I loved the way Garnet’s first regeneration was designed, because what it expresses more than anything else to me is SPONTANEITY. It’s a bit all over the place: Blue and pink mixed together in seemingly random ways, unruly hair, only one shoulder puff is gained from Sapphire, there are holes or spots on her outfit and no part of her is symmetrical. This seems like the perfect visual representation of the unexpected fusion, an accident – but a positive accident. The colours are bright and lively, making her stand out in a crowd. The flowing emotions inside are shown through her appearance. This isn’t just Garnet being formed for the first time – from the sound of it, fusion of two different gem types was UNHEARD of in Homeworld, even being called ”disgusting”. (Naturally, parallels can be drawn to reactions to homosexuality among humans.)
However, Garnet is happy with herself. It wasn’t love at first sight for Ruby and Sapphire, but fusion turned out to be a new and exciting feeling which they wanted to keep going from the start. In other words, it was THROUGH GARNET that the two realized they belonged together. They were happier with each other than they ever were alone. When Garnet fuses again, she stumbles around a lot, unused to her new form (relationship), but she just needs to give it some time to get comfortable. It’s easy to compare her to Stevonnie in Alone Together.
Thousands of years later, what does Garnet look like?
Her colour scheme is way more balanced, her hair is now a solid square shape, her clothes are slick and dark in tone. The impression is of someone who is confident and sure of herself. THIS IS BECAUSE RUBY AND SAPPHIRE ARE NOW USED TO ONE ANOTHER, AND SETTLED IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP. Her hair being black instead of blue or pink also shows that Garnet now has an identity of her own, with unique characteristics. She has even become an idol to Pearl and Amethyst, someone they look up to.
Now let’s move on to the other Crystal Gem fusions not including Garnet: Opal and Rainbow Quartz. They look more similar to current Garnet than original Garnet in how their outfits are near-symmetrical and they have their own style instead of simply fusee mish-mash. What does this symbolize? I’d say it’s because the Crystal Gems have gotten accustomed to fusion as emotional connection. Likely inspired by Garnet, they have come to view fusion as cooperation and acceptance of the other’s differences instead of a way to become a stronger version of yourself.
THIS MEANS GARNET’S INFLUENCE ON THE GEMS HAS BEEN REVOLUTIONARY.