Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have learnt a valuable lesson this week: don't mess with Pokémon fans because they will rise up. Fighting for their right to Pikachu in their native tongue, Hong Kong fans of the game have protested outside the Japanese consulate after a decision was made to unify the language in which Pokémon is produced.
You see, earlier this year the companies announced that new game Pokémon Sun and Moon will be released in traditional and simplified Chinese, that they would be dropping the Cantonese variations of the Pokémon character names (which happens to be the main dialect of Hong Kong).The new names are mostly Mandarin-style, native to Taiwan and mainland China. In particular, fans are angry that our little yellow hero, Pikachu's name is not the same. In Cantonese, he was originally known as Bei-kaa-chyu, but his new name, in the new dialect, is Pei-kaa-jau.
So, why does this matter? Well, this is actually a cultural issue. It taps into Hong Kong's social and political separation from mainland China, where for over half a century, the city has celebrated its own culture and independence. In Hong Kong locals' eyes, by not releasing a Cantonese version of the beloved game, effectively puts all Chinese people, mainland and Hong Kong natives, into the one box, effectively erasing and/or diluting Hong Kong culture, despite the fact the two regions are very, very different.