Tag Archives: Steven Universe

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.


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.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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Final Thoughts: Steven Universe Future

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

The number of shows, both anime or otherwise, that I would consider truly important to myself is one that fits comfortably within the number of fingers on my hand. Steven Universe, for better or for worse, is one of them. The show’s final season, Future, was not only good in all senses of the word, but it has also come to remind me just how much I have both grown as a person, and still need to grow.

Steven Universe and The Hero’s Journey

Many who watched “Steven Universe’s” first episode and nothing else probably assumed the show is pretty simple, at least in the sense that it is just a stupid cartoon and and has no deeper sociocultural implications. In that sense they would be wrong. However, looking at the through a critical lens, it feels pretty accurate to say that everything up to future is just a repetition of The Hero’s Journey.

For those uninitiated with the idea, Joseph Campbell’s monomyth describes a broad literary category in which some hero gets called on to face a challenge, goes on an adventure, and comes back transformed. This makes sense because, as anyone who has seen the full series can attest, “Steven Universe” is nothing if not journeys and transformations, both literal and figurative.

In fact, one of the first, and arguably most important, journeys Steven takes is one where he, and those watching, learn about Fusion. While on a mission with pearl and amethyst, Steven is captured by a giant bird, and so Pearl and Amethyst are forced to fuse in order to save him.

Fusion throughout “Steven Universe” serves as both a power up for the gems as well as a storytelling mechanic. It involves two gems becoming one and taking on a new form, and also signifies a more intimate relationship in gems, both emotionally and physically. Often times it serves as the resolution of a given story arc within the show, when a conflict has come to an end, and to characters understand each other more.

“Future,” however, is quite the opposite.


Steven Universe Future as a Deconstruction

One thing that remained constant throughout “Steven Universe” until the series’ final season was Steven’s quest to find out about his mother’s identity, which he ultimately did. Still, despite getting the answers he wanted, and saving the universe along the way, Steven was still left feeling a sort of emptiness

As Rebecca Sugar, the show’s creator, confirmed in a recent interview, “Future” was Steven finding out who he was, in contrast to all of his adventures that came before. In this way, “Steven Universe’s” final season was an excellent deconstruction.

All throughout the series prior to “Future,” Steven’s own identity is consumed by the shadow of his mother Rose Quartz, who it turns out is also Pink Diamond. Each mission was creating a path forward towards his goal of finding out about his past. But this goal was not without its struggles and harms.

Identity and Mental Health

One of “Steven Universe’s” best traits is its Stalwart commitment to the idea of inclusivity and acceptance of others, especially in regards to gender and sexual minorities. Most of the gems that populate the world of “Steven Universe” remain gender-less while pretty clearly presenting female, a nod to Rebecca Sugar’s own non-binary identity.

This kind of acceptance and understanding is present in Steven as well. He is presented with many tough situations throughout the show, most of which it would have been easier to simply write off the other characters in the show as evil. However, Steven operates off the fundamental principle that every person is deserving of kindness, and chooses to take on their burdens.

Still, as it is explored in “Future,” this ends up being detrimental to Steven’s physical and mental health, to the point where his gem powers run rampant and cause him to turn into a monster.

I think it is also important to emphasize relationship between someone’s perception of the world around them and their mental health. Although Steven is literally his own person throughout the whole show, to him, it never feels that way because everything he does was either in service of finding out about his mom or rescuing other people.

In other words, nothing Steven ever did before the events of “Future” was for himself. On top of that, he was put through many life threatening situations, which caused him a lot of stress on top of what he was going through.

This realization in “Growing Pains” was probably one of the most self-reflective moments I have had in a while, and it honestly made me step back and look at the more traumatic experiences in my life.

The Story

It is easy to forget that aside from its important messages and critiques of social norms, “Steven Universe” has always been a show with mostly good writing, and its latest season is no exception.

“Future” manages to keep itself focused on the topic Steven’s identity, and rarely veers from it, unlike the show’s first five seasons, which were, in a lot of ways, littered with plenty of unnecessary filler. Each episode feels like it has an intended purpose within the arc, and ultimately moves the story forward.

The season also handles tone incredibly well. While the first few episodes come across as light-hearted, it becomes apparent fairly quickly that the story to come will be much less so. However, the show never has to sacrifice coherency to make this jump, and in that respect does a great job.

The ending was also standout moment of the series. The last episode of the series shows Steven telling the other crystal gems about his plans to move out. While getting ready to leave, he wonders why they are not more concerned. As he is getting ready to go, he confronts them about this, and the four of them break down crying.

It is a great vignette that highlights one of the show’s most important messages, that people should always be honest about their feelings.


