New Anime

McDonald’s is Getting an Anime. No, Really!

Whether you love or hate them, McDonald’s is one of the biggest fast-food chains in the world. Everyone in America can recognize those iconic golden arches that promise cheap food. And they’re just as successful in Japan, to the point where they’ve made cameos in various anime. Or rather, it’s WcDonald’s, the cheeky, fictional counterpart, that makes the appearances. Debuting in a 1983 episode of the anime Cat’s Eye, WcDonald’s inverts the “M” upside down, hence the name. Since then, some versions of it have appeared in anime, ranging from Cowboy Bebop to Inuyasha. And, since anime is mainstream in the West, McDonald’s has decided to cash in on the success by embracing the fictional counterpart. 

This isn’t a joke. I could not make this up.

From February 26th to March 18th, McDonald’s will be embracing its anime counterpart as part of a promotional event. They’ll be inverting the M to a W, introducing a limited-time chili dipping sauce, and including manga-themed packaging and QR codes to a WcDonald’s manga. 

It gets crazier, though. They’re teaming up with Studio Pierrot to create a series of shorts based on different anime genres. They’ve got a website and everything!

That’s not all. From March 9th-10th, McDonald’s will turn a real-life location in Los Angeles into a WcDonald’s, complete with tabletop projections and mapping inspired by the shorts. Reservations are open on the 28th via OpenTable.

This entire thing is making me chuckle, both out of amusement and disbelief. On the one hand, this feels like further proof that anime has gone from being a niche interest into a mainstream one. Or proof that anime is closer to achieving pop cultural hegemony. On the other hand, this also feels like a cash grab on McDonald’s part. They’re trying to ride on anime’s coattails to make money, and it shows. On the other hand, I’m too interested to be cynical about it.

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has dabbled in animation. Between 1998 and 2003, they teamed up with animation studio Klasky Csupo to create the miniseries The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald. For context, that’s the studio that produced some of the big Nicktoons like RugratsThe Wild ThornberrysAaahh!!! Real Monsters and Rocket Power. 

Here’s hoping that McDonald’s does an excellent job of distributing the sauce and other items. Many might remember the Szechuan sauce craze brought on by Rick and Morty a few years ago. That did not go well for them, and this could go just as wrong. Fingers crossed that everyone can enjoy the sauce and the anime. 

I will come back once the shorts and manga are out and give you my honest opinion on them. 

Special thanks to Aaron for pointing this out to me. I appreciate it, Aaron!

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