Now tell me if that theme song doesn’t make you feel all happy inside. Otherwise, you have no soul.
I could give you an introduction about Cartoon Network and how I think that personally in terms of animated series but I did that already. I also mentioned that I have a current favorite show on there and if you look at the title of this review, then you already know what it’s going to be about.
Yes, I’m going to be talking about Steven Universe today. What is Steven Universe you may ask?
Steven Universe is created by former Adventure Time storyboard artist/writer/composer Rebecca Sugar, also making this the first show by the studio created by a woman. In the show, the world is protected by the Crystal Gems, a group of intergalactic warriors that draw their power from magic gem stones. In there, a boy named Steven inherited a gemstone from his mom Rose Quartz lives with Garnet, Amethyst & Pearl, 3 Crystal Gems as his guardians, spend his days in Beach City doing various activities from saving the universe, hanging out and trying to figure out the secrets of using his gem.
Let’s start with the characters of the show as this part is easily the best asset of the series and with the titular character Steven, he’s funny, charming, and enthusiastic as he does keep a positive outlook and with all those qualities, he’s somebody whose charm that doesn’t end up being too obnoxious, annoying, and machinelike. The Crystal Gems (Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst) are principally the mother figures / sister figures and teachers to Steven with something different about each of them and each Gem does develop more as a character as we know more about them. First with Garnet being the imposing warrior/leader of the group that can keep her cool when it comes to battling the evils around Beach City and dealing with the other Gems. She may have a serious look most of the time, but is playful around Steven most of the time. Amethyst is like the wild, crazy older sister/rebellious teenager-type that often gets Steven into some trouble but still does a deep concern for him and the last one Pearl is definitely the overprotective mother of the group that can be short-tempered when dealing with the Gems (mostly Amethyst) but has an intellectual and sweet side of her.
As for the side characters of the show, most of them do have their time on-screen when it comes to episodes that involve around them. The best examples for that are both Sadie and Lars for episodes like “Joking Victim” and “Island Adventure” Plus, the characters themselves are honestly compelling when it comes to their episodes, especially for Lars as he is somebody who I would’ve been annoyed if he was on another show but here, it acts like that typical teenager who wants to be this cool kid but shows ample depth added in him and their characters aren’t just a couple of background characters no one cares about. Another prime example of that is Connie, Steven’s friend (and possibly a love interest [?]), and the episodes she’s featured in does show them get closer as friends (maybe even more…….and yeah, there is so much I can share with you but SPOILERS!! And also, it’s best for you to experience itself.) There is also Greg Universe, Steven’s dad, and he is best described as a laid-back, caring and fun dad who is still active in Steven’s life even though he only lives in his van.
At the time of this review, we’re only in Season 1 of the series (with a 2nd season on the way) and there has been plentiful development throughout the series, especially in the latter half on when it comes to the origins of our main characters and exploring the lore of the Gems and their powers along with the way. However, it does hold a good steadiness of its funnier moments that’ll leave you chuckling and the more heartfelt, serious moments that most people can honestly relate to as the show such as Steven learning about his mom as he never got to know much about her as she gave her life for him to be born or just general life in Beach City.
If I have one nit-pick from this (just one), I would say that the show being in an 11-minute episode format may not be enough for the series as there is so much to cover on this but only for a short time. The only example I can think of that as of now is “Mirror Gem” and “Ocean Gem” as I feel like those need to be watched together as opposed to individual episodes on their own. It’s more of a package deal in my opinion.
Did I forget to mention the show does have some animesque aspects to this?
Once you think about it from the magical girl aspect, which is well-known in anime as this point and even throws a few references in there, the most notables one being from Akira (“Cat Fingers”), Evangelion (the near end of “The Test”) and Revolutionary Girl Utena (“Steven the Sword Fighter”)
On to voice acting and music…… The cast brought some great performances and they are mostly consisted of some voice actors that aren’t that well-known with some exceptions. Zach Callison as Steven added that charm to him and his portrayal was very down-to-earth. Deedee Magno Hall (Pearl), Michaela Deitz (Amethyst) and Estelle [(Garnet) – Yes, that Estelle, the R&B Singer] as the Crystal Gems all show some great range from their humorous scenes to more of their emotional scenes and the supporting performances were just as good with Tom Scharpling (as Greg Universe), Kate Micucci (Sadie) & Matthew Foy (Lars) and one surprise in that cast to me as Sinbad as Mr. Smiley, especially after this scene in particular. The special guest stars in the show were mostly the most fascinating to me as for who they got on the show.
Those examples are Nicki Minaj as Suglitte, a gestalt Crystal Gem fused by Amethyst and Garnet and this is one of her most impressive roles in general and another example is that Crispin Freeman and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn voiced Connie’s parents in the episode, “Fusion Cuisine.” Yeah, Alucard and Major Kusanagi as Connie’s parents….picture that in your head.
OH…….the music. I’m starting to think that as a guy that doesn’t like musicals, I’m perfectly fine with the insert songs in most of the episode as they feel more organic to the episode’s situation and not just any random song thrown in there. My favorite song in the whole series so far is “Strong in a Real Way” in the episode “Coach Steven” when Steven was fascinated by Suglitte and seeing how ‘strong’ she is, that Pearl wanted to show him that being strong is more than just big, powerful and strong in the general sense.
FINAL VERDICT (for now): Yeah, I would’ve call this a final verdict but since the show is still running, I decide to leave it at that. Now, anyway, Steven Universe is definitely one of Cartoon Network’s best and brightest current show as it perfectly crafts the humor without being overly obnoxious and grating and also the dramatic elements that hits all the emotions in the right place and doesn’t go overly sappy and false. The show has the makings of an animated classic and the show does have a following that is growing by the day.
And with that said…..this show is definitely
9/10 – High FIRST CLASS
(I’m ranking it as that for now. It can definitely be a HALL OF FAME depending on how the show will go.)
And you know what, I actually feel like looking at more current CN shows……I wonder what show I can look at next……
Anyway, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the Crystal Gems into the universe.
STEVEN UNIVERSE – courtesy of Cartoon Network Studios