Steven Universe at NYCC; “Gem Harvest” Special Coming November
The Steven Universe panel at New York Comic Con revealed tantalizing details about what’s to come on the show. The main focus of the event was information about the upcoming episode “Gem Harvest”, set to air some time this November.
Fans have been speculating about this one for a while, thanks to Peridot’s ominous line about ‘harvesting’ all the way back in “Catch and Release”. It seems that the interest wasn’t undeserving; while the clip they showed from was relatively cute and sweet, the episode is going to be a full half-hour special. The last (and only other) one of those was the emotional gut-punch “Bismuth”. There’s sure to be something big just around the corner.
We also got information on a different upcoming episode: “Three Gems and a Baby”. If that title wasn’t enough to tip you off about its plot, Rebecca Sugar and Tom Scharpling (voice of Greg Universe) also sang a song from the episode, entitled “I Could Never Be Ready”. Looks like we’re getting another flashback episode. This one will focus on the days leading up to, or the immediate aftermath, of Steven’s birth and Rose’s death. Prepare your tissues.
In addition to these teasers, the panel also featured lots of fun discussion and tidbits from the guests, which also included Jennifer Paz (Lapis), Shelby Rabara (Peridot), Charlyne Yi (Ruby), AJ Mikaela (Stevonnie) and Kat Morris (show director). Here are a few of the highlights:
- Charlyne Yi said her favourite Ruby to voice this past season was Eyeball.
- Sugar said that she thinks the unique trait that Stevonnie possesses is exceptional leadership.
- Sugar performed a rendition of ‘Here Comes a Thought’.
- She talked a little about her process for songwriting, and how it varies. Some songs only develop very late into the episode process, while other episodes, such as “Mindful Education”, are built around the song.
- When asked about how they were able to get Takafumi Hori from Studio Trigger to act as a guest animator on “Mindful Education”, Sugar said it started with him and storyboard artist Jeff Liu chatting on Twitter. When she went to Japan she had a chance to video Studio Trigger, which is when she asked if anyone would be interested in collaborating. She said that she’d love to do it again: “His animation is radical.”
- Her favourite song she ever wrote wasn’t actually for Steven Universe— rather, it’s ‘Everything Stays’, which she wrote for the Adventure Time miniseries Stakes.
- Sugar talked about how wonderful it was for her to have a chance to work on the children’s book adaptation of “The Answer”, and how excited she was that it reached the New York Times Bestsellers List.
- What would Sugar’s gem weapon be? “Oh… oh my gosh. Like, to hit people with? I don’t know. I’m a pretty nonviolent person. I think something protective… the power of music is my weapon!”
- When asked about what she hopes the show will inspire in others, Sugar said, “I’ve always wanted to make something that will make others want to draw.” Morris joked that the show was one of the biggest reasons that she draws. Morris was a year ahead of her in animation school, and Sugar always felt that her own work was inadequate compared to Morris.
- Rabara and Paz were asked about how they feel about the Peridot and Lapis dynamic that’s been developing. Rabara said she loved that they’re such an odd couple, while Paz said, “Opposites attract, right?” Rabara also explained one of her favourite things about the show was watching it with her three-year old son, and how it provides him with some good examples of healthy relationships. (Also, he loves Peridot’s voice!)
- The moderator who is himself Filipino commented on the excellent Filipino representation in the show’s cast, in reference to both Paz and Rabara’s ethnicities.
- One audience member asked the crew what they think cisgender people can do to help be good allies to the transgender community, especially for nonbinary children. Sugar said, “First of all, none of us are boring. I think that’d be the biggest thing. We’re all very specific. And for me what’s exciting is that people are becoming more aware of how specific we are, and that things which didn’t seem like they were specific are also specific. Everyone is really so different than we necessarily allowed or thought we’d be able to talk about.”
- The cast’s and crew’s favourite episodes? For Sugar it’s “Mr Greg”, because making a musical episode was her lifelong dream. Scharpling said he had felt a little overwhelmed by the number of songs, but ultimately loved it.
- Morris said she had a lot of trouble choosing, but “Jailbreak” is the one that made her say: “Wow, we made this, we made amazing television.” She also teased about there being some upcoming episodes that she loves but she can’t tell us about yet.
- Yi’s favourite is “The Answer”. When she watched it with her husband she couldn’t help but breaking into tears about the power of love.
- Mikaela’s favourite is “Alone Together”; she just loves that she got to go in and create the character.
- Paz’s also likes Lapis’s entrance in “Mirror Gem”, when she brings up the water hand to strike out against the Crystal Gems.
- Rabara’s favourite scene is in “Too Short to Ride” where Peridot discovers her metal powers. “She has this emotional outburst when they try to take away her screen, and you get to see her not as Peridot mad at one of the other Gems, or not understanding, but because someone was taking something away…. I think that that showing that vulnerability, for me in the booth, was a really defining moment for me as a voice actor.”
- The most surprising story element that developed as the show was being creating was Amethyst’s Kindergarten backstory. The details of Ruby and Sapphire’s relationship also developed organically, and became a reflection of Sugar’s relationship with Ian Jones-Quarterly.
- Some monsters are based on a specific Gems, such as the Jasper-monsters they meet in the snow. This was because they felt that Jasper wouldn’t choose to fuse with a Gem who wasn’t a Jasper, even if they were corrupt.
- When asked about how she writes new characters, Sugar said it was inevitable that you’d base those characters off yourself and people you love. She also said, “Please, rip me off! I’m giving you permission! Make those characters!”
- The design for Smoky Quartz was a huge collaboration. Sugar made the initial sketches, but every storyboarder on the crew took a chance at refining their design. “Smoky needed to be larger than life, but also needed to have moments of vulnerability.” There was always three arms and a yo-yo, and from the very beginning, they were based around the gemstone of smoky quartz, because Sugar likes the stone’s mythology related to positivity.
- Sugar does have a definitive ending in mind, but she understandably can’t tell us any more about it.
Author: Laura B
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