Had your fill of Toonami’s Weekly Lineup? Looking for More Anime? Here’s a few places to start looking!

I’m at that age where I’m old enough to remember watching Gundam Wing, Dragonball and Sailor Moon in the early 1990s, Dragonball Z a few years later, Fullmetal Alchemist, Code geass and Death Note about twelve years ago and more recently, the likes of Soul Eater, Blue Exorcist, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Bleach. What all of these Anime have in common is at one time or another they all aired on Cartoon Network and/or its anime block, Toonami.

Back in the day, you only really had Toonami and 4Kids to get your Anime fix. Things are very different now. As an added incetive, outside TV and Hulu there are no commercial interruptions so…yeah. Here’s two places I reccommend to get started:

This should come as no surprise given I reviewed it in January. For those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s basically Netflix but just Anime and Korean Dramas. Like Netflix, programming is on demand but like Hulu, new episodes are made available right after they’ve aired on TV in Japan.  Even though I’m a Dub Man and the Anime CR provides is all Subbed, no other provider comes close to the sheer volume of Anime they have to offer.

Crunchyroll can be streamed through both Microsoft and Sony Consoles as well as the Vita, iOS/Android devices and of course, your computer’s browser. CR is 100% free to watch on your computer but if you want to stream it, it’ll cost you $7 a month which is a buck less than Netflix for prettymuch just Anime.  The original content is easily worth the monthly subscription in my book.

 

As the first streaming service I ever used and as much as I hate to admit it, Netflix has its usefulness in regards to Anime. While the streaming giant has been quietly making original content in recent months (Orange is the New Black and House of Cards), it has also been acquiring exclusive licensing deals with various media providers. One such deal brought the entire Pokemon series to Netflix. At the moment, The Indigo League and The Unova Saga as well as the Reshiram and Zekrom movies are the only Pokemon-related stuff they have so far but those ALONE will easily take a few weeks to go through. The rest are set to be added over the coming months.

Moving on, almost all of the Anime I now own I saw for the first time on Netflix: Clannad, School Rumble, Ouran High School Host Club and Samurai Champloo to name a few. The small but respectable selection of Anime they have is a great place for folks to cut their teeth on Dubs without having to deal with the Ads on Hulu. Netflix also has Attack on Titan Subbed, which recently started airing on Toonami.

Like Crunchyroll, Netflix streams on both Sony and Microsoft consoles as well as the Vita and the 3DS family handhelds and all the rest. It’s $8 a month which isn’t bad. I actually have both CR and Netflix so…yeah. As a reminder: When streaming both CR and Netflix there are NO ADS =D

 

That’s just to whet your appitite.

So now you wanna buy some Anime but not ready for the DVD/Blu-Ray sets yet? That’s ok. I know a few providers that can help you get your Anime fix and the prices are obscenely cheap:

 

 

These were the first places I bought Anime from starting about seven years ago with Xbox Live’s PC Client Zune. The first Anime I bought was Ah! My Goddess! Unsurprisingly, I went on to own both seasons, the movie and two thirds of the Manga volumes (LOL!). This brings up the all-important question of cost. It really depends on which route you go. If you wand Standard Definition (SD) it’s $2 per episode across the board and $3 for High Definition (HD) episodes. While yes, HD is better quality the files are also MUCH bigger and in the cases of the consoles they can really eat up your storage if you’re not careful. For movies, the cost is $8-$10 though with those that have HD versions available it’s $12 or $15.

Both iTunes and Xbox Live/Zune allow you to buy whole seasons if you want. If a season is airing, you can buy a Season Pass which gets you all the episodes of a season in progress so far plus the rest of the episodes made available for download as early as an hour after they’ve aired on TV. You can also just buy all the episodes of a season at a flat rate after all the episodes have aired.

I reccommend one or both personally in regards to Anime. Most Anime seasons are 12 to 13 or 24 to 26 episodes long so…yeah. On average, Buying a whole season on average runs between $18 to $32 on both Xbox Live/Zune and iTunes (the Playstation Network doesn’t currently offer whole season purchases). I wouldn’t pay more than $30 personally for a digital copy of an Anime season or series. The most I paid was $24 each for both seasons of Spice & Wolf, Ah! My Goddess!, and Rosario + Vampire as well as Shuffle! (I bought the DVD set last year at Anime Boston) which I bought on Xbox Live three years ago. Each episode (Standard Definition) was $2 so more often than not, I got a real good deal on a season package. I paid $24 for the Shuffle DVD set in case you’re wondering.

