Steven Universe Rewind: Arcade Mania / Giant Woman

Spoiler Policy: All spoilers up to and including the currently discussed episode will be unmarked. Spoilers for episodes beyond the current point will be enclosed in Fast Forward blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.

Arcade Mania

Official Description: Steven takes the Crystal Gems to Funland Arcade.

…and nearly gets them all killed by getting Garnet addicted to video games.

This is a pretty fun episode, if not especially memorable. As far as S1A episodes go, it’s fairly inessential.

Like many S1A episodes, this one opens with the Gems on a mission. Steven is wearing a big puffy jacket that makes squeaking noises when he walks — so he doesn’t catch a cold, he explains to an irritated Pearl. She points out that he’s still wearing his sandals.

I used to work front desk at my college dorm and I swear every single math major would go out dressed like this for the entire winter. But I digress.

Steven holds out his arms while he walks so the jacket is less noisy, but Amethyst pranks him by making the jacket’s sounds with her mouth.

Distracted, Steven accidentally steps off a crumbling cliff face. Thankfully, Garnet is in exactly the right place to catch him.

Fast Forward

We’re still quite a few episodes out from the official reveal of Garnet’s future vision powers, but they’re extremely obvious in this episode, especially on a rewatch. This is just the first example.

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This giant Gem monster drops from the ceiling, and I really just love this design. The color scheme and drills make it look like an old-school Sonic the Hedgehog enemy.

It shoots lots of mini-drills at Garnet, which she easily dodges, Steven in hand. Pearl and Amethyst pick up Steven and run with him as Garnet easily takes out the monster, punching it in a big squishy hole located on its underside that I am not going to speculate about.

This is a really interesting looking spiky gem, which I think is pretty unique as far as gems go.

Fast Forward

We haven’t seen this Gem yet in Steven Universe Future, but given how many others have come back, it’s quite possible that we will!

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I swallowed a rock!

The little drills that the monster shot at Garnet burrow away autonomously. Amethyst tries to go after one, burying her head in the ground. Garnet says it’s not worth it because they’re just parasites, and “if they want to be a problem, they’ll have to answer to me.”

Fast Forward

As seen in future episodes, Garnet can be extremely stubborn and single-minded, sometimes to the point of ignoring something very important. Episodes that explore her future vision a little more give some insight into why: she has a tendency to discount things that don’t seem likely in her future vision. It’s also pretty clear that input that isn’t easily predictable — like Steven’s actions, often — have a tendency to interfere with her future vision. Here, she likely saw that she could easily take care of the drill parasites if needed, but didn’t recognize a future where she would be unavailable, in this case because Steven got her addicted to an arcade game.

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Steven declares that they need a reward for a successful mission, and brings the Gems (reluctantly) to Funland Arcade. Amethyst points out they need money, and just where I’m wondering where they get money, Steven reveals that his coat is full of quarters.

And, okay, in this episode they reveal that Steven got all the quarters from using his metal detector on the beach. But now I’m left wondering how do they get money for everything else? The Gems have clearly marketable skills, but have no jobs and no indication that they ever do anything to make money. It seems probable that all of Steven’s human necessities come from Greg’s car wash job. (Another possibility: they sell things they find. Amethyst has a lot of treasure in her room.)

I just love old school arcades like this and oh, gosh, I want to go to there. Look at the neon! The carpet! There’s a whole row of pinball machines, rhythm games, racing games, a claw machine, fighting games. Sour Cream, who hasn’t been formally introduced yet, is hanging out here.

“Humans find such fascinating ways to waste their time,” says Pearl. She doesn’t look directly at the camera at me, a person who is writing thousands of words in Steven Universe recaps, but I feel called out anyway.

Steven picks out games for the Gems to try. He sits Pearl down at Road Killer, which seems to be a Carmageddon spoof. I just love that the car has a giant gun strapped to the top of it. Steven’s assertion that Pearl would love a game filled with wonton destruction makes it seem like he’s never even met Pearl.

