Steven Universe is a lighthearted cartoon created by Rebecca Sugar. It is about a boy learning how to fulfill his duty as guardian of the Earth. Each guardian has their own magical gem that allows them to summon weapons and have supernatural abilities. He is taken care of by his late mother’s companions who all act as older sisters towards him. The show focuses on mystical elements and the powers and adventures that come with having gem powers. The character Steven himself is a youthful boy that lives in Beach City that goes on adventures to learn how to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
The character design focuses mainly on the silhouette of each character. Steven’s silhouette is clearly fluffy and comprised of mostly circles. These circles add to the cuteness level of the character because characters comprised of mostly circles and rounded features tend to look more non-threatening. The art itself is more for display. There also appears to be a star motif seen in his shirt, stance, and the number of circles in his hair. He uses simple primary colors which work well with his simple design. Naivety and immaturity is a defining trait of Steven as he grows into his duty.and complaisant.
Now why these design choices? Well Steven’s gem is a ruby and it is located on his belly button. The belly button in Hindu mythology is where the Manipura chakra is located. This chakra symbolizes the ability to motivate and send energy out to the rest of the body. The ruby is also symbolic in Hinduism as the gemstone of love and unity. But even with these inspirations, Steven’s biggest design influence is Rebecca Sugar’s younger brother. Steven’s representative as the unity and energy of the group brings out what little brothers do to a family. And Steven is supposed to represent the viewpoint of being a little brother, where all the attention is focused on you, but you want to be seen as an adult. Even through all the immaturity and naivety Steven has, he still tries to live up to the expectations that are laid before him.