One of the greatest feats a work can achieve in my opinion is feeling that its world is real. Not just that the world is internally consistent but the world outside of the current events seems like it exists and the characters we know are just one of many stories being told in it. Star Wars, at least episode IV is a perfect example of this. The galaxy has already been through a major war, the Empire is in control, and while a rebellion exists it is supposedly on its last legs until the plans for the Death Star arrive. It feels like the beleaguered epilogue to a long story with every prop, alien, and spaceship looking like they each have their own long history. This is even emphasized by the fact that it was released as episode IV both as a reference to the serials that inspired it but also using that reference to underscore that this was meant to be just one small chapter of a larger story.
Steven Universe I feel achieves this same sense of a much larger world outside of its main story. The show is almost itself an epilogue to the events of the war for planet Earth between Homeworld and the Crystal Gems. Nearly every major threat they have faced is some kind of fallout from the events of the Gem War in some way or another. Every major character is implied to have gone through their own unique story beforehand such as Pearl’s implied growth from a subservient Pearl to a rebel, or Rose’s various ethical struggles during the war.
It’s a show that is not about “how do we defeat X” but about “we defeated X so how do we deal with the results from defeating X and coping with are various personal issues that result from our fight to defeat X”. For me that is a much more mature and interesting way to build a show than a simple goal of defeating a villain.
This rather short post was made at the suggestion of a buddy of mine called Tesby who runs a blog here. In return I suggested he write about All Star Superman so look forward from that in the future from him.