Steven Universe: 9 Things We Learned

We were there with Steven Universe at San Deigo Comic-Con, and we learned nine new things from the creator.

Steven Universe left off with a killer cliffhanger, featuring Lars being resurrected and Steven leaving him on the Gem homeworld. What’s next for the Crystal Gems?

We had the chance to sit down with show creator Rebecca Sugar at San Diego Comic-Con and she gave us some insights into Steven Universe season five, where the show might be headed, and some fun behind the scenes tales.

Steven Universe Season 5 Is A “Rollercoaster”

At the Steven panel Rebecca Sugar promised that many of the episodes going forward will deal with the fallout from the trial in the first four episodes of season five. There will be huge consequences to both it and Lars being brought back to life. Sugar describes the rest of the season as, “a roller coaster that is rocketing forward.” 

Lars Gets Control Of A Gem Spaceship

In a clip screened at SDCC we see Connie and Steven travel through Lion to get back to Lars… Only to find him commanding a Gem spaceship in combat! He leads the Off Color Gems while wearing an outfit lovingly inspired by Captain Harlock. We don’t know how he was able to get control of a Gem spaceship yet, but Lars stepping up like this is shows just how far his character will continue to develop.

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The Writers Aren’t Afraid Of Taking It Too Far

When Steven Universe started it seemed like a fun and light show but as the seasons have gone on more and more heavy concepts have filtered into the show. Is the team afraid of making the show darker? 

“I’m always excited to be more and more ambitious with the stories that we’re telling,” says Sugar. “It’s scary to start to explore where hate comes from in a show about love. It’s a challenge to stay positive while exploring that, but that’s a challenge I experience in life and I think we’re all experiencing right now. So it also feels like the time to be exploring that, in myself and in the show.”

Spiritualism Is A Core Part of Steven Universe

Rebecca Sugar says, “there’s a lot of spiritualism in the show.” The show’s staff is inspired by every voice that’s ever spoken about peace, including Hillel the Elder who, Sugar points out, said, “If I’m not for myself then who will be for me?”

“Just the gentleness with which he approached everything is really inspiring to me,” says Sugar. She also says that her Jewish upbringing has been an inspiration on the show as well.

“I have felt, the feeling of belonging but also not quite belonging, and also just being, so moved by this incredible history and wonderful community,

Steven Universe Directly Tackles Gendered TV

Steven Universe regularly challenges gender norms and much of that is centered on the titular hero. Many elements of Steven’s design, including his sword, are dominated by the color pink, which is often seen as a more feminine color. Sugar this was “completely intentional.”

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“One of the things I really wanted to do was to address how intensely gendered shows for children are and dissolve that.”

Sugar arrived at the goal because, as a child, she always gravitated towards boy shows and she felt “extremely guilty” about it. 

“My child self shouldn’t have had to feel bad, but I understood that ‘this is not really for me.’ And so when we went into (Steven Universe), I wanted no one to have to feel that feeling. I wanted everyone to feel like if they wanted to feel it that this was for them. Especially, in terms of it being gender non-conforming as a show.”


Peridot And Lapis’ Biggest Pet Peeves

Even with all these big plot moves happening, what about something a little more fun and light? Peridot and Lapis, two newer additions to the Crystal Gems, are off living at a barn. What are they like as roommates? Sugar explains,

“Lapis is sort of, both annoyed and comforted by Peridot’s infinite energy. I often thought of them as the old cartoon idea of a small very very excited dog and a big doesn’t really care dog. (Peridot’s energy) is annoying to Lapis but she doesn’t actually dislike it.”

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“Mr. Greg” Was A Lifelong Dream Come True 

The musical episode of Steven Universe, which was just nominated for an Emmy award, started with Sugar’s love of cartoon musicals.

“I always loved those, they’re always my favorite one. I couldn’t wait to do ours.”

The Steven Universe crew was firing on all cylinders for that episode. 

“I got to do music with, Jeff Liu, Ben Levin, and Aivi and Surasshu’s compositions for all the finals were just stunning. All of the backgrounds are incredible. The art is so beautiful.”

The episode was also a time of goodbyes for the crew as well.

“(It was) Jeff Lieu and Joe Johnston’s last board together so it also has a really special place in my heart. It was one of the last episodes I got to work on with Ian (Jones-Quartey) before he moved on to his show (OK K.O. Let’s Be Heroes) so it also has a special place in my heart.”

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The final edit of the show moved Sugar to tears.

“I was like ‘this is it, this is everything I’ve wanted to do right here.’ It was just wonderful.”

Steven Universe’s Music Isn’t Just Written On The Ukelele

While many of the songs for Steven Universe, at least those written by Rebecca Sugar, are often demoed on ukulele, that isn’t always the case. Sugar says she likes to write songs on the omni-chord, which is a synthetic harpsichord that was popular in the 80’s.

“It basically has these rows of buttons that just say abcdefg. It just says chords, minor, major, seven, and you just hit a button and it plays that chord. It’s great! So I can just experiment with combinations that I wouldn’t usually think of, because it’s as easy as just hitting the button on this instrument.”

Sugar relates that when she purchased one from eBay it was buggy so she took to a music shop and, “they opened it up at this music shop and these incredibly corroded batteries fell out of it with this cloud of red dust. I was just like ‘oh this is really, this is really bad.’ Anyway, I can’t put batteries in it anymore but I can plug it in and it still works.”

Fluorite Is A Representation Of A Polyamorous Relationship

In a recent episode Steven and Lars meet the Off Color Gems, one of which is a multi Gem fusion named Fluorite. When asked about how many Gems she has in her fusion, Fluorite responds,

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“Six. Maybe more, if we meet the right Gem.”

At the panel a fan asked Rebecca Sugar if Fluorite was supposed to represent a polyamorous relationship. Sugar enthusiastically responded, “Oh yes, absolutely.”

Sugar visited an LGBTQ center in Long Beach, California named The Center and had the chance to speak with some of the kids there.

“We were all chatting together about some things we’d just love to see on the show. That was one of the things that we all agreed we really wanted to find a place for in the show.”

Shamus Kelley will always save the day. Follow him on Twitter! 

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