 

…I’ve talked about Xbox Live/Zune almost exclusively but there SEVERAL benefits to buying your Anime on iTunes and The Playstation Network, more so if like me you have quite a few of their portable devices =O

For starters, once you buy anything from iTunes you can download it on all of your devices right away. Cross-buy and cross-download is also possible so for example if you buy Wolf Children on your PS3, you can download it to your Vita or PSP at no extra cost. Don’t wanna wait for it to download? You can stream it while it’s downloading in the case of Xbox Live/Zune and iTunes. In all three cases, you can que multiple downloads simultaneously.

Of course, the smart way to distribute your stuff after you’ve bought and downloaded it to your PC/PS3 is to use a Sync cable so you can get it on Portable device in seconds and not minutes or hours.

Whew…now we’ree getting to the third and final layer. In case it isn’t obvious: I am only providing LEGAL OPTIONS to get your Anime. Of course, there are illegal means but if you wanted to go that route, you probably wouldn’t have read this much (LOL). Support your favorite anime and BUY it!

 

That said, the final layer is of course DVD and/or Blu-Ray. While yes, Digital Purchases are the future there’s nothing wrong with wanting to own a physical copy of your favorite anime and anime movies. I have 14 Anime DVD and Blu-Ray sets (I count multiple seasons as part of a set personally) and 6 Anime movies myself so…yeah. I got most of my Box Sets during Anime Boston and have actually made it a tradition to buy two Anime Box sets at Anime Boston. For example I got Ouran High School Host Club and Fate/ZERO this year and Samurai Champloo and Shuffle! last year.

You really can’t go wrong when you buy your Anime on DVD/Blu-Ray: No DRM, no internet connection, no monthly fees, no ads, nothing but the Anime. The best part is you can decide if you want to watch it with the English Audio (default setting) or the Japanese Audio. With the other layers you’re locked into one or the other.

As for the price, that depends on where you look and how rare the Anime you’re looking to buy is. For example, Code Geass Season 1 goes for $49 while Season 2 costs $72. Persona 4 Blu-Ray is about $27 for each season (they split it in half for the home release presumably to bring the price down and double profits at the same time). Samurai Champloo (complete series) goes for $28 on DVD and $30 on Blu Ray.

Some sets are simply rarer or more common than others. Much of it has to do with licensing and/or the original distributor going under, ending the production of new DVD/Blu-Ray Sets. This is what happened to Code Geass. Those who paid attention will have noticed this Anime never reaired on Cartoon Network/Toonami. The reason for that is the company that held the license went under while the series was wrapping up on Toonami so it was never reaired. It’s also the reason the DVD Sets are so rare and costly XD

 

Ok that’s it for now. Up next, I’ll throw out my reccommended picks for folks who are not fans of Anime =D

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Final Verdict on Hulu Plus: Anime Library not worth putting up with the Ads

The crazy thing was I foolishly hoped I would be spared having to deal with ads since Hulu Plus is a PAID service.

Not so much.

It’s as I said on Facebook a few minutes ago: Hulu Plus may have the largest legal streaming Anime libraary possibly ever due to the Neon Alley buyout but it’s not worth sitting through the ads.

As I also mentioned in the same post on Facebook, due to licensing issues and/or the latest update, half the Anime I bought on Xbox Live is no longer usable. I’m hopeful it’s just a bug due to the update from last week but I’ve already accepted it as a loss. I already went through Xbox Live’s customer service twice for a refund and they came up with everything they could think of to not give me what I was owed.

It’s because of that experience I started buying Anime on DVD and iTunes: The chances of gettting screwed over because of DRM are significantly less likely that way.

Reminder: Today is the last day the Neon Alley App will work on your PS3/Xbox 360

 

Read this if you need a refresher but yeah.

After today, your only choices to legally stream Anime will be Netflix, Crunchyroll and Hulu Plus. Listen: I just logged into my Hulu account for the first time in almost 6 years. I checked the available Anime and was floored: Not only does Hulu have nearly all of the Anime currently and formerly available on Netflix but they’ve got literally DOZENS more I’d only seen listed on iTunes/Xbox Live/Playstation Network.

