Diehard Pokemon fans protest in front of the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong in a bid to stop Nintendo from changing the name of the most iconic Pocket Monster of all time, Pikachu.
Part of what makes our world so fascinating are the number of cultures that occupy it. Over the years, people have been able to overcome language barriers through study and technology, all in a bid to better interact with various societies and peoples. When it comes to gaming, however, Nintendo and developer Game Freak are noticed for their initiative to ensure that (regardless of the language one speaks) their Pokemon franchise is widely available across the globe in various languages.
Just recently, Nintendo confirmed the fact that it would be supporting both Simplified and Traditional Chinese in Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon for a simultaneous release across Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan – giving fans yet another way to play. While many were initially excited by this prospect, it has turned into a significant localization change. It turns out that this means beloved and iconic beasts like Pikachu will receive a name change, and this has agitated a great deal of longtime fans residing in Hong Kong particularly. As a result, protesters have begun to gather en masse in hopes of stopping Nintendo from executing any title changes.
As is noted by Quartz, the reason for this outrage stems from the fact that the official language of Hong Kong is Cantonese, but the new Pocket Monster names are based on Mandarin. Those in Hong Kong certainly aren’t alone, as there seems to be near simultaneous outrage across China, but Nintendo’s attempt to unify the region has proven to be an unpopular one amongst longtime fans. The name change to Pikachu is one of the biggest sins in the eyes of China-based gamers, and Zheping Quan of Quartz has elaborated on the situation a bit.
“Pikachu was originally translated as 比卡超 (Bei-kaa-chyu) in Hong Kong. Now it is named 皮卡丘 (Pikaqiu). While the name 皮卡丘 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.”
The demonstrators appear to be heavily associated with the protection of the Cantonese language, something that many native Hong Kong residents believe is being phased out of schooling systems. As a result, this sort of reaction to the alteration of a longstanding and major multimedia IP isn’t all that shocking. The protest itself took place in front of a Japanese Consulate in central Hong Kong, but there are currently no plans from Nintendo to implement any changes in Sun and Moon.
With news set to arrive on June 2 for the new Pokemon titles, maybe some localization changes will be identified. For now, though, it looks as if Cantonese fans will need to become accustomed to the electric rodent’s new and official name – or they could just nickname the creature upon its capture.
Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon are set to arrive exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS on November 18, 2016.