Archive for the Steven Universe Category


LGBTQ: Steven Universe, Season 6

September 8th, 2017

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In Season 1 of Steven Universe we met and learned about the Crystal Gems, friendly alien invaders from space. In Season 2 we began to really understand their history. Season 3 deepened our understanding of all the series’ characters and Season 4 brought the first major plots to fruition…and expanded our cast. In Season 5, Steven and we begin to understand that Rose Quartz was not necessarily the beacon of Good that she had been held up to be. As we learn about her flaws, Rose becomes exponentially more interesting.

In Season 6, we begin, at last to put all the pieces we’ve been given into some kind of picture. And the picture we’re getting is nothing like the one we expected.

We’re introduced to Blue Diamond in person. With the chance to directly compare her and Yellow Diamond, we start to get a little bit of a picture of an imperious royal class that understands little and cares not at all about the beings it rules. We spend a lot of time in space this season since, realistically, having neutralized The Cluster, any further contact with the Diamonds would have to be in space or on Homeworld, or Earth would be at risk. Space it is, then.

Several really significant things happened this season – Greg was introduced to just how vast the story in which his son is embroiled actually is. Steven is now very visibly showing signs of super strength, and becoming more confident with his powers. We visit Homeworld and learn that in a strictly defined hierarchy, there’s still an outcast underclass. Amethyst meets her family and finds that she’s just one of the gems after all.  I learned about Holly Blue Agate , a stone I had never heard of before. (Fairly remarkable, as I’ve been collecting semi-precious stones for decades…) and Lars…well…no,that’s a spoiler, I will not spoil.

We get to see that both Yellow and Blue Diamond have genuine affection for Pink Diamond (and I can’t help but wonder what White Diamond, who has never once been mentioned, but whose symbol we’ve repeatedly seen, is like.) In fact, during “What’s the Use of Feeling Blue,” we get the distinct feeling that Yellow Diamond surprises herself when she speaks of missing Pink Diamond.

But once again, the climax of the series is unexpected in ways that we couldn’t even have predicted. Once again we learn that the truth isn’t what we we were told it is, and it isn’t what others think it is, either. So…what is it? The fan theories are flying, thick and fast. ^_^

The last significant thing that happened is that my wife is hooked. Hah. ^_^ Now I can obsess and she’s totally into it. Gotcha. Hee Hee. Hee.

Art – 8
Story- 10
Characters – 10
Service – 1 on principle
Queerness – 7 Fluorite is a lovely nod to polyamory.

Overall – 10

Can’t wait for Season 7. Seriously.

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Steven Universe Soundtrack, Volume 1

June 2nd, 2017

Sometimes, you just need the world to have a #1 movie about an Amazon and the debut of the much-desired Steven Universe Soundtrack. ^_^

There’s not much I can really say about this soundtrack to convince you to get it. Either you enjoy Steven Universe, find the music an integral and pleasant part of the series as a whole, or, well, you don’t.

If you do like the music, and have a habit of singing “It’s Over Isn’t It?” for days and days at a time, then you, too, will want to run out and get this-digital only album. It’s available on iTunes, where it soared to #5 in the album charts right away and also on Google Play

I find that not only did I remember every episode every song belongs to, I find myself thinking Lapis and Peridot *really* need a duet. Or, I should say, I really need Lapis and Peridot to have a duet. ^_^

I hadn’t realized that Rebecca Sugar herself sings the beautiful ED, “Love Like You.” And now I get to enjoy Olivia Olsen’s version of “Haven’t You Noticed (I’m a Star)” on repeat as well.  And probably the full-version of the OP “We Are The Crystal Gems”  and “Do It For Her”. Which makes me realize that Deedee Magno Hall as Pearl is the winner in terms of songs for me. The depth and honesty and pathos of the writing for Pearl is extraordinary. 

Yes. I’m fangirling. Yes. This will surprise no one.

And now I undoubtedly will sing “It’s Over Isn’t It?” for days and days. And days.

Ratings:

Overall – 10

And days. 

Soar like a comet and get this album and we can all sit around sharing jams and jam.

