Nickelodeon has announced plans to air cartoon inspired by pop singer Gwen Stefani, influenced by the Japanese Harajuku style.

Get ready for Kuu Kuu Harajuku…

The series is called Kuu Kuu Harajuku, and has already aired in Australia, but will soon make its American debut now that Nickelodeon has picked it up. While the show is arguably American in origin, given Stefani’s involvement, the show was created through Malaysian and Australian co-production, and reflects Nickelodeon’s growing trend of showcasing foreign animation in their line-up, having had recent success with France’s Miraculous Ladybug cartoon and Italy’s Winx Club and Regal Academy.

According to reports, the show, which currently lasts 26 episodes in its first season, although that may soon be extended given Nickelodeon’s new involvement, focuses on five Harajuku singers: Love, Angel, Music, Baby, and their leader, G., who attempt to break into show-business, but have to contend with threats such as “angry aliens, serious politicians, invading creatures, and cute monster pets.”

While the show will premiere on American networks Monday, Oct. 4, clips of the show can be watched online.

Accusations of cultural appropriation

Stefani’s attachment to the Harajuku style phenomenon first came about after she took her career into a solo direction, after leaving the band, No Doubt. As part of her act, the singer surrounded herself with Japanese back-up singers, who were contractually obligated not to speak, and were given the names, “Love, Angel, Music, and Baby” by Stefani in songs and during appearances.

There has been controversy, however, since Stefani had first incorporated Harajuku themes into her work, that it borders on cultural appropriation. At one point, an online feud of sorts started in 2005 when American comedian Margaret Cho criticized such behavior as bordering on a minstrel show and compared it to “Amos ‘n Andy.” Stefani later replied that she had only tried to promote how fondly she thought of Japanese culture.

Another point of contention is that the five girls are portrayed as somewhat racially diverse, when the original singers were clearly of Japanese descent. Teresa Jusino of The Mary Sue wrote that the cartoon had “appropriated Japaneseculture only to just about erase it.”

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