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Pokémon X/Y Might Feature a Transgender Character

Illustration for article titled emPokémon X/Y/em Might Feature a Transgender Character
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

The above character appears to make a nuanced hint at her gender change in the latest Pocket Monster game, Pokémon X/Y.

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In the English language version of the game, the text that accompanies the above character reads, "Yes, a mere half year ago I was a Black Belt! Quite the transformation, wouldn't you say?"

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The character is an opponent in the Battle Maison.

Tumblr Nazerine notes that the Japanese text differs. It reads, "Only half a year ago, I was a Karate King. The power of medical science is amazing, isn't it?" The English localization does not reference "the power of medical science" (いがくのちから), which appears in the original.

Illustration for article titled emPokémon X/Y/em Might Feature a Transgender Character

So? Granted, the character's gender doesn't really matter, but the way the game's developers appear to have inserted it into the game is interesting.

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The Japanese version, website Legends of Localization explains, uses "Karate King" (literally, "karate ou" or カラテおう); however, the Japanese word for king ("ou" or おう/王) isn't exclusively reserved for males, but can also be translated as "ruler" or "monarch."

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But in English, the "Karate King" (カラテおう) trainer class is called "Black Belt" in English and consists only of male characters. Their female counterparts are called "Battle Girl" in English and "batoru gaaru" (バトルガール) in Japanese.

The text in both versions of X/Y makes clear allusion to Karate King.

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As Twitter user @SenseiHanzo points out, the character's remark also appears to parody another non-playable Pokémon character in the game who says, "The power of science is amazing!" Below, you can see the Japanese language version of that quote.

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Yes, a mere half year ago [Nazerine via Legends of Localization via Tiny Cartridge]

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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DISCUSSION

marmottedesormiersbourdeau
Marmotte Desormiers Bourdeau

I think it's sad that transgender people are still such a hot topic that even the smallest inclusion stirs up so much talk. On the one hand, it's great that there are transgendered characters in the game and everyone in-universe acts normally around that fact. On the other hand, you can't help but feel like it was implemented in such an obscure way as to not stir up too much controversy. You'd never hear the end of it if an actually important character were legitimitely part of the lgbt community. I'll take more of these small steps any day, but it's more than about time for everyone to just accept that these people exist, that they are normal and go about their lives like everyone else and deserve some casual representation in mainstream media.