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“Steven Universe” Recap: “Arcade Mania”

“Arcade Mania”
Written and storyboard by Lamar Abrams, Aleth Romanillos, Luke Weber.

Admiration was the theme this week and it was only coming from Steven and heading towards Garnet. She can do no wrong – a point on which I think we can all pretty much agree. For weeks we’ve seen the Gems develop this family dynamic where Steven and Amethyst are the dueling brother and sister, leaving Pearl to be the hovering mother and Garnet, the stern but inspiring father figure. With Steven’s dad being a distant memory at this point, Garnet is the closest thing Steven has to a dominant role model. It shows that no matter who your parents are, you need that balance of nurturing and sturdy.

“Arcade Mania” doesn’t start in a video game-filled haven but on a mission as usual. After the gang disposes of the creatures-of-the-week, the five-legged “little guys,” Steven suggests celebrating at the local arcade, Funland. It’s clear the three Gems have never been to an arcade before, which makes sense because they’re adult superbeings. At this point, the Gems personalities are set, and that is reflected in how they play games. Pearl was a careful Cathy playing “Road Killer” with the appropriate line, “Which one of these buttons is my turn signal?” Amethyst didn’t disappoint by cheating at skee-ball, and Garnet punched out two games before starting an obsession with Meat Beat Mania.

Let’s talk about the overt sexual innuendo…Meat Beat Mania is a game much like your typical dance game for the Wii, but instead of holding a traditional controller you hold two pieces of ham and then “shake the meat” to earn points. I thought this show was a little more family friendly than say Regular Show or Adventure Time, but then again, this is a coming-of-age cartoon about a young boy and shaking the meat makes perfect sense.

The owner, a Terry Crews-like man starts to have a spasm over Garnet’s trail of broken games. Steven, Amethyst, and Pearl flee, while their strong leader stays behind to shake her meat. It was clear Garnet was addicted when she not only didn’t come home, but didn’t care one bit when the previously-disposed “little guys” came back for revenge.
Steven did everything he could to get her attention, even removing her shades.  When all of a sudden – OH MY GOD…SHE HAS THREE EYES?! What’s that all about, right? Is this what Pearl meant when she said Garnet has “heightened perception”? We learn two things in this scene—that Garnet isn’t as strongwilled as we once thought due to the realization that she has a weak spot: gaming. We also learn that she’s physically different than the others with her third eye. How do you think this will play out for the rest of the show? Give me your predictions.

Steven finds his inner strength to destroy the Meat Beat Mania machine, and Garnet, returned to her senses, heads out to fight the “little guys.” The episode ends mid-battle; it was the first time we didn’t actually see the Gems finish the job. That felt a little odd. Next week has big—I mean giant—things in store when Steven gets involved with some rather large things.