Steven Universe 48-49

Steven Universe 49: Thumbs up emoji

Oto. CALLED IT! I mean, it’s sort of obvious, but … FUCKIN’ CALLED IT! Why doesn’t she have four arms?

Pon. I knew this was coming, but that was good!

Oto. That was SO good. I love Jasper. She’s such a DBZ villain. She’s a big muscular orange lady with white hair. Such DBZ. And her weapon is a helmet. Her primary attack is headbanging. Amazing.

Pon. The show sure embraced the 80s cartoon seed it planted in the beginning. At least, that’s the feel I got from it. It reminded me of those fantasy-adventurers-from-space shows. Man, we should have those shows again, except well-written … wait.

Oto. I never really got that feel because it’s too well-written. This plot stuff is kinda 80s, but the rest of the show isn’t.

Pon. You saying BraveStarr wasn’t well-written? Fuckin’ Galaxy Rangers?

Oto. Well, I’ve never actually seen many 80s cartoons, but … no. There is one thing they’ll always have on modern cartoons. Sorry Steven, but you’ll never match an 80s cartoon opening. Ask your dad. He knows. The cartoon about Greg Universe and Rose Quartz going on adventures has the best opening.

Pon. It probably does. But it’s also probably a lot more blunt with its themes. Also, Connie and her parents wouldn’t be characters in an 80s cartoon, at least not all at the same time, so fuck the 80s.

Oto. Yeaaaaaaaaah … Oh, Steven Universe. How do we recap?

Pon. This is one of those shows where you have the problem of, what’s the elevator pitch? How do you sell this show to somebody who hasn’t seen it in a sentence or two? Especially another adult? You can’t just summarize the plot–that doesn’t get at what makes the show so good. So how do you sell it? “It’s like the fallout of an 80s cartoon with gay moms and existential dread?” That seems too, I dunno, blithe. The show allows the emotional stuff to have a certain gravity, and it feels earned because it isn’t shoved down your throat from the beginning, presented in a trite way, or dwelt-upon until it looks like a well-beaten dead horse, unlike in certain other shows that shall remain nameless but in which the characters also sing frequently. So I’d want to pitch it with … not reverence, since revering a story is a disaster waiting to happen, but with some sense of how rare it is that something can pull off sentiment like this without getting too sentimental.

Oto. I couldn’t have said it better myself … we need a t-shirt with that on it. I say that in a lot of final posts on this site. I will say, now that you mention the lack of sentimentality, I realize how much that makes me feel … I don’t know. Not sad. Weird. Because, I’m a pretty sentimental person. I’m just used to that in shows. This show has no bullshit.

Pon. It’s the difference between sentiment and sentimentality. In this show we care about the characters and we can recognize their problems even if theirs are more apocalyptic versions of ours (fantasy!), and so in those brief moments when they get emotional before they pull themselves together and get on with it in the way that people do, we genuinely feel for them. Compare this to a show that shall continue to remain nameless yet obvious in which an entire suburb of Tokyo goes out in an extremely convenient blizzard with shovels so a couple of kids can do a concert. Come on.

Oto. Yeah. It is honestly better this way. I’m just not used to a show being so genuine.

Pon. I feel kinda bad about this. I just want to get off the Love Live train entirely. I don’t care that people like it! I don’t want anyone to like it less! Really! But I can’t think of a better way of illustrating this right now.

Oto. Nah, man. Fuck it.

Pon. Maybe Love Live would’ve been better with 11-minute episodes that didn’t give it time to agonize over things … no, enough! Setting-wise, Greg Universe cleared up something I was wondering about. It seems like very few humans survived the gem thing. They would’ve had a lot of time to repopulate, but a big chunk of human history would be different. Instead of Jesus Christ, it was gems, basically.

Oto. “I am the son of God. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” Gems.

Pon. A giant green hand comes down and takes JC to heaven. Metaphorically.

Oto. Yeah. “Lol, no ur not!” Swipe! … Maybe Jesus was a gem.

Pon. Steven U. Christ.

Oto. Alright. Done with that. It does seem like a big chunk of Earth is magical deserts or scary forests or strawberry sword fields.

Pon. Okay good. Now, the fandom. How about that transition?

Oto. Nice.

Pon. People compare Steven Universe fans to Homestuck fans. But I think the impetus is different. Homestuck’s strategy, as far as I understand it, is to ramp up the bullshit factor. Time collapses on itself fifteen times and everybody dies, comes back, and dies again, or whatever. It’s very … internet. It’s structurally weird. Whereas Steven Universe is an example of what, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things to do as a writer, much less a writers’ room–it’s a simple story well-told. People aren’t Steven Universe fans for the bragging rights or because they like discussing wild theories or because they want to correct some deficiency they see in the original thing. They interact with the show because it invites them in and makes it worth their time. That’s all.

Oto. Rock on.

Pon. We’ve written this long post, but I almost feel like it’s a waste, because we still aren’t getting at how I feel about Steven Universe. It’s just … great. Maybe not in the beginning, but it got there. I don’t think people will fully appreciate it until, in 20 or 30 years, every kids’ show production staff … really, anybody telling a story to kids slowly realizes that they’re all looking to Steven Universe as a guide. It’s a shame we didn’t have something like this a few decades ago, but at least we have it now. And maybe that’s how it had to go. Maybe the 80s and 90s had to happen first. So we could burn them as fuel.

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