Tell me what your favorite track is in the comments

 

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LGBTQ: Steven Universe, Season 5 (English)

September 18th, 2016

sulogo-300x194Let’s recap once more. In Season 1 we met and learned about the Crystal Gems. In Season 2 we began to really understand their history. Season 3 deepened our understanding of all the series’ characters and Season 4 brought the first major plots to fruition…and expanded our cast.

Where then, could Season 5 of Steven Universe take us? As it turns out, into a surprisingly dark place.

First, we encounter a new character and a lie. Not a small lie, either.

With everything we’ve learned about Rose, we have to conclude that her fundamental belief was that everyone deserved to determine their own fate. This is pretty heretical in a society where every gem is created for a single purpose. But it turns out that even Rose had limits to what she considered to be appropriate and when Bismuth encountered that boundary, Rose found it easier to lie than to deal with the truth. Years later, her son Steven is left cleaning up the mess.

We’ve seen that Amethyst frequently feels alone and lonely, that she has a lot of self-esteem issues. We’ve explored these over and over and built up sympathy for her. Steven recognizes that she and he are not at all alone – they both have a lot of the same issues around their essential selfness. And because they understand that they aren’t alone in their doubts – they bond. This is laid out painfully in “Know Your Fusion” as Sardonyx, too busy to be anything other than sardonic, misses that it was their doubts that creates the new fusion Smoky Quartz.

There’s a lesson in the fusions, as well. We’ve talked about how fusion is clearly an act of intimacy between two gems. And we’ve seen how instability of any one of the parts can throw the relationship into imbalance and split it. (A nice metaphor for any relationship, wouldn’t you say?) But in almost every other case, fusions we’ve seen are acts of purpose and even joy. With Smoky Quartz, we’re exploring something we’ve never seen – a positive bond based on low self-esteem.

I really like how the fusions get their own voices – and I am always impressed by each fusion’s voice actress. They often have to act two or more roles at once and in pretty much every case, you can *tell* which of their components they are speaking as.

We return to the history of Beach City and again, we take time to explore fusion as a mutual relationship. If “Alone at Sea” is meant to uncover what toxic relationships look, sound and feel like, then “Mindful Education” helps the audience see what a healthy relationship looks like.

All of Season 5 hits a climax of epic proportions in “Last One Out of Beach City” in which Pearl picks up a mysterious pink-haired girl and we all are so excited for her we can’t stand it! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

mysterious

Thankfully, Steven points out the obvious. Yes, she does look awfully like Rose. Clearly Pearl has a type. I’m not dissing her for it. I love pink hair on women too. ^_^

Season 5 isn’t over yet, but we’ll end here for now, because this was so good. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story- 10
Characters – 10
Service – Not really, but fans can fetishize anything.
Yuri – 10 (!) I hope Pearl gets the girl

Overall – 10

OH, OH, do not let me forget the insanely true-to-fan-life conversation between Peridot, as she’s leaving the barn and Lapis, about “Camp Pining Hearts,” the show they ‘ship the hell out of.  Did you all grin when Peri asks “What season are you watching?” I sure did. ^_^

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LGBTQ: Steven Universe, Season 4 (English)

September 15th, 2016

sulogo-300x194I consider Steven Universe, Season 1 to be good, Season 2 to be excellent, Season 3 to be compelling. So it should come as no surprise to hear that Season 4 of Steven Universe is sublime.

To begin with, Season 4 starts with something we haven’t had before – a plot that is not driven by character development. A full-blown rollicking action adventure, as we learn of  “The Cluster” at the center of the Earth which is about to destroy the planet.

Which is not to say that there is no character development, just that the plot itself is as much classic sci-fi with gadgets and robots as it is character development. We get our very first glimpse of a real Diamond, (Yellow Diamond, voiced perfectly by Patti Lupone, swoon, I always do fall for the nasty ones). Peridot is put on the gangplank and her reaction…is not what we might expect. But Steven has a surprising effect on people and Gems.

Having saved the Earth again, we are rewarded by the most absurd handwave in cartooning – a character being so rich that money is never an object. Hey, if it works for Batman, why not?

