Original video animations, better known as OVAs, have been around for decades and are sometimes also called OAVs or original animation videos. These names and their acronyms can be used interchangeably and will be done so in this article as we delve further into what OVAs are, how I pick the best ones, and how they differ from anime television series or movies.
But first, what is an OVA?
A typical anime television show series often airs an episode weekly and lasts around three months; these shows are censored since they are broadcasted on network television so they have very minimal violence, adult topics, or sexual content. An anime movie is usually created for release in theaters and is then not released for television or video distribution until a while afterward.
An OVA, on the other hand, was developed for neither television nor theater, but rather for home video/ DVD distribution directly for consumers to watch. The storylines of an OCA may run alongside an already established anime franchise or could be completely standalone and one off. Sometimes, they’re both – for example, the creators of ‘Clannad’, an anime television series and movie, also has an OVA in which the two main characters have a romantic relationship; this romantic relationship does not crossover to the series or movie in any way or form.
Are OVAs still practical in the modern day and age?
So when OVAs were first created, it was a time when producers and creators couldn’t get the same budget as they would for a full-scale promotional release such as with an animated series or movie. These were smaller ideas that had potential so instead, they were created for direct consumer distribution in the form of VHS, laserdiscs, DVDs, and later on even Blu-Ray.
Today, people survive off of their smartphones and computers and the use of DVDs and any other home entertainment format has mostly phased out and made room for ONAs. That being said certain OVAs are still very popular, especially hentai anime since that is neither suitable for television or the big screen. Because of the niche market, a lot of time and detail is invested into the creation of an OVA to ensure that the quality is worth it to the audience it caters to.
What are the different formats of OVA?
As I briefly mentioned earlier, OVA, or original video animation, is sometimes also called OAVs or original animation videos. They both mean the same thing but there are also some other formats that may fall under the same category. These also include OAV as original adult animation, ODA (original DVD animation), and OBA (original BluRay animation). These are all essentially synonyms of OVA but are also used within the anime industry and anime watchers to distinguish adult content from content suitable for all ages. There’s kind of a stigma that OVA is used as a description for only adult anime content but this is incorrect; OVAs just gave animators more freedom to push the restrictions kept on them when writing for broadcasting mediums and theatrical releases – this doesn’t always mean it was adult content.
What is the history of OVAs?
As I mentioned previously, OVAs came out in the 70s as a way for animators to have more freedom with their art since it wouldn’t be released in theaters or broadcasted on national television. That means, there was really no limitation to how much sex, violence, and adult content they can include if they chose to do so. In the 80s OVAs were seen as something of a luxury as only people who could afford VCRs were able to purchase and view VHS tapes. It became somewhat of a coveted thing for people to own entire volumes or special releases of OVAs; the only downfall is that without a broadcasting schedule or theatrical release, OVAs could sometimes end without any notice. Whenever the producers ran out of budget or even if their mood changed, they would just drop the OVA just as soon as they started it.
What are some examples of OVAs?
You can find OVAs of all sorts, from child-friendly narratives and cowboy westerns to romance stories and historical tales. There were a lot of OVAs originally released that created a huge impact in the industry such as Gunbuster, a Neon Genesis Evangelion OVA released in the late 80s. Other OVAs from the 80s that paved the way to what we have today include Megazone 23, Devilman: The Birth, BAOH, and the more unconventional Angel’s Egg.
If you’re looking to binge on more recent OVAs, you may prefer Natsume’s Book Of Friends: Natsume On One Snowy Day, the six-part Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Attack On Titan: No Regrets, and the dark and somber Rurouni Kenshin: Reminiscence.
For a combination of 80s and 90s OVA, check out Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This 110-episode OVA aired from 1988 to 1997 and is one of the longest OVA series ever created.
How do I pick the best OVAs 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 OVAs for my list. While live-action movies are often criticized for direction and acting, the best OVAs are chosen on the animation, storyline, characters, plot, and more.
These OVAs are the best of the best and are an amazing representation of all of the different OVAs that have been released and the many genres they hail from.
Can you contribute to my list of OVAs?
Of course, you can! Not only can you contribute to my list of best OVAs but your opinions, votes, and reviews are appreciated! My OVAs can be voted on by fans like you so that you can watch your favorites climb up the poll. If you want a certain OVA 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 OVAs 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!
- Iemasa Kayumi, Kent Williams, Lili Troncale, Maxey Whitehead, Muriel Hofmann, Rie Kugimiya, Romi Pak, Vic Mignogna
- Hiromu Arakawa
- Action, Adventure, Animation, Best Anime of All Time, Best Anime Series, Cartoon, Cartoon/ Animation, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- April 5, 2009