Chinese Pokémon fans livid at name changes

Pokémon fans in China, particularly Hong Kong, are publicly protesting Nintendo's renaming the series and critters under one language.

Here comes another localization controversy, but this time in Asia; to be specific, Greater China. See, the regions of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have always had exclusive Pokémon names for each territory, but that'll be changing for Pokémon Sun and Moon, as Nintendo is aiming to homogenize them all under the Mandarin language. For example, where in Taiwan the series was once called "Magic Babies," that'll be shelved in favor of "Jingling Baokemeng".

Needless to say, long-time Pokémon fans are not happy with these changes. Those in Hong Kong, in particular, are particularly livid since Cantonese, not Mandarin, is that territory's language. The following quote from Quartz, using the example of Pikachu, explains what makes this renaming so alien:

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.

Public protests, social media campaigns and petitions are well-underway in response to these changes, but it should be noted it might not be entirely Nintendo's fault. Many Cantonese-speaking individuals feel threatened that the Chinese government has been gradually erasing their language as a whole (for instance, fewer and fewer schools are teaching Cantonese), and many suspect this may be another step for such an ambition.

Do you think Chinese Pokémon fans are in the right for their protest? Let us know in the comments below!

Published May. 30th 2016
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    PRC has been forcing increased Mainland-style culture and language on HK ever since the unification and HK is having a tough time with it. It's understandable they want to retain their own cultural heritage, especially with HK being separate from the PRC during the Great Leap Forward. The mindsets are different.

    I don't agree with the Mandarin-ing it up of HK. The mainland has a whole slew of languages and it feels like the government is forcing Mandarin on HK so heavily to push down their own cultural identities and in time keep HK in line. And the easiest way to force HK to accept this type of cultural sterilization is via the media, and the PRC is doing just that.

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