Fried chicken and a hugely popular high school baseball series is a surprise collaboration we never saw coming.

Ever since we heard that McDonald’s would be bringing out a Chicken Tatsuta range in Japan with an advertising campaign featuring some of the manga/anime world’s most famous characters, we knew we had to give them a try.

So when the new menu items were released on 27 January, our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami stepped up to the plate for the taste test. And being a seasoned taste-tester and a big fan of the featured series, she brought with her a discerning palate and a critical eye.

▼ Touch, a nostalgic high school baseball anime written and illustrated by Mitsuru Adachi, is the star of the new McDonald’s campaign.

Touch is a series that etched itself into the hearts of the nation when it debuted in the ’80s, becoming one of the highest-selling manga ever and one of the most-watched series when the anime version was released. A lot of adults today, Masami included, still remember the emotional rollercoaster the series took them on, particularly when–spoiler alert!–Kazuya, one of the three main characters, died suddenly early on in the story.

Kazuya (middle), and his older twin brother Tatsuya (left) had been vying for the affections of the girl they grew up next door to, Minami Asakura (right).

Each of the three characters is now being attached to one of the three new Chicken Tatsuta menu items for the new McDonald’s campaign. As the eat-in placemats show, Tatsuya is represented by the Chicken Tatsuta (390 yen [US$3.76]), a limited-time burger that has appeared in the past, while Kazuya is embodied in the never-before-seen Chicken Tatsuta Setouchi Lemon Tartar (420 yen), which contains tartar sauce and lemon from the Setouchi region to resemble his bittersweet storyline.

▼ If you’re like Manami and can’t decide which of the two you like best, you can try the bite-sized Chicken Tatsuta pieces.

The Chicken Tatsuta range slots in perfectly with the series title, as Tatsuta (タツタ) and Touch (タッチ) look remarkably similar in Japanese. For added effect, the font used to advertise the Tatsuta items matches the font used in the series title.

As much as Masami loved the character of Kazuya, she decided to choose the original Tatsuta Burger for her taste test, seeing as she’d never had one before. And as she looked at the gorgeous box it came in, all the memories of her own youth came flooding back to her.

Looking inside, she was impressed to see the burger bun match the advertising posters so accurately, and after taking a bite, she was even more impressed.

The fried chicken was tender, juicy and filled with the flavours of ginger and soy sauce, making it very different to the chain’s regular burger range. It was a nostalgic flavour combination for Masami, and as she continued eating, she felt as if she was receding further and further back into her childhood years, that time of her life when she consumed the most manga, anime, and fast food.

▼ In so many ways, this really was the bittersweet taste of her childhood.

Everything about the Chicken Tatsuta was fantastic, and she could now understand why people rave about it so much that it returns to menus time and time again. In fact, they’d do well to add this to the menu permanently as another example of a very Japanese flavour, alongside the Teriyaki McBurger and the Teriyaki Chicken Filet-O.

▼ After finishing her burger, Masami took a moment to admire Minami, on the Hitokuchi (Bite-sized) Tatsuta.

Priced at 200 yen for five, these were also fantastic–like regular chicken nuggets but with a fresh hit of ginger and soy included in the coating.

These really were bit-sized, and so easy to eat Masami had to hold herself back from ordering a dozen more packs of them.

Making the campaign even more bittersweet is the fact that it’s only available for a limited time, until the end of February. Masami plans to visit again before the offer ends though, this time to try the burger dedicated to Kazuya, and she might just bring along some of her favourite manga as well, so she can really feel like she’s gone back in time to her youth while enjoying her meal.

Related: McDonald’s Japan
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