Kuu Kuu Harajuku

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Kuu Kuu Harajuku
Kuu Kuu Harajuku logo.png
Also known as KooKoo Harajuku[1]
Genre
Created by Gwen Stefani
Based on Harajuku Lovers brand
by Gwen Stefani
Developed by
Directed by Gillian Carr
Voices of
Composer(s)
  • Christopher Elves
  • Mark McDuff
Country of origin
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Malaysia
  • United States[2]
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 54 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Cherrie Bottger (network executive producer)
  • Gillian Carr
  • Low Huoi Seong
  • Gwen Stefani
  • Frank Taylor (season 1)
Producer(s)
  • Gillian Carr
  • Shelley Dresden (season 2[1])
Editor(s) Sean Morrison (season 2)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Vision Animation
  • Moody Street Productions
  • Red Flags Fly
  • DHX Media
Distributor DHX Distribution[3]
Release
Original network Eleven (Australia)
Nickelodeon/Nick Jr. (U.S.)
Pop (Italy)
Picture format HDTV 1080i
Audio format Stereo
Original release November 1, 2015 (2015-11-01) – present
External links
Website
Production website

Kuu Kuu Harajuku (originally titled KooKoo Harajuku[1]) is an animated children's television series created by Gwen Stefani and based on her Harajuku Lovers brand.[4] The show follows a teenage girl group called HJ5 and their manager Rudie as they live in a fantasy version of Tokyo called Harajuku City. HJ5 is a quintet: the four Harajuku Girls (Love, Angel, Music and Baby) with their leader G. Episodes typically focus on the band members and Rudie overcoming obstacles preventing them from performing.

Gwen Stefani had proposed ideas for a Harajuku-inspired television show or movie since the 2004 introduction of the Harajuku Girls. In 2013, she approached Nickelodeon executives with a concept for a Harajuku cartoon. The series was eventually commissioned by Network Ten in Australia and subsequently picked up by Nickelodeon in the United States and other territories. It is animated using Flash and was produced with investment funding from the Victorian government agency Film Victoria. The show's music was produced in a style based on Stefani's first two studio albums, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and The Sweet Escape.

The series had its Australian debut on Eleven on November 1, 2015. It premiered in the US on Nickelodeon on October 3, 2016. A second season premiered on July 1, 2017, and a third is in pre-production. It has received mixed reception; some reviewers commended the characters as strong role models while others disliked the concept's perceived cultural appropriation, which has also been a criticism of Stefani's Harajuku Girls and the Harajuku Lovers brand as a whole. A third season is upcoming in production.

Premise[edit]

The show revolves around a teenage girl, nicknamed G, and her friends as they form the up-and-coming band HJ5. HJ5's clumsy manager Rudie works hard to book performances for the band, but their gigs are always interrupted by a variety of obstacles. The band invariably manages to overcome challenges using their combined strengths: G's leadership, Love's intelligence, Angel's creativity, Music's bravery, Baby's enthusiasm and Rudie's determination.

Recurring villain General NoFun and his chief assistant, Commander Bo-Ring, are frequently the source of HJ5's problems as they pursue a world without entertainment. Other supporting characters include Twisty T, a successful music producer whom Rudie is desperate to impress; Say-Wah, an obsessed HJ5 fan who hopes to join the band; Colonel Spyke, a stern soldier who dislikes pop music; and Mauve Madison, a talk show host who often reports on HJ5's experiences.

