Hmmm. I can’t say that I’ve noticed. All SD releases look abhorrent to me on any 1080 display I’ve viewed them on. My first experience with Aquarion, since you mention it, was via Netflix on a 1080 plasma display (I try not to buy Funi physical releases) and it was a good thing that the show was so hilarious as it looked awful. If your actual dvds were of low visual quality too, perhaps then the show just is? Though if the DVDs were early enough, they could be the lower-capacity dvds where more eps would have to come at the cost of visual quality. Keeping dual-layer DVDs at high cost for so long did everyone a disservice IMO.
I’m kinda convinced that older dvds looked better simply because they tended to be viewed on lower-res devices. I recently rewatched my Vandread dvds (Geneon orig & Funi), which I had originally seen at 800600 and 12801024 (as well as at full-on SD on Encore’s Animidnight), in 1920*1080, and it was far from the crisp, clean visual presentation that I remembered. Oddly enough, that CG looked like today’s anime cg…
But I can’t be sure as low-res stuff never looks “good” to me on high-res displays. Speaking of Clannad, as Sentai has not yet released the second season on blu-ray, I’ve been doing a lot of work with them. I can confirm that they are indeed dual-layer, but I don’t think they look materially worse than older ADV stuff. They look subjectively worse to me as I revile the Clannad artstyle, but that’s something entirely different.
I had to, sadly, see the second half of Broken Blade on DVD, on a 42" 1080 LCD. That was horrid compared to the blu-ray. The PS3, the 360, and even the CCCP/PowerDVD on PC were powerless to upscale away the vast quality difference. Which is why I’m saddened that I had to buy the dvds of the newest Sentai stuff.
As am I. I’m still saddened by the decrease in personnel. Sentai today reminds me of Media Blasters back in 2008 when, at Otakon, they said that they only employed 5 people and that between the dude at their booth (coughtablecough) and the people at the panel, their whole company was practically at Otakon. That’s pretty tragic.
On Orphen, the show already looked pretty crappy. Orphen would be one of those shows, I’d imagine, that actually looks worse were it remastered as then we’d see more of the lower-budget animation. Not to mention that pillarboxing is a crime, and a remastered version would still be 4:3. Widescreen or bust.