Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Steven Universe may be in DANGER and it really needs to keep going.

Despite being a grown man, I am still a pretty major cartoon enthusiast. Most people don't get that, and maybe it's because I'm an artist and am interested in the craft, maybe I am intensely susceptible to nostalgia, or maybe I really am just a giant kid that can't grow up, but for whatever reason, cartoons still resonate with me in a powerful way. Of course, I was never a typical kid, and was always a little quirky in my interests, and was drawn to cartoons that were a little offbeat compared to standard children's fare. As a kid, and even more now as an adult, it takes something special and unique to hit the right chord with me, and it doesn't happen very often.

Steven Universe is a show that, from the very first episode, I was overwhelmingly positive about. There is just so much right with this show that its almost difficult to put into words. It is a show that is overflowing with charm and heart. It's got a certain purity in its design and execution, like some long lost anime from the 60's or something, it's evocative of all the things that made cartoons great without any of the trappings of modern cynicism. It's earnest, it's honest, and it explores themes and feelings that are so universal that I think anyone, of any gender, and of any age could watch this show and take something from it.

As an artist, I love this show for the bold and unusual design sensibilities, gorgeous use of color and abstraction, and dedication to traditional animation techniques. As a writer, I respect this show for the well realized characters, the emotional undertones, and the brave exploration of unusual plots and under represented themes. As an audience, I watch this show for the heart, the humor, and the personality it exudes with every episode.

Its also probably the most casually progressive show on television right now, as it very naturally challenges and changes up pretty much every stereotype of the genre and medium. Like, seriously, the diversity of the cast, when it comes to size, shape, color, personality, gender identity... its remarkably inclusive, but manages to be so without ever seeming like that's the point. It all comes off as completely natural, which it should, because that's how diversity tends to actually be.

As a grown man, I can honestly say that this show has become one of the highlights of my week. Cartoon Network recently released a DVD of the show, which despite coming out over a year after the show's premiere only has 12 episodes, which is disappointing, but I believe they did the same thing with Adventure Time and Regular Show, so maybe that isn't a bad sign. The show is also available OnDemand or whatever your cable provider calls it. Either way, I can't recommend this show enough, and hope to be able to continue to write about it.

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