The End of Steven Universe

It is at times like these that my head usually rushes to thoughts like “If only there was one more season, one more episode,” etc. I think now is not the time for thoughts like those. Just like Steven himself, it is important to let this chapter close, so that a new one may open. While it is worth appreciating “Steven Universe” for the foreseeable future, it is also important to understand when to let a good thing end, and now is certainly the time.

I have always felt Final Thoughts was a bad title for these kinds of posts because, in reality, this probably will not be the last time I talk about this show. In fact, I have thought about doing at least a few more analytical posts on this show, but at the moment I am not sure. Time will tell, I guess.

Do you have any strong feelings about “Steven Universe Future?” Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

The Newest Age of Steven Universe: Future

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In the weeks following the “Steven Universe’s” four part conclusion to season five titled “Change Your Mind,” there was a good amount of speculation about what the future of the show would look like, given that it seemed like an almost perfect ending. Fans of the series got their answer late last year with the release of “Steven Universe: The Movie,” a film set two years after the event of season five.

After what most considered an incredible movie, many thought that “Steven Universe: The Movie” would be the last of it. As it turned out, they were wrong again. In December of 2019, “Steven Universe’s” Sixth, and likely final, season began airing, appropriately titled “Steven Universe Future,” given that it is also set two years after the events of the last season.

It focuses on Steven’s life after ending the reign of the diamonds, where gems are free to live there life as they choose. The first ten episodes thus far have followed Steven’s endeavors with Little Home-world, a school designed to reorient gems towards being able to live alongside humans. Steven leads the organization in hopes of helping gems learn to be themselves.

Up until season six, “Steven Universe” had already been known for tackling darker topics, such as abuse, war, imperialism, etc., and did so in a way that showed an understanding and appreciation for those going through them. Each arc of the series had added either a new character or a new dimension to the overall story of Steven Universe, while also building on its core themes of love and acceptance, even when it did not necessarily make the most sense plot wise, such as during the arc with Jasper and Lapis.


“Future” leaves a lot of that behind in favor of focusing more on Steven, at least more than previous seasons had already. Specifically, season six not only focuses on his time running Little Home-world, but his character and psyche after saving the universe.

As it turns out, Steven has had a lot rougher of a time emotionally after the confronting the diamonds than before. During the last five seasons, Steven always had a purpose, that being to help the Crystal Gems and to find out more about his mom and her relationship to the diamonds and the war on earth. Each episode, and consequently each new adventure was a step towards that goal.

Now, in season six, Steven has to confront the reality of changing times. Connie, Steven’s best friend and who only appeared briefly in “Steven Universe: The Movie,” has so far not made an appearance. Meanwhile, his other to friends, Lars and Sadie have started to move on with their lives as well. Sadie has quit her band so that she can be together with her new partner Shep, and Lars has quit his position at his bakery in order to travel back out into space with his gem crew, as shown in the episode “Little Graduation.”

Meanwhile, scars from his mothers past are still rearing their head. In the episode “Volleyball,” the pearl that served under white diamond wants to fix her scar. However, when Steven takes her to get the scar fixed, it is revealed that the scar on her face is not a crack in her gem, but rather an internalized pain from when Pink Diamond hurt her physically.

All of this has left Steven a bit out of wack, to say the least, as shown in the last episode to come out as of the writing of this post “Prickly Pair,” which shows Steven after his decision to step down from Little Home-world and focus on himself. He decides to take up gardening, but while doing so accidentally brings one of his cactus’s to life. Soon the cactus is able to speak, and learns from Steven. However, the cactus has also heard Steven talk about his true feelings about his situation, and how he thinks the gems have been annoying as of late. The cactus then eventually goes wild, and repeats all of the things Steven told it.

And with that the show was left on Hiatus, with more episodes likely coming later on this year to finish out the series. The turmoil present in “Future” for Steven has already led to some pretty dark places, even without the threat of another gem war. In the first ten episodes alone the show has had stories about losing friends, getting over the trauma of abusive relationships, and finding purpose after losing it.

It is unclear what the exactly is going to happen next, whether Steven and Connie will reunite at all, what his relationship with the gems will look like after “Prickly Pair,” or even what Steven plans do next.

All that can be said for sure is that “Steven Universe Future” is an incredible continuation for the series. More than anything, though, it is an unique look at life for Steven after the saving the Universe, and it is likely that the series will continue to build in a strong direction during its next round of episodes.

What do you guys think of Steven Universe Future? Let me know in the comments below?

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

It’s Hard Not to Feel Like Spinel Sometimes

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Steven Universe has long been known for its positive, uplifting messages about identify, respect, and loving others, and this year Steven Universe’s creator Rebecca Sugar continued that tradition with the newest edition to the franchise, Steven Universe: the Movie.

Compared to the show, the movie is similar in style in presentation but is definitely bigger in feel. In fact, going back to its musical roots, the movie has a soundtrack that nearly rivals the rest of the show in terms of volume, with loads of wonderful individual songs such as “True Kind of Love” and “Happily Ever After.”

