So, Steven Universe is a thing right? People like it and all? All I really know about the show is that the fandom really doesn’t like My Little Pony. Which is weird, seeing how that’s a show with a primarily female cast hating on another show with a primarily female cast.
But apparently people really like this show. Like a lot of people really like Adventure Time. And I enjoy me some Adventure Time, so I guess I could do worse than watching Steven Universe? It’s only eleven minutes per episode or so, so not a huge time sink.
So, come here, whenever I feel like it, for quick opinion pieces disguised as reviews of each episode as I watch them. Uploaded whenever I feel like watching the show.
The story focuses around Steven Universe, a boy with a gem in his stomach, and his three guardians, the Crystal Gems. Their bodies have gems imbedded in them that allow them to summon their own unique weapon, something Steven is incapable of doing. Episode one deals with Steven’s favorite ice cream sandwich going out of production, and weird centipede monsters attack.
What I like about the show right from the start is the writing. There’s no backstory, no explanation of what anyone is talking about. The characters talk like they would talk to each other in real life, not expositing for the convenience of the viewer. This could come across as frustrating if done wrong, but fortunately we get the basic information we need via attempts to teach Steven how to summon his own weapon. And the story of this first episode is structured in a way that we can enjoy a good episode without having to wait for an explanation of what’s going on.
The characters are well put together as well. They have simple, easy to understand personalities, that I feel the show will expand upon as the series progresses. Steven is written as a believable kid, which to some viewers may come across as annoying, but not to me as I appreciate the authenticity of the writing.
The voice acting is top notch, with the voices matching the characters perfectly and cementing their basic personalities right away. Garnet’s voice in particular stands out to me. In my first viewing I was definitely picking up British tones, but there was something that made it sound a bit more like almost a South African accent. After actually doing some research I found that Garnet’s voice actress, Estelle, is in fact both British and a Black woman. What I’m trying to say is that I really like her accent.
Also, Nicki Minaj voiced a character in a later episode? Huh. I did not expect that.
There was at least one moment that made me laugh, after Steven complains to Garnet about how he has to work hard and not try at all. The way she says, “Yes” cracked me up.
The one part that stood out as odd to me was that the characters all seem to be very fond of Steven. The reason I say it’s odd is only because I haven’t seen enough of the show to see why this is. It’s a very familial relationship, that isn’t explained, and this ties in to what I praised about the writing. We are seeing this world as is, information isn’t being spoon-fed to us. Which works quite well, but in this case a small part of my brain is wanting details on how we came to be in the situation I have stumbled upon.
The theme song is worth pointing out. It’s very Adventure Time in its minimalistic approach. The difference is that the voice actresses are quite good singers. Which makes sense considering Estelle is actually a singer. So good casting decision there for certain.
The episode ends with that insipid “let’s all end the episode by the group standing around and laughing” that cartoons in the eighties seemed to insist on. Then Steven barfs. This is quality television and I think I’m along for the ride.