This brings up a general question about recent blu-ray anime releases for classics. Have they been getting lazier with packaging? I mean a big in general for most distributors. The Kimagure TV release on blu-ray seems to be pretty bland on packaging and has super light recycle plastic for the casing. Artwork is nothing too grand either. I'm seeing this a lot.
There are two issues at play: 1) the requirements of the Japanese right holders, and 2) the state of the U.S. anime market.
Most aspects of international releases are stipulated by the Japanese rights holders in their license agreement, covering everything from the overall packaging format to cover artwork. Licensees aren't able to simply decide on how to package a series. They need permission, and there are absolutely situations where popular titles were only allowed to be released in a standard BD case. More specifically for the U.S. release of KOR on Blu-ray, Discotek was almost certainly provided their packaging artwork, with the only question being were they provided a selection of images to choose from or just the single piece used for the final product. (Licensees are, of course, usually able to modify the provided artwork as they please; for example, look at all the horrible Photoshop work on Sentai's covers.)
::: edit :::
In something of an answer to my own question, according to their Tweet (link
), Discotek technically created the cover for KOR TV. One assumes, however, they were limited to a set of approved art assets, since the individual characters pieces are all existing images.
The other issue is the current U.S. market for physical anime is based around selling as many product units for as little money as possible. Take the KOR TV series as an example: AnimEigo's original DVD release from 2002 was a 12-disc set for $240; they'd eventually drop the set price to around $200, while selling single volumes for about $21.00 each. The Japanese DVD set from 2007 was eight discs and retailed around $280. With the usual online discounts, Discotek's BD for the KOR TV series sells for about $79.
Even assuming a U.S. company gets permission for a premium release, the next question is do they think enough units can move at retail, in order to produce the set at a reasonable price. During the DVD era, almost any notable release came in some manner of box-set option, with units being available both online and in a variety of retail stores. There were enough retail orders to justify the cost of chipboard boxes and other goodies. Now almost everything in the U.S. is sold through only a handful of online stores to a consumer base that regularly complains, when products break the $60 barrier. This is the primary reason most mass-market U.S. collector's editions for anime aren't really that special; they're usually a mixture of standardized, mass-market packaging (like metal cases), paper goods (like postcards), and irrelevant branded swag items from Chinese factories. The fickleness of consumers, and less so the lack of retailers, is the reason more significant collector's editions are either solicited as limited in numbers or handled through crowdfunding. Bringing everything back to KOR TV, would there have been enough U.S. consumers to justify a hypothetical release with a price tag around $200?
As for Blu-ray cases, nowadays, standard cases are all thin, regardless of region or distributor. Color and the occasional clear case are usually thicker, but probably cost more than most companies are willing to pay. The rather flimsy feel of BD cases may be the reason so many Japanese collector's editions & first-run releases, particularly for anime, often come as digipacks. They're trading plastic for paper, but when you gloss or coat the card stock and stick the pack in some manner of sleeve, it feels more substantial.