Steven Universe – Onion Gang Review
“So, that’s why you wanted me to come back here so much. This was your last chance to have all your friends in the same place.”
Hoo boy, it’s an Onion episode. Onion episodes are always a bit strange for me to talk about. I don’t mind Onion as a character, but I definitely feel he works best in limited doses. The last time we had an episode devoted to everyone’s favorite hellspawn was back around the midpoint of season 2 with Onion Friend, and I think it is safe to say that he hasn’t gotten any less weird. Onion Gang actually bears a notable resemblance to Onion Friend, as both involve Steven being introduced to some aspect of Onion’s life, and nightmare fuel ensues. In Onion Friend, Steven gained insight into Onion’s home life, and in this one he meets Onion’s circle of accomplices… I mean friends. However, even if the primary point of an Onion episode is to be weird and creepy, they also tend to come with morals, and Onion Gang isn’t an exception to this.
The episode kicks off with Steven and Onion playing at Steven’s house. Apparently, that involves spending two hours bouncing on the couch and Steven providing narration for Onion’s life. Onion leaves when he hears his father returning from the sea, and Steven notes that Onion doesn’t seem to have any friends his age. However, the next day Onion comes to Steven’s house again, but this time brings him to the forest where a number of children are waiting with masks. It turns out that they are Onion’s friends. I would list their names, but only one of them has any dialogue, and all he says is “Garbanzo,” so they don’t exactly have distinct personalities. Actually, that isn’t entirely fair. The Steven Universe team is talented enough in its planning of shots and animation that, even with a group of five practically mute characters, they still imbue a sense of personality into each of them. Once the titular Onion gang is introduced, the episode largely consists of them going around and doing weird things. They pretend to be a single large person wearing a trench coat to get pictures of startled locals, they pretend to be involved in serious accidents, and they perform odd insect races. It’s weird. It does, however, have the odd recurring element from Onion Friend of a small animal seemingly getting killed off only to have Onion later reveal it to be alive. The context is different, though, since here it is played up as a sign of friendship and not just a bizarre opportunity to freak out Steven.
The moral behind this episode appears to be to appreciate your friends, and use your memories of them to comfort yourself when they have to go away. It isn’t a bad moral, even if it is a tad basic for this show. What makes it feel odd is that Onion is at the center of it. And any moral with Onion at its center feels strange. It’s worth noting that there are some nice visuals in the forest scenes. Beyond that, I don’t know what to say. It’s an Onion episode. He’s a character whom I find most entertaining in brief appearances, like with Future Boy Zoltron, but constructing an episode centered around him always results in the humor wearing a bit thin. In the end, I’m just left with the weirdness and whatever Wheel-of-Morality lesson Steven happened to take away from this encounter. It’s a decent episode that goes by quickly, but I think I’ve had my fill of Onion for a while. There is a sentence.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- It does feel a bit strange that Steven was tricked by the odd auto-accident prank. I would understand if it was season 1 Steven, but just last episode I was talking about how he had become far more astute.
- It’s a little strange how this episode ends on a moderately heartwarming note without attempting to undermine it with more weirdness like was the case in Onion Friend.
- I wonder what Sour Cream thinks of his half-brother. He’s never really talked about his thoughts regarding him, so it’s hard to say whether he finds him weird or not.
It's an Onion episode. Your mileage may vary. If you found previous Onion episodes moderately enjoyable, then you'll probably find this one to be of roughly equal quality. If, on the other hand, you didn't care for them, then Onion Gang isn't likely to change your mind.