What do Neon Genesis Evangelion and Steven Universe have to do with each other? Quite a bit actually.
For those out of the Loop, Steven Universe is a cartoon created by Rebecca Sugar for cartoon network. The show revolves around Steven and his 3 inter
planetary alien space gem super friends who save the world and wrestle with complex emotions and existential dread far more than you would think a kids show could get away with.
For those even further out of the loop, Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime directed by Hideaki Anno. Evangelion is set in a post apocolyptic futuristic Tokyo, where humanity has banded together to defeat kaiju-esque ‘Angels’ with giant robots called, you guessed it, Evangelion. Naturally, only emotionally vulnerable and damaged children can pilot these giant death machines.
STEVEN UNIVERSE *SPOILERS* BELOW!!
Neon Genesis Evangelion *SPOILERS* below as well.
(But honestly there should be some kind of statute of limitations on spoilers, given that the show is almost 20 years old. In other words: I don’t care, go watch it already if you care about your damn spoilers so much!)
I’ve followed Steven Universe since its premier, and I’ve noticed more than a few references to Evangelion. On the surface both series share broad themes. In both series it is shown slowly over time that humanity has survived a massive alien invasion and both Shinji in Evangelion and Steven in Steven Universe must learn to harness alien technology to defend planet earth from other alien invasions. To control this tech Shinji connects with his bio mechanical Eva through a neural interface, while Steven is himself part gem and gradually discovers his powers. In other words both protagonists are a part of the alien tech themselves.
Alright, so what? Just because Twilight and Blade both feature vampires doesn’t mean they’ve got anything to do with each other. Beyond the circumstantial similarities, Steven Universe is filled with shot for shot visual references to Evangelion. I regularly find myself thinking back on Evangelion when watching the artwork in Steven Universe. I believe it’s a testament to the creators that although these references are instantly recognizable they don’t feel forced or canned.
To prove a point, I’ve included a few examples below.
When Steven enters Peridots Pod in “Joy Ride” vs. When Shinji First enters the Eva in Evangelion episode 01
The fusion monster in the episode “Keeping it Together” vs. Sahaquiel the 10th Angel in Evangelion Episode 12
The theme music after episodes of Steven Universe vs. the theme music after episodes of Evangelion
Alexandrite going berserk in Steven Universe epsiode “Super Watermelon Island” vs. Eva Unit 01 going berserk in Evangelion episode 3
The end of the episode “The Test” vs. the ending of the last episode of Evangelion
Kiki’s dream world in the episode “Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service” vs. the ending of the film “End of Evangelion”
By no means is this a comprehensive list! The references don’t stop with Evangelion either. Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, and Revolutionary Girl Utena are just a few other popular animes that Steven Universe draws inspiration from.
There’s something powerful about a well done reference or call-back within a piece of art. A powerful reference can pay tribute to an artist’s roots, build upon a theme, or create continuity between a piece and a larger artistic body. In the case of Steven Universe, you get the feeling that the creators include these references as a wink and a nod to their older audience and possibly as Easter eggs for the kids watching today who will, hopefully, come back to revisit the show in the future. It’s an ingenious way to plant the seeds for nostalgia. I’m looking forward to seeing what memory lane the creators of Steven Universe take us down next.
Never seen Steven Universe. Looks like it might be worth checking out. I have to keep in mind, of course, that this recommendation is brought to me by the same person who recommended The Tree of Life. Of course, you did also recommend the excellent Rick and Morty, so you have that going for you.
Just answer me one thing, Pugs. Are there any segments of melodramatic, pretentious monologues that are set to a backdrop of nature photography? You know I won’t be able to cum unless there are twenty minutes of a picture of the Milky Way as Steven’s voice-over has a one sided argument with God about the advantages and disadvantages of nihilism.