The New Pokemon Series' Name Takes Some Liberties

Illustration for article titled The New Pokemon Series' Name Takes Some Liberties

The current Pocket Monster animated series is called "Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl". That makes sense as that's what the games based on it are called. The name of the new series?


Later this year, Nintendo will release the next generation of Pokemon games, Pokemon: Black & White. A new generation of Pokemon means a new animated series. A new animated series means a new name. It is...

Pokemon: Best Wishes!

Best wishes? Is Pokemon getting married or something? Maybe someone has signed an autograph for the Pocket Monsters? "To Pokemon, Best Wishes..."

Perhaps the series isn't called Pokemon: Black and White because some viewers might assume the show is not in color?

No, no, no. It is actually a word play of sorts. Best Wishes. BW. B&W... Black & White? Pokemon: Black & White? Geddit? As several commenters have pointed out, "Best Wish" or "Besuto Uisshu" written in English contains "Isshu", which is the region where the anime will take place. So the new program's moniker is somewhat clever in that regards.

Historically, Japan has used the English language (well, pretty much any language) as it sees fit. Japanese incorporates all sorts of lingo and concepts from the outside world. That's fine. Because by doing so, those loan words, called "gairaigo", become Japanese. It is one of the things that makes the language vibrant and alive.

English is the same way, incorporating words from all sorts of language. Take "tycoon", which is from the Japanese "taikun" (大君), meaning something like "lord" or "prince". Most English speakers don't even make the connection — and likewise that's totally fine. Or take the name of this site, Kotaku, which is a made up word based on the Japanese "ko" (小) or "small" and "otaku" (オタク).


If it's totally fine, why am I moaning about this? Because the Japanese title of this series, Pocket Monster: Best Wish! (ポケットモンスターベストウィッシュ), is just better. It's not better by much, but still, it's better.

Illustration for article titled The New Pokemon Series' Name Takes Some Liberties

"Wish" is a fairly common word in Japanese. Heck, Toyota even makes a car called "Wish" (ウィッシュ). That's Japanese band Exile promoting it. Exile did the Street Fighter IV theme.

According to the show's official site, the English phrase "Best Wishes!" is defined as what is said when people leave to go on a trip, and it seems that is the reason it was selected for the show's subtitle. That's simply...incorrect. If that's the feeling they were hoping to evoke, the show should be called "Pokemon: Safe Travels" or even "Pokemon: Bon Voyage"! But, hey, it's their language, their program, and "BV" does not work with "Black and White". Let them do as they please.


Though, Pokemon: Bon Voyage? Like the sound of that.

あにてれ:ポケットモンスター ダイヤモンド・パール [TV Tokyo via ANN]


So, it's ok to let the Japanese give false information about what a phrase means because it's now gairaigo?

I'm perfectly ok with languages taking words and concepts from other languages, but I do think that words should retain as much of their original meaning when brought into another language.

I know that's not always going to happen due to language drift, but we should work to prevent the spread of misinformation in any language.