Steven Universe – Buddy’s Book Review
“Sure, all these places have been explored before, but they haven’t been recorded so intimately as they have been in this journal.”
Buddy’s Book is the third in a string of episodes that are good but not great. Like Kindergarten Kid before it, Buddy’s Book seems like an odd episode to place at the beginning of the season since it doesn’t really connect to or expand upon any of the larger goings on. At least in the case of Kindergarten Kid it was understandable that the Gems would be clearing out the Beta Kindergarten at that point in the series, but, this episode could not only be placed anywhere in the season, it could be placed anywhere in the series as long as it comes after the episode Historical Friction. When compared with the two episodes that preceded it, Buddy’s Book is easily the weakest of the three as it feels entirely disconnected from everything that is occurring. As a follow up to Historical Friction, this episode works well enough, but, of all the episodes that I felt deserved a revisit, Historical Friction was probably near the bottom of the list.
The episode kicks off with Connie and Steven visiting the local library, named the Buddwick Public Library. While exploring the library, Steven comes across an unnamed book that turns out to be the journal of Buddy Buddwick, the first mate that Jaime played in Historical Friction and the namesake of the library. The journal chronicles his adventures after the establishment of Beach City as he explored various Gem related locations and interacted with the Gems. It presents a relatively straightforward analysis on the merits of exploring places where others have already been, suggesting that the merits of such an activity lie not in the quality of being the first to do it, but in the experience itself and the act of recording it. Buddy’s Book isn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination, but it lacks a quality that helps it stand out. Kindergarten Kid had fun by providing an homage to classic slapstick cartoons and Know Your Fusion made use of some amusing meta humor, but this episode is pretty unmemorable. There was a point where I actually forgot what the moral of the story was and had to rewatch the episode to remind myself, even though that should be the one element that every viewer should retain. While it isn’t a particularly strong condemnation, I think it might arguably be fair to call Buddy’s Book the worst episode we’ve had since season 2. That isn’t an indication of terrible quality, but it is the most average episode we’ve had in a while.
The most interesting element of the episode would probably be the fact that everything is presented from Steven and Connie’s perspective, and the episode brings this up occasionally. For example, when Pearl and Garnet show up they possess the same appearances that they have during the present. It’s not until Connie questions whether they would have looked different back then that they switch to the appearances that they had in the picture from Too Many Birthdays. It is a cute detail, but not enough to make the episode stand out. Arguably, the most significant thing about the episode is that, when Buddy finally encounters Rose, she is accompanied by a group of lions. It is a detail that provides further hints at Rose’s connection to Lion, but doesn’t actually reveal anything of note. In the end, Buddy’s Book is passable, but unremarkable. It ultimately may be preferable to just skim the cliff notes instead.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- When getting Caveman caught up on Steven Universe, there was some uncertainty as to whether or not we should skip this episode. Birdy and I eventually realized that he hadn’t seen its predecessor, Historical Friction, so the argument for skipping it proved victorious.
- It’s a little disappointing that all of the locations that Buddy visited have been introduced in the show. There is a brief image of what appears to be a mobile throne like the one Blue Diamond was on in The Answer, but, with its legs, it could have easily been mistaken for the Kindergarten machinery since that is what’s documented on the next page.
Buddy's Book is an okay episode, but it's unlikely that anyone will really remember it in a few weeks. I personally forgot about it once already. Not even joking.