Battlestar Galactica, Attack on Titan, Hulu Plus, and Tostitos’s Cantina Chipotle Salsa

I never made it past the third episode of Battlestar Galactica. A friend had described the initial premise of the show, that humanity’s last survivors were being chased down and slaughtered, required to jump every 33 minutes on a futile run for their lives through space. That sounded like an awesome premise for an extremely dark miniseries of maybe six or seven episo–

What’s that, you say? Battlestar Galactica lasted four seasons, 73 episodes in total? Wow.

I don’t know. Maybe I set my hopes too high, but once that premise goes away after the third episode and the pace slows down significantly, I just wasn’t interested anymore.

Even before that, the show just felt a little too… SyFy channel for my tastes. A little too cheap, a little too silly, not quite gritty enough. It’s the same problem I have with Dr. Who, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.

But while I stopped watching Battlestar Galactica, I still love the idea of a show that captures that feeling of cold hopelessness, of a total lack of mercy for its characters.

In comes another friend with another recommendation: Attack on Titan.

“This is the show you wanted Battlestar Galactica to be,” he told me, calling it “the new hotness” in Japan. Attack on Titan, he described, is a show where a race of mindless human-eating giants known as Titans have pushed humans to build huge rings of walls to keep the Titans out of the last human safe area. A Colossus Titan that can think appears out of nowhere and kicks a hole in the outermost ring and lets all the Titans in. The series, as my friend described it, is basically just watching the humans lose repeatedly against the onslaught as they retreat further and further into the rings as the Titans advance.

So, yeah, pretty dark.

It’s such a cool idea for a show. The whole thing is like Game of Thrones meets Neon Genesis Evangelion. The world is structured like Westeros of the former, with its system of walls to keep out fantastical threats, unending hierarchy and corruption, and overall dark tone, and the anime flavoring and mech fighting of the latter.

It’s the Neon Genesis side where the show is weakest for me. I would say that 50% is a realistic (and conservative) percentage of the dialogue in the show that is devoted to the following topics:

  • Self-doubt.
  • Duty.
  • Cowardice.
  • “The benefit of humankind.”
  • “The humiliation of living in a cage.”

Of course, that’s mostly cultural differences. I’ve read a lot about Japanese culture over the years, so honestly, it’s not surprising to me that most of the conversations in the show revolve around that kind of stuff. Frankly, Game of Thrones and a lot of other Western media is full of that kind of stuff as well, but in Japanese media, characters tend to express it more explicitly and outwardly.

All the same, it’s too much sometimes, especially when you have characters like Jean who alternates between a) having anxiety attacks that stem from the fear of not being able to live up to the expectations on him, and b) grabbing the main character, Eren, by the shoulders and telling him the fate of every man, woman, and child rests entirely on his shoulders and his shoulders alone, so don’t blow it.

As well, the show takes a pretty terrible transition from that initial premise to “dudes can totally turn into Titans and fight like mechs” about a third of the way through. When it’s initially introduced with just Eren, it’s actually kind of interesting, but as the show goes on and it’s discovered that it’s not just him, the show completely shifts its focus onto that and forgets all about how scary normal Titans can be, and at that point, you’re basically just watching Neon Genesis or Gundam, but like… fleshy, which is gross.

But it’s a good show, easily consumable, and I definitely recommend it to anyone willing to put up with, as my friend put it, “the standard anime bs.” It’s freely available now on Hulu.

I don’t, however, recommend subscribing to Hulu Plus.

My friend and I wanted to watch the first couple episodes of Attack on Titan together on my TV rather than hunched around a computer screen like losers, so I signed up for the 7-day trial of Hulu Plus so that we’d be able to watch the show with my PlayStation 4, and wow, that service is a total ripoff.

You still have to watch ads.

I thought maybe it was just for the PS4 app, but no, when I went to watch the rest of the series on my computer, it’s the same way. What are you even paying for at that point?

Like, yes, I understand that Hulu Plus has exclusive content and new episodes appear there first, but for a show like Attack on Titan that’s already available in full to everyone, there is literally no benefit to a Hulu Plus subscription at that point.

The worst part is that I had to sit through basically the same four or five ads for the entirety of Attack on Titan’s 25 episodes. There’s a couple car commercials, a really long commercial for some dumb camera where the music at the end of the ad got burned into my brain, and a couple of commercials for Tositos’s new Cantina chips and salsa, which I guess are not new at all and were actually introduced last year but fuck if I know, man, c’mon. “Salsa news” is not a category in my RSS reader (though it probably should be).

Well, I finished Attack on Titan, finished with Hulu, canceled my Hulu Plus membership on like, the 2nd day of the 7-day trial, but goddammit, I was in Food Lion yesterday buying a few groceries and I happened to walk past a stand for the Cantina chips and salsa. I stopped and sighed, disappointed in myself, then put them in my basket. I had to know. And you know what?

They’re not even that good.

I went with the Chipotle salsa and thin chips because the packaging looked like it was hinting at me that they’d go better with the Chipotle salsa than with the Roasted Garlic flavor. Fine by me.

Really, this is why I bought them. This is what they look like in the commercials:

I mean, that looks pretty good, right? We can admit that. Fine, me first. That looks pretty good. There’s so much stuff in it. That’s what I like to see. I hate when you open a salsa jar and it’s mostly liquid. I like my salsa chunky.

Well, I opened the jar of salsa and god I wish I’d thought to take a picture of it because it was perhaps the saddest sight I’ve ever seen. Not a single vegetable was poking through the liquid. It was like buying a little jar of tomato juice. I tried to drain a little bit of the juice, but honestly, the vegetables are so small that I gave up. It’s just a very liquidy salsa.

It tasted OK, I guess. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of Chipotle flavor so I don’t know why I went with it. I think I just always forget what Chipotle tastes like until I try something like this again. It’s got that little hint of tangy flavor that some people really dig, but I’m just not that into. It’s like if you took regular salsa and crunched up a handful Lay’s barbecue chips in there.

It’s the right kind of hot for me though. Spicy enough that it leaves my tongue and lips tingling without burning, but not so spicy that it starts sacrificing flavor.

The chips are totally fine. They’re chips. Salty, crunchy, tasty. I’d probably switch to the other kind because these were a little thin for my taste and have a tendency to crack in half as you try to scoop salsa out, and then you have to dig out the chip fragment as it sinks lest it get all weird and soggy and gross at the bottom of the jar only to be discovered later. But still, they tasted fine.

No, nobody rushed in like the commercials as though my bedroom is an authentic Mexican restaurant. Yes, that was a little disappointing.

Easily the most disappointing part of the salsa though is still just how not-chunky it is. I mean, again, refer to the commercials:

It’s like a beautiful cascading waterfall of salsa chunks from that chip. In fact, the jar is actually overflowing with salsa chunks, which of course makes no sense, but still, man. That’s what they advertised.

So, to recap: Battlestar Galactica isn’t for me, Attack on Titan is, Hulu Plus is dumb, and Tostitos Cantinas Salsa is a lie. Cool.