The Steven Universe Pilot Episode is…Strange

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Its been a while since I’ve watched anything “Steven Universe” related, and considering the fact that school has kept me from being able to do the longer, more in-depth posts that I would eventually like to return to, I figured now would be a good time to return to the series. Today, I decided to check out the only episode of the series that I never got a chance to experience: its pilot.

The story of the pilot follows Steven and the Crystal Gems after the Gems get back from a mission, bringing home a mysterious item. Despite Steven begging the Gems to let him come on one of their missions, even singing the now widely known main theme of the show, “We are the Crystal Gems,” they tell him that he is too young and that it would be dangerous. Amethyst then gives Steven some money and the mysterious item to go buy donuts with. Steven goes to buy the donuts only to realize that the mysterious item he was given allowed him to travel back in time and make comebacks to lars, at which point an Alien comes to retrieve the item. As the alien defeats both the gems and Steven, he must use the device to go back in time and start the fight over, which ends up saving them all.

Released over seven years ago today in March 2013, It is clear that the pilot has a lot of elements that carried over to the early portions of the series. For starters, Steven’s design, as well as the general design of Beach City, seemed to have been decided on relatively early, as only a few minor changes Aesthetically seem to have been made between the pilot and the first season proper. It is also surprising to see that Lars and Saddie were both originally part of the picture as characters. However, considering how much they contribute in the early seasons of the show, and even the later ones, it makes sense.

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There are also a lot of dramatic changes. Mainly, the Crystal Gems themselves. The character designs of Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl all look much more mature and realistic than their season one counterparts, almost gritty in their realism. This change also is not particularly surprising, as given the events of the series even in just the first season, it would make sense why they might tone down the realism in the animation.

Another very notable change seems to come in the brightness of the animation. Whereas Steven Universe’s first episode proper establishes the series bouncy and bright color scheme, the pilot appears noticeably darker, highlighted mainly by the orange hew of the sunset and the inside of their house, again reflecting a larger sense of realism that disappeared past the pilot.

The interior design of the beach house also changed a lot to make it feel bigger. In the pilot, the kitchen, couch, and teleportation device are all relatively close, and their appears to be no upstairs, where Steven’s room is located. On top of that, the back wall and the door to the Gem’s rooms look noticeably more ancient, reflecting more the age of the gems themselves rather than the modern look of beach city.

Overall, while the pilot was an enjoyable watch, it felt more like something straight out of the 90’s than anything related to the Steven Universe of today. Its heightened realism, though interesting, makes it a bit harder to watch when one has already seen all of the series proper. If you are a fan of the series and are curious about its origins, then check it out, otherwise its nothing worth seeking out.


Are there any other cartoon pilots I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.

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