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Nintendo’s decision to rename Pikachu stirs protest in Hong Kong

Masajeng Rahmiasri

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, June 2, 2016  /  01:23 pm
Nintendo’s decision to rename Pikachu stirs protest in Hong Kong

Pikachu, the most popular mascot of the Pokémon franchise. (Shutterstock/lev radin)

What's in a name? they ask. Apparently everything, as can be seen from Nintendo's plan to release new Pokémon video games for the Nintendo 3DS game console.

The Pokémon Sun and Moon video games was reportedly to be available in Chinese languages to cater to fans throughout Greater China. However, as reported by qz.com, Hong Kongers are upset by the company's decision to use only Mandarin as they mainly speak Cantonese. 

(Read also: Pokemon constantly evolves)

Previously, the Pokémon franchise was translated into local languages according to region. In Hong Kong, for instance, Pikachu, the franchise's most lovable character, was translated as 比卡超 (Bei-kaa-chyu). But now, as Nintendo tries to unify the names of Pokémon characters in Greater China, it is named 皮卡丘 (Pikaqiu). 

In Mandarin, the name 皮卡丘sounds similar to the global name Pikachu. But to Hong Kong fans who speak Cantonese, it now sounds very different as it is read as Pei-kaa-jau.

(Read also: After Gamergate, female video game developers on the rise)

Hong Kongers are so upset by the potential of not being able to enjoy a localized version of the game that more than 6,000 people signed a petition in March requesting the company reverse its decision. On Monday, dozens of people demonstrated at the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, holding up banners reading “No Pei-kaa-jau, give me back Bei-kaa-chyu". Fear of having their Cantonese language lose out to Mandarin is said to be one of the reasons behind the protest.

Nintendo Hong Kong reportedly responded to the demand by telling fans in the country to simply read the name as "Pikachu" even though it sounds different in their local language. (kes)