Characters[edit]

Main[edit]

The main characters of the series (clockwise): Rudie, Music, G, Love, Angel and Baby.
  • G (voiced by Maggie Chretien) is the leader of HJ5. She is trustworthy and level-headed, though sometimes she has her doubts. She keeps the band together, even through their tough times, and is not afraid of any challenge. Her signature colors are aqua, white and black, and she represents bows. She is based on Gwen Stefani.
  • Love (voiced by Daisy Masterman) is the genius of HJ5. She is intelligent and creative, though sometimes she takes on too much. She has a knack for science, and often comes up with inventions, though some of them backfire. Her signature color is red, and she represents hearts.
  • Angel (voiced by Emma Taylor-Isherwood) is the resident fashionista of HJ5. She is bubbly and cheerful, though sometimes she can be a bit of an airhead. She loves fashions and trends, as well as cheering up others. Her signature colors are yellow and blue, and she represents stars.
  • Music (voiced by Sally Taylor-Isherwood) is the active tomboy of HJ5. She is sarcastic, genuine, and strong-willed, though at times she gets easily annoyed. She is a sassy and fierce force of the band, as well as an exceptional fighter and dancer. Her signature color is purple, and she represents musical notes.
  • Baby (voiced by Charlotte Nicdao) is the sweetest member of HJ5. She is loving and carefree, though sometimes this gets her in trouble. She adores everything that she thinks is cute, and also loves to give hugs. Her signature color is pink, and she represents cuteness.
  • Rudie (voiced by Danny Smith) is the manager of HJ5. He works hard to book them gigs; although his bad luck tends to get him and the band in trouble, he deeply cares about their safety. He is associated with checkered-themed colors, most notably in white, black and gray.

Villains[edit]

  • General NoFun - the short, serious and notorious leader of Nofunland.
  • Commander Bo-Ring - General NoFun's chief assistant and a high-ranking official in Nofunland.
  • Colonel Spyke - captain of the Harajuku Defense Squad who dislikes HJ5's music.
  • Say-Wah - an obsessed HJ5 fan with an auto-tuned voice.
  • Madame Shhh - a woman who wishes to rid the world of music so that she can live in peace.

Recurring[edit]

  • R.O.D. - HJ5's robotic personal assistant who speaks with a British accent.
  • Chewy - HJ5's pet Pomeranian. He is based on Gwen Stefani's pet of the same name.
  • Jimmy - Rudie's nephew and an aspiring photographer.
  • Twisty - a music producer and millionaire. He loves to wear sneakers.
  • Mauve Madison - a popular talk show host and TV personality. She loves the color mauve (hence her name).

Production[edit]

Kuu Kuu Harajuku is co-produced by Vision Animation in Malaysia, Moody Street Productions in Australia, and Red Flags Fly in the United States.[2] It was produced in association with Film Victoria for the first season and Network Ten for the second. A third season of the series is currently in pre-production.[5]

Gwen Stefani initially proposed a Harajuku Girls television show or movie after the release of her 2004 studio album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.[6] Almost a decade later, an animated series based on the Harajuku Lovers brand was pitched at Kidscreen's 2013 Asian Animation Summit.[7] According to an interview with USA Today, Stefani approached Nickelodeon executives shortly after coming up with the concept for the show, and they supported it.[8] During a January 2014 interview with Women's Wear Daily, Gwen Stefani first revealed that the show had been greenlit and that fifty-two episodes were in development.[9] In December 2014, the show was given the working title KooKoo Harajuku.[10]

Speaking to Broadcasting & Cable about why she chose Nickelodeon as the network for her series, Stefani answered that her family had a history with the network; her older brother and No Doubt founder Eric Stefani was an animator on Nick's The Ren & Stimpy Show during the 1990s. Stefani said that "Nickelodeon is all about animation and creativity. It just seemed like an obvious choice."[11] When asked about her feelings on Nickelodeon's renewal of Harajuku for a second season, she said "I still haven't digested that I'm even on Nickelodeon. It was a dream that I had a long time ago that came true later in life. I never thought it could happen."[11]

