Thursday, November 24, 2016

I'm Thankful for Steven Universe

Since today is Thanksgiving, I decided I would talk about something I'm thankful for. However, I'm taking a departure from books to tell you about my favorite children's show of all time: Steven Universe. And if you're reading this thinking, Why would I watch a kids' show when I'm not a kid?, the reason is the same as why you would read a kids' book: because they're great! As is Steven Universe, which has aired on Cartoon Network since 2013 (and which I have watched since shortly before last Thanksgiving).



Above (clockwise from top): Garnet, Pearl, Steven, and Amethyst

The main character of Steven Universe is, unsurprisingly, a 12-year-old boy named Steven. However, Steven is not a normal child: he is half-human and half-Gem, a type of alien. Although Gems are aliens, they possess human forms and seem like humans, but in different colors and with special powers. Steven lives in the town of Beach City with 3 Gems: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. Although Steven is often involved with the Gems, he is also involved with the human residents of Beach City. Now for the reasons why I love Steven Universe:


Great characters. Steven Universe has complex characters with varying personalities and flaws. Steven is a happy kid who tries to see the best in people, but he has trouble living up to the legacy of his mother, a Gem named Rose Quartz. Pearl can be sometimes obsessed with perfection and acts as somewhat as a mother figure of Steven, being very protective of him. Amethyst acts sort of like a sister to Steven, having similar interests to him. however, Amethyst is very self-conscious, especially after the events of "Too Far." Garnet does not talk much during the beginning of the series, but more is revealed about her fierce yet wise personality (as well as her origins) later in the show. I could talk more about each character of Steven Universe, but I will just say that even minor characters are more than just plot devices.

Complex and entertaining story. The story of Steven Universe is extremely interesting. Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are members of the Crystal Gems, a group of Gems dedicated to protecting the Earth. Before the events of the series, Rose Quartz, the leader of the Crystal Gems, fell in love with a human named Greg Universe, a failing singer. Rose Quartz eventually becomes pregnant, but as Gems do not normally reproduce, she cannot exist if Steven does, causing her "death." As the series progresses, more is revealed about the home and history of the Gems, and other Gems come into play. The series has several  shocking revelations, and each one is incredibly interesting (and usually foreshadowed).

Beautiful animation. Steven Universe's animation is fantastic! Characters are drawn beautifully, locations are meticulously crafted, and the style in which the sky is drawn contrasts nicely with the other imagery.

Fabulous score and songs. Steven Universe's score has different instruments and styles for the main characters. For example, Amethyst is often accompanied by drums, Pearl's music involves piano, and Garnet's music involves deep sounds. All of the show's music is beautiful (the piece at the end of "Rose's Scabbard" is amazing), as are the songs. Steven Universe often uses songs in particularly emotional scenes, and not only do the songs accurately portray the emotions, but they are also beautiful and easily get stuck in one's head.

Discussion of important topics and themes. Steven Universe often discusses important themes. The show has many elements of feminism (many main characters are non-objectified women), and characters are diverse racially. The show also prominently discusses LGBT themes (several main characters are lesbian). Finally, Steven Universe also has several topics discussed on a smaller scale, such as family, accepting yourself, and loss.

Steven Universe also has a very calm, relaxing feel, well-crafted foreshadowing (spanning both single episodes and multiple ones), and various other stuff which I'll let you find out for yourself. All in all, Steven Universe is a beautiful show that is fantastic for anyone!

Update (11/25/2016): Several notes:
  • Several streaming services have episodes near the end of double-length season 1/beginning of season 2 out of order. (On Amazon Video, these episodes are "The Return" through "Joy Ride" as listed by Amazon.)
  • "Open Book," "Story for Steven," and "Shirt Club" aired in a different order relative to the other episodes. (The intended order is shown on the page linked below, while footnote 1, or nb 1 next to the episodes, shows the order that occurred.
  • "Say Uncle" is a crossover episode with Uncle Grandpa and is non-canon.
For a correct list of episodes, see this Wikipedia page.

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