Steven Universe: The Complete First Season is finally available on DVD! Featuring all 52 episodes from season 1, and several exclusive bonus features, this set is a must have for fans of Steven and his magical alien/gem guardians from outer space. Let’s take a closer look at the set and see what all it contains.
Steven Universe is a show that, at first glance, looks like it’s very basic kids’ entertainment. When it first premiered, I’d heard a bit of buzz about the show, and decided to check it out. Unfortunately for me, I watched the first episode, and immediately stopped watching. Steven was a very childish protagonist, who was kind of whiney, and appeared to be obsessed with ice cream, and little else. It had some great action, and I liked the gems, but the first episode was not nearly enough to immediately grab me, and I passed it off as a generic kids show, and moved on. Boy was I wrong.
Fast-forward about a year and half, when the first season finale airs. The online animation world basically explodes with articles about how game-changing the finale was. I saw story after story about what an amazing show this was, and I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Steven Universe, the show about the crying kid who ate ice cream to defeat a giant centipede? That was the show that everyone was raving about?
I decided to give it another chance. If the show was good enough to implode the internet, then I really needed to watch it for myself. I forced myself to rewatch the first episode, which, admittedly, was actually much better than I thought I’d remembered, and once I’d finished that, I kept going. The first ten or so episodes were okay, and the show did drastically improve with every episode. (Which is also why I now refuse to judge any show after only one episode.)
However, by the time we got to Giant Woman, I was hooked. That episode was my game changer. Having watched very little anime before that point, I had never encountered the concept of fusion before, and my mind was blown. the idea of fusing multiple characters together to create an entirely new character opened up so many creative possibilities for the show, and completely changed my opinion of it. No longer was this a cute cartoon with fun stories, and decent monster battles, this was something entirely new, and I loved it.
This set contains all 52 episodes of season one. Sort of. From what I’ve gathered online, there were several scheduling issues around the time of the first season finale, causing a few episodes to be moved from their spots in season 1, into the season 2 airing schedule. Complicating things is the way various online streaming platforms have the episodes listed, which differ from the Steven Universe wiki page.
So there are a few episodes, that sort of migrate back and forth between seasons, depending on which websites you read. If you are going by the wiki page, which is where I generally go for all my entertainment related information, then it would appear that the episodes Shirt Club, and Story for Steven, have been removed, presumably to be saved for a future season two DVD set, and instead, the first two episodes of season two, Full Disclosure and Joy Ride, have been put in after the season finale of season one. Ultimately the last two episodes are in the right place continuity-wise, and the episodes that have been moved do not rely on continuity as much as a lot of other episodes, so it doesn’t affect the set very much.
Behind the Music
This is a featurette all about the creation of the music of the show, featuring interviews with Rebecca Sugar and the composers of the show’s music. Music is a massive part of Steven Universe, even more so than pretty much any other animated series, and these interviews explain a lot of the process behind the composition and writing of all the songs.
Like I said, music is a huge part of Steven Universe, so much so, that they put together an entire event around just listening to the soundtrack, and talking with Rebecca Sugar about it. Dan Casey of Nerdist.com interviews Rebecca in between showing music videos, all in front of a live audience. As this was a recent event, there is music featured that is not part of season one, but as long as you are not watching the show for the first time from this set, that shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
Music Video Performances
This section features five songs, all performed wonderfully by Rebecca Sugar. However, none of the songs featured were actually a part of season one. I loved what we got, but I really would have liked to see at least a little focus on the first season. However, this is very much a nitpick, and I did thoroughly enjoy these.
This includes five episodes in storyboard format. These are interesting to watch, but nothing too spectacular.
During the interviews in the previous featurettes, Rebecca Sugar talked about recording demos on her ukulele as she wrote the songs for the show. This section includes two of her demos, Be Wherever You Are, and Full Disclosure. The latter is slightly more produced than most of her other demos I’ve heard, but it’s a fun inclusion as well.
All in all, this is a great set. However, I really feel like there are some things missing. For starters a blu-ray set. Season one was only released on DVD, which is disappointing, considering other Cartoon Network shows have been given blu-ray releases in the past, and apparently a blu-ray was released over a year ago in Australia. The DVD is fine, especially since we’ve been waiting so long for it, but it would be nice to have this in high definition.
I also was really looking forward to some making-of featurettes, or some interviews with the cast and crew. I loved everything we got with Rebecca Sugar, but as much as I love her, there are many other people working on the show, and I really wish we could have heard from some of them. However, as the main focus of this set was the music, I’m hopeful that they’ll focus on other aspects of production in future sets.
I was also looking forward to the original pilot, which had a completely different look than the Steven Universe we know today. It was apparently included on the Australian blu-ray release, so I have no idea why it wasn’t included in this one, it seems like a massive oversight to me.
Overall, despite what I might feel is lacking from this set, I still have to give it my highest recommendation. The main point of any DVD is the movie or show itself, and I have wanted to own Steven Universe ever since I got completely hooked back in 2015. Not enough animated series get full season treatments these days, so I am very glad to have this one. Steven Universe is one of my favorite animated series, currently and of all time, so this set is a must own for me.