The series' visual style was inspired by the Harajuku district in Tokyo. Four of the series' main characters (Love, Angel, Music and Baby) were modelled after Stefani's Harajuku Girl backup dancers, with body adjustments in order to give them "a modern update for a younger audience."[8] Also unlike the Harajuku Girls, the Kuu Kuu Harajuku characters were designed as "ethnically ambiguous."[8] Gwen Stefani specifically served as the template for the series' lead character, G.[12] The series' theme music was performed by Gwen Stefani and was written to incorporate lyrics from some of her past songs. Other music for the show was produced in a style Stefani describes as "similar to the music on my first two records ... a cross between an '80s video game and pop music."[13]

At Nickelodeon's 2017 upfront presentation, Gwen Stefani appeared to officially announce a second season of Kuu Kuu Harajuku.[14] The season had been in development since October 2016. Compared to the first season, the second season was written to include more musical numbers and animated performances than its predecessor.[11]

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
126November 1, 2015 (2015-11-01)August 13, 2016 (2016-08-13)
228July 1, 2017 (2017-07-01)February 2, 2018 (2018-02-02)
3TBAAugust 11, 2018 (2018-08-11)TBA

Release[edit]

Broadcast[edit]

Kuu Kuu Harajuku debuted on Eleven in Australia on November 1, 2015,[15] and later premiered on ABC Me on December 6, 2016.[16], and on Nick in the US on October 3.[17] Later, it was moved to Nick Jr. on February 3, 2017.[18] The series also aired on Family Channel in Canada on November 1, 2016.[19] On May 4, 2017. the series airs on Sony Television's Pop with the channel's first release in Italy.

Home media[edit]

In February 2017, Shout! Factory signed a deal with DHX Media to secure the North American DVD and Blu-ray rights to Kuu Kuu Harajuku.[20]

Region 1
DVD title Season(s) Aspect ratio Episode count Total running time Release date(s)
Music, Baby![21] 1 16:9 7 154 minutes June 13, 2017
Super Kawaii[22] 1 16:9 6 132 minutes September 26, 2017
Girl Power[23] 1 1.78:1 7 154 minutes February 20, 2018

Reception[edit]

Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media gave Kuu Kuu Harajuku a mixed review upon its Nickelodeon debut. She praised Love and G as positive role models, stating, "Love stands out for her can-do attitude and her bevy of ideas to solve all kinds of problems, and G is known for her coolness under pressure." In summary, however, Ashby called the cartoon "pretty mindless, and there are better choices for role models for this age group, but it's entertaining nonetheless."[24]

