The Cartoon-Network based show, Steven Universe, has recently been moved from being one new episode, and one re-run a week, to showing only fifteen minutes of new material every Thursday. This is the dark, dangerous path that every soon to be cancelled CN show has walked since the very creation of the network itself. A significant amount of dedicated fans do not want this to happen - and for good reasons. This wonderfully upbeat, intelligent, and aesthetically beautiful piece of television is certainly not one which deserves to be disappearing from screens anytime soon. The spectacularly enthusiastic, dedicated and diverse range of both cast and characters, along with writers and artists are determined that the run of Steven Universe will continue, and that it will one day, get the recognition that it truly deserves.
Created by Rebecca Sugar, a seasoned writer, artist and composer for the renowned ‘Adventure Time’, the first episode of Steven Universe aired on the fourth of November 2013. The story follows its protagonist, who is, as you can probably guess from the title, ten year old Steven Universe himself. He, along with Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl, make up the Crystal Gems, the self appointed protectors of Earth. As the series progresses, the audience, along with Steven, discover that the Gems are in fact crystalline-based alien life forms, who, with others of their race, invaded Earth. These three supporting ladies, however, realised the true value of life on Earth, and turned against their own kind, fighting back, led by the now unseen Rose Quartz. This specific character is, it turns out, mother to Steven himself. As they could not exist simultaneously, upon his birth, she fused with him, providing him with his gem-powers. This already intriguing storyline, combined with outstanding animation and adorably catchy songs (the best beginning with the line ‘All I wanna do is see you turn into a Giant Woman'), take the series that step further, creating something which is not only enjoyable, but refreshingly original.
It is not solely the premise, which makes the show so fascinating. The topics covered by both the episodic, and overarching storylines are able to deliver important messages, without becoming overly didactic. For example, even though the ‘loss’ of Rose Quartz occurred ten years prior to when show is set, all characters are still clearly affected by the event, in different manners, as grief doesn’t have a single way of manifesting itself. In one episode, Steven finds out that Garnet possess ‘future-vision’, perceiving all the possible dangers that lie in everyday life. Terrified of a terrible accident, Steven hides from the world, until he learns to accept his mortality. There are a multitude of different family arrangements - stepfathers, single fathers, single mothers, nuclear families, and Steven’s three adoptive mothers. Also, the characters represent a number of different body types; skinny, fat, tall, short - another important message to deliver to children. In short, everyone, no matter who they are, or where they come from, has the potential to be a hero.
The intelligent writing means that you certainly do not have to be a regular Cartoon-Network viewer to enjoy this show. Within an episode, Sugar will have you humming along to the theme song, investing in the characters, and secretly hoping that, one day, you too can be part of the Crystal Gems.