Steven Universe Season 1 Review

By: Jordan Binder

There's gonna be a lot of mood setting music. Be sure to listen. :)

I was very reluctant to begin watching this show. In between sessions of Adventure Time on Cartoon Network, I would see advertisements for a show that seemed to be about a pudgy pubescent boy screaming his name alongside aliens. It seemed like a half-baked idea that was copying the aesthetic of Adventure Time for a younger audience. After just 1 episode, I realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Steven Universe is about a magical half-human, half-gem named Steven who lives with his mother’s closest friends. The gem race comes from space and inhabited this world for a time. It was during this occupation that Steven’s gem mother, Rose, met Steven’s human father, Greg. Steven understands that he is the first of his kind and carries the weight of his existence with him during the show’s 11 minute escapades.

There's no better way to put this: the show is brilliant. It hits just about every check-mark I want to see in an animated show and then exceeds my expectations with its timelessness and other endearing qualities. What begins as a simplistic narrative eventually compels you to learn about the characters's intricacies as they grow in complexity with each episode. Everything unfolds in a methodically sound way and it's truly a marvel to witness.

Of all the things that Steven Universe has going for it, its music, characters, and aesthetic are what keep it unique and engaging. The music is good enough stand alone as an album, but instead brings an element to the show's high and low points that keep things refreshing and tense. With many homages to the Chiptune sounds of classic video games and the blending of jazz and electronic music, Steven Universe boasts an awesome original soundtrack that is sure to impress.

I really appreciate the sincerity behind the music and how it can be appreciated regardless of one's age.

While the universe created for the show is surely interesting, it's the inhabitants of Beach City that truly keep me coming back for more. While I initially shrugged off Steven's childish antics, I wholeheartedly grew to love him as they reminded me of myself and the good aspects of my childhood. Each Crystal Gem seems to have their own set of woes and tribulations that are well constructed and grounded in relatable feelings. The writers of Steven Universe have brilliantly placed the show's current timeline after a violent war and the 'vanishing' (I refuse to spoil ANYTHING for you) of Steven's mother. Things on the horizon for our lovable protagonists are ominous as well. This marvelously creates a world that can tell copious amounts of relevant information alongside anecdotes about the melancholic past; as well as random silliness in the lighthearted present.

The aesthetic for the show can speak for itself. If your a fan of loose character models, chibi-esque art, vivid colors and rich abstract landscapes, there's no better show on television.

Be sure to click on each image to see the next one.

The only drawback to the show is its beginnings. If I were to recommend this show--WHICH I DO-- I don't know if I would advise someone to start from the beginning. I really gave this show a lot of my time before it opened up and became the outstanding program that it is today. There's a lot of filler-ish moments in the show's infancy that matter for understanding the universe in Steven Universe, but those moments are sandwiched between some pretty mundane scenarios that do not show the show's full storytelling potential. If you are to pick this up from the beginning, be weary that it may not captivate you right away. That being said, I don't think it would be so terrible if you were to start halfway through season 1.

Adventure Time WAS my favorite show. I still give it all the adoration it deserves for its innovative art style and wonderful tropes. What made Steven Universe kick Adventure Time off the 1st place pedestal was that it took everything that made Adventure Time great and upped the ante with childlike wonder and larger-than-life mystique. I'm infatuated. I can't wait for season 2 to begin again in September and I wholeheartedly recommend you join the ride with me.