allchildren: "my favorite part was everything" (ɤ the whole world)
Amy Ponds of the 99% ([personal profile] allchildren) wrote2015-03-01 02:38 pm

Steven Quartz Universe is a good kid you should get to know

Hello! Do you like... CARTOONS? How about shoujo and shounen? Old school video games? Adventure Time? Stories that make you feel warm inside? Good news! Steven Universe exists, and you get to watch it.

Steven Universe is a short-format cartoon created by Rebecca Sugar, who formerly storyboarded many of the best and most musical episodes of Adventure Time (Marceline just isn't the same without her). Like AT, it airs in 11 minute episodes on Cartoon Network and is artist driven, meaning the same person storyboards the art and writes the dialogue. It is, however, an unrelated show with a completely different vibe. While Adventure Time has an obvious dark side and deals in post-apocalyptic absurdity, Steven Universe is more goofy than absurd and has a lot more hope to it, which makes it feel younger and fluffier. But while Adventure Time's backstory and mytharc has slowly trickled in over two hundred episodes, Steven Universe is deceptively plotty -- even when it doesn't seem that way. There is a fascinating, emotional, and suspenseful story being told in perfect puzzle pieces, making it the show I am now most excited to watch each week for what new revelations will follow. Currently there are just over 40 episodes, with dozens more coming down the pipe.

"He pushed me to be really honest and to write cartoons like they're poetry."

- Rebecca Sugar on working with Pendleton Ward

Steven Universe is about a little kid, his four alien moms, his human dad, and the small mid-Atlantic beach town they live in. Steven (who is based on Rebecca's little brother) is the first ever human-Gem hybrid, made possible by his mother's sacrifice of her physical form so he could have it instead -- which means Steven is inheritor to all her powers. His mom Rose Quartz had a lot of powers, because she was the leader of the Crystal Gems, a quartet of inorganic aliens who've dedicated their very long lives to protecting humanity. The three remaining Crystal Gems -- Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl -- have elected to raise and train Steven to be a magical girl Crystal Gem in his own right. Steven's dad Greg lives nearby in a sweet van and hangs out with him as often as possible.

If you are anything like me, you might be a little disappointed that RS chose to make her protagonist a boy, but don't worry. He is of the Aang school of sweet, exuberant, laid back, and imaginative fictional boys one cannot help but love. (He is also very easy to interpret as nonbinary.) Gems technically have no gender, but so far in canon they all (usually) present as women and use female pronouns. Steven's good friend and crush Connie also adds to the female presence on the show.

"What I love about writing for this show is that we can tackle very sensitive issues through fantasy--that's always been the best use of fantasy! And I want that to be available to people that haven't had it before. The weird fun cartoon doesn't stop to talk about this, it just is this, in the safe space of fantasy. It's very important to me that this show makes people feel represented. I want everyone to have cartoon fantasy they can relate to!"

- Rebecca Sugar on the show's inclusivity

On that note, it is a delightfully diverse show. In addition to Steven's mixed status, the cast of WOC (British pop singer Estelle is a regular; Nicki Minaj guest stars), the characters...

...and the crew all represent a world where wonderfully weird and nerdy people of all races, genders, and sexualities get to exist and have fun and be important. It's pretty rad.

"in creating episodes, u have to reach deep into your brain+heart, pull out what makes you you, and then let it go, be like, “here!!!! take it” first to a pitch room, and eventually to thousands of people. it’s the hardest thing but also the most ethereal and rewarding"

- Lauren Zuke, SU storyboarder on tumblr in between asks about her OTPs (Korrasami and Bubbline are her top two of course)

Why else might you like Steven Universe?

Well, the art is super beautiful.

It's hilarious.

It has Rebecca's inimitably catchy songwriting which we know from Adventure Time...

as well as a fantastically varied score.

Most importantly, it is a complex and heartbreaking love letter to the wonders, appetites, small pleasures, stumbling blocks, and stories of childhood (both Steven's and that of the Millennial nerd who makes and watches the show). So that is why I recommend it.

"I didn't want the show to ever be mean, or sarcastic, or ironic. I wanted it to feel good!"

- Rebecca Sugar!!!!!!!!!!

If you can watch and buy the show legally, please do! The World of Steven Universe and and Animeflavor may also come in handy. When you're more spoilerproof, also check out the SU subreddit or the wiki for some very interesting fan theories.

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