March 31, 2007

Mysteries of Chu

by Nick Montfort · , 8:53 pm

What does “chu” mean? The answer is not available on the Wikipedia disambiguation page. My fellow Dreamcast owners may particularly be wondering about this. If you’ve played Space Channel 5, you will probably recall that all the cute alien opponetnts say “chu” to indicate you need to press the A button. I’ve heard that our own Mary Flanagan asked Space Channel 5 (and Rez) creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi what “chu” means, and he explained…

You know, chu!

As I’ve been playing ChuChu Rocket! recently, in which small rodential creatures must be routed by the player(s) to spaceships, I’ve been working my curiosity up to critical levels. Fortunately, recent reading – Chris Kohler’s rich (if somewhat curious) book on Japanese video games, Power Up – clued me in to the answer. “Chu” is onomatopoetic. No, it’s not the sound a train makes. In Japanese, it’s the sound a mouse makes.

5 Responses to “Mysteries of Chu”

  1. chocorisu Says:

    What that page doesn’t say is that “chu” is also the noise of a kiss in Japanese, which might explain a lot of puns and silly wordplay in games and anime.

  2. nick Says:

    My enlightenment continues! The aliens in Space Channel 5 sometimes say actually say “kiss” in the US version, but sometimes the sound is just the untranslated “chu.” The Wikipedia article on the game confirms that chu is a kissy-sound.

  3. Bishop Says:

    I’d always assumed that the word the aliens say in Space Channel 5 was just “shoot” with an alien-distorted accent. Which seems to make sense, since they’re asking you to shoot.

    Then again, if it made sense, it wouldn’t be in Space Channel 5.

  4. baf Says:

    Note also “pikachu”, a rodentlike pokemon.

  5. josemanuel Says:

    Note also Oruchuban Ebichu.

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