Friday night, suburban Tokyo. All through the week, the eager Japanese public have been waiting to hear what flavor the mystery Pokémon McFlurry will be. Options ranged from the reassuringly pleasant to the downright bizarre - after all, this is coming from a country that brought wasabi Kit Kat into the world (which we've tried, and, to our surprise, found to be not as utterly horrendous as we suspected). It honestly wouldn't have surprised us if 'Gengar sweet potato' was the winner (which, incidentally, is also a flavour of Kit Kat in Japan), but we digress.
You see, Japan loves a good collaboration and there's no better time than a big movie release. With Pokémon 20 - I chose you! In cinemas this weekend, McDonald's and the Pokemon company thought they would have some fun conjuring up some wacky Pokémon-themed flavours of the popular summer treat. This is coming from a company that thought it was totally acceptable to put double chocolate sauce on French Fries a few years back (which we also tried - it was foul) so part of us assumed that Charmander's spicy pepper or even Bulbasaur's broccoli would prevail. Of course, it wasn't meant to be, and the brand's stalwart icon Pikachu emerged victorious, becoming immortalized in ice cream form as 'choco banana'.
Friday night in Tokyo. we queued up amongst salary men and students on an unbearably humid night. An employee carries down a stack of Pikachu-faced containers. We were hedging our bets, as we wondered if it wasn't due for release until tomorrow. We look up at the cashier - this is it, it's our turn. We nervously point to the menu. Before we could utter the second syllable she says the magic word 'Pika!' and we both smile the kind of smile that only the joy of Pocket Monsters can bestow. We inspect at the cup; we've heard that each one features a different expression - ours is filled with happiness, which is nice.
Then we gaze inside the container and discover, much like Michael Douglas' character in the movie Falling Down, that we've fallen foul of some textbook false advertising on McDonald's part. It looks very little like the delicious McFlurry shown on the menu, but it is at least very banana-ry and satisfying, with the chocolate pieces melting into a goop we could just about spoon without resorting to a straw.
We sadly didn't get the chance to truly savour it - such is the Japanese summer - and we'll always think about what could have been. Bulbasaur, given the choice... we would have chosen you.