"Pikachu” and “Raichu” Were Part of the Olympic US Team?

“Pikachu” and “Raichu” Were Part of the Olympic US Team?

Japanese audiences probably had that shocked Pikachu face on.

When Japanese audiences tuned into their country’s Olympic badminton game against the USA on 26 July, Monday, many of them were reportedly puzzled by what they saw. Their badminton athletes, Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, would be facing team USA in a double match that day; but all was not as it seemed because their opponents’ names that were flashed on screen didn’t sound right. In fact, the names might as well have been Pikachu and Raichu. Yes, the two beloved first-generation Pokemon every Japanese fan grew up with!

Also read: Love Your Pokemon: Japan Names Vaporeon Its Official Water Day Ambassador

Why were “Pikachu” and “Raichu” part of the US team?

Image credit: Voltordu

The first thing you need to know is that the real names of the US badminton players were Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew. So on TV, Japan would have to write their names in katakana, the phonetic Japanese script. In katakana, “Chew” looks like this “チュウ,” which when read, would also be pronounced as “chu.”

Phillip and Ryan’s first names were a bit more complicated to write in katakana and required space that the TV graphic could not accommodate, so the Japanese translators settled with the English initials of their first names, which would be “P.” and “R.” respectively. Do you see where this is going?

When Japanese audiences checked the lower part of their screens during their badminton match against the USA, they thought they were being punked. The names “P.chu” (P.チュウ) and “R.chu” (R.チュウ) were staring right at them; naturally, what immediately came to mind were the ever so loveable Pikachu and Raichu! 

And as is the nature of electric-type Pokemon, the USA’s Olympic badminton team sent shockwaves across Japanese televisions with just the sound of their names. One Japanese fan on Twitter even went as far as to look for badminton artwork of Pikachu and Raichu online. 

Similar humorous tweets followed with comments like “P.chu and R. Chu, you have to catch them all” and “What a cute nickname for the pair of brothers.”

Also read: Here’s What You Need to Know About Japan’s New Pikachu Jet!

Despite the electrifying effect the two Chew brothers had on Japanese audiences, the Japanese badminton team still came out on top. So congratulations are in order for Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda on their match against the USA. But no doubt, Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew will still go down in Japanese history… one way or another. 

Featured image credit (L-R): Karolina Grabowska; mentatdgt | Pexels

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.


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