Now that we know a little about research and building discographies lets take a look at the actual CDs themselves. Unlike most western CDs, Japanese CDs come in a large array of packaging sizes and styles. The variation can denote a special edition or first press run, or maybe the group releasing the CD just likes a certain style.
Lets get a quick rundown on some of the different types of CD packaging you may come across.
Jewel Case / Slimline Jewel Case
We have all seen these (I hope), a CD jewel case. It is pretty much the standard when it comes to CD packaging. The only difference between the standard and slimline cases is the thickness. You will also find thicker versions that can hold up to 4 discs, one usually being a DVD.
LP Style Slipcase
These cases tend to come in 2 sizes, CD size and “45” or “vinyl single” size, although there is at least one example I know of that comes in “vinyl LP” size. The construction is similar to LP sleeves, hence the name.
Mini Disc packaging
This format was popular when CD single came in smaller sizes than they presently do. The disc is about 50% the size of a standard CD and the case is usually a bi- or tri-fold plastic and paperboard case.
This type of packaging is not seen often as it actually provides very little in the way of protection for the CD itself. It is pretty much just a foil and plastic envelope and probably not intended for permanent storage, just for convenience at the point of sale.
A three fold packaging well suited for displaying artwork, this type of packaging is a favorite of some collectors as it allows for surface area to hold many images. Who doesn’t like to look at all the great artwork that comes with some of these releases.
Various Box Sets
Simply put these are just CD sets contained in a box, usually with extras such as photobooks and other trinkets. Typically containing 2-5 CDs
Now that we know all about packaging we can take a look at some of the details in the packaging. These details can contain interesting information.
This is the small strip of paper that covers the spine of a CD. Almost every CD available at retail and even some venue only CDs will have this. It will contain a good deal of information on the CD. Lets take a look at one.
Here we can see quite a bit of information. The record company, catalog number, release date, end manufacture date, price and of course the group name and album name. Most of this is pretty easy to see, the items that can give you trouble are the dates. The way in which they are displayed seem to be pretty standard. The release date will be surrounded in a rectangle and the end manufacture date (not always present) will be without a boarder and will be followed by まで meaning “until”. It seems to be pretty standard practice from labels to only produce CDs for a six month window although some have a one year window. If you are having problems finding a certain release this may be why, it has just gone out of print. Japanese labels are not known for reprinting old releases.
The obi can also contain information on previous releases or up coming lives, and can also contain information on the inner side as well.
After the CD has been opened the obi is usually stuck inside the booklet or secured behind the tabs that hold the booklet. To collectors the obi is and essential part of the CD and one without an obi is worth less to another collector if you ever want to sell it.
The reverse of the case will also hold this information plus track listing and other various things.
Other than these small dating details Japanese CDs are pretty much just like western CDs. They contain lyrics, group member bios, the standard things one would expect.
Next: Versions and Variations