There are over 800 Pokémon now? I think I get why people are so addicted to Pokémon GO. Catching them all could take you years. We’ve come a long way from the original Pokérap, that’s for sure…
Every time a new generation arrives, we have to try and remember all their names. Some of them are way easier than others. Like… Mew.
Maybe you know all the Pokémon off by heart. Sure, in English – but what about in Japanese? After all, Japan’s where Pocket Monsters came from. If you want to be the very best – like no-one ever was – you should brush up on your Nihongo.
(No, that’s not an evolution of a Nidorino.)
Buying Pokémon stuff from Japan needs trainer-level knowledge. We’ve put together some of our favourite English Pokémon names, along with the Japanese originals.
There are few things jiggly-er than a purin. Depending on where you live, you might know it better as a crème caramel. You definitely know that wobble though.
The Jigglypuff was always destined to get a cute name. As well as the most annoying singing voice ever. The marker pen is probably overkill. In Japanese, ‘Purin’ is a very cute name. The kind of name you’d give a puppy.
Still haven’t met a dog named ‘Jigglypuff’ yet.
What the heck is that?
‘Nazonokusa’ means ‘mysterious grass’. To be fair, a Gloom OR a Vileplume would be worse. Both of those have scented names, and not in a good way. Gloom is ‘Kusaihana’ – a stinky flower – and Vileplume’s named after the yucky rafflesia plant. We originally assumed Oddish was a stinker as well – ‘kusa’ and ‘kusai’ are pretty similar, it isn’t too big a leap.
For the English version, they kept the ‘odd’ because this thing is strange in any language. And added ‘ish’, as in ‘radish’, even though it looks more like a turnip.
Or maybe the ‘ish’ is the British ‘ish’, which makes Oddish ‘kinda odd’ instead.
The word for ‘camel’ in Japanese is ‘rakuda’. One word for ‘eruption’ is ‘bakuhatsu’. That those words fit together so well is a lucky coincidence.
The potential for Camerupts to burn themselves with their own attack is a clear evolutionary flaw. All that shaggy fur is such a fire hazard.
Both names are palindromes. Yes, the Japanese one reads the same forwards and backwards too.
And before you assume this Pokémon’s named after Japanese beer, ‘kirin’ is also the word for ‘giraffe’. It’s more obvious once you’ve seen the picture, to be fair.
Mitsuhoney combines the English word for honey with the Japanese word, ‘hachimitsu’. And is shaped like a honeycomb with 3 faces. So, it’s a honeycombi. A combi.
Some of these names pretty much write themselves.
In Japanese, the saying ‘kamo ga negi wo shotte kuru’ is like ‘here comes a sucker’.
How could anyone be that gullible? It’s a little… far-fetched, right? And ‘kamonegi’ is shortened from the full phrase, so Farfetch’d likewise drops the ‘e’.
The phrase literally means ‘here comes a duck carrying a leek’. Farfetch’d is never seen without that vegetable. It’s counted as a ‘held item’ in most of the Pokémon games.
Is it a cactus, or a nocturne? Well, it’s a little bit of both. And the English and Japanese names use different halves of each word.
A nocturne is a short, night-themed, romantic piano song. Cacturne is a Dark-type Pokémon… but it’s the least lovely-looking monster you’ve ever seen.
Yeah, definitely more ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ than a romance-filled evening.
This Pokémon’s name is as clever as Sherlock Holmes.
‘Deka’ can mean ‘big’ in Japanese. Dekagoose is the evolved version of Yungoos, so that would make sense. BUT ‘deka’ can also mean ‘gumshoe’ – a detective. The character’s even drawn so that the fur looks like a trenchcoat.
Elementary, my dear Poké-fans. Besides, if you’ve watched enough Japanese police dramas then you’ll know that downcast expression.
An ‘electromagnetic bug’. A charger bug? I had to look up ‘electromagnetic charging’ to write this bit. It does exist. Something to do with magnetic fields. We’ll let this one slide.
The ‘j’ in ‘charja’ instead of a ‘g’ is deliberate. In the Japanese name, the normal character for ‘ji’ (ジ) is replaced with (ヂ). Made sense to do a similar thing for the English version.
Casey (Abra), Yungerer (Kadabra), and Fuudin (Alakazam)
Unless you know your magic users, this won’t make much sense.
Abra’s Japanese version is named after American magician Edgar Cayce. The evolutions are named in the same way. Kadabra is ‘Yungerer’, apparently after Uri Geller , and Alakazam’s Japanese name ‘Fuudin’ represents the great Harry Houdini. All 3 magicians claimed to have psychic powers, and all 3 Pokémon are psychic type.
Those character names were changed slightly. That didn’t stop Uri Geller from trying to sue Nintendo for $100m in 1999. He said the name was too similar – and the spoon Kadabra carries was a dead giveaway.
Never mind that Alakazam’s holding 2 spoons. You don’t see Houdini suing anyone… oh, wait, he’s dead.
Unsurprisingly, Uri Geller lost. The English names are spells instead. Much safer. Unless you’re holding a wand, wear glasses and have a lightning-shaped scar on your forehead.
Nobody’s ever claimed that Psyduck looks too much like them. Wonder why that is…
If you’ve watched enough anime or read enough manga, you should recognise ‘neko’ as the Japanese word for ‘cat’. ‘Choro’ comes from the verb ‘choromakasu’: to pilfer, to snaffle, to filch.
Does anyone ever say that in real life? Anyway, ‘pur’ became ‘purr’ like a cat, and that was that.
Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan (Sawamuraa and Ebiwaraa)
So, uh, hands up everyone else who thought Hitmonchan might be female? It’s a kilt. We feel terrible.
We choose you!
It was hard trying to make this list with over 800 characters to choose from.
What’s your favourite Pokémon name? Tweet us your Poké-picks.