of them have not changed much but I admittedly liked the destination of their journeys, especially a certain guy and gal. fortunately should there be an episode about an inhabitant the viewer is not interested in not all episodes in a season NEED to be watched to follow the main story so said episodes can be skipped. Not all but most episodes not about Steven, the Crystal Gems, Connie or Mr Universe can be skipped if not interested.
4: Pay very close attention to Steven’s life experiences throughout the main five seasons and the movie. All the good, bad and in between. His birth, the people he helps or fails to, the twists that further change his life both for better and worse, what he gets to experience, his relationship with his fellow Crystal Gems/ maternal guardians, friends and family etc. I say this because it is all very, very, very, VERY important to help understand what happens in Steven Universe Future, aka the limited series epilogue, aka Season 6. Note: The writers do not refer to Future as such but come on, it is pretty much the sixth and final season despite being the shortest at 20 episodes.
5: Watching the show, especially the battles, made me think of it as the closest thing to an American Pretty Cure. Fans of the franchise will get what I mean.
6: The Steven Universe Movie is set after the end of Season 5 and before Future. It is also a Musical. Personally Musicals are hit and miss. This one was okay. As I said in Point 4 it is still required viewing to better understand Future as characters and events in the movie do play a role near the end of “Season 6”.
7: Among the three Modern Mega Cartoon Network shows I consistently followed (The third was Regular Show for the curious) the reason I enjoyed Steven Universe as a whole compared to Adventure Time is because it felt more structured. AT looked like a mishmash of “inner child” ideas thrown together in a hot mess of a melting pot and hope it all comes together eventually. SU to me had a more cohesive plot to follow. I enjoyed AT also but SU was a more enjoyable viewing experience. Helped that there was FAR LESS slang or jive lingo for the sake of “hip with the kids but it all makes sense yo”. Plus the presentation was nicer. Speaking of presentation there are several Musical numbers throughout the main five seasons (not so much Future), hence the movie being a Musical.
8: The Gems are TECHNICALLY genderless but use and are addressed using female pronouns. Makes sense as they all look female. I was expecting male looking Gems at some point but nope, all female. No complaints here.
That about covers all I wanted to go over on the show. Again there are things I did not go in great detail over but hopefully these bullet points help highlight the stuff I enjoyed about it. Now for the most important two.
9: While yuri is for the most part at the forefront of romantic development on the show other letters in the LGBT+ spectrum are represented in some way. Be on the lookout, yes.
That brings us to Number 10, also the only thing I will spoil.
How do I explain their relationship without giving too much away? Okay. Ruby and Sapphire, aka Garnet when fused, are part of the group who joined the Crystal Gems to defy the other Leader Gems of Homeworld who wanted to colonize Earth en route to galactic conquest. As Garnet they joined the rebellion to protect Earth. For the most part they succeeded but like all wars the price for (temporary) freedom was great. To Ruby and Sapphire fusion represents a bond more important than that of friends or family. Something so special that anyone not taking it as seriously greatly insults them, more so Ruby. To best describe the two Ruby is the hothead who lets her feelings out in the open while Sapphire is the seemingly more composed of the two who USUALLY remains calm when the two get into an argument…usually. Let us just say there is a reason professionals tell people it is not a good idea to keep emotions bottled up inside. When not arguing over usually valid reasons the two have an incredibly hard time keeping their hands off one another. While precious it got them into trouble once or twice.
Fusion Gems have their own personalities or are a mix of the ones who fused. Garnet has Sapphire’s composure and Ruby’s red hot energy in combat. Oh and she has Sapphire’s Future Sight. Because of this she acts as the leader, or at least the most collected, of the Crystal Gems…for the most part.
Garnet occasionally splits into Ruby and Sapphire willingly, when overpowered or emotionally troubled. To the surprise of no readers the episodes the two “unfuse” are some of the best of the show. Do not get me started on their role in Season 5. Without spoiling anything major a huge reveal happens that shakes Garnet to her core(s). What follows next must be seen to be believed. While they have a prominent role in the movie the two do not separate as much in Future for reasons explained in S5.
Another character worth paying close attention to throughout the show is Pearl. Without giving much away her character has a lot to do with “an old wound”. She has an interesting arc and “conclusion”…yes, let us go with that. Unlike Garnet she has more “moments” in Future, yes.
As mentioned there are other LGBT+ representatives on the show but I will leave that to viewers to discover for themselves.
Overall Steven Universe is an emotional roller coaster with musical numbers here and there. The main cast are all excellent, the side-characters are hit and miss, the action ranges from cool to awesome and the presentation is quite nice. While I did not enjoy the movie very much it is still worth checking out once. As for Future…oh dearie me Future…Be FULLY (primarily mentally) PREPARED before tackling the “final season”. I would say things get cooking somewhere around the 2nd to 3rd quarter of Season 1. It is the longest so it takes a bit to get the engine revving. This is another one of those shows I do not know who to recommend. Basically anyone who found the review helpful can check it out if they so wish.