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Second Lion Theory
Lion
Theory Information
Author Jacob.cinnamon
Illustrator Jacob.cinnamon
Date of Publication May 17, 2015

The "Second Lion Theory" states the existence of another being, yet to be seen in the show, with attributes and origins related to Lion's.

Theory

Like all Steven Universe protagonists, Lion is a mysterious character; however, it is the most sincere about it: as made clear by Steven in the episode "Lion 2: The Movie", even he is oblivious to the full extent of Lion's abilities. In "Lion 2: The Movie", "Lion 3: Straight to Video" and "Rose's Scabbard" we learned of Lion's direct relation to Rose Quartz when she still lived, the latter also showing the Crystal Gems's ignorance of this. So, Lion appeared under unusual circumstances, possesses magical powers, has a still unexplained connection with Rose Quartz, can't or won't talk to answer a single question (not like talking would make that much of a difference considering the show's overall resistance to give in its secrets).

In all that, we have preciously little to work with concerning Lion. We can still analyze that, in three of its four main appearances, it worked mostly as a plot kicker, a key point rather than a simple character. It narrows the information we get, making it even harder to understand Lion by himself. It's very origin is extremely shady - is Lion a gem? Rose herself? Or was it a created by Rose, as Holo-Pearl by Pearl? Was it a simple earthling that got adopted as Rose's pet? Maybe a combination of the last two, it is, something that Rose designed based in earthling elements?

Again, the scarce information we're given makes even the process of speculation difficult, like trying to guess a puzzle's image with just some blue and green pieces. Even so, it is a fair assumption that Lion will be an extreme source of insight in Rose, probably even in Gemkind itself. In that we must seek the most we can get of this character in order to fully comprehend the show and the show's elements.

Luckily, the creators have given us a few gifts from the early production stages of the show, resource essential to Genetic Criticism, that can give us some outline in early concepts of the show, which in turn may be reflected in current and upcoming elements.

Lion Concept Art

And there we get how Lion was originally supposed to be.

From the second concept art, we get a verbal exposition of Lion's traits:

"Old heraldry lion/flat face"

"Creepy Cheshire Cat grin"

"Frozen smily"

"Never talks. Only eyes move. Watching"

As Guy Davis, the artist of the sketches, commented:

"The first idea I kicked around with Rebecca was that Lion would be an unsettling, silent caricature of a lion, like an old medieval heraldry image. His face frozen into an uncertain grin except for his eyes which would follow Steven around while he creeped out the other Crystal Gems. He might not be pretty and actually kinda suspicious, but Steven loved him!"

Again, the artist states that Lion would be directly based in medieval heraldry. And, while there is a somewhat vast literature concerning lion depictions in Middle Ages' Europe, we don't go very far.

Yet, if we expand our search to beyond Europe, we can also relate Lion to another symbolism: Fu Dogs.

As stated in the Cryptid Wiki:

"Fu Lions or Fu Dogs, traditionally known in Chinese simply as Shi (Chinese: 獅; pinyin: shī; literally "lion"), and often called "Foo Dogs" in the West, are a common representation of the lion in pre-modern China. Statues of guardian lions have traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits. [...]"

Now, continuing reading:

"[...] The lions are always presented in pairs, a manifestation of yin and yang, the female representing yin and the male yang. The male lion has its right front paw on an embroidered ball called a "xiù qiú" (绣球), which is sometimes carved with a geometric pattern known in the West as the "Flower of life" The female is essentially identical, but has a cub under the closer (left) paw to the male, representing the cycle of life. Symbolically, the female fu lion protects those dwelling inside, while the male guards the structure. Sometimes the female has her mouth closed, and the male open. This symbolizes the enunciation of the sacred word "om". However, Japanese adaptions state that the male is inhaling, representing life, while the female exhales, representing death."

In other words, Fu Lions are usually depicted in pairs, consisting in a male open-mouthed and a female close-mouthed. The original Lion was designed "always grinning", with his mouth opened. So, assuming a relation between the conceptual Lion and Fu Lions, we could infer the existence of a Lioness, a second Lion.

We also would learn about it's traits: similar to Lion, but with it's mouth closed, and while the first Lion would protect the building, the "outside", the Second Lion would protect the the residents of the building, the "inside".

Also from that paragraph:

"Other styles have both lions with a single large pearl in each of their partially opened mouths. The pearl is carved so that it can roll about in the lion's mouth but sized just large enough so that it can never be removed."

Evidence

  • The concept art developed by Guy Davis under Rebecca Sugar's supervision.

Possible implications

  • The existence of a Second Lion, yet to be seen.

Cultural responses

There are no known cultural responses for this theory.

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