Screen Squinty’s Personal Log #2: “Steven Universe: Ep. 1-10.”

In this review, I will be going over the entirety of the episodes that have been aired up to the date of the day this is posted. Each episode will be given an informal review/commentary, and what I think really stands out, both good and bad.

There will also be spoilers, it can’ be helped in some sections, so heads up.

Episodes 1-10.

1. Gem Glow.

I admit that the first episode wasn’t my favorite.

This felt very kiddish even for a kid show, and I wasn’t overly impressed with the animation style, particularly in Steven’s character design, but then we see the gems, and their unique characteristics, the style of the temple in which they live, the introduction of a unique fantasy adventure story with a non-traditional family unit, and lastly, the odd sort of charm that is exuded through Steven’s innocent exuberance and the Gem’s reaction to his obsession with frozen kitty shaped treats, and a bit of action, it actually wasn’t a to bad of an episode. not my favorite, but not bad, looking back in hindsight.

RIP Ice Cream Cat.

2. Lazar Light Cannon.

This episode was the first that gives a hint at some of the amazingly well done and creative animation we will be receiving from this show, plus the heart. Watching Rose’s Cannon blow a giant crystal eyeball out of the sky was beautiful to watch, particularly combined with Greg’s expression.

The nice little touch of Greg’s hot dog wisdom as the password was a real feels moment, establishing in a very brief and subtle way, the relationship that Greg had with Rose and how much they loved each other. It occurred to me in this moment and throughout Greg’s introduction as a character, that this was going to be one of those rare shows in which, while this does have the parent trope of Mother died/gone for plot purposes, this episode does however, begin to establish her a bit into the story, and Greg himself as this very real individual that is not some authority figure that a child character will need to thwart to do something the parent thinks is dangerous, nor the unintentional/intentional asshole type parental that leaves their kid conveniently alone for plot. Greg is just this guy who is willing to help when asked, leery of the magic surrounding his son, but still willing to do what is necessary as well as support him with this sort of retired laid back attitude, yet still comes across as this caring father figure.

A very refreshing episode filled with just the right amount of attractive visuals, decent and unique characterizations, and a touch of real emotion.

RIP Greg’s upholstery.

3. Cheeseburger Backpack.

This was a fun little episode that took the ridiculous notion of a cheeseburger backpack and a crumbling ancient temple to present Steven’s first adventure outside of his home town.

Props has to go to Perl for her hilarious expressions and her humorous fussiness, and perhaps the uniquest talking doll on the market that was a mild poke at the toy industry.

RIP Motion Sick Doll.

4. Together Breakfast.

Together Breakfast Recipe
• Four toasted Waffles
• A large slathering of either chocolate syrup or maple syrup.
• 3 small bags of microwave popcorn.
• Whipped cream.
* The Soul of a sinister entity.
• One strawberry on top.

This was one of those episodes that somewhat highlights the awkward stage the animators were having with Stevens face in the early days of the show, though the animation wasn’t all bad in this one, there was great depictions of the inner sanctum of the temple and the personal rooms of the Gems. At times it even had an almost surreal quality to it.

The humour was good to, even utilizing the musical score of the episode, and Steven’s amusingly tragic attempts at getting his mother figures to eat breakfast together with him as best buds (i.e family). The final fate of the breakfast, it’s relatively safe to say, you don’t quite predict happening, and it makes you laugh afterwards.

This episode was also good at providing a solid beginning basis at displaying some of the interpersonal relationships in the family both with each other and as a whole.

RIP Together Breakfast.

5. Frybro

This was the episode that really brought me into the franchise.

It’s this strange mix of humour, jaded commentary on “productive member of society”, action, and a surprising amount of gore for a children’s show, yet was still all technically bloodless.

I loved this episode, everything about it was gold with Steven in top form, a good secondary character, and Pearl’s dead pan expression was brilliant.

RIP creepy costume.

6. Catfingers.

This was perhaps the creepiest of the episodes form the first season.

This episode introduces the power of transformation that all Gems have (though Pearl doesn’t use it as far as i can tell in the show), though Amethyst seems to be the only one interested in using all the time.

Pearl gives her small bit of exposition on transformation, and then Steven, obviously interested, tries to train in changing into something, only to succeed with the mixed results (which will be a recurring thing with Steven’s powers) that quickly escalate.

This episode had a nice couched theme of being cautious when trying out new things, particularly doing something you aren’t familiar with outside of responsible supervision. Kind of a standard moral in a kids show, but they do it in a way that both presents the warning (scarily so) and yet presents the lesson to the parents as well, that children sometimes need to have a little faith put into them to fix their mistakes or if they can’t, come to them when they are overwhelmed (though this later one was not a strongly laid out).

I particularly enjoyed the imagination that someone in the production department must have wielded when they came up with the climax of this episode. It’s actually an episode I would recommend for Halloween for adults as well as the younger set.

I give it two meow’s up.

RIP Steven’s cats.

7. Bubblebuddies.

This episode introduces Connie to the character roster for the first time outside of the opening credits, as well as Steven gaining a new ability.

The dialogue between Connie and Steven works really well for a first episode with these two together, though it does help that they are trapped in a magical bubble together, particularly with Connie’s uncertainty juxtaposed with Steven’s eternal optimism in close quarters.

The rest of the characters were delightful as well, with Sadie trying to help with her usual brash confidence and Lars…well, Lars is Lars really. Steven’s dead pan expression at his sum up of their relationship was amusing.

Onion continues his creepy factor as he pulls out popcorn to enjoy the spectacle of his trapped contemporaries in a bubble, and the Gem’s, who had a minor role in this episode, were further cemented their position as parental figures as they play out the “classic parents embarrassing the offspring” trope.

RIP Random boat.

8.Serious Steven.

This was a good episode that stretched the animators a bit in some creative use of scenes with the strawberry field battle ground, the various trap laden rooms in the Gem Ship, and the construction of the Gem ship itself as whole, particularly with the visual hints of some of the Gem’s history on the walls.

Props humour-wise has to go to Steven’s serious face and The Wickerman (Cage version) “Deleted Bee’s Scene” reference.

RIP tea cup ride.

9. Tiger Millionaire.

I love how in this episode Beach City gets a bit of world building in the revelation that it has underground masked wrestling of all things, and Steven’s eyes when he found out that Amethyst was a secret wrestler was, for lack of a better word, darling.

This episode had a lot of creativity, particularly in Steven’s wrestling persona of Tiger Millionaire throughout this episode, and Steven’s reactions as the character, particularly the moments when his notion of where the pretending of the personality blurred with taking the personality to seriously, was nicely couched within the story.

There are a couple of interesting themes one can glean from this episode:

The commentary on finding a place where one can be oneself and respecting those spaces was well done, interchanging with the moral of not being so critical of individuals themselves who choose to be something others may not necessarily approve of was perhaps one of the primary ones.

This was also a good rip on the male dominated wrestling in general.

RIP random chair.

10. Steven’s Lion.

It was hard to tell who was more deadpanned, the pink lion or Garnet.

The humour was a bit mixed this episode, but the animation was good, with a well portrayed bad ass pink lion (later called Lion) introduced for the first time into the show, and some creative work with the magical sand glass when it uncontrollably builds castle parts out of sand, which was some really cool animation to see.

The dynamic between Lion and Steven was precious, and reflected what one expects from a child with there first pet, taking center stage from the Gems.

I admit I am intrigued by the pizza stew store, I thought that was a clever bit of additional expansion to Beach City, and a part of me is intensely curious about what a fish stew pizza would be like in real life.

RIP best sandcastle ever.

More Coming Soon…

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