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“Steven Universe” Debuts Tonight on Cartoon Network

Steven Universe, the new animated series created by Rebecca Sugar, will debut on Cartoon Network tonight (8pm/7 CT). The show carries the weight of historical precedence as it is the first Cartoon Network series made by a solo female creator. (And it ony took them 21 years and 45 TV series.)

To prep yourself for the series, read this io9 interview with Rebecca. Beginning on Tuesday, Cartoon Brew will launch weekly recaps of Steven Universe, all season long. Every twist and turn in the development of Steven and his universe will be lovingly dissected by our new writer Kendra Beltran who joins us from the late MTV Geek.

This is the first show we’ve ever recapped on the Brew, and it’s fitting that it would be Steven Universe, not just because Rebecca’s storytelling contains an uncommon level of depth and humanity, but also because we’ve been following her meteoric rise for years now. Cartoon Brew was, in fact, the first major media outlet that ever wrote about her work. In 2007, we discussed the then-twenty-year-old’s quirky fan art and wrote that she had “a bright future ahead of her.” Little did we know how brightly filled with crystal gems it would be. Later, her School of Visual Arts thesis film Singles was featured on Cartoon Brew TV in 2009. After that, Sugar moved to Los Angeles to work on Adventure Time and the rest is history.

  • sashatemp

    I’m so worried that because this show is so hyped up, if the first episode isn’t spectacular, a lot of people will drop it. I find the pilot of most shows don’t stand up to what the show becomes later on, so I am going in to this not expecting much but with high hopes that as we get to learn more about the world/characters this will becomes great.

  • SarahJesness

    Heh, just finished watching it and I rather like it. Nothing too big right now, but a lot of the stuff in it has me interested to see more. What’s the deal with his mom? And his dad? How and when will he learn to control his powers? And so on.

  • SarahJesness

    Man, the theme song is SO Rebecca Sugar!

  • Dana B

    I thought it was fine. Nothing spectacular, but enjoyable enough. The background art was nice and I thought the voice acting was pretty good, too. I’ll give the show a shot and tune in next time for more…

  • Sat

    I’m sure the new style is easier to animate. The pilot had volumes, even cloth folds. I sure miss Rebecca Sugar’s amazing style, but from the very little I’ve seen so far it doesn’t look bad. As long as it got heart …!

    • SarahJesness

      And if the show gets good ratings, gets popular, it might receive a bigger budget for future seasons and we can get more detail.

    • Mike

      Amen. I remember watching the pilot and thinking that much of what they were doing with the art, while fantastic, seemed prohibitive for the kind of budget CN was likely to shell out. But I’d rather have a great show, slightly simplified, that gets a long run than a great show with intensive animation that gets Robotomy-ed out of existence half a season in.

  • Norm Normal

    I thought the show was great, especially since I honestly didn’t think all that highly of the pilot. I also feel bad for the people who won’t watch simply because the designs were changed as they are missing out on a pretty great show. Personally, I find the new designs to be an improvement anyway,

  • Chico

    Dang, that second episode was relaxing, emotional, and pretty intense all within the span of 11 minutes. It honestly made me forget I was watching such a short program, Greg’s exposition was so chill and seamless. The colors and scenery were beautiful (and surprisingly grounded in realism, a refreshing break from the other hypersurreal toons on CN), the final scene was intense, Steven and Greg’s chemistry felt real and heartfelt, and the mythos opened up like a can of worms. (Not to mention Amethyst getting thrown at the red-eye)

    Can’t wait for more of this show! (Are you going to recap these first two episodes?)

    • AmidAmidi

      You betcha! Check Cartoon Brew on Tuesday morning for the recap of these first episodes!

  • Derik

    Loved this first episode. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Steven next.
    Also, the ending reminded me of catching a pokemon with a pokeball.

  • Tim

    FYI first episode is a free download on iTunes (at least right now).

  • Crispy Walker

    I’m so sad the animation isn’t as complex and beautiful as the pilot was. And the redesign of Garnet isn’t my cup of tea and feels a little racist making her hips wider and giving her a giant square afro. I guess the pilot felt a lot more influenced by anime in terms of its design, and now that it’s a full out show in production, it looks “Americanized”, whatever that might mean. I’ll still watch it, but I’m going to mourn the loss of the beautiful parts of the pilot that made me fall in love with this idea.

    • SarahJesness

      I prefer Garnet’s old design as well, but I don’t see how the new one is racist. What’s wrong with giant afros?

      • Crispy Walker

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giant afros — It just felt like they dumbed her down in a way that made her more stereotypically “ethnic”. That’s the problem I had with it.

