ONAs have been gaining immense popularity, especially in the last decade, and anime lovers have been privy to some amazing stories through original net animations. While many ONAs started off as two to three-minute episodes and are often created as side stories to an existing franchise, this has expanded over the years, and now ONAs have their very own cult viewers of sorts.

But first, what is an ONA?

ONA, also known as ‘original net animations’ or ‘web anime’ is a style of anime that has been released directly onto the internet without the backing of a broadcast network. The term ONA was conceived by the creators of Papillon Rose who concocted it to mirror ‘original video animation’ or OVA, which is a well-known term used to describe straight-to-video animations in the industry. ONA was then adopted by the Anime News Network as an official term since there was nothing else to describe this particular format of anime so appropriately.

Who released the first ONA?

There are tons of ONAs that were released independently or as works created by fans when ONAs first started. It wasn’t until 2001 when animation studio AIC released ‘Mahou Yuugi’ or ‘3D Magical Play’ did they recognize the works as the very first ONA to be released by a major studio. AIC released the animated series directly onto the internet long before they allowed it to be broadcasted on network television.

What are some examples of ONAs?

As I mentioned above, ONAs were originally created as short stories to supplement an existing storyline or to promote a franchise. HALO Legends are ONAs, or standalone stories, that supplement the HALO video game universe. One of the best examples of an ONA is when the ONA ‘Hitotsubu ni Kawaranu Ai wo Komete’ was released as a way of getting some buzz before the celebration of the Morinaga Milk Caramel candy’s 100th anniversary. Other examples of ONAs include Hetalia Axis Powers, There She Is!!, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Lite, and Eve no Jikan before it was made into a movie.

How are ONAs perceived today?

ONAs may be shorter in duration but they are just as rich and diverse as full-length animes or OVAs when it comes to plots, characters, animations, action sequences, back stories, and anything else you can think of. You’ll find ONAs in various genres and subgenres and there are more and more released every year – especially with major corporations with production companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime taking an interest in anime. You’ll also find that ONAs are perceived by a much wider audience, especially people who are just starting to get into anime, because they are much shorter in duration and you don’t need any backstory or understanding of it prior to watching the ONA.

Where can I watch the best ONAs?

Anime television shows and movies are often initially released on to the big screens at the theater or directly broadcasted on local television networks. ONAs on the other hand are directly released to the world wide web, and in the more recent past, to streaming networks so that it goes straight to the viewers. As anime movies evolve and increase in popularity all over the world, streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all have ONAs available for their users to watch. There are even dedicated anime streaming sites where you can watch ONAs such as Funimation or Crunchyroll.

How long is an ONA?

ONAs are often much shorter than traditional anime television series’ and definitely shorter in duration than anime movies. When ONAs first started they were usually only a few minutes long, kind of like the length of a Pixar short if you’re not familiar with anime. The perfect example of one of these mini original net animations, if you’re looking to get started on one, is ‘Axis Powers Hetalia’; each episode only lasts a few minutes and is a perfect short break from your busy day or work schedule.

Now, as time goes on and the quality of anime changes, so does the original time length of ONAs. Newer ONAs tend to be a little longer but still rarely go over an average of 20 minutes. The average number of episodes for ONAs is also around 6 to 10 episodes per season – which is a far cry from some anime television series’ which run hundreds of episodes in. It’s amazing how they wrap up an entire storyline in these short productions.

How do I pick the best ONAs for my website?

Similar to how I pick my best anime movies or best anime television series, a lot of thought and consideration is put into picking ONAs for my list. While live-action movies are often criticized for direction and acting, the best ONAs are chosen on the animation, storyline, characters, plot, and more.

These ONAs are the best of the best and are an amazing representation of all of the different ONAs that have been released and the many genres they hail from.

Can you contribute to my list of ONAs?

Of course, you can! Not only can you contribute to my list of best ONAs but your opinions, votes, and reviews are appreciated! My ONAs can be voted on by fans like you so that you can watch your favorites climb up the poll. If you want a certain ONA added to the list, let me know the details and I’ll research and add the suggestions accordingly; just note that it’s not guaranteed that every suggestion will be added because of the screening process to be recognized as one of the best anime ONAs of all time. You are urged to leave your suggestions in the comments under the list – leave a review too; anime lovers like me love to read them! Once your favorite is on the list, be sure to vote up the best ONAs ever and try to get them ranked in the top 10 ONA list.