Mark Watches ‘Steven Universe’: S01E01 – Gem Glow

In the first episode of the first season of Steven Universe, this is a story about someone who gets emotional over an ice cream sandwich, and if that is not mean, then I don’t know what is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.

The day has arrived. WE ARE HERE. As is the case whenever we start a new series on Mark Watches, I highly advise that you read this introduction, even if you have been here for a long time. It contains not just a basic overview of the rules, but explains how scheduling is going to work. MUST READ.

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2) You may, however, post spoilers in rot13. You will inevitably see what looks like gibberish in the comments. We use rot13 to cipher all possible spoilers so that y’all can still have a conversation about each episode if you’ve seen the entire show. Please cipher all spoilers.

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7) As of right now, I’m going to TRY to complete a review for every day of the week. This is subject to change if it turns out that I’m still writing massive reviews despite the shorter episode length. But since the episodes are shorter, I’m predicting I’ll just simply have less content to comment on. Maybe? WHO KNOWS.

So, I do open the video for this episode with this “list” of sorts, but I’m fine repeating what little I knew about Steven Universe before I watched “Gem Glow.”

1) Steven is the main character.

2) There are gems? Gem people things?

3) It’s in his universe? Or that’s his last name?

4) Estelle voices one of the characters!

5) At some point – and I think it may have been Comic-Con 2013 – I saw a short clip of the scene where Steven freaks out about Cookie Cats going out of production. However, now that I’ve seen “Gem Glow,” it must have been an earlier version, because Lars and that other character weren’t there at all.

Otherwise? I blocked all mentions of this show through filters and Tumblr Savior years ago, so I still know nothing, aside from the fact that everyone is watching this show.

Let’s do it.

I have no idea what the scope of Steven Universe will be, nor what the general tone is, but if “Gem Glow” gives me a taste of that, SIGN ME UP. This veers between being hilarious and genuinely touching. And at the center of it is Steven, a young boy who is quick to express their emotions about anything. EXCUSE ME WHILE I RELATE WAY TOO MUCH TO THIS CHARACTER ALREADY. Now, I don’t understand how this world works. Wherever it takes place, there are regular humans alongside… gem people? Like, are Amethyst, Pearl, and Garnet a different species or are they part-human like Steven? The only reason I ask is because the opening scene, where Lars teases Steven about the Cookie Cats, makes it seem like having a gem is an odd thing.

So, in that sense, Steven and the other gems are outsiders in this… place. Wherever it is. And even within the group, Steven still struggles to fit in with a bunch of people who all activate their gems (and access their weapons) with ease. I don’t understand why these gems exist. Did someone give them these powers so they could protect humanity? Can you like… sign up for it? LOOK, I’LL BE ASKING A LOT OF QUESTIONS, OKAY. What I was able to discern from this episode is a basic sense of who these characters are. Pearl is detail-oriented, structured, and seems like a traditionalist. Amethyst is chaos, pure and simple, and has no time for studying or training. They just are. Garnet is my own personal hero, and while their style might exist in between that of Amethyst and Pearl, I appreciated that they’re more reserved than the other two characters.

But I feel like you shouldn’t ever underestimate Garnet because they’ll punch you into another galaxy.

I also noticed that all three of them care for Steven. A lot. What is their relationship to him? Where are his parents? Why are they responsible for him? Are they just doing it out of the kindness of their hearts? I don’t know if that’s important to know now, however, because what matters to me is how loving the three of them are towards Steven. In just ten minutes, I was able to understand how much they adore this kid and would do anything for him.

So it must be frustrating that he can’t activate his gem or summon his shield, and I mean that for everyone. Whatever the Gems are, they are clearly meant for saving the world; thus, it’s easy to see why Steven gets so emotional about his own gem. Well, it also explains why he thought that ice cream sandwiches activated it. I’ll propose a theory: I think it was a specific emotion that caused his gem to glow. Some kind of happiness or satisfaction maybe??? Except it didn’t activate at the end when he fought the Centipeetle mother; he helped take her down without his gem, which is pretty spectacular all by itself.

Therefore, we’ve got a show about a self-conscious pudgy boy who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, but is supported by three loving and silly and caring adults, and they fight monsters and protect humanity and eat way too many ice cream sandwiches and then throw up in the sand and I’m only talking about Steven now. Whoops. This is a fun pilot, and I am never going to get over the image of the CRYING COOKIE CAT in their spaceship, it is one of the most tragically hilarious things I’ve ever seen. I have no idea what this world is, but I’m only eleven minutes into Steven Universe. I’ve got a lot of time to figure it out.

The video for “Gem Glow” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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