The film’s story takes place two years after the season five finale, in which Steven is able to convince White Diamond that the very structure of gem society, along with her view of other gems, is fundamentally wrong, and that other gems should be seen as equals, rather than lesser beings. In those two years since, Steven, along with the other crystals gems, have managed to make earth a safe-haven for gems of all kinds. However, this newfound happiness is short lived, as a blast from Rose’s past soon comes to haunt Steven, and turn his life upside down.

Enter Spinel, the character at the center of struggle in Steven Universe: The Movie. When she arrives on earth and meets the Crystal Gems, she vows her revenge on them by destroying planet earth with a strange looking device. The device actually contains a poison that Spinel injects into the earth, which will destroy all life on the planet in 48 hours. At first, no one is sure who she is or why she has come to earth in the first place. However, after Spinel reminisces over her past with Steven’s mom, Pearl quickly remembers who she is. Before Pearl can give Steven any information, Spinel hits all of them with a weapon that resets the gems and erases their memories. A quick battle between Spinel and Steven leaves Spinel hit with her own scythe-like, memory-erasing weapon.

The rest of the film follows Steven’s struggle to restore the memory of not only her friends, but also Spinel, so that he can try and convince her not to follow through with her plan of destroying the earth. At first, Spinel’s original motivation seemed inexplicable. Why would she want to badly to destroy earth and get some sort of illusory revenge on Rose? By the end of the film’s second half it all becomes clear. In what is arguably the most popular song to come out of the movie, “Drift Away,” Spinel explains to Steven how she used to be Rose’s servant/playmate. However, after finally receiving her own colony on earth from the other diamonds, she tricks Spinel into staying on gem homeworld, never going back to check on her, never considering her feelings in the slightest.


It is at this moment that Spinel’s feelings become much more justified. She spent literal thousands of years of her life standing around, waiting for Rose to return, wondering “am I doing this right?” All of that for someone who never really cared about her in the first place. Probably one of the most telling scenes is the one immediately following “Drift Away,” in which it looks as though Steven wants to defend his mom, but then quickly realizes that there is not excusing what she did.

Despite her character design being more reminiscent of 1930’s, what her story in Steven Universe represents is a problem that is still very much a modern one. Too often the trust that people put into others is betrayed, and it leaves those who have been wronged with feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness. This type of harm can come in many forms, from simple gaslighting on one end, to rape at the other extreme.

Another type of this betrayal of trust can come in the form of revenge porn, where a significant other releases explicit content of a person without their consent, an issue that has only been further highlighted with the recent high profile story of former U.S. Representative Katie Hill.

However, this kind of betrayal of trust does not even have to be of an extreme nature. In-fact, sometimes it can be as simple as finding out that people who seemed to be trustworthy friends turned out to be nothing more than liars.

The reason Spinel’s arc felt so powerful is because at the core of her story is that betrayal of trust. She lost who she thought was her only friend, and because of that felt like there was no way she could trust anyone again. At the end of her climactic battle with Steven, instead of finishing him off, she breaks down into tears, and begins to wonder what the point of it all is.

Well, the point is this: those who are the victims, those who have gone through abusive relationships, and those whose trust has been betrayed should not be the ones feeling bad. Yet, even as I write these words, I am under no illusions about what the reality of the situation is. The Spinels of the world will go on feeling like garbage. The same as always.

Have you guys seen Steven Universe: The Movie? What do you all think? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

The Most Interesting Modern Cartoons and Why They Matter

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The world of Anime is a vast and interesting one, filled with many unique genres and stories to tell, but anime isn’t the only place where animation is excelling. Taking a look across the ocean, many of America’s modern animation has similarly took a turn for the better. While the many of the cartoons of the past have opted to stay sporadic and more episodically focused, The cartoons of now have decided to take a more narrative approach. Here are some of the most interesting modern cartoons.

Avatar: The Legend of Korra

Following in the footsteps of its universally loved predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Korra is informed by many of the same things, with a much different setting.

The story follows Korra, who is the next avatar after Aang, and who lives 100 years in the future. After it is discovered that Korra is the next avatar, she begins her training and eventually moves to Republic City, the world’s bastion of advancement and technology. At first, she struggles adjusting to city life, but after meeting Mako and Bolin, she manages to find her way around.

A lot of what Korra deals with, at least in the first season, is the idea that the world has advanced, and the need for the avatar is waning. This, along with the struggle between her freedom and her responsibility, leads to a bit of an identity crisis. The second season, meanwhile, deals more with the struggle between technology and nature, and the two contrasting lifestyles those things entail. Its a bit harder to describe the last two seasons in any detail without going into spoilers, but suffice it to say that both of the last two seasons of Korra are also incredible.

