Hong Kong Pokémon Fans Protest Over Pikachu Translation

May 31, 2016

NewsStandOnline.Net (31-May-2016): In celebration of the beloved Pokémon franchise’s 20th anniversary, Nintendo announced plans in February to release two new games Pokémon Sun and Moon for the Nintendo 3DS later this year.

The Japanese game developer’s decision to release the games in traditional and simplified Chinese in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for the first time ever, however, has agitated many longtime fans, particularly those residing in Hong Kong.

Until now, the Pokémon games, comics and animation have traditionally been released in different languages to reflect the local culture and linguistic differences of various regions.

Nintendo recently released the Chinese-language names of the original Pokémon characters, many of whom have been renamed, including the adorable, iconic electronic rodent mascot of the Pokémon franchise, Pikachu.

According to fans in Hong Kong, where the official language is Cantonese, not Mandarin, feel the changes are disrespectful to their culture and language.

Hong Kong Pokémon Fans Protest Over Pikachu Translation

“Pokémon in Greater China will be officially called Jingling Baokemeng in Mandarin (Jingling means “spirit” or “elf,” and Baokemeng is a transliteration of Pokémon),” Zheping Huang explains. “Earlier in Hong Kong, it was Pet Little Elves (or Spirits), while in Taiwan, it was Magic Babies.”

“Pikachu was originally translated as Bei-kaa-chyu in Hong Kong. Now it is named Pikaqiu. While the name in Mandarin sounds similar to the global name Pikachu (as it was always called in China and Taiwan), it reads as Pei-kaa-jau in Cantonese, which doesn’t sound the same at all.”

Yesterday, dozens of protesters marched to the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, demanding Nintendo change the name from Pikaqiu back to Bei-kaa-chyu. The protest was organized by gaming-focused Lonely Media and political group Civic Passion.

“We have been using Beikaaciu for over 20 years,” Sing Leung, chief editor of Lonely Media and a co-organiser of the rally, told reporters. “This is a part of our way of life and the Cantonese translation also underlines the distinctiveness of our language.”