The flavor of the Light and Dark Crystals pairs great with a bottle of Moogle tea from Lawson.

In a Japanese city, you’re never very far away from a convenience store, and you can expect said convenience store to be stocked with all sorts of tasty temptations. When one of those happens to be Final Fantasy fried chicken, though, a trip to the convenience store goes from optional side quest to mandatory main story content.

And so it was that I found myself outside my local branch of convenience store chain Lawson on Tuesday night. Next to its entrance the store was proudly flying a banner of its fried chicken mascot character, Karaage-kun (who shares its name with the store-brand fried chicken itself), dressed as Final Fantasy’s warrior of light.

For those who haven’t acquired many Japanese convenience store experience points yet, “convenience store fried chicken” might sound about as appealing as “gas station steak,” but rest assured, Karaage-kun is delicious stuff, and a best-seller for decades in a country where sub-par fare quickly gets ignored by the nation’s many foodies. For its tie-up with the Final Fantasy franchise, Lawson has created a brand-new Karaage-kun flavor: Light and Dark Crystal.

That’s not the only treasure waiting inside Lawson for Final Fantasy fans, though. Head over to the drink section, and you’ll find cold bottles of Moogle Pon Pon Tea, each with one of four cute creature pals. Two of them are Namazu and Korpokkur

…but let’s be real, the ones we’re here for are Chocobo and Moogle!

After making it back home with no random monster encounters, I couldn’t help but notice how nice the color design is on the Karaage-kun box, with high-contrast hues that seem appropriate for a team-up with a video game series known for its impressive visuals.

▼ It’s also clever how the slot for the included toothpick is positioned to make it look like the Karaage-kun of Light’s Moogle ally is carrying it to him.

Curious to see what Light and Dark Crystal-flavor fried chicken looks like, I opened up the lid, and found out it’s suitably surprising.

Each piece of chicken looks like it’s swirling with some sort of dark energy…but only on one side. Turn it over, and you’ve got a “Light” side, which is much more normal in appearance.

▼ Naturally, this called for some Plates of Light and Darkness.

The reason for this dual nature is because the Light and Dark Karaage-kun is a combination of two flavors: black pepper and tarter sauce. Believe it or not, there’s even more of a battle between Light and Dark going on inside, as its cross section looks like no other fried chicken I’ve ever seen.

If you didn’t know what it was ahead of time, it might actually be kind of disturbing to look at. But while it might not be the most appetizing thing to look at, it tastes great! Instead of the two flavors blending into a single hodgepodge, they alternate rolling over your taste buds, sort of like a turn-based battle system. The pepper, which is the strongest sensation overall, comes first, followed by the tartar sauce. Then the sequence repeats, but with gentler effects.

There is, however, something very unusual that happens. As the flavor profile trails off into a subtle tartness from the tartar sauce part, the sensation has a split-second resemblance to mild pickles. Mixed in with the meaty chicken and starch from the breading, for the briefest moment it almost feels like you’re eating a fast-food hamburger and fries.

There’re fewer surprises with the Moogle Pon Pon Tea. Regardless of which label you have, the contents are the same: oolong tea.

▼ Yes, the only clear glass I own is a sake cup.

As far as oolong teas go, this one is more on the bitter side than the fragrant one, but still makes a nice chilled thirst-quencher.

Priced at 216 yen (US$1.95) and 168 yen, respectively, Lawson’s Final Fantasy fried chicken and Moogle tea are on sale now, for a limited-time, and are both worthy entries in the ever-expanding Final Fantasy food group.

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