WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Steven Universe: The Movie, which premiered Sept. 2 on Cartoon Network.
Steven Universe has so far aired five seasons and over a hundred and sixty episodes, with the first film having recently premiered on Cartoon Network. The film forces Steve to confront a threat that's surprisingly similar to him, with his newest enemy just desperately wanting to be his friend despite her twisted side. It makes the series (and its protagonist) confront their own history, and come to terms with their place in the world. It's a musical love-letter to the series and a great combination of all the best parts of the show.
Although series creator Rebecca Sugar has confirmed there will be more Steven Universe in the future -- and that is very exciting news -- maybe the franchise should have ended on the huge high-note that was Steven Universe: The Movie.
The film reexamines many of the major plotlines from throughout the series, reaffirming how everyone has grown over the course of the series. Due to the effects of Spinel's scythe, Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet are all reduced to their baseline forms with no memories, thus they have to rediscover their character development to regain their memories. And each of them gets extended sequences where they do that, reaffirming the arcs they completed throughout the series. While Steven himself has to come to terms with the fact that he'll never get a purely happy ending because life always continues, and he's able to fully to unlock his powers once more. Each of the four of the main Crystal Gems grow throughout the film as well, affirming to everyone else (and themselves) how they've changed and managed to become better people.
The question of change has always been at the heart of Steven Universe, with the titular character always just wanting everyone to get along and help each other, including the villains. This carries over and becomes the overarching theme of the film. Much of the plot is about Steven trying to reach through to Spinel. Like him, she just wants friends and loved ones. Her rage after being forgotten fuels her rampage on Earth and pushes her to lash out at any suspicion of it happening, setting up the final battle. The narrative is about coming to terms with the mistakes of others, and learning how to not make your own in response. It's absolutely fitting with the overall message of the show and brings to the forefront for a musical extravaganza. Having that be the final word on the series would give the movie even more impact, and make the themes of forgiveness and friendship more resonant.
The world of Steven Universe is incredibly fleshed out, with numerous characters and players around the galaxy. But the movie does the near-impossible job of accommodating everyone's favorite elements of the show. Despite their relative lack of importance in the overall narrative, fan-favorite characters like Connie, Peridot, Lapis and Bismuth all get moments in the sun. Sadie and the Killers get to perform a new song, Greg and Steven finally get the chance to fuse and the other residents of Beach City all have little moments scattered throughout the film.
The movie feels like the perfect snapshot of the series, never distracting with it's plentiful shout-outs to earlier storylines. It's a genuinely impressive feat, and the creators of the film should feel incredibly proud of their work. But everything feels like the perfect send-off, a final wave and song from each character. It all comes together into something new and harmonious. If this was the last we saw of Steven Universe, this would have been a great chance to say goodbye to everyone.
Steven Universe: The Movie is a visual delight, full of catchy music and important lessons. It's almost a perfect send-off, even ending with Steven, Connie, Pearl, Amythest and Garnet all taking a bow for the audience before the curtains literally close. Having this be the finale of the series would be absolutely fitting, given the overall themes and arcs present in it. It's almost the ultimate statement of what Steven Universe is, and could have easily been the definitive and final word on the franchise.
While more Steven Universe is always welcome, it's difficult to imagine anything be such a resonant and personal climax. Steven Universe: The Movie feels like the perfect place to close out the series. It's difficult to imagine how they could ever top this film in terms of emotional power. But as it is, it's another chapter in the adventures of Steven and his friends, and that might take away from some of its power down the road.