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Then again, we all know that Pearl can be a terrifyingly skilled driver when the promise of making it with a pink-haired girl causes her to recklessly run from the cops.

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Steven shows Amethyst skee-ball, and explains that she can turn in the tickets for prizes.

Ah, the skeevy ticket prize counter, a necessary part of any arcade experience. Onion has apparently won enough tickets to get a moped.

Fast Forward

The moped does turn up later, something I would never have remembered if it weren’t for the wiki.

More importantly, playing skee-ball with Amethyst is one of the things Steven does to restore her memory in the movie.

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Steven shows Garnet Teens of Rage, and I just love this little “don’t use drugs” eyecatch just like an old arcade beat ’em up would really have. Steven tries to explain one of the character’s special moves, but Garnet just punches the screen. “I did it. I won.”

Steven takes Garnet to Punch Buddy, a game that she’s supposed to punch, which seems like a good idea on the surface. Of course, she punches the little dude completely off of the game (“Tell my wife I’m sorry!”).

Don’t think I don’t see you, Battle Frogs in the corner.

Steven looks around for a different game, and spots Meat Beat Mania. The name is likely a pun on actual rhythm arcade game Beatmania, but the gameplay is mostly like Samba de Amigo, a game where you shake maracas to a beat.

Garnet turns out to be quite good at Meat Beat Mania, and Steven is relieved that he found something for her to do.

He checks on Pearl, who isn’t doing so well. “You’re horrible!” yells the game, as Pearl avoids crashing into anything. Meanwhile, Amethyst is cheating at skee-ball by sitting on top of the machine and chucking the balls directly into the center hole. Just as Steven pulls her off the machine, Mr. Smiley shows up, wondering what happened to Teens of Rage. Steven collects Amethyst and Pearl and runs.

Garnet is still playing Meat Beat Mania, and doesn’t respond when Steven calls for her. Mr. Smiley finds the wreckage of Punch Buddy, so Steven decides to leave Garnet behind and bail.

Back at the house, Steven asks what their next mission is going to be: “I hope it’s fighting a giant foot!”

Pearl: If we were supposed to fight a giant foot, Garnet would let us know.

Amethyst: Yeah, Garnet’s the boss.

Pearl: Well, we’re all a team. Garnet just has heightened perception that guides us towards our mission objective.

Amethyst: Yeah, she’s the boss.

Fast Forward

Pearl comes really, really close to just outright spilling the existence of Garnet’s future vision here.

This is also an interesting conversation about the team dynamics. Pearl was the very first member of the Crystal Gems (apart from Rose), and was effectively Rose’s right hand for what seems to have been quite a while. Yet, after Rose’s death, Garnet ended up the leader. The fact that Pearl was probably in the worst emotional shape out of any of them after Rose’s death probably contributed to this. But it also definitely has to do with Pearl’s original purpose, to serve — the Sardonyx arc in Season 2 has a lot to do with Pearl latching onto Garnet as a substitute Rose to follow. Pearl’s entire arc, of course, is about her finding value in herself and not living just for other people.

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Amethyst tells Steven that Garnet has a secret mission for him, slamming his face into the bowl of cereal, which he does. “Good job, Steven, you stopped the foot!”

Double dogs!

Steven goes out to look for quarters on the beach, using this adorable dog-shaped metal detector. The dog starts barking and he digs up a second metal detector, identical to his first one.

Steven goes to dig up a quarter he finds, when his hand is chomped by one of the little drill parasites from earlier. Dozens of them start popping up from the sand and sea. Pearl and Amethyst show up and try to fight them off, but there’s too many.

Fast Forward

Another near outright acknowledgement of Garnet’s future vision abilities:

Pearl: They’re everywhere, why didn’t we see this coming?

Steven: We need Garnet!

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Steven finds Garnet at the arcade, playing Meat Beat Mania at an insanely high level of skill. He tries to get her attention, but she’s completely unresponsive. Steven climbs her and takes her visor off, revealing her three eyes, the center of which is following Meat Beat Mania at high speed.