And that catalog is going to more than double in size come tomorrow.

It was then that I remembered I also happen to have the Hulu Plus App on all of my game systems as well as my iPod and Android Phone. Not only that, the monthly sub for Hulu is actually $6 and not $10 like I originally thought, which was the same price as Neon Alley’s subscription. That’s $2 less than what Netflix charges. Add to that Hulu, like Crunchyroll has simulcast. It basically means new episodes become available right after it airs on TV.

Despite that, Netflix is still the Steaming King. Why? It’s movie library alone is bigger than everything Hulu has to offer combined.

Even so, I’m going to activate Hulu Plus on my account this Friday. I go where the Anime’s at plain and simple. That’s why I got Crunchyroll and Neon Alley earlier this year. I will cancel my premium service on Crunchyroll at the end of the week as well since I only really watch Naruto Shippuden on the CR anyway. I also prefer my Anime Dubbed so the decision should be obvious. The changeover will cut my monthly Streaming bill to $14 between Netflix and Hulu Plus.

This is just speaking for me of course.

If you prefer strictly Subbed, Crunchyroll alone is right up your alley. If you don’t mind Dubbed, just Hulu Plus or Netflix will keep your occupied for a while. If you want to catch up on the last 24 years’ worth of Anime, just Hulu Plus will do it.

The reason I’m getting both is because again, Netflix is the Streaming King where movies are concerned. I am also very curious to see what Netflix’s answer, if any to Neon Alley merging with Hulu may be.

 

Only 40 Anime Titles remain on Netflix. BUY YOUR DUBBED ANIME!

 

In light of a conversation I’ve been having with someone over the last day and a half regarding my previous blog on Netflix’s shrinking Anime lineup, I decided to make a blog about why buying your Anime is the best alternative.

Before I get to that yes, there are only 40 Anime titles on Netflix. The most recent Anime cut from their lineup include Heroic Age, Ouran High School Host Club and Fruits Basket. Having recently purchased Heroic Age along with Vandread on DVD (both really good Anime with bipedal robots fighting in space) I considered myself lucky I decided to buy the DVD sets (I got a good deal on Amazon). I no longer use Netflix for Anime like I did two years ago. The dwindling Anime titles available makes that a lost cause. Having said that, I want to explain something:

Netflix Originals aside, Netflix doesn’t decide  what programs it will host first and foremost. The license holders do. This is something Netflix should do a better job letting its subscribers know, more so if they want people to make informed decisions about weather or not they want to keep using their streaming service. All the angry “Bring back ______!” messages people post to Netflix’s Twitter and Facebook pages? Netflix forwards them to the license holders. Let me break it down: Netflix entered an exclusive deal with Disney last year as everyone knows. The deal lasts through 2018 and gives Netflix exclusive rights to offer Disney movies and TV shows via its streaming service. Now, Netflix had a contract to offer many Anime from their various license holders–Funimation, Gonzo, Sunrise and Sentai Filmworks to name a few–and said contracts expired and were not renewed.

The reasons for why they were not renewed may never be known publicly but the likley reasons all lie with the license holder. For example, Funimation streams the Anime it has licensed through their own website. It’s not hard to figure out why they want to be in full control of how the titles they hold the rights to is distributed. In an industry under attack by piracy on one side, a shrinking market on another and the growing number of people in the West who prefer Subbed over Dubbed, companies like Funimation would naturally take steps to ensure it survives as an business.

That’s why I say piracy is a big no-no. When I was in High School yes, I did pirate some Anime. When I got a job that all changed. Thanks to my time at Anime Boston and meeting two of my favorite voice actors–David Matranga and Caitlin Glass–I’ve come to a better understanding as to why Anime fans should support the industry with their money.

Let me explain to you three big differences between those who dub Anime and those who dub American cartoons:

  1. Anime Dubbers don’t make alot of money. They do what they do because they’re good at it and enjoy the work.
  2. Most people who dub Anime are unknown outside the inudustry, the few exceptions being Luci Christian (Nagisa, Tenma and almost 100 others), Sean Schimmel (Goku) and Johnny Bosch Young (Ichigo Kurosaki, Vash The Stampede, Yu Narukami and two dozen others). In comparison, most American Voice Actors who start off as unknowns become very well known based on the popularity of the characters they play.
  3. All the voice actors for an Anime are rarely in the studio together. It’s not uncommon for multiple actors to be called in to voice the same character before they settle on a specific Voice Actor. In the American cartoons, once they’ve chosen someone for a role the voice actor gets a contract for the duration of the show’s lifespan or until the contract expires, whichever happens first.