And yet, nothing that you’d expect happens with this handwave. I know that if I were to come in to 10 million dollars, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life at the moment. I’d travel more often – and first class – but that’s about it. So, while this handwave might affect everything…it actually affects very little. I appreciated that. But it does make the rest of the season possible.

Because, what follows are two of the most amazing cartoon episodes ever. In “Mr. Greg,” wrapped in a facile and silly musical episode, Pearl – thinking she’s alone – sings a heart-rending ode to the loss of her love, Rose. She uncovers the seed of her resentment for Greg and in doing so is able, finally, to let it go.

The season could rest there, but no.  In what has to be one of the most extraordinary episodes ever (throughout which I kept saying “holy crap,” over and over) the story takes on the tangled web of Lapis Lazuli’s history of a forced fusion and an abusive relationship with Jasper. “Alone At Sea” deserves an Emmy.

Once again, having uncovered pain, the plot can move forward. And so, we turn once again (as we have over and over) to Connie and Steven who are now fighting in tandem and becoming stronger. So much so, that Amethyst’s low-self-esteem becomes an issue…again. By the time the season ends, we can see that Amethyst isn’t the only one who feels inadequate to the task. Steven is keenly aware that he’ll never be Rose Quartz. And Jasper is still out there and will have to be dealt with.

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story- 10
Characters – 10
Service –  3 Pearl in a tux is definitely a kind of service
Yuri – 9

Overall – 10

You should be watching this cartoon.

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LGBTQ: Steven Universe, Season 3 (English)

September 12th, 2016

sulogo-300x194Season Three of Steven Universe is some of the most amazing animation I’ve ever sat though.

With one exception, every episode of Season 3 is strong…and they build on each other to an amazing extent. Which is why the first episode of the season is so damn annoying.

In Season 1, we’re introduced to the characters, and start to get a feel for their personalities and back stories. In Season 2, even as we start to truly understand the alien nature of the Crystal Gems and the war for Earth’s independence which isolated them from the Gem Homeworld, we come to appreciate their essential “humanity.”

The first episode, however was a misguided attempt by Cartoon Network to promote the unwatchable Uncle Grandpa. To salve our annoyance a genuine plot point is added, which moves the entire story forward in a leap.

From that point on, this season is two steps forward and one look back. We learn key backstories and by doing so, we can see just how much the Crystal Gems have changed from their days with Rose Quartz, in which they were far more alien than they are now.

Which makes it that much more poignant as the story forces every single one of them to confront their own fears, relationships and bonds. And just as they seem to come out the other side, Peridot joins the crew, which really highlights the changes they’ve gone through.

We now can say with complete confidence that Garnet is a fusion of two gems who are in love, that Pearl’s feelings for Rose go beyond a mere crush and that Amethyst is, at heart, a surprisingly fragile Gem. In the center is Steven, who is more like his mother than anyone has yet admitted – inspiring cooperation and fierce loyalty in others.

The humans in Beach City are not immune to this, either. Steven brings a little humanity to several of the town’s bored teens and we get to see a side of Greg we hadn’t really recognized – his ability to weather crises with a calm perspective. Maybe, we think, he was a good match for Rose, after all.

Let me once again wind up with Connie. Two of my favorite episodes in the series are in this season and both focus on Connie. In “Sworn to the Sword,” in Connie decides to train to be Steven’s knight. Steven’s affection for Connie brings about a shockingly raw admission from Pearl and in the resolution, we can see all three of them maturing as a result of the conrontation.

This is followed by “Nightmare Hospital,” in which Connie is forced to use her newfound strength to face the greatest monster of all – parental disapproval. Again, the resolution is satisfying on all levels.

At this point, I should probably note that the music for Steven Universe is as catchy as can be. I’m really hoping they just put together a soundtrack album, because I’d love to have all the music in one place. In the meantime, Season 2 has a “best of” songs episode, episode 101, “Steven’s Greatest Hits.”

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story- 10
Characters – 10
Service – Not visually
Yuri – 7 (“That’s my Laffy Saffy”)

Overall – 10

I’ve posted this here before, but it’s worth mentioning again, because once I start singing it, it takes a week to get it out of my head. Here’s “Do It For Her/Do It For Him” from “Sworn to the Sword.”

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