Full Name: Jacob Luke Long
Titles: The American Dragon
Realm: New York City
Featured in: American Dragon: Jake Long (2005-2007)
Voiced By: Dante Basco
American Dragon: Jake Long was a cartoon that was infamous in two particular ways. The first being that it shared many similarities with another cartoon that aired, quite literally, at the same time on Cartoon Network but that can be blamed more on similar thought processes. That or someone switching teams somewhere but that’s more rumors than actual fact at this point.
The second, and far more obvious, trait was the drastic artistic style change between seasons one and two of the show. Changes that would have been minute, rather a lot like the change of art style for the 90’s Batman cartoons to match that of Superman but unfortunately… Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.
Originally, I hadn’t planned on doing a review for Jake as his particular species of dragon are a bit quirky to say the least. Dragons in his world are more akin to shape-shifters than proper dragons in that they are born and raised as humans that can transform into a more draconic form. However, this ability is not wholly magical nor is it fully genetic as, for reasons that are never really delved into, Jake’s mother can’t turn into a dragon nor does she possess any draconic powers despite her father, Jake’s grandfather, being able to.
Another odd bit of distinction is that dragons are diverse in their shape and coloration with the most obvious differences being shown in Jake and his grandfather Lao Shi. Jake’s grandfather, the former Hong Kong Dragon, has the form of a Chinese dragon, while Jake was, initially, a western dragon. In the world of Jake Long, dragons serve as protectors/mediators of the magical world, which is oftentimes hidden in plain sight rather like the aliens of M.I.B. now that I think about it… What makes it particularly odd, and a bit stupid in my opinion, is that there is only one dragon for any set country designated as the official protector.
More than one dragon can live in that country and should help if the situation calls for it but are otherwise not required to be the one in charge of any SNAFUs that might occur. I can understand the need of designating dragon protectors in set places like Hong Kong or Atlantis but for an entire country? Particularly those who are still in middle school no less?
Jake himself is the stereotypical New York teenager. I say this because due to both Dante Basco’s adlibbing and the writers of the show that wanted to emphasize Jake being a wannabe MTV gangsta. I’m not going to lie, I had to look up a lot of the slang that Jake was using, when I could understand the words that were coming out of his mouth never mind those of his friends. Besides his absurdly overused street slang, he’s the atypical teenager trying to find his place in the world and learning several life lessons along the way. Particularly, if not especially, when he’s trying to use his abilities for personal gain in some manner.
As a dragon, Jake’s form was initially that of a western dragon and is drastically bigger than his human form. That was an aspect of the show that I actually found to be quite humorous really. Jake, as a human, is quite short for his age with most others, humans and magical creatures alike, being quite taller than him whereas his dragon form puts him somewhere close to six or seven feet tall not including his spikes. With season two however…
He became an eastern dragon with wings and rather silly looking as well. In season one, Jake’s dragon form was drastically different than his human body with the only common trait between them being the green highlights in his hair and spikes. In season two, it honestly looks like Jake’s human head was given a beak and placed on the body of an eastern dragon. The main reason that was given for this drastic change was that it was felt that Jake’s initial dragon body was too powerful looking compared to his actual age and experience and so they turned him into a lankier and more inexperienced looking dragon to emphasize this point.
I just… No. No, that makes no sense to me. Jake Long is a dragon, no matter what way you paint it he’s still going to be drastically more powerful than his human form whether you give him a buff body or not. While you can change a cartoon’s art style one cannot change the appearance of its main characters so drastically without serious fallout. It’s one thing to change a hero’s costume but you cannot change a character’s freaking species between seasons.