Fast Forward

And here we have another obvious-in-hindsight indication that Garnet is a fusion, as generally only fusions have extra limbs or eyes. The fact that Garnet as completely humanoid except for her third eye signifies the harmonious nature of her fusion.

The third eye, of course, comes from Sapphire, and is the source of her future vision, which is why it’s the eye tracking Meat Beat Mania. The stubborn determination to play the game until it loses is probably coming from Ruby. In other words, this game is a perfect trap for Garnet.

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Steven unplugs the machine to try and stop Garnet. This is the first time we see her infrequently used electrical powers, which she uses to repower the machine and keep playing.

Fast Forward

Where do the electrical powers come from? Is it the combination of Ruby’s fire and Sapphire’s ice? That makes a certain amount of JRPG-style sense.

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I’d like to note that I really like the Meat Beat Mania music, it sounds plausibly like a cutesy rhythm game.

Steven decides he needs to beat Garnet in the two-player mode. He tries, but predictably can’t win.

Finally, he uses his superhuman strength to rip the grill off of the front of the game and smash the screen.

Garnet is finally freed from her trance and runs out to help Amethyst and Pearl fight the drill parasites. Mr. Smiley stops Steven before he can leave and puts Steven to work cleaning up the mess.

This episode is fun to watch, mostly for the video game references, and it does set up a few things for later, but is otherwise a pretty medium-quality episode.

Giant Woman

Official Description: Steven tries to convince Amethyst and Pearl to fuse together and become a giant woman.

…a giant woman, all I wanna be is someone who gets to see a giant woman!

Yes, I had that song stuck in my head the entire time I was working on this, and really, any time I even thought about working on this, and will probably have it in my head the entire day when it posts. Thanks, Steven Universe.

Anyway, I don’t need to explain why this is a critically important episode, so let’s get right into a pastime I’ve been waiting for: Let’s Talk About Fusions! Finally.

Amethyst and Pearl are playing checkers on the beach. Steven is chucking a water balloon at whoever gets a piece captured, so that “the moves really matter.” Pearl wins the game by jumping a bunch of Amethyst’s pieces, and Amethyst joyously accepts the water balloons being launched at her.

“It feels good to lose,” says Amethyst. Pearl chastises her for her attitude, and she drops the bombshell: “You’re no fun anymore. This is why we don’t form Opal.”

Opal is, of course, the point of the episode, but I want to touch quickly on Amethyst asserting that Pearl is no fun anymore. Between this episode and Tiger Millionaire, I definitely get the impression that Pearl was once closer to Amethyst and more tolerant of her brash personality. This likely changed around the same time Pearl started taking more responsibility for Steven, and expecting Amethyst to mature and take more responsibility as well. Amethyst was used to being the youngest of the group and getting away with things, and then she suddenly wasn’t.

Fast Forward

Thankfully, the rift between Amethyst and Pearl heals over a lot over the course of the series — as Amethyst matures a lot, Steven does as well, and Pearl confronts some of her personal demons.

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Pearl says “We don’t form Opal because you’re difficult and a mess,” and geez, Pearl, harsh. Amethyst starts to say “We don’t form Opal because you’re uptight and–” but is interrupted by Steven wanting to know what Opal is.

Amethyst: Oh, it’s the two of us mashed together.

Pearl: Is water just oxygen and hydrogen mashed together? …Analogy wasted.

Pearl makes little sand sculptures to demonstrate: “When we synchronize our forms we can combine into a powerful fusion gem named Opal.”

Pearl’s power to manipulate sand here never shows up before or since, and is a little odd because she would normally demonstrate this sort of thing with her holograms. In Pearl’s demonstration, both Pearl and Amethyst dance with Pearl’s signature ballet moves, which foreshadows the fact that Pearl can’t properly sync up with Amethyst’s actual dancing, which is nothing like that.

