‘Pokemon Sun And Moon Update:’ Pikachu’s Name Change After 20 Years; Sparks Protest In Hong Kong


Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pokémon franchise, Pokemon Company said in February that it would release a new pair of handheld Nintendo 3DS game counsel, "Pokémon Sun And Moon." However, its partial owner, Nintendo has announced Pikachu's name change which sparked backlash in Hong Kong.

Nintendo's intention was to unify the gamers in the Chinese region where Pokémon in Greater China will be legitimately called 精靈寶可夢 or Jingling Baokemeng in Mandarin. The translation Jingling means "spirit" or "elf" while Baokemeng is a transliteration of Pokémon. But previously in Hong Kong, it was 寵物小精靈 meaning Pet Little Elves or Spirits. Meanwhile, it was 神奇寶貝, Magic Babies in Taiwan, Quartz reported.

The change in nomenclature was not acceptable to gamers in any of the Chinese-language regions. Moreover, Hong Kongers whose official language is Cantonese are the most upset.

In May, Nintendo released the new Chinese-language names of the original 151 Pokémon characters. Fans in Hong Kong were dejected to find out many of them were renamed in Mandarin. Conversely, Pikachu was initially translated as 比卡超 or Bei-kaa-chyu in Hong Kong. But it was changed into 皮卡丘 or Pikaqiu. Although the Mandarin 皮卡丘 sounds more alike with the universally renowned name Pikachu, it was read as Pei-kaa-jau in Cantonese that does not sound the same at all, Unwire reported.

On Monday, dozens of Hong Kong disappointed fans marched to the Central Japanese Consulate. The protesters demanded Nintendo to adopt a different Cantonese translation for the "Pokémon Sun And Moon" version in Hong Kong, Quartz added.

Nintendo believes that a unified Pikachu Chinese translation is most likely a simple commercial decision. However, Hong Kong activists claim that language is also political.

Since Pokémon's Chinese names release, Hong Kong have sworn to boycott Nintendo on its Hong Kong Facebook page. Additionally, about 6,000 fans have signed a petition appealing for Nintendo's reconsideration. In a letter, issued in Chinese, Nintendo (Hong Kong) Ltd. Games requested Hong to just read the Pokémon's name as "Pikachu," in spite of how it sounds in Cantonese.

Meanwhile, "Pokemon Sun and Moon" arrives on November 18 this year.

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