tek's rating: ¼

The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, on Cartoon Network
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streaming sites: Boomerang

Juniper Lee is an 11-year-old Chinese-American girl with magic powers (mostly super strength, though she has access to magical items and so forth), who lives in Orchid Bay City (which is supposed to be something like San Francisco). Her destiny is to serve as the world's Te Xuan Ze (Protector), as her family has done for generations before her. She needs to maintain the balance between the hidden magical world, and humanity. Mostly this seems to mean kicking a lot of monster butt. Anyway, most people can't see or hear magical creatures, and June is forbidden to tell anyone about what she does. So even her friends think she's weird, as she often appears to be talking to herself, and also doesn't get to do a lot of normal things, like spending time with her friends. This bugs her a lot. She doesn't seem to see how amazing her job is, she totally plays it off all sarcastic-like.

On the other hand, her little brother Ray Ray thinks it's totally cool, and he's always tagging along and getting into trouble. June also has a pug dog named Monroe, whom she and Ray Ray can understand when he talks (in a Scottish accent), though everyone else just hears barking. He's been a companion to generations of Protectors, so he knows a lot about the magical world, but he's pretty grumpy and doesn't really seem to want anything other than to be left alone. Another person from whom June can seek advice is her grandmother, Jasmine (whom June and Ray Ray call Ah-Mah), who was Protector before her. People who don't know about magic and June's involvement with it include her older brother, Dennis; her best friend, Jody; another friend named Ophelia (who, as she seems sort of goth, I automatically like); a friend named Roger, who tries to be cool but is mostly just annoying; and another friend named Marcus (on whom June has a crush).

I quite enjoyed the series, because it's funnier and more smartly written than a lot of cartoons aimed at this age group. It has some simple jokes, though even something as tired as "why are you hitting yourself?" seems relatively fresh and amusing here. More importantly, a lot of the jokes and references characters make are more mature (read: clever), and some will probably go over the heads of a lot of the kids watching the show. There's also a lot of sarcasm, which, again, is pulled off better than sarcasm often is on kids' shows like this. In fact, better than in a lot of any kind of shows. ...Before I watched it, I feared it'd be too much like the similarly-themed American Dragon: Jake Long, but it's actually rather more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of my favorite shows of all times), to an extent. I really think this cartoon could appeal to lots of people, of any age, and I just wish it would've lasted longer. Because it was awesome. And now I miss it.

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