Nintendo's decision to rename Pikachu has sparked protests in Hong Kong 5 years ago

Nintendo's decision to rename Pikachu has sparked protests in Hong Kong

In the West we all know Nintendo's most iconic Pokémon by one name: Pikachu.

But it's a much more complex issue in Hong Kong, and a recent alteration made by the Japanese company to its translation policy was so controversial that it had people protesting in defiance.


Two new Pokémon games will be released for the Nintendo 3DS later this year under the subtitles of Sun and Moon.

For the first time in the series the games will be distributed in traditional and simplified Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China.

According to a report from QZ, until now each region has used a different translation to adhere to linguistic and cultural differences. But in choosing to unify the brand across Greater China they have angered fans who will now have to refer to their favourite characters by a different name.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 16.13.38

In Hong Kong the official language is Cantonese, rather than Mandarin, but now the Pikachu name - along with many other Pokemon - will be the same everywhere, which is jarring for Cantonese speakers.


As QZ explains it:

"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."

One group of people were so outraged by the decision that they even demonstrated in front of the Japanese Consulate in Central, singing the Cantonese theme song and demanding Nintendo change the name back.


The p*ssed off Pokefans carried banners that read “No Pei-kaa-jau, give me back Bei-kaa-chyu”, with many of them arguing that their traditions are being threatened by the mainland Chinese government.

They managed to get over 6,000 people to sign a petition on the issue, and many more have taken to Facebook to warn Nintendo that they will boycott their games if they don't rethink the policy.

One wrote: I hereby vow I will never buy from Nintendo again, unless you finally understand what is Cantonese and the correct Chinese usage."