Steven Universe Podcast: Battle of Heart and Mind
I don’t usually do this but I said I would for the server, so here we are.
This episode included Rebecca Sugar, Kat Morris, Joe Johnston, Matt Burnett, Ben Levin, and Ian Jones-Quartey.
· The episode starts with the rainbow worm in Steven’s dream, who is voiced by Deedee. This is the last homage to the princess references in the arc. The worm is from the Kyanite colony and was brought to Homeworld by Pink, which Blue allowed, but then Pink released all worms in the ballroom. Rebecca mentions this links with Pink’s desire to be free by releasing animals from their colonies.
· This specific princess reference was to Jasmine (in Aladdin) opening the cage and allowing the birds to fly free. It was also a reference to Pink’s love of animals and wanting to set them free, which isn’t out of character for Steven either.
· For Diamond Days, they picked the most common princess tropes for Steven’s time on Homeworld and made this experience alienating for him.
· Rebecca states that the Diamonds are meant to exist as a body- the inspiration for the ship. Pink is the Id, Blue and Yellow are the Ego, and White is the Super Ego. This is represented in Change Your Mind where the collective mind experiences embarrassment when the Id demands they enjoy something.
· Kat admits that they came up with the new outfits by continuously emailing each other with ideas. Rebecca said they considered everything but there were some concepts that they really wanted, for example, Rainbow 2.0 would have a scarf and a jacket. It was important either way that the fusions would notably have Steven’s clothes and the gems. However, the fusions would hint at the new forms and Pearl didn’t end up having a scarf, but she did have the jacket. Later, McKenzie asked if the jacket was a throwback to Bad Pearl and Rebecca confirmed that it represented her independence.
· One of Garnet’s new designs included transparent glasses and Peridot’s glasses in the shape of a star. Kat came up with the idea for the shredded shorts and star pockets for Amethyst.
· All of the new outfits represent how the gems have changed and learned from Steven.
· Rebecca mentioned that Pearl has been ‘playing the field’ and ‘exploring who she is’, which started in Last One Out of Beach City.
· Lapis has gold accents on her new outfit to match the real-life gem stone. Kat said that Rebecca really wanted the sandals for Lapis and it makes for comfortable cosplay.
· Joe said that he enjoyed a lot of Garnet’s new designs. Most ideas were based off superheroes and had a more ‘knightly’ aspect.
· They confirmed that they tried Peridot’s new design with star hair but it was too much. Rebecca said that the glasses already change her silhouette and expose her gem more.
· Peridot also has boots this time. Before, she had socks because she used to wear limb enhancers.
· Mary Poppins and Bert were the inspiration for Rainbow 2.0. These concepts were made by Joe around 2-3 years ago. Sunstone was a newer concept.
· Rebecca said that all Garnet fusions can break the fourth wall, but with Steven, it would break it to give advice to children. The suction cups are also a combination of Steven’s shield and Garnet’s gauntlets. When creating Sunstone, Rebecca wanted her to look like a toy that you could stick in the back window of a car with suction cups.
· Alistair James auditioned for Rainbow 2.0 by doing an impression of his grandmother with a British accent. Rebecca said that Shoniqua was perfect and she knew immediately that she wanted her for Sunstone. She sounded exactly like how Miki Brewster pitched her.
· For Obsidian, they’d had her concept from the very beginning since she was shown as the temple. It was a hidden in sight visual that would eventually pay off.
· Obsidian’s sword is in the ocean, which is a part of the temple. It’s first seen in Bubble Buddies and seen again in Ocean Gem when the ocean is cleared. The sword design changed over time to ensure that all the Crystal Gem’s weapons could fit into the design.
· The earliest inspiration for White Diamond is traced back to the beginning of the show. She was inspired by the film ‘A Story of Menstruation’, which was made in 1946. It was a film by Disney played in schools to teach children what to expect in menstruation, and the narrator’s voice was a kindly older woman. Rebecca said that she found the designs really interesting and cute.
· From the film, the inspiration came from a scene where a woman cried into her arms but in the reflection of her mirror, she straightens up and starts smiling before going out dancing. The narrator says: “Don’t forget that people are around you and you’ll have to be more pleasant if you want people to like you”. The scene passes by and it ignores that fact that the woman was crying earlier, because she’s now seen being ‘correct’. This is the voice and the feeling that she went for with White Diamond and Homeworld.
· Homeworld is inspired by Busby Berkeley, and White is inspired by Hedy Lamarr in Ziegfeld Girl and Nell Brinkley drawings, all within an era where women were seen as beautiful pieces of furniture. Rebecca states: Women are like lamps, smiling and there, part of the scenery. It all originates from the idea that people thought it was lovely and seen as an escape from reality.
· Those early inspirations were also used for the wall gems- the idea that people are in the background as if turned to stone and function solely as architecture. These faces we see in the architecture are gems and that’s their function.
· White has always been associated as a mother, especially in terms of her storyline with Steven in this arc, and how gems are viewed as her children. This arc wanted to begin to explore her relationship with them.
