Any fan of an iconic franchise knows that there are just things that must never be tampered with. For Star Wars fans, the iconic lightsaber and the Force are things that must never be changed, regardless of the franchise's expansion. For the wildly-successful Pokemon franchise, it is the characters themselves. Once these beloved characters are touched, fans are bound to be upset.
Such is the exact thing that happened in Hong Kong. As fans eagerly anticipated the release of the upcoming highly-anticipated Pokemon Sun and Moon game, but avid Pokemon fans were horrified to find that many characters from the original 151 pocket monsters had their named changed, including the most famous Pokemon of all, the yellow, iconic, adorable Pikachu.
Thanks to Nintendo's efforts to launch a Pokemon game that is largely translated to Mandarin, in order to cater to fans in the greater Chinese region, Hong Kong fans, whose official language is Cantonese, saw Pikachu unceremoniously renamed to his Mandarin name. For years, Pokemon fans from Hong Kong called Pikachu 比卡超 (Beikaachyu), but according to Nintendo's list of characters for the upcoming New 3DS game, Pikachu would be officially called 皮卡丘 (Pikaqiu) in the region.
Though the Mandarin translation of Pikachu's name has been used for a long time in countries such as China and Taiwan, the name reads as Pei-kaa-jau in Cantonese, a name which sounds nothing like the character's Japanese name at all.
Thus, dozens of avid Pokemon fans marched in protest on Monday. Standing before the Japanese Consulate in Central, the protesters demanded that Nintendo adopt a different translation for the game for Cantonese-speaking areas, like Hong Kong.
Sing Leung, chief editor of Lonely Media and one of the people who organized the protest, explained that the renaming of the character disrespects the Cantonese language.
"We have been using Beikaaciu for over 20 years. This is a part of our way of life and the Cantonese translation also underlines the distinctiveness of our language," he said.
A Facebook page has also been established by concerned fans in the area, petitioning Nintendo to revert Pikachu's name back to the Cantonese translation. As of writing, the page has already garnered more than 6,000 signatures.