    • Barrett

      What I miss from the pilot isn’t so much the old designs, which were not startlingly different, but the feeling of volume and texture that was present in the pilot. A lot of why I was interested in this show is the “look and feel” in that pilot. I am just not getting that kind of feel from the animation in this first episode. If the pilot were done as a kind of “student film” that didn’t have to adhere to normal production budgets and pipelines, and was done all in the U.S., I’d understand the downscaling, but I assumed most pilots done for CN, Nick etc. would be animated primarily overseas by the same studios that would likely do a series, and would have roughly the same sort of production pipeline an actual show would. If that’s the case, why abandon the unique look and feel of the pilot?

      • Crispy Walker

        You’re saying what I thought I a lot more eloquently than I could put it… I think you’re right; it’s missing a lot of that finessed feeling. I don’t agree that the designs aren’t startlingly different though. The pilot’s Crystal Gems were a lot more intricate in comparison to the newer models… The only change I actually sorta like is how they gave Pearl a big pointy nose.

  • Tori Rhodes

    The premise doesn’t sound interesting, but I’ll definitely give it a shot.

  • “And it only took them 21 years and 45 TV series.” Oh well, at least Cartoon Network is the first of the big three US children’s networks to have a solo female creator. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that Nick has had one yet, and Disney’s “Star and the Forces of Evil” doesn’t premiere until sometime next year.)

    • AmidAmidi

      Disney did “Pepper Ann” in 1997. Nick did “As Told By Ginger” in 2000, as well as numerous shows on Nick Jr. Cartoon Network is the last of the majors to let a woman create her own series.

      • Ah. Well, that’s egg on my face. Can’t believe I forgot about both “Pepper Ann” and “As Told By Ginger”, considering how much I watched both as a kid…that said, what is Sue Rose doing these days?

  • not bad!

    I really like what I’m seeing, but I’m concerned about story. I know they probably don’t want to give too much away right off the bat but even after two episodes I’m left with core questions about key plot elements.

    Why do these monsters keep attacking?
    Where do the monsters come from?
    What is the temple and why is it important to protect from the monsters?
    Why do the monsters want to harm Beach City and the Gems?
    Why do the monsters turn into crystals when they die?
    Why are the gems from the monsters important to collect?
    Where is Beach City and why should we care about it being protected?
    Why did Rose Quartz have to give up her physical form for Steven to come into this world?

    Especially the last one. I painfully hope that this isn’t another excuse just not to have her in the story and to illicit sympathy for Steven. Time and time again it’s got to be the woman who died in child birth. I just hope there is a contextual story reasoning behind this, but since it’s early on and all the rules of the world and the gems haven’t been clearly defined, I can’t really judge.

    Looks great so far though.

    • SarahJesness

      Eh, personally I don’t think a show needs to answer everything right away. Mysteries are fun, they can add more appeal to the show. It’s one reason I love Gravity Falls, yeah, the individual stories are great, but the overarching mystery is a lot of fun too. While you’re still enjoying the stories, you just get excited hoping that the next episode might reveal more about the mysteries of the town, the Shack, and Grunkle Stan.

      I love to guess, try to predict, and look for clues and hints to form or support crazy theories. I imagine all of these questions are going to be answered. Really, these questions are one of the reasons I can’t wait to see the next episodes. The bit with Steven’s parents really catches my interest because it’s not a situation you see often in kid’s shows. One parent is gone and the other is present, but not as active in taking care of the kid, I really want to see where they go with that. (Rebecca Sugar was prominent in a lot of the more emotional episodes of Adventure Time, like the stuff with Simon and Marceline, so I bet she has some good stuff planned)

  • Nikolas

    Huh! All the web links in the Rebecca Sugar “Quirky Fan Art” Cartoonbrew article are 404s. Her earlier LiveJournal blog and old web site are long-gone. A real shame as the few older drawings that I found of hers were fantastic. The older, grittier, oddball artwork seems to have been deleted.

    I guess now it’s all about promoting family-friendly Cartoon Network projects. Boo. :(

  • Funkybat

    I don’t feel like she was “dumbed down” at all, but she does seem to strongly suggest a particular ethnic and even national background. I get a “black Briton” feeling from her look and accent.

  • TheCartoonUniverse

    Steven Universe didnt flop; in fact it actually is a wonderful show about an average boy learning to live with his unique andmagical friends; the crystal gems. The music is happy and exiciting, the plot leaves me wondering “What wil happen next?”. This is a very good show and it will probs be as good as my other 2 favorite shows; Adventure Time, which proves to exicting and funny; And Regular Show, which you will get the show’s catchphrase, “its anything but”, because Regular Show is anything BUT regular.