Steven Universe fell off, not worthy of its hype anymore



When Steven Universe premiered on Cartoon Network in the fall of 2013, I was immediately intrigued by the show. I loved the characters, I loved the design, and I above all liked the story line. Steven Universe quickly became one of my favorite cartoons to watch in my free time, I was always excited for a new episode to come out. It wasn’t until the hiatuses started happening when I noticed just how Steven Universe wasn’t the amazing show I thought it was.

One problem with the show is the constant hiatuses. It is understandable that some shows  take some breaks to catch up on storylines, or catch up on animation production, but Steven Universe just takes too many breaks. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe has claimed to have already planned out exactly how the series should go. If this is true, then there should be no reason for such frequent and long hiatuses. Another bad thing about the hiatuses is that when the show finally releases a new episode, it usually has no relation to the plot. When the cluster was first introduced, it took 4 more episodes for it to be addressed again. This may not seem like a big deal, but in between those episodes were two hiatuses. Unless the viewer is binge watching the show, it can sometimes be difficult to recall what the main storyline is about at the moment.

Steven Universe not only lacks in screen time, but it also lacks in character development and animation. I’ll admit that the animation of Steven Universe is beautiful. The sky is well drawn, and there are small details that just make the cartoon seem to stick out. That being said, the animators should also shift some of that attention towards the characters.

It seems that there is little consistency with the way the characters are being drawn. Proportions are always seemingly messed up, sometimes Peridots hair will be in a sharp triangle shape, other episodes it is in a more rounded triangle shape. The storyboard artists are given the job to draw the characters, and usually in the case of most cartoons they are supposed to follow guidelines for each character. That’s what keeps it consistent. In the case of Steven Universe, these artists are just drawing characters to be recognizable and not necessarily the same each time.

The characters of Steven Universe are one dimensional in terms of personality. It seems like Sugar had good intentions with the way she modeled the main characters, Pearl being the stereotypical uptight personality, Garnet being the stoic leader, Amethyst being the comedic relief, and Steven being the super friendly main character. These cliches would be okay if Sugar were to start adding more character development, but it seems that every arc she dedicates to doing so just falls short.

For example, the jail break arc with Garnet being the main focus was great. It was suspenseful, action packed, and had a catchy song too. This arc confirmed the huge theory at the time that Garnet was a fusion of two gems. Everyone was excited when this was revealed. But now that this is out in the open, it seems that Garnet is only used for fusion related topics, like when she discovered that the diamonds were forcing fusions for the cluster, and when she met the fusions on the episode “Captain Lars.” This is not only the case for Garnet, but Pearl as well. It seems that all she is used for is to talk about Rose, or to be over protective over Steven. These characters need more development, maybe through their own episodes without Steven present.

Steven Universe has the potential to be a fantastic show. It has a lot of diversity in terms of personalities, character designs, representation of different races and sexualities, and teaches life lessons. The soundtrack is catchy and cute, and though the character animation falls short, the rest of the animation seems to be drawn quite well. Sugar needs to have more storyline episodes, less hiatuses, and more character development. When this happens, then Steven Universe will become worth the hype that surrounds it.