You Should Be Watching: Steven Universe

If you have any interest in animation, you’ve undoubtedly come across Pendleton Ward’s acclaimed show Adventure Time.

Some of the best moments on Ward’s beautiful brainchild have come courtesy of Rebecca Sugar, background artist turned storyboard artist, writer and composer. Sugar was one half of the dynamic writing team that provided us with such awesome moments as ‘It Came from the Nightosphere’, ‘Fiona and Cake’ and ‘Power Animal’ (a personal favourite).

Rebecca Sugar, rising star of animation.

Rebecca Sugar, rising star of animation.

After Season 4, Sugar left Adventure Time to work on her own show. And it’s a lady first! Sugar is the first woman to create a show for Cartoon Network Studios.

Steven Universe revolves around a character based on her younger brother… and that is where I snoozed off as well. Thankfully, I gave it a chance, and was immediately sucked in by the theme song.

I mean, that’s just adorable!

And then comes the fantastic set up- Garnet (voiced by Estelle for extra trivia points), Amethyst, and Pearl are the Crystal Gems, beautiful warrior women who save humanity on a day to day basis. And then there’s Steven, the protagonist, who is shorter, younger and definitely less gem-tastic than the rest of the group.

The elder sisters-younger brother dynamic of the show really works well. There are some genuinely hilarious, but also sweet, moments when the girls try to make Steven feel better about his non-contributions to the group. Each member of the Crystal Gems is also quite a fun character- I love all of them, even (or rather, especially) the prissy and overly protective Pearl.

And STEVEN!!

And STEVEN!!

As can be expected from a show with its roots anywhere near Adventure Time, the world is a little whacky- great portions of the show make little to no sense. However the show relies on the relationships, rather than randomness, for humour, which is a huge strength.

Visually, the show is gorgeous, taking its cues from old and new animation. The backgrounds are sumptuous, as would be expected from a background artist, and has more than a few nods to the old Hanna-Barbara cartoons. And the characters look as if Betty Boop and Olive Oil were thrown in a blender with Regular Show and Adventure Time. “Is that a bad thing?” you ask. No, my friend. No it is not.

So:

An awesome looking show with visuals to die for? Check.

Interesting and funny characters? Check.

Whimsy? (Gotta have that whimsy!) Check.

Well then, why aren’t you watching it?

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3 thoughts on “You Should Be Watching: Steven Universe

  1. I’m surprised that few articles have mentioned the anime influence on the art and animation style of this series. Steven himself looks like a young Dr. Slump, one of Akira Toriyama’s characters, and the overall style reminds me very much of classic anime and manga by the likes of Reiji Matsumoto and the god of manga, Osamu Tezuka.

    • Hi George! Thanks for your comment. You’re right, Steven does resemble Dr. Slump, and more than a few characters echo the style of Astro Boy. Though a huge fan of anime films and some series, my general knowledge is sadly lacking. Anime and manga did take its cues from Betty Boop originally, so I guess that’s how come it reminded me so strongly of her. I don’t know what the other blogs’ excuses are! 🙂

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