Cameron's review of Shirakiku Ramune Melon reminded me that I have several bottles of various Ramune flavors in Lab storage. One, in particular, seemed Weirder than the usual, and so I think we should start with that. Joining me today are the Junior Assistant Taster and the Kibbitzer-in-Chief.
Today's Weirdness is Hello Kitty Ramune. This flavor is Weird beyond my experience; cat-flavored soda will be a new frontier for us. The label prominently features a rotund white cat wearing a wetsuit and clutching a surfboard. In her (?) fur a hibiscus flower is displayed. How she can have become so rotund or have the energy for surfing without a mouth (a feature conspicuously absent) is unclear; I am guessing that this cat is either a genetically-engineered photosynthetic plant-feline hybrid (which might work well for a surfer, given access to plentiful water and sunlight) or is hooked up to some sort of intravenous nutrient delivery system out of sight I note that her lower body is not shown on the label.
The label specifies this as a "carbonate soft drink", and suggests "for an even more delicious this drink, chill before drinking". Alas, this one is only partially chilled.
While the ingredients list does not list cat as one of the components, it does mention "artificial flavors". This could, presumably, include Hello Kitty, especially if she is the aforementioned lichen-like semi-plant hybrid (which should qualify as artificial). Fortunately, true to the scientific nature of the WSR Testing Labs, we have an exquisitely tuned piece of equipment here which will allow us to detect the slightest hint of cat--that being the Kibbitzer-in-Chielf, whose immune system responds to the presence of cats by attempting to cause her to explode.
Unfortunately, we don't have time to go through the proper K-i-C calibration procedure (namely, shoving a cat under her nose and making sure her detector system is working), so we'll have to assume she is functional and proceed.
Where and when: purchased sometime in September at Mitsuwa Marketplace, West Los Angeles, CA
Color: JAT: "Clear." I believe he is referring to the color, rather than indicating his understanding or Scientological status.
Scent: JAT: "Slightly cherry-ish." I would call it closer to citrus--it lacks the roundness of cherry. Quite sharp and biting, sweet. I do see what he means--there is a fruity note.
Kibbitzer-in-Chief: *grimaces* "Smells like childrens' Tylenol." But she says that about a lot of artifical sweet things. No evidence of allergy attack is evident. "Like fake bubble gum."
JAT: "Yeah. Fake bubble gum."
As an experiment, I think I'll test whether he's just very compliant/suggestibe.
Me: "I'd call it kind of dirty sock-like. What do you think?"
JAT: "Dirty sock like?" *considers* "No."
I think he just likes the K-i-C better. Understandable.
JAT: "I kind of like it." Of course.
Me: "What would you say it tastes like?"
JAT: "Horrible at the end. It feels horrible at the end. Something dry rubbing against the inside of your throat."
Me: "So do you like it or not?"
JAT: "The beginning, yeah. It's fine."
The very first taste--as in the first half second--is more or less blameless, just sugar water with some bite. Not nearly as much citrus bite as the scent suggests, though. However, After about half a second, there's an odd watery, slightly bitter taste which emerges and runs alongside the sweet. It's reminiscent of tap water. This gets stronger toward the end.
K-i-C: *sniffs* "Uh, the smell is much worse now that it has more surface area." *drinks, is speechless for some time, while frowning and smacking her lips. Finally...*"Luckily, it's not very strong." *pause* "Eh. It has a bad aftertaste."
JAT: Wouldn't you say the beginning is fine?"
K-i-C: "No, because that's when you smell it."
The fact that the K-i-C has not yet broken out into hives suggests to me that there is, in fact, no cat in this.
I've had Ramune which is enjoyable, but this does not fall into that category. However, I have to give the makers credit for accuracy; I respond to this about as I do to the actual Hello Kitty. Right at first, it's vaguely cute and pleasant, but immediately becomes vapid and pointless, and finally leaves you feeling abandoned with nothing but featureless, nondescript vaguely sweet memories with no character and a growing sense of the futility of the whole enterprise.
It is possible, of course, that the K-i-C's cat-detection capacities were nonfunctional. Perhaps in a future review we can revisit Hello Kitty Ramune, once my marriage has been reinforced sufficiently that the calibration process would not result in severe damage to the calibrating individual.
Nah. So not worth it.
Quaff rating: 1.5. Really, not worth it at all.
Cough rating: 1.0. Blech.
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