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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.

  • Honest_Miss

    Just out of curiosity, why is this show the only one that gets recaps? Why not
    Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Phinneas and Ferb or any of the other really well-liked series?

    • AmidAmidi

      As has already been explained earlier, this is an experiment. If it’s popular with readers, we will plan to recap more shows in the future

      • Honest_Miss

        Sorry about that, I don’t get a chance to read this blog very often or for very long. I’d seen the posts, but never got a chance to read them before now. Thanks for the answer.

      • Princess Sparkle

        I wish there was a category at the top of the page for the recaps…

  • Palmer

    I honestly saw zero innuendo in the “Meat Beat Mania” game. I thought it was just a clever revision of DDR, nothing more. Why does everyone keep seeing sexual references in this show where there aren’t any?

    • jmahon

      Meat Beat Manifesto is also a electronic music group, too.

    • Funkybat

      I’m sorry, but I’m honestly surprised “Meat Beat Mania” made it past the censors, and that’s not even a slang euphemism I hear all that often.

  • SarahJesness

    I loved this episode! Really enjoyed those jokes where the Gems are at the arcade. I think the fact that they’ve apparently never been to the arcade suggests that, in all the years they’ve been on Earth, they haven’t really bothered to interact with humans much until Steven came into their care.

    The third eye thing makes Garnet, and Gems as a whole, more mysterious. Does the third eye indicate a different status? I suppose it could indicate her being the leader, but Rose Quartz was implied to be the leader of the group before she died or whatever, and we never see her with a third eye.

    • Funkybat

      While it hasn’t been made explicitly clear how things work with the Gems and the other gem-centric beings, it seems that they transition between “regular” Earth and alternate planes of existence/other dimensions with some regularity. And other than Amythest, the Gems don’t seem all that interested in the mundanities of regular people and their habits/foods/entertainment.

      I get the impression that, as long-lived superbeings, they have spent most of their lives traveling to different exotic realms, and Earth is just this funny backwater that they are responsible for protecting from their magical foes, but that they don’t especially know a lot about. Kind of in the same vein as how Thor and his group from Asgard are aware of Earth but not really up to speed on it in the first “Thor” film. It makes sense that video games are not really something the Gems would encounter before getting to know Steven.

      • SarahJesness

        This show reminds me of Adventure Time in that it has this big, crazy world with a big, crazy history, but it’s slow to reveal things. You have to make a lot of assumptions based on how the characters act and even things in the background. (in Together Breakfast, the door to the temple has five gems, for Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Stephen… Does this mean there is, or was, a fifth Gem in their group?!)

  • ChuckDEEZY

    Finally, the mystery behind Garnet’s shades are revealed. At first I was kinda freaked out, but then it kinda made sense. Great episode.

  • ddrazen

    I’ll admit to having been totally gobsmacked by the reveal of Garnet’s third eye, though since it’s positioned like Pearl’s (for want of a better term) chakra gem I guess it makes sense. That’s what I’m waiting to see more of in the series: the features that make the Crystal Gems superheroes, and their back stories as well.

  • enochrox

    Is Gravity Falls back? Or are you wanting them to recap 2 year old episodes?

    • SarahJesness

      I’m talking about when the show comes back.

      • enochrox

        oh, well, then yeah – id dig that too :)

  • Inkan1969

    I was amused by the start of the arcade scene. I remember when i was a little kid; I assumed adults would love the stuff I love just as much as I did, too. I also liked the brief argument about Garnet being “the boss”.

    But I was hoping for some character development of Garnet; we didn’t get any. No explanation as to why she’d find the game addictive. Also, no reaction to the game; she played the game like a robot. When Steven finally broke the game, Garnet simply went back to combat. So the short felt empty to me. I thought it was a bad episode.

  • LrsDude

    Clever rhetorical devices? Suddenly I feel like I’m not paying enough attention while I’m watching this show… could you give an example?