In pirating Anime, you’re robbing voice actors of income. They don’t collect royalty checks like their counterparts do. They’re paid for their work upfront or in installments but nowhere near someone like, say Hank Azaria (Homer Simpson’s voice actor). The three VAs I named above are a few exceptions but only because their work extends to video games and American cartoons.

If you want Anime, your best bet is to buy it. I get my Anime from iTunes, Xbox Live and Amazon but there are other online stores to chose from out there. There are only a handful of Anime left that I’m looking for but Ouran High School Host Club and Fruits Basket were already on that list. Netflix no longer having them doesn’t change that for me.

For those who either can’t afford to or don’t want to buy your Anime, contact the license holders. Tell then why you want them to negotiatiate with Netflix to bring back your favorite Anime.

 

Only 67 Anime Titles remain on Netflix

I want to open with the last two paragraphs of my previous blog post:

This year proved to be a diffucult one for Anime Fans who use Netflix: More than half of the Anime available in January is gone. While it is obvious Netflix signing an exclusive deal with Disney is their way of getting back at Starz (who they failed to renew their contract with earlier this year), the loss of quality Anime isn’t something that can be ignored.

In my case it’s forced me to buy some of the Anime I first saw on Netflix either via Xbox Live or on DVD. The four DVD purchases were planned in advance but for those either unable to or unwilling to buy their favorite Anime losing it on Netflix is a major blow. The fact that they didn’t try to reach out to Funimation, VIZ Media, Animplex and others directly will be remembered. This is the second year in a row Netflix dropped the ball, leaving its member base to pay the price. If they have any unplayed trump cards, now would be the time to use them.

Indeed, if Netflix knows something the rest of us don’t they should think about doing something soon. Granted Instant Streaming only costs $8 a month and Anime isn’t exactly the focus but given a large chunk of their subscribers are collage age, families or Gamers having a well-rounded catalog keeps everyone happy. Last year Netflix failed to renew its contract with Starz, who handles distrbution for a the majority of the Anime now gone from the online catalog, among them many titles I now own either on DVD or via Xbox Live: Clannad (Season 1), Ah! My Goddess!, Kenichi The Mighiest Disciple, Spice & Wolf, School Rumble and Shuffle!.

When I first started using Netflix there had to be well over 250 titles. At present only 67 Anime series and movies remain. Of the remaining 67 titles there are a few rare gems, most notably Samurai Champloo, Elfen Lied, Ouran High School Host Club, Tears to Tiara and Gungrave. Samurai 7 (currently airing on Toonami) can also be found on Netflix in its entirety, allowing you to watch the Anime series in full instead of weekly. One can argue three of the biggest losses last year  from Netflix are Slayers (5 series), Bleach and Naruto (both subbed). Losing Noein (Localized by Starz) isn’t as big a loss given it’s available on Xbox Live (XBL), iTunes and the Playstation Network (PSN).

Even so…I don’t know. The political cycle was the main reason I kept my Netflix Sub through all of 2012. Unlike the vocal minority on the internet, I prefer to get my Anime using legal methods and don’t mind paying for it no matter the cost. If I can get it at a discount I’ll do that of course. For example you can buy most Anime Episodes on the PSN for just $2 and $1.60 on XBL. TAKE THAT, iTunes! be warned that if you do buy Anime on your PC from Zune (XBL’s PC Client) or Media Go (Sony’s PC Client) you will need to use the client itself to watch the media. There’s also the DRM restrictions to be mindful of to boot so…yeah. The upside to Zune/XBL though is as long as you have an internet connection you don’t necessarily have to download it after you bought it to watch it.

I’m not gonna lie: I have my favorite Anime. Even so, almost all of them I saw for the first time via Netflix. I want to say I’m hopeful the lost Anime will return but given Starz is being sought after by iTunes, Amazon and Microsoft for exclusive deals I don’t see it happening anytime soon. All in all the whole thing’s forced me to look at the competition. I can stream Hulu Plus on my Xbox and Wii so it’s there if I want it. XBL also supports Amazon Instant Video. AIV costing me $79 a year prevents me from doing it since I did the Amazon Prime Trial 2 years ago an that was before AIV was introduced.