Amethyst’s description of Opal: “She’s an ultra powerful, stone cold Betty — that part’s me — and she’s kinda tall — that part’s Pearl.”

Pearl: What Amethyst is attempting to say is, Opal is an amalgam of our combined magical and physical attributes, fused into a single entity.

…and with that, a million fanarts, fanfictions and wild fan theories were born.

The concept of two beings fusing together into one is an old one, but Steven Universe‘s great take on the concept is undoubtedly one of the most popular aspects of the series. As we will see, when two (or more) Gems fuse, they take on parts of the personalities and powers of their components, forming an entity that also has its own personality. Not only are basically all of the canonical fusion gems beloved in their own right, speculating on what any two Gems who haven’t fused on the show might look or act like is a popular pastime in fan communities.

’Fast

’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]Discussion topic: So what not-yet-canon fusion would you like to see? I’m going to be extremely boring and go with probably the most popular answer: Lapis and Peridot.

(Can Peridot fuse? Some speculate that she can’t because she is an Era 2 Gem. I think, even if that’s the case, she could probably still fuse with an Era 1 Gem, just like Connie can fuse with Steven even though she’s a human who can’t normally fuse. That’s just my take on it, anyway.)

I also think it’d be neat to see a Bismuth fusion. Maybe Bismuth and Pearl? Or Bismuth and Garnet if you really want to wreck the place up.

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Steven wants to see Amethyst and Pearl fuse right now, but Pearl says they only fuse in emergencies.

Fast Forward

As we’ll later see, she really only takes this attitude towards fusing with Amethyst, and even that mostly at the beginning of the series, when their relationship is at a low point. In the past, Pearl was more than eager to fuse in non-emergency situations (such as fusing with Rose to make Greg jealous), and in the future, she’ll get in trouble for creating a frivolous situation as an excuse to fuse with Garnet.

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The fusion lesson is interrupted by Garnet returning on the warp pad. She’s brought Steven a rock as a present, which he is happy about.

Garnet says she’s located the Geode Beetles of Heaven and Earth. The Earth Beetle is at the bottom of the lava lake, so Garnet will go retrieve it alone, while Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven will travel to the Sky Spire to fetch the Heaven Beetle.

Fast Forward

Garnet’s ability to swim in lava is, of course, because one of her components, Ruby, has fire-based powers. “I’m an eternal flame, baby!”

The Heaven and Earth Beetles are eventually uncorrupted into an adorable little Gem couple that shows up in the Movie and in Future.

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Garnet tells Steven to be sure to keep the harmony as the three head out.

Fast Forward

Garnet almost certainly saw the outcome of Pearl and Amethyst forming Opal for the first time in a long time and made the suggestion for them to split up in order to expedite this goal. There’s nothing Garnet loves more than encouraging fusion.

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The three arrive at the Sky Spire. Steven wastes no time pelting the Gems with questions about fusion:

“When you fuse, do you turn into a giant giant woman, or a regular sized giant woman?”

Fast Forward

The size of fusions varies wildly, but seems to depend mainly on the size of the components and their relative power.

Also, Steven has totally inherited his father’s fascination for giant women.

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“Does one of you control the right arm and the other control the left arm?”

Fast Forward

With a harmonious fusion, this certainly doesn’t seem to be true: the fusion has its own personality with traits from its components, and that new personality acts autonomously and controls the entirety of the fusion’s body.

In an un-harmonious fusion, it’s possible for one party to seize control of all or parts of the fusion’s body. A good example is how Lapis uses her hydrokinesis to force Malachite to chain herself to the ocean floor. A much more mild example is how the normally harmonious Garnet can start talking to “herself” when Ruby and Sapphire are disagreeing.

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“What if you eat a hot dog? Whose stomach would it go into? Do you share the same stomach?”

Fast Forward

As seen in Fusion Cuisine, Pearl won’t let the fusion she’s a part of eat, so Steven would never get this question answered with Opal. Stevonnie does eat, and it seems like they share a stomach.