What Makes Legend of Korra such an amazing predecessor to the original avatar is the way it adapts to its new characters and environment to tell a unique and original story. Korra is a noticeably different character than Aang. Much like Toph, Korra isn’t afraid of conflict, and starts out aggressive to the point of being detrimental. In a world where technology is quickly outpacing the feats of benders, her role as a peacemaker, not just between nations, but between benders and non-benders, and between spirits and humans, becomes even more important.

There is also the struggle of relationships. Between Mako and Bolin, and later Asami, her relationships often change dramatically, with friendships becoming romances, romances becoming friendships, and friendships becoming strained. All of this happens while she is trying to perform her duties as avatar.


Steven Universe

Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe, while not always as narratively focused as a show like The Legend of Korra, still brings a lot to the table in terms of the story it does tell.

Steven Universe is about, well, Steven Universe, a boy who is half gem and half human, and who is often raised by Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst, creatures known as gems who original came from Gem Home-world, but ended up living on earth after defending it from invasion. Together, Steven and the gems go on adventures.

While the first half of the season one of Steven Universe is marred with filler, the show quickly picks up after the show’s mid-season finale, in which the gems fight off Jasper and Peridot, who attempt to take the crystal gems back to home-world. After that, the show largely becomes about Steven’s identity, both as person and as a crystal gem. Steven also wants to know more about his mother Rose Quartz, but is continually brushed off by the other gems for large portions of the show, and is forced to look for answers on his own.

In connection with Steven’s questions about his identity, the show also explores a lot of elements of Sex and Gender. While the gems, except for Steven, are implied to be female, because they are gems, their exact gender is left ambiguous in the show.

Another example of this is a concept in the show known as fusion. If two gems with a strong emotional connection come together, the two can form a new gem out of their component parts. In addition, if the two gems somehow become disconnected while fuse, they will break apart into their original parts. As a metaphor for something more intimate, the show establishes through fusion that the only healthy relationship is one in which their are two willing participants who care about one another and want to be together. Later on in the show, Steven and his best friend Connie fuse together into a person they call Stevonnie after the two dance together.

The show also explores the idea of bigotry on a systemic level. In gem society, gems are divided into castes based on their identity. Pearls are a servant class, and Amethysts are a worker class, and any departure from this caste is shamed. The main reason for the war for earth, in fact, was Rose Quartz’s resentment of gem society.

However, the show becomes even more than that. Towards the beginning of the latest season, the show again transforms into a show not just about Steven’s identity, but rather about the expectations that precipitated the questions about his identity in the first place, and about the structure of gem society and what it would mean for that to change.

Star vs The Forces of Evil

Well, there is already one show on this list about friends from space, so why not two? Much like Steven Universe, while it may take a bit for its plot to get going, Star vs The Forces of Evil is a show with another great story.

The show follows Marco Diaz and Princess Star Butterfly after the two are united on earth. Star is sent away from her home planet Mewni in order to learn more about the world. Meanwhile, Marco is looking to just get through high school, but when Star comes into his life, things get a lot more exciting.

Star vs The Forces of Evil, now on its forth season, has been extremely story focused since the end of its first season, and despite some minor side plots that have thus far gone nowhere, the story’s cohesiveness has remained strong. What started as a comedy with magical elements thrown in has grown and matured significantly.

Staring with season two, the show has explored a lot of the history of the Butterfly family, including how Star’s signature magical powers work and where they originate from.

Along with a lot of world building and history of Mewni and the magic associated with it, the show also dives headlong into themes about racism and bigotry by telling the story of the monsters that live on Mewni. The Mewmans that live there are, at least at the beginning, extremely hostile to monsters, not allowing them to live in Mewman cities. But, after Star comes to know some of the monsters that Mewmans have demonized, she comes to the realization that things need to change. From about the middle of season two onward, this tension between Mewmans and Monsters becomes a central thread throughout the story.

This tension comes to a head in season four, where Star and Marco must deal with the fallout of Eclipsa, one of Star’s relatives who was frozen in ice after she ran away with a monster that spread destruction across Mewni, escapes and becomes queen after Star find out what really happened in her family’s past.


Why These Shows Matter

Aside from the aforementioned Avatar: The Last Airbender, there are not many western shows that get brought up when it comes to the conversation of good animated storytelling. However, I would argue that all three of these shows should be put up for discussion, for their brilliant stories.

However, what matters about these shows is not just how good they are. Arguably the most important element of these shows is the messages they send, specifically towards a younger audience. All of these shows, in one way or another, send the message that we should love and respect one another regardless of our differences, whether its Star through its message against racism, Steven Universe’s message of gender acceptance, and Korra’s more general message of peace and love.

What non-anime shows have you all been watching recently? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you would like to support The Aniwriter or are just feeling generous, consider donating on Ko-fi, or by using one of my afilliate links down below.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!