Looks like I’m just going to have to just buy DVD sets from here on out. Zune/XBL hasn’t updated their Anime Library in ages but thankfully they haven’t removed that many Anime either which is just as good. The only noteworthy Anime removed is one I planned to buy but bought at Anime Boston 2012 in DVD: School Rumnble. For all intents and purposes I own most of my Favorite Anime in one form or another.

The problem is finding new Anime. The Manga Tree App on my Windows 8 laptop promises to keep me occupied. I’ll keep looking until I find a legal means of getting good quality Anime. Since I prefer Dubbed to Subbed I already know that limits where I can look. Even so will go with what works for me.

My Favorite Anime of 2012

This is something I’m hoping to do every year. Mostly it’ll be Anime I saw this year for the first time though you might see Anime released prior to this year too. Here are my Favorite Anime of 2012 in no particular order:

Blood+

“In world where flesh-eating monsters roam the streets, only one organization has the means to save civilization from annihilation: Red Shield, a specially-organized unit designed to fight these monsters, and the only weapon that can destroy them: Saya. Awakened from a 30-year sleep, Saya is thrust into a modern world which she has no memories of, and is troubled by a past filled only with bloodshed and sadness. With the undying love and support of her family and friends, she struggles to gain the strength to move forward and regain the pieces of her shattered memories.” ~Overview Courtesy of Anime Planet

I watched this 50-Episode Anime on Netflix over the last 3 days almost in one sitting. A few things the overview left out due to spoilers is Saya has a twin sister named Diva. The monsters–Chiropterrans–were created using Diva’s blood and only Saya’s blood can kill them. The reverse–demonstrated on one of Saya’s loved ones–also holds true. Due to major spoilers I will not name that person outright. The anime’s strictly 18+ due to violence and gore. Then again that should be no surprise given the name of the anime IS Blood +.

Overall I give it a 10/10. Unlike most Anime of this nature I felt the ending was complete. Anything lingering will be taken care of by Fanfics.

Clannad/Clannad After Story

“Tomoya Okazaki is a third-year high school student who is generally bored with life and doesn’t take his studies, future, or anything else seriously. One day, however, he meets a lonely-looking girl in the school courtyard, Nagisa Furukawa. She explains to him the source of her loneliness: she had missed a lot of the previous school year and thus is repeating her third year; everybody that she knew has already graduated, and she is lonely. Tomoya is rather indifferent at first, but decides that he has nothing better to do and spends increasingly more time helping Nagisa restore the school drama club. As his relationship with Nagisa grows, Tomoya begins to open up to various other people around the school as well…Summer break is now over; the second semester has started for Tomoya, Nagisa and the others, and little has changed. Since Tomoya’s relationship with his father is still troubled, he continues to live with Nagisa and her family, even if it means getting roped into organizing a baseball team for the family bakery. Life at school continues as normal with Sunohara as carefree as ever; however, when his sister Mei voices her concerns about him, the series of events that follow place a strain on Sunohara and Tomoya’s friendship. Whether it’s saving a person from themselves or passing on a message from the past, one thing’s for sure: no matter how tough things get, good friends will always be there to help out.” ~ Overview courtesy of Anime Planet

This should come as no surprise given I did a panel on Clannad at Anime Boston 2012.  Said panel will be back at Anime Boston 2013 assuming it is chosen. Clannad was the first Anime I bought on DVD in its entirety. Thanks to the  Manga Tree App I bought on my Windows 8 I’ve been able to (FINALLY) start reading the Manga.

On the off-chance you haven’t seen my blog in Clannad I gave it a 10/10. See the blog posting for more details. After Story is still on Netflix and here’s hoping season 1 will return in the new year.