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They encounter this cute goat, and Steven tries to convince Amethyst and Pearl it’s a deadly threat so that they fuse into Opal. Even though the goat nibbles on Pearl’s hand, she’s not having it. Steven dubs the goat Steven Jr., and it comes along with them.

Fast Forward

Steven Jr. makes a cameo appearance in Warp Tour with its babies!

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Anyway, here’s The Song.

I was going to post the official clip from the episode, but if you’re anything like me you’ve probably seen it a bunch, so here’s an absolutely charming clip of Rebecca Sugar performing the song at a panel. I recommend singing along.

Amethyst and Pearl antagonize each other as Steven tries to bring them together.

He sings, “but if it were me, I’d really want to be, a giant woman, a giant woman!” I love how un-self-conscious he is about how he’d like to be a giant woman.

Fast Forward

Eventually Steven gets to help form Obsidian in the finale, finally achieving his dream of being a giant woman.

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They come across a series of large floating rocks with gaps between them, and Steven, of course, suggests they form Opal to cross. Amethyst picks up Steven and tosses him across one of the gaps, to Pearl’s horror. Amethyst and Steven laugh about it until Steven accidentally falls off.

Pearl and Amethyst immediately leap into action, Amethyst wrapping her whip around Pearl as Pearl leaps for Steven and catches him mid-air. This is, of course, not remotely subtle foreshadowing that the only thing that can get Pearl and Amethyst to work together well is when they need to save Steven.

They finally reach the top of the Sky Spire, where the Heaven Beetle has a tiny temple.

The Heaven Beetle isn’t there, but check out the cute interior of her temple. She’s even got what looks like a tiny Sega Genesis in there, alongside bongo drums, a TV with rabbit ears, a Game Boy, and a backpack monogrammed HB.

Fast Forward

Now that we know that this was a corrupted Gem, this is probably where she lived before the corruption wave. You’d think that they could just leave her here since she isn’t causing any harm, but maybe they’re worried about her safety or make sure she gets reunited with the Earth Beetle.

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Pearl starts freaking out that the Heaven Beetle isn’t there, and gets into an argument with Amethyst, who isn’t taking the situation very serious. Just as Steven tries to break up the fight, an enormous bird monster appears.

The bird monster swallows Steven Jr.

My son!

Pearl throws a spear, which the bird monster swallows, and the three panic and run inside the building.

Steven points out that it’s the perfect time to form Opal, and seeing as they really are in deadly danger now, the Gems agree.

Pearl begins an elegant ballet, but stops in disgust when she sees Amethyst doing… this.

They dance together, not even close to syncing their movements. Amethyst grabs Pearl’s hand and pulls her in roughly, Pearl smacking her in the face as she is dipped. The fusion begins to form for a moment, but then immediately kicks out both Gems.

Amethyst: So you wanna try that again? With less hitting me in the face this time?

Pearl: Well, it would have worked if your movements weren’t so erratic and formless.

Amethyst: So it’s all my fault? You weren’t even trying to sync with my dancing. You should know how I dance by now!

This is Pearl and Amethyst’s early relationship in a nutshell: they both have a point, but outright refuse to meet each other halfway and compromise.

As Steven pleads with Pearl and Amethyst to get along, the bird monster bursts through the ceiling of the building and gulps Steven down.

Inside the bird monster, there are what looks like dozens of bubbled gems, and what’s up with that? It’s never really explained. Steven Jr. is here, casually chewing on the Heaven Beetle. “You’re no son of mine!” Steven yells as he pulls the beetle away.

Suddenly, arms start bursting up from the bird monster’s stomach. Steven runs, but both he and the goat are nabbed. The bird monster dissolves around them as the arms are revealed to belong to…

Opal (voice: Aimee Mann), the very first fusion seen on the show!

