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Original video animation (Japanese: オリジナル・ビデオ・アニメーション, Hepburn: orijinaru bideo animēshon), abbreviated as OVA and sometimes as OAV (original animation video), are Japanese animated films and series made specially for release in home video formats without prior showings on television or in theaters, though the first part of an OVA series may be broadcast for promotional purposes. OVA titles were originally made available on VHS, later becoming more popular on LaserDisc and eventually DVD. Starting in 2008, the term OAD (original animation DVD) began to refer to DVD releases published bundled with their source-material manga.
What Is an OVA?
OVA is an acronym that stands for “original video animation,” with the first arguably being 1983’s Dallos. These productions, as their name suggests, are tailor-made for home releases and are not screened or shown in any other format prior to this. Similar to the straight-to-video market in other countries, they were originally released as VHS tapes then DVDs, and more recently, Blu-rays, giving way to the term OAD (original animation DVD) to come into use.
Usually — but not always — longer than one episode, OVAs have a wide range of runtimes, from small, bite-sized segments to even a few hours, though it’s more common for them to be around 30 minutes long, like a televised episode of a show. While OVAs can sometimes be official spinoffs, sequels or prequels to an anime series, they can also be non-canon to the show’s story, or entirely original works with no previous source material.
Likewise, OVAs boast much higher budgets than mainstream televised anime, resulting in significantly greater production values similar to that of actual movies. Not being on a television network also allows for a slower pace, greater characterization and storytelling, as well as the ability to showcase content that might otherwise be censored. This usually results in OVA adaptations being closer to their manga counterparts than the network anime versions.
From watching movies on the projector to the handy HD display of our smartphones, entertainment options evolved a lot over some time. All thanks to technology! Yup! This is the era of technology where one can keep himself entertained on the go. OVA Anime is one of the popular zones and is liked by all.
OVA stands for Original Video Animation. OVAs are Anime movies or series which are not broadcasted anywhere on TV or in theaters before they launch for home viewers. OVAs are usually released on media like VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu Rays. In other words, it can be said that OVAs are released in video markets. However, just for promoting OVAs, producers prefer to utilize T.V. and theatre for releasing small trailers to catch more audience attention.
OVA vs. TV anime
So what makes an OVA different from a regular aired on TV anime series? Well, for one, OVAs are typically released direct to video, rather than debuting broadcasting on TV. They’re also usually shorter in length, typically spanning 3 to 12 special episodes.
OVAs originated may be produced by anime studios as standalone projects, or in collaboration with other companies such as video game developers.
Television broadcast anime, on the other hand, are typically much longer, with 20-25 episodes being fairly common. They also tend to have a higher budget, and are usually aired on television before being released on home viewing video and blu rays.
Why make an OVA?
There are a few reasons why studios might choose to produce an OVA rather than a TV anime series. For one, OVAs can be used to test the waters for a potential TV show. If a studio thinks an idea might make for a good TV anime but isn’t sure if it’ll be popular enough to justify the cost, they might produce a short OVA as a proof of concept.
Another reason is that OVAs can be used to experiment with different styles or genres that wouldn’t work in a regular TV series. For example, an action anime might try out some comedic elements in an OVA, or a slice of life show might delve into more serious subject matter.
Some of my favorite OVA episodes include Wolf’s Rain, Your Lie in April, and Attack on Titan: Junior High. If you want to check out some high quality anime that you won’t find on TV, I recommend giving them a watch.
Best OVAs of all time
With so many OVAs released over the years, it can be hard to pick just a few standouts. However, we’ve put together a list of some of the best OVAs of all time, based on critical acclaim and anime fans reception.
Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April is a heart-wrenching romance anime that tells the story of two young musicians. The season 2 episode is a must watch.
The Death Note OVA is a faithful adaptation of the original series manga, and is considered by many to be superior to the later TV anime series. It was so popular that it was eventually made into a full TV series.
The Garden of Words
The Garden of Words is a beautifully animated adaptations movie about a young man and woman who meet in a Tokyo park and fall in love. It was nominated for numerous awards, including the prestigious Japan Academy Prize for Animation.
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is an excellent conclusion to the Cowboy Bebop anime series. It was met with widespread critical acclaim and is often considered one of the best anime movies of all time.
What is OVA in Anime?
An ova in Anime is the uncensored animated video that acts as fillers between the episodes quite irrelevant to the story but can be used in binging any show. But some of the OVA act as a linkup between the episodes, thus of high significance. The target audience for OVAs is smaller in number and mainly broadcasted through DVDs. They are quite Non-canonical and mostly used for promotions.
Anime Industry is growing rapidly, and with it, its demand is also increasing, and here is when we need to understand the significance of OVA. The first official OVA was released in 1983, and from then, they made their way into the Anime Industry. Most of the OVAs have an original script with few exceptions. They are a kind of direct-to-video’ project that needs no censorship as they are not broadcasted via television or theatres.
Often people confuse between Specials and OVAs, but they are entirely different. As mentioned earlier, Specials are long one-shot shows that may or may not be part of mainstream anime. Both OVAs and Specials have no restrictions based on content, but this is also something that differentiates them. An OVA can be a Special if released as promotional content on Television, and Specials can be an OVA if they are just meant for home-viewing and are not broadcasted on big screens.
One prime difference between a standard anime episode and OVA is that the OVA never gets aired on television. The OVA episodes are primarily available for consumers to purchase either via VHS, DVD, or Blu-rays.
On the other hand, a standard anime episode is usually released on television and in theaters. Also, the OVA is somehow related to the standard anime series. It is sometimes the sequel or a prequel of the anime series.
The producers give a relevant narrative that connects OVA with the actual anime series. But OVA does not have to be pre-existing anime and is entirely original. Sometimes, you might also notice OVA having better quality than the standard anime episode.
It is because the allocated resources to an OVA are usually higher compared to the standard anime. So, studios get extra freedom to increase the quality of an OVA.
In most OVA episodes, you will find a better-told and beautifully animated story than a regular episode. Therefore, in short, the OVA episode is only available in DVD or blu-ray form while the standard episodes air on TV.
What Is the Difference Between an Ova and a Special Episode?
Both the OVA and a standard anime episode are interchangeable. An OVA episode can be special, but for a special episode to be an OVA; it should only be released for home viewing instead of broadcasting on TV or cinema.
For example, The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 5.5 is a special instead of an OVA as it aired like other episodes of the season instead of getting released for home viewership first. So, in short, the OVAs are available as a home video that comes in DVS; VHS while the special episode can also be released as a tv broadcast.
Other than this, the length of an average OVA episode is usually shorter than a special episode. Still, sometimes it might not happen as OVA length varies from episode to episode.
Some special episodes are not related to the actual plot of the existing anime series. You may notice some extra characters or side stories that add a new touch to the special episodes. Most anime lovers consider the special episodes “just for fun.” On the other hand, an OVA is a stand-alone production that usually contains high-quality feature animation. In some cases, you might even notice complete series releasing under the OVA’s tag, but it is not that common.