Pikachu, regarded as a major character and mascot of the Pokémon franchise, has become an icon of Japanese pop culture – and the character is about to be re-named.
Yes, re-named. Our favourite little yellow Pokémon will no longer be known as Pikachu.
— Ms. Rose (@MsRose33) June 1, 2016
The new, mandarin translation of the Japanese name, unveiled in Hong Kong (don’t worry, there are no plans so far to rename it anywhere else), will be known as, phonetically, Pei Ka Yau, the Independent reports.
If you say it quickly, it’s Pikayao.
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have caused a minor international disruption with the decision, which stemmed from deciding to reduce the number of languages it translates Pokémon games into – and people have taken to the streets to protest Pikachu’s new name.
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A member of anti-communist political group Civic Passion, Wong Yeung-tat, told Hong Kong FP:
Of course, many think that this is only a gaming company’s decision to change a name on one of its products. But being in Hong Kong now, being part of this generation of Hongkongers, we are facing a lot of cultural whitewashing.
But more than 6,000 people signed a petition in March asking Nintendo to reverse its decision. And on Monday, dozens of people protested at the Japanese consulate, the BBC reports.
The small – but vocal – group made their voices heard.
Pokemon fans protest over new translation of 'Pikachu'https://t.co/4CwBbNUuEq
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 1, 2016
A spokesman from their Facebook group, Petition to Keep Regional Chinese Translations of Pokemon, said the protest is mainly about Pikachu’s identity: “Our main point is that the translation ignores Hong Kong’s culture. There’s no respect for it.”
While it may seem like a trivial thing to protest, the dispute also taps into fears that Cantonese – along with local tradition and culture – is being wiped out and replaced by Madarin, according to the BBC.
It will be sad to see such an iconic name be phased out. Let’s hope Hong Kong hears its protesters.