Fast Forward

…except, you know :p

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Opal is, of course, the fusion of Amethyst and Pearl. Like all fusions, her outfit is an amalgam of both component Gems’ outfits. She has both Amethyst’s gem on her chest and Pearl’s gem on her forehead, both colored in Opal’s colors. Extra body parts on a fusion tend to signify a lack of harmony, and Opal here has four arms, which would seem to symbolize that Amethyst and Pearl can’t agree on their actions.

Opal’s musical theme is a jazzy number that incorporates both Amethyst’s drums and Pearl’s piano.

Fast Forward

Compared to the other fusions we see, which seem to have boisterous, larger-than-life personalities, Opal is extremely… subdued. Supposedly, the reason for this is that because Pearl and Amethyst are such opposites, their fusion must maintain a peaceful, zen-like state to stay intact.

I’m mostly okay with that explanation, but I’d really like to see more of Opal’s personality. Fusions tend to magnify shared traits, both positive and negative. Here, we see a very obvious trait that both Amethyst and Pearl share: protectiveness towards Steven. I’ll admit, I found it hard to come up with strong positive traits that both Gems share because they really are very opposite, but there’s at least one negative trait they have in common: insecurity.

Opal, like most non-Garnet fusions, isn’t seen very much on the show. The next time she’ll appear will be The Return.

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The bird monster explodes into gem shards, each of which forms a tiny birdlike creature. Opal grabs Steven and slides down the Sky Spire.

Fusions can create unique weapons composed of each of their components’ signature weapons. Opal has a bow made of Pearl’s spear and Amethyst’s whip. She uses the bow to shoot the birds. Her arrows are capable of bubbling, and each of the gem shards is bubbled and disappears.

Steven is in complete awe of Opal, and hesitates a bit when taking her hand. “Do you… know who I am?”

Opal laughs and sings, “All you wanna do is see me turn into…”

“A giant woman!” Steven finishes.

Fast Forward

Based on what we learn later, it would appear that fusions can share their component’s memories selectively. Opal, of course, knows who Steven is, because both Pearl and Amethyst know Steven. However, a fusion does not have access to all of its components’ thoughts and memories. The best example of this is Cry for Help, when neither Sardonyx nor Garnet knew that Pearl was faking rebuilding the tower.

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They return on the warp pad. Garnet, drying off from her refreshing swim through lava, asks them if they got the Heaven Beetle. “I don’t have it!” says Opal, panicking, and she immediately defuses. Amethyst and Pearl start squabbling over whose fault it was, but Steven saves the day: he had the beetle in his pocket the whole time.

Garnet takes the Heaven Beetle and puts her in a terrarium with the Earth Beetle, bubbling it. She praises Steven for obtaining the beetle and for helping his teammates fuse. “Nice work. You’ll be great at fusing one day.”

Iris out. Iris pulls away. “Wait, I can do that too?!”

Fast Forward

Garnet is, of course, correct: Steven will be great at fusing one day!

Of course Steven, whose main superpower is empathy, turns out to be great at fusing. We’ll first see this in Alone Together, when he fuses with Connie to form Stevonnie. His other fusions so far are Smoky Quartz (with Amethyst), Rainbow Quartz 2.0 (with Pearl), Sunstone (with Garnet), Obsidian (with Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl), and Steg (with Greg).

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This is one of the highlights of season 1A. The plot of the mission to retrieve the beetles is nothing special, but the introduction of the concept of fusion, the appearance of Opal, and the insanely catchy song really elevate it.

Over the course of the series, the concept of fusion will be used as a metaphor for all kinds of relationships: romantic, sexual, familial, platonic, abusive. It’s used to provide morals on consent and trust that you don’t often see in children’s entertainment, but which are so incredibly important. Not only that, but the fusion characters are almost always a lot of fun.

…all I wanna be is someone who gets to see a giant woman!

Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! Steven has an existential crisis in So Many Birthdays, and we’re introduced to Beach City’s resident teens (who aren’t nearly as obnoxious as you might expect) in Lars and the Cool Kids.