Trigun

“Vash, the Stampede” – worth 60 billion dollars to the one who can turn him in. Bounty hunters everywhere are on the lookout for this legendary gunman, not to mention insurance agents Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, who are tasked with preventing any potential damage that this Vash can cause. But with 60 billion on his head, Vash is not an easy man to find.” ~ Overview Courtesy of Anime Planet

This is a Fan Favorite that never made it to Adult Swim/Toonami for whatever reason. The ever-talented Johnny Bosch Young is the voice of Vash. You know his voice if you watch Bleach (the voice of Ichigo) and those my age group or older know his face if you watched Power Rangers (played Adam) during the 1990s. I watched it for the first time earlier this year and enjoyed it. Vash is one of those guys who makes wearing eyeglasses cool. It really sells with the Wild West theme to the Anime series.

Overall I give Trigun a 10/10.  It’s got so much going on and has a nice-sized fanbase worldwide. It’s currently available on Neflix.

Ouran High School Host Club

“Ouran High is a school for the extremely wealthy or, in Haruhi’s case, the extremely talented. But no amount of talent will help when Haruhi accidentally drops an eight million yen vase in a music room. The vase was the property of Ouran High School Host Club, a group of attractive young men who, for a fee, provide their time and affections for their lovesick clientele: the female students. Fascinated by this strange new specimen, a poor and clumsy commoner, they force Haruhi to work for them until the debt is repaid; but they get a lot more than they bargained for…” ~ Overview Courtesy of Anime Planet

Another Fan Favorite that never made it to Adult Swim/Toonami. Unlike Trigun it’s easy to understand why Cartoon Network had to turn this one down. To quote Kirimi “There’s dubauchery!” The suggestive topics discussed were considered too risque for even Saturday Night TV. Even so Fans of OHSHC on this side of the Pacific ate up the Manga and later the Anime like value meals.

It’s available in full on Netflix currently. I give it a 10/10 purely for the entertainment value. It’s also relatively easy to follow, which is a plus ^_^

Rosario + Vampire

“Fifteen-year-old Tsukune Aono is average in every way; he has no hobbies, less-than-stellar grades and he’s even flunked his high school entrance exam. His parents have managed to enroll him in a school, but it’s no ordinary school! Tsukune will be attending the Youkai Academy, a place where monsters learn how to co-exist with humans! As the werewolves, vampires, witches and other monsters are required to retain their human forms, Tsukune – the lone human – is able to avoid their bloodthirsty gazes. However, he quickly attracts the attention of a number of devilish beauties including the vampire Moka, a busty succubus and even a young witch! It seems Tsukune’s average life isn’t so average anymore! It’s a new year and Aono Tsukune and the rest of the gang are now second year students. While Kurumu, Yukari and Shirayuki are being idolized as the beauties of the second years, Moka is receiving ten times the attention and fan mail, as well as… a death threat?! But when it turns out that the culprit is Moka’s younger sister, Kokoa, that is hell-bent on killing her, the situation becomes more complicated. Now, Tsukune has more than ever to deal with; from being stalked by Shirayuki and trying to get closer to Moka, to the appearance of Kokoa who hates her sister’s sealed form and doesn’t think twice about attacking Tsukune, it is certain that it won’t be a quiet year for the students at Youkai Academy!” ~ Courtesy of Anime Planet

The first thing I did after watching it in full on Netflix at the beginning of the year was buy the series on Xbox Live. It is interesting to note the name of the school–Yokai–is also theme of Anime Boston 2013. The Fan Service rampamt in the Anime was annoying–more so since I saw none of it in the Manga since I’ve started reading it. Overall I give it a 10/10 simply because is struck a good balance between being comical and serious.

Of course I’ve watched other Anime during the year. I did buy the Kenichi The Mighiest Disciple and School Rumble DV Sets (both seasons of both Animes) at Anime Boston as well. This year proved to be a diffucult one for Anime Fans who use Netflix: More than half of the Anime available in January is gone. While it is obvious Disney signing an exclusive deal with Disney is their way of getting back at Starz (who they failed to renew their contract with earlier this year), the loss of quality Anime isn’t something that can be ignored.

In my case it’s forced me to buy some of the Anime I first saw on Netflix either via Xbox Live or on DVD. The four DVD purchases were planned in advance but for those either unable to or unwilling to buy their favorite Anime losing it on Netflix is a major blow. The fact that they didn’t try to reach out to Funimation, VIZ Media, Animplex and others directly will be remembered. This is the second year in a row Netflix dropped the ball, leaving its member base to pay the price. If they have any unplayed trump cards, now would be the time to use them.