Pokémon Center apologizes for writing model Nicole Fujita’s name as Nicole Fujita

Even native Japanese readers had trouble spotting the problem in the collaboration announcement.

Pokemon is such a huge pop culture force in Japan that the franchise is always working on at least a few creative projects with other famous organizations and individuals. For example, there’s a new line of accessories coming to Pokémon Center Megastores next month that’s a collaboration between Pokémon and the model Nicole Fujita.

In addition to the Pikachu-inspired accessories and the universally considered cute Piplup, Teddiursa, and Stufful, there are two other unexpected species of Pokémon that are part of the collection. According to the above announcement from the official Pokémon Center Twitter account, they exist too “Flygon- and Hydreigon-themed items, which are two of Nicole Fujita’s favorite Pokémon.”

However, three days after sending the above tweet, the Pokémon Center released an apology, informing everyone that they had misspelled Nicole Fujita’s name in the first tweet and corrected the error by correctly spelling out her name.

So what was the problem? Spring, the original tweet wrote the model’s name like this…

…but the right way to write it is like this.

Having trouble telling the difference? Maybe it’s easier if we put them directly on top of each other.

▼ Above: wrong
Bottom right

Are you still scratching your head? Don’t worry, you’re not alone because Many people in Japan also had trouble figuring out what was wrong.

Your first guess might be to look for a difference between the first character for each version, but we’ll save you the time and eyestrain and let you know that all 18 strokes are identical in both, and the correct spelling too ” Fu” is part of Fujita’s family name (since the Pokémon Center’s tweets are in Japanese, her name is written family name first, as “Fujita Nicole”). No, where the Pokémon Center slipped up is with the third character.

But wait, aren’t they both just a pair of horizontal lines? Yes, but look closely and you will see In the wrong character, the lines are longer than in the correct version, and there’s also slightly more vertical spacing between them. That’s because they’re actually two different characters. The top one is kanjia character with a connected meaning used for indigenous Japanese words and names while the lower is katakana, a strictly phonetic character used for non-Japanese loanwords and names. Since New Zealand-born Fujita’s first name is Nicole, it is spelled with katakana rather than kanji.

▼ Above: Kanji
Below: katakana

However, the difference is not something that most people, even native Japanese speakers, could easily tell. Kanji and katakana are never mixed within a single surname or given name, and while Fujita (藤田) is a common Japanese surname, the name 藤田二 does not exist. Then there is the fact that one of the pronunciations of the kanji 二 is “ni”. So even if someone mentally registers that the first katakana of Nicole’s name is replaced with the kanji 二, they would probably still read it as “Nicole.”

Add it all up, and Japanese Twitter users couldn’t help but chuckle a bit, even as the Pokémon Center said “We apologize for the error and would like to issue this correction.”

“Am…am I the only one who can’t tell the difference?”
“I can not do it, either.”
“I spent about 10 minutes staring at my PC screen and still couldn’t figure it out.”
“Wasted so much time looking for a difference for 藤.”
“The person who caught this has serious eagle eyes.”
“It’s like a new breed of spot the difference activity book puzzle.”

Everything that was said, the kanji 二 and the katakana ニ are different, and the difference is slightly more noticeable in other fonts.

Another problem is that while the two characters look the same to the human eye, electronic devices immediately know they are different, so using the wrong character in digital communications (such as social media) limits the reach of the message It’s harder for people who spell the name correctly to find the associated tweet, website, etc. Therefore, separating your 二 from your ニ is an important part of communicating effectively in Japanese, just like separating your ソ from your ン.

Source: Twitter/@Pokemon_cojp about Hachima Kiko
Images ©SoraNews24
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