Tag Archives: Steven Universe

Of Cosmic Stakes and Personal Stories (Spider Verse, Infinity War, and Others)

spider verse miles

A confession: I haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War nor Avengers: Endgame yet, and I don’t really plan to. I promise I’m not trying to be contrary or edgy with that statement—in fact, it makes me kind of sad. I love superheroes! I like the Marvel movies! So why aren’t I compelled to join in the hype for the epic, universe-bending crossover event?

In an unfortunate case of history repeating itself, I think I might be switching off from the MCU for the same reason I dropped Doctor Who back in ye olden days: the constant ante-upping required to keep the series fresh and engaging has led the story to cosmic stakes where the rules of time and space are being warped willy-nilly and the multiverse hangs in the balance, whereas the thing that drew me to the series in the first place was those more grounded, relatable, personal stories. When it comes to the MCU’s shift towards Big Crossover Events, Civil War (allegedly a Captain America standalone movie) was about as much as I could take in terms of world-altering stakes, an over-stuffed ensemble cast who couldn’t possibly all get the screentime they deserved, and “epic” tone.

I get it, superheroes need to save the world, and it’s a natural progression that they should save the converging, warping universe in an adventure that brings together characters from all across the wide-spanning story. I get it, but, well, ehhh. I’m willing to admit this is personal taste, of course—and I would just say that Crossover Events aren’t for me… but then again, I was really compelled to see, and really enjoyed, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse. So what’s going on there? Continue reading


Filed under Pop Culture Ponderings

Ghosts with Many Faces: The Intrigue of Pre-Dead Characters


What do Rose Quartz and Rachel Amber have in common? Well, funnily enough, the first part of their names both start with R and the second part shares a name with a natural substance that can end up in pretty and inexpensive jewellery. But first and foremost, of course, they’re both dead before their respective stories begin. Does this mean they aren’t featured or aren’t hugely important? Certainly not—in fact characters that are D.O.A. serve a unique sort of purpose in the worlds of their narrative.

The fanmade visual novel/dating sim Love Is Strange has recently been completed and released (oh, isn’t it amazing what fans can achieve if they’re dedicated to and grumpy with the source material in equal measure?) and I’ve been interested in checking it out for a while, not just because it places the power to cuddle Kate Marsh in my hands, but because one of the love interests is Rachel—someone we never got to ‘meet’ in the canon game because she was missing (and later proved to be dead) before the story began. I’m very interested in how Love Is Strange’s writers will characterise her, given that there are so many conflicting versions of her.

Working out who Rachel is turns out to be as big a mystery as working out what happened to her—to Chloe, she was an angel; to fellow students she was either the coolest of the cool or the biggest and sluttiest burn-out to ever blast comet-like across the campus; to Jefferson she was a desperate plaything; to Frank she was a confident, wonderful partner. It all paints a very conflicting and confused picture.

But this is, of course, the point Continue reading

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Filed under Archetypes and Genre

Smashing the Smurfette Principle: Steven Universe’s Diverse Rock Collection, and Why It Matters

Steven Universe main cast

Most of Steven Universe’s main cast is comprised of female-coded gemstone aliens, giving us, shock and awe, a children’s show not explicitly aimed at girls that stars a whole bunch of girls. Whether or not you can call the Gems women from our earthy point of view is a scientific matter, but for all intents and purposes they’re female—and it’s not as if the kids watching are necessarily going to nitpick details like that. They’re going to see a cast full of heroic women, flawed women, hilarious women, scary women… basically, a display of diversity in female character types that it’s rare to see anywhere else. Continue reading


Filed under Fun with Isms

The Importance of “Found Family” Stories


“This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little and broken, but still good.

Yeah, still good.

Lilo and Stitch, making us all cry over an explosive dog-like alien since 2002

Orphan Black is coming back real soon, and I realise this means all the debates over what in the world is happening with Sarah’s love life are going to flare back up. Will she stay with Cal and make a complete nuclear family with their daughter? Or does she still harbour feelings for Paul despite their weird on-again-off-again-secret-military-clone-experiment relationship? Frankly, I’m just going to zone out, because what I’m really and actually invested in is her relationship with her foster brother, her daughter, her estranged reformed murderess of a twin sister, and all the closely-knit friends she’s made along the way. The family plotline, that is. Some of it blood related, most of it forged on her own terms.

“I already have a family,” she said to Helena in the finale of season one, refusing to be tied down by all the weirdness of her genetic family tree and referring instead to the bonds she’d forged by affection, and you know, the people who had actually taken care of her for her whole life and not started that life in an attempt to use her as a scientific experiment (an attempt they then mercilessly continue). Granted, she lets Helena into her life later on and they begin to form a messy but devoted sibling relationship, but that was still her choice. Sometimes, your family is a crappy place to be, whether it contains evil scientists or not, and it’s important for fiction to emphasise that it’s not only okay but sometimes better to make your own choice about who you call home.

Especially in kids’ literature, I think—there’s a trend towards unhappily adopted orphan heroes, as we’ll all know, who are lifted from the abuse/poverty/hilariously wonky living conditions they’re in by discovering that their parents were secretly wizards, or royalty, or holders of some great destiny that Our Hero is now tasked to take up. The truth of their bloodline saves the day, and you can dream of a giant busting through your door declaring “Yer a wizard” and scooping you off into the adventure you were destined for, away from your mundane and terrible home life. Continue reading


Filed under Archetypes and Genre

Giant Robots, Giant Women, and the Power of (All Kinds of) Love

Steven Universe's Garnet

[Contains spoilers for recent episodes of Steven Universe]

I know I’ve talked a lot about Pacific Rim on this little corner of the internet, and some of you are probably getting sick of watching me figuratively roll around on the cyberspace floor gushing about how cool it is. One of the things I want to zoom in on though, something quite fun and interesting it gave us and the collective consciousness of recent media, is the concept of Drift Compatibility and everything it and its ilk means for discussions of soulmates, character dynamics, and intimacy that has absolutely nothing sexual about it.

The motto of the Pacific Rim apocalypse response squad is “go big or go extinct”, but it seems the technology they built was too big for one human alone to handle—thus the Drift was invented, a dual-piloting system where one person controls one hemisphere of the mech each. In theory, it leads to perfect balance and less of a risk of brain-melt due to the neural load being shared by two people, but it requires the two pilots to be Compatible.

What exactly this means is never explained entirely, but we can easily infer that it involves a kind of understanding and alignment of personality. Drift partners are also often related in some way, with a father and son team on deck as well as a trio of brothers. Blood ties aren’t required, though, since the Russian Jaeger is piloted by a married couple. Essentially, every Jaeger we know serves as some sort of ludicrously high-tech and enormous family car at this point, until we get to Raleigh and Mako. Continue reading


Filed under And I Think That's Neat