· Rebecca says that White’s way of thinking is that she is everyone and everyone is her. She considers herself the default white light that passes through other gems, so when she sees gems absorb other colours from that light, she considers it a variation of her but lesser. In that way, she has no identity at all because she considers herself just light. She feels that people can be turned into her because they are all the same.
· Rebecca also stated that White is wrong about how she views the world and herself. It’s an antithesis to Rose’s journey- expression and repression. She lives in a delusion that everything is fine but it isn’t.
· Matt and Ben said that the whole episode was balanced by ensuring that every single character got their moment. It was an accumulation of ideas from over the years that they tried to fit into one episode, such as Amethyst greeting Jasper after she was uncorrupted. They felt they did everything they wanted to do before they left.
· All past episodes, especially for Diamond Days, were made to build up to the scene with White and Steven where she pulled out his gem. Mirror Gem is the first time they introduce the concept that a sentient gem can be trapped inside an object and that object is Steven. They’ve been planting hints that Pink may be trapped inside him ever since.
· From the beginning, they’ve wanted there to be doubt that Steven was his own person and have the audience question if Pink/Rose could still be alive. Even when the gem was pulled out, they still wanted the viewer to doubt if he was Steven. They planted enough hints that the viewer would think it could go either way.
· Between the crew, the hottest debates were about the storyline between Steven and Rose/Pink, about who Steven would be if they were separated. One of the most recent arguments was about Steven’s gem self and the fact he was devoid of any feeling, that there was none at all. That emotion came from Steven.
· Rebecca had planned the split perspective scene since the start of development and storyboarded it early in the process. It’s still from Steven’s point of view. Ian noted that if the show wasn’t completely from his perspective, it wouldn’t work. The split perspective was to also represent how torn and disoriented Steven was in that moment.
· Pink Steven is him as a default. If you take away his personality and emotion, he is empty. He’s been separated from his humanity and all that’s left is power. There have been nods to this in the past by showing how his power is greater because of his humanity and his capacity to love.
· Ian said that Rebecca has always had the idea of the final confrontation being about Steven’s relationship with his powers and that connection showing who he really is. Steven wants that human side of him, even if it slows him down, because it’s what makes him who he is.
· The scene of Steven returning to himself was originally written for episode 10. It was going to be a part of Giant Woman where they establish fusion.
· Rebecca confirms that James Baxter animated the scene where Steven reunites with Pink Steven. She met him by doing a drawing for his daughter’s birthday.
· The fusion sequence with the two Stevens was the ultimate princess trope- a rotating dancing scene specifically boarded by James Baxter. He completed the whole sequence himself apart from the inking.
· Ian mentioned that he wanted the uncorrupted gems scene for a long time. He said they always knew the arc would come back to the corrupted gems as that was the original conflict of the series, but now they finally get to see it through.
· On top of that, Ian went through every single episode that had a corrupted gem and designed their healed versions, while Rebecca added some of the quartz designs. He mentioned that the longer they were in their ‘monster’ form, the more they will look like that form, even when they’re healed. That’s why several of the healed gems look more like their original designs.
· Rebecca added that Ian helped with the fusion designs and their sequence, as that was a wishlist moment for him. He wanted Steven to fuse with all the gems in a row.
· Ian said that he had been most excited about Rainbow 2.0 and that Colin Howard had done most of the groundwork already.
· Rainbow is they/them and he/him, and Sunstone is they/them and she/her.
· Rainbow 2.0 is mixed with Pearl’s properness and Steven’s penchant for making jokes. Rainbow 2.0 loves to make puns and is a throwback to Steven’s puns in the earlier series. In the episode, Ian also came up with the idea that RQ 2.0 could ride their umbrella and have a rainbow shoot out of the end- a reference to Pearl being able to shoot lasers out of her spear.
· With Sunstone and Rainbow 2.0, they wanted to be able to show common traits in Sardonyx. The break in the fourth wall comes from Garnet, but loving to hear themselves talk comes from Pearl. Steven enables the both of them to embrace their silly sides.
· The ship foot falling on them was a slight reference to Monty Python but also a reference to the giant foot mentioned in Arcade Mania.
· Rebecca stated that the song Change Your Mind was not written for the show, but a personal song she wrote while fighting for the wedding arc. She was hesitant at first to include it.
· Change Your Mind isn’t for the end of the Steven Universe franchise but for this arc, Ian mentions. He adds that even though it was written for the process of including the wedding, it perfectly captures the theme of the show. As a coming of age story, Rebecca notes that this is something that had to happen for Steven to start making decisions for himself.
· Rebecca also admits it has been hard to write for Steven because he always puts others before himself. It’s always about what others want and what he thinks they want. However, he finally comes to a realisation in this arc that he doesn’t have to be anyone else other than himself or pamper to other’s expectations.
· Ian states that this arc was incredibly important for Steven’s development, in terms of who he is, who he thinks he is, and who others believe him to be. Moving forward, everything will be different from Steven’s perspective. There’s going to be more but it will have changed, because Steven has changed.
If I’ve missed anything out, let me know. Hope you guys enjoy!
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