The Life and Times of Juniper Lee (2005-2007)

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Ever heard this premise: a young teen discovers that part of his family has magic abilities and guards the magic and the mundane world from each other. Which sounds like the set-up of the animated series American Dragon: Jake Long, but equally applies to Juniper Lee, an animated series with a female main character and which run in nearly the same time frame (so neither could have been inspired by the other).

Funnily, at times it looks like every important character has a gender-reversed equal in the other cartoon. Instead of Jake’s grandpa Juniper Lee has her grandma Jasmine Lee, instead of a little sister she has a little brother to watch out for (also an older one, but he’s not as important). Only the pet sidekick/magical adviser is male and a dog in both series (talk about coincidence).

Apart from that, the two series couldn’t have been more different. Where American Dragon embraced mythology-building and a series long arc, Juniper Lee directly made fun of various attempts to introduce more dramatic story-telling or longer arcs. Since I saw the American Dragon series first and liked it, I kind of went in expecting something similar. Despite that these expectations weren’t met, the series grew on me. It didn’t take itself too seriously, but managed to touch on pretty much every facet of growing up, similar to how American Dragon did.

And once you’ve get over the fact that this isn’t a rehash of American Dragon, you’ll realize it’s nice to see something similar done in a completely different way that also works.