One of the most common criticisms of steven universe I hear from anime viewers is that steven is a cliche character who is a weak or wimpy young main character. For better comparison when talking about this… trope… I think of Shinji from Evangelion and Haruyuki from Accel World. I think that this misconception often comes from not watching very far into the series but sometimes even after watching a decent amount people still use this as a con for the show as a whole. I believe that this is so far from the case that I have to discuss it. Steven is not only one of the most assertive characters I have ever encountered and he knows when to draw the line. The misinterpretation that steven is wimpy comes directly from the fact that he is kind to those around him and has a strong sense of empathy. Shinji from Evangelion, while his traits make sense in the context of the show and further allow it to dive into the its narrative, is not kind to those around him in most cases and he isolates himself from others frequently. He is close minded and his fundamental philosophies are messy and not even close to fully moral. It displays his immaturity as a character especially being put in his situation. In many cases throughout Eva, Shinji might not want to do something he is being told to do and he seems to retreat to a place or do that thing against his will. Although I won’t talk much more about Shinji I will say that he is where this negatively perceived trope most likely stems from. I’m not trying to say Shinji is a bad character but he is a great example of this trope so I am stimply using him as a good comparison. Shinji works very well in his story and for many reasons that I will cover in a future video.
Steven on the other hand has a fundamental flaw not set in the fact that he doesn’t want to fight but that he wants to fight for what he thinks is right. Even in the case that his ideas clash with the other protagonists. Steven wants to defend all living beings and it is clear that in some cases this is not the most rational solution. In the case of allowing certain gems to live it could be even argued that it’s unethical because he is putting the whole earth at risk. Steven, if put in a situation where he disagrees with his comrades he doesn’t just unwillingly agree or retreat from reality. He will outright disobey with them or argue with them. He wants to take every risk to represent his believes. Not what other people want him to do.
Aside from his ideas, Steven does many things that are brave. He takes huge risks to protect those around him because he genuinely cares about the other characters. Almost every time he uses his shield when he first gains the power it is used to protect others. Even if it’s not taking a risk by putting himself in physical harm but putting himself in a new situation to help others get through very difficult situations. One example is when he works really hard helping Kiki who lacks the assertiveness to tell her sister Jenny that she is overworking her when asking her to fill in constantly. In this situation steven is the one who displays courage in simply being truthful which is something that can be hard if you don’t want to disappoint those around you. In the same episode before the resolution steven is helping Kiki in her dreams because the root of the issue is not as clear yet. He helps her by occupying her dream and fighting beut this takes a huge toll on him. Kiki doesn’t quite realize that this was hurting Steven but he finally tells her that he can’t do it anymore and they need to find a different resolution. Kiki, who was in the same situation with her sister, couldn’t say enough is enough when she was being asked to fill in at work every day. This is something that is hard for all of us to do and Steven displays his strength through truthfulness in many situations like this.
Steven has shown us these strong traits many times since the beginning of the show so I hope this clears up why I don’t think falls anywhere close to the wimpy main character trope making this criticism invalid in my eyes. One of the reasons I watch this show is because the creators do such a good job at showing Steven as a powerful character in many ways. He is sincere and not afraid to fully argue and fight to protect those around him.