Erica Russell of PopCrush argued that Kuu Kuu Harajuku's setting "is not Japan, but a culturally-empty, messily regurgitated Westernization of it. It's a whitewashed 'kawaii' fairy tale."[25] Rae Alexandra of KQED criticized the decision to portray the Harajuku Girls as racially ambiguous, suggesting that "it seems Stefani (or network executives) thought the best way to deal with the overt cultural appropriation was simply 'let's not have them be Asian anymore.'"[26] Likewise, Teresa Jusino of Dan Abrams' The Mary Sue called negative attention to the characters' races, writing, "I notice that the Harajuku Girls are all different colors. Points for diversity, I guess, except that it seems that they appropriated Japanese culture only to just about erase it from this series."[27]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Result References
2016 Asian Television Award Best 2D Animation Programmme Vision Animation, Network Ten, Eleven Nominated [28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Upcoming Production Report" (PDF). ScreenAustralia.gov.au. Government of Australia. July 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Red Flags Fly, Inc". Bizapedia. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. 
  3. ^ "Kuu Kuu Harajuku Kicks Off Global Tour". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (12 April 2015). "Gwen Stefani's 'Kuu-Kuu Harajuku' Unveiled". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Projects: Kuu Kuu Harajuku". Moody Street Productions. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. 
  6. ^ Brzoznowski, Kristin (17 September 2015). "Gwen Stefani Talks Kuu Kuu Harajuku". WorldScreen.com. Archived from the original on 18 September 2015. I've wanted to do an animated or live-action Harajuku TV show or movie since the conception of my dance record Love. Angel. Music. Baby. It was one of the first things that I wanted to do 
  7. ^ Fisher, Daniela (13 April 2015). "DHX to sell Gwen Stefani-driven toon globally". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. First pitched at Kidscreen’s Asian Animation Summit 2013, the 26 x 22-minute toon has since been commissioned by Network Ten in Australia 
  8. ^ a b c McDermott, Maeve (4 October 2016). "Gwen Stefani's new cartoon 'Kuu Kuu Harajuku' is 'God's timing'". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Gannett Company. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. 
  9. ^ Medina, Marcy (6 January 2014). "Gwen Stefani Offers New Take on Pants". Women's Wear Daily. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. (Subscription required (help)). We are doing a cartoon for Harajuku Lovers, which is a 52-episode girls cartoon that is insane 
  10. ^ "Seven Projects Benefit from Assigned Production Investment Funding". film.vic.gov.au. Film Victoria. 19 December 2014. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Seven Victorian film and television projects have received government funding ... They include a second season of KooKoo Harajuku 
  11. ^ a b c Umstead, R. Thomas (13 March 2017). "Empowering 'Voice' for Young Girls Renewed". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. 
  12. ^ Tran, Khanh (26 September 2016). "Gwen Stefani reflects on her whirlwind year and success in fashion, music and TV". Los Angeles Times. Tronc. Retrieved 17 November 2017. She served as the template for G 
  13. ^ Blake, Liza (30 September 2016). "Gwen Stefani Talks New 'Kuu Kuu Harajuku' Nickelodeon Series & Potential No Doubt Reunion". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. 
  14. ^ Steinberg, Brian (2 March 2017). "Nickelodeon Rouses SpongeBob, Gwen Stefani to Spark 'Upfront' Dollars". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. 
  15. ^ Jenny (27 October 2015). "'Kuu Kuu Harajuku' Premiering in Australia Nov. 1 (Updated)". Beacon Street Online. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. 
  16. ^ Kuu Kuu Harajuku (2 December 2016). "Hello Australia!". Facebook. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. 
  17. ^ "Nickelodeon to Premiere New Animated Series Kuu Kuu Harajuku from Global Superstar Gwen Stefani on Monday, Oct. 3, at 4:00 p.m. (ET/PT)". Business Wire. 13 September 2016. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. 
  18. ^ "Nick Jr". Screener. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. 
  19. ^ Kuu Kuu Harajuku (1 November 2016). "Hello Canada!". Facebook. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. 
  20. ^ Foster, Elizabeth (7 February 2017). "Shout! Factory stays home with Stefani's Harajuku". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. 
  21. ^ "Kuu Kuu Harajuku: Music, Baby!". Shout! Factory. Archived from the original on 2018-02-14. 
  22. ^ "Kuu Kuu Harajuku: Super Kawaii". Shout! Factory. Archived from the original on 2018-02-14. 
  23. ^ {{cite web|url=https://www.shoutfactory.com/product/kuu-kuu-harajuku-girl-power?product_id=6556%7Ctitle=Kuu Kuu Harajuke: Girl Power|last=|first=|date=|website=Shout! Factory
  24. ^ Ashby, Emily. "Kuu Kuu Harajuku". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on 2017-04-30. 
  25. ^ Russell, Erica (30 September 2016). "Kuu Kuu Harajuku: On Growing Up with Gwen Stefani, Japan Street Fashion + Cultural Appropriation". PopCrush. Townsquare Media. Archived from the original on 16 November 2017. 
  26. ^ Alexandra, Rae (16 September 2016). "Does Gwen Stefani's 'Harajuku' Cartoon Really Have Zero Japanese Characters In It?". KQED. Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. 
  27. ^ Jusino, Teresa (13 September 2016). "Gwen Stefani's Kuu Kuu Harajuku Series Brings Her Cultural Appropriation to Nickelodeon". The Mary Sue. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. 
  28. ^ "Full List: Winners, Asian Television Awards 2016". Rappler. December 3, 2016. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. 

External links[edit]