What Is Anime Ova? What Are Some Most Famous Ova Anime?

Are you an anime fan? Do you love watching this famous Japanese format series? Then you must also know the difference between an anime and an anime OVA. Don’t worry, if you haven’t heard of the term OVA before now, we have got you covered. In today’s article, we will talk about all the details regarding anime OVA. You must have heard of and maybe even a big fan of Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu or Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – Tsuioku-hen or Zoku Owarimonogatari.

All of these are the most famous anime OVA according to fans. Another very famous OVA is HUNTER×HUNTER. A cult favorite anime HUNTER×HUNTER is loved by fans and has a huge fan following. But did you know that it is an anime OVA? Well, let’s get into all the details about anime ova in this article.

What Is Anime Ova?

Anime Ova

OVA stands for Original Video Animation.

These are Japanese animated films and series which are specially made for release in home video formats. These series and movies are not screened prior to their release on home videos. You will not be able to catch these specially formatted series and movies on big screen cinemas, theatres, or online platforms.

In the mid-2000s, anime ova were very famous. They were originally released on VHS media but later on with the passing of time and the advent of more digitally superior formats, anime ova became more popular on LaserDisc and DVD. The popularity of these series and films increased so much and fans loved them so much that there was a time when this format was a common term in everyone’s mouths. The term OAD which stands for Original Animation DVD became a household term and began to refer to DVDs released along with their source material manga.

You can call anime ovas a heritage of anime. With the passing of time anime has become one of the most beloved sources of entertainment for people across the globe. And OVA is an integral part of the anime heritage.

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Anime OVA Format

Anime Ova

Many anime fans actually prefer ova titles to anime. The reason lies in its meticulously planned storylines and characters. The ova titles also have better quality animation. So let’s get into all the details of the format of an anime ova. The similarity that ovas shares with normal anime broadcasted on television is that both are subdivided into episodes. Usually, most OVA media like DVDs, Laserdiscs, and tapes contain one episode each. So you will get a set of DVDs divided into multiple episodes of the particular OVA.

Unlike television broadcasted anime that have a constant running time per episode, anime ova have variable running times. Episode lengths vary according to the title. It can last anywhere starting from a few minutes to two to three hours. The most preferred and commonly used running time is thirty minutes. Sometimes even in one title, the episode lengths can vary greatly. You must have watched GaoGaiGar FINAL. If you have, then you also must have noticed that the first seven episodes lasted around thirty minutes but the last few episodes extended up to fifty minutes of running time.

Another great example of this variable running time is the OVA Key the Metal Idol which has a running time of episodes varying between twenty minutes to two hours. There is a long list of anime ova where you can find this type of variable running time. Some anime ova also have very long episodes too. The longest-running OVA had 110 main episodes and 52 Gaiden episodes. Can you guess which one I am talking about? If you thought of Legend of the Galactic Heroes then you are absolutely right.

The popularity of anime OVAs has grown so much that they have gained a huge fan base. In fact, many of the popular series that you have grown to love so much first started as anime OVA. Fans loved the OVA title so much that later on, it grew to become a television series or movie. A great example of this is the anime Tenchi Muyo! Many anime producers also use OVA as a spin-off series for the original anime. These can be anything ranging from sequels, side stories, music-video collections, or bonus episodes.

One reason why fans love anime OVA is that they can get extra spin-off episodes of their favorite anime. And the budget per episode of an anime OVA is usually bigger than television anime series. Thus fans are greeted with top-notch digital visuals and animations. The quality of the graphics can often equal animated movies too. Another big reason for the popularity of anime OVAs is the plot and storyline of the anime. So let’s take a detailed look at them.

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Anime OVA Story

 Anime Ova
Anime Ova

Due to the high budget allotment per episode, anime OVAs have a much greater visual treat for fans. Writers and directors also get much more creative freedom while making an anime OVA which just increases the appeal of the story. Most OVA titles are reputed and acclaimed for their detailed plots and characters. The characters are planned and designed meticulously by the writers and directors and often have very interesting personalities and character developments.

Many long-running animes face one problem having filler episodes. And the audience just does not appreciate fillers as they do not follow the main storyline often and are just produced to keep a continuity to the story. Another big advantage of anime OVAs is that they do not have any time constraints. So directors can take creative liberty to expand storylines, explain the character backgrounds with more details and extensively, and take time to tell the story in a way they prefer best. Anime OVAs also tend to stick to the original manga content more because of this reason. Most OVAs have much more detailed storylines than their television anime series counterparts.

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The themes and contents are also much more specific and directed to a particular audience group. Unlike television series anime, which tend to target mass media and are mostly released all over the globe to a huge populace of viewers, anime OVA is much more targeted. There are also no constraints regarding maintaining a certain episode length, unlike the television anime series. So fans get to enjoy more detailed and extensive storylines of their favorite stories.

What is interesting to note is that most anime OVA productions are aimed at the male audience. Several statistics and reports have hinted at this too. Almost 50% of the DVD purchases of anime OVA are done by men of different age groups. Women are a small group when it comes to anime OVA. But times are changing and now, women are equally interested in anime OVA too. Nowadays, there are many anime OVA releases that are targeted toward a female audience too. So you can see that the world of anime OVA is also expanding and becoming more diverse.

What excites fans most is that many OVA series act as the finale to popular television anime series. These provide closure to the plot and give the story a proper ending. The best example of this is the anime OVA Rurouni Kenshin which is based on author Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga. What is most interesting to note is that in the original television series run, many of the chapters of this manga were skipped and were not adapted into the anime. However, the anime OVA stayed true to the manga. And not only did fans get more versions of the manga which included much more violence, the dark and realistic style of the manga but also all of that is much higher quality animation.

Because of the mass production and a much greater audience pool, most television broadcast anime do not stay true to the manga. This includes the storyline and characters. Fans will not get much dark realism, violence, or nudity in the television versions of the anime. But in anime OVA the original style of the manga is retained.

OVA episodes can vary from one episode only to multiple episodes too. Most OVAs tend to run for four to eight episodes. Such long-running OVAs usually have a complex and continuous plot with big storylines which fans can enjoy best when watched in sequence.

The sequence of the OVAs matters so much that many fans cite them as long films which are released in parts. Most of the release schedules vary also. Some anime OVAs release the episodes over a period of a year while others are released as one to two episodes per year. The one-episode OVAs are usually sided stories and sequels to original television release animes.

They also provide side-story to famous anime series like the anime OVA of Detective Conan. At the beginning of the anime OVA generation usually, episode OVAs were released predominantly. Often the one-episode OVAs are utilized as pilot episodes of anime series.

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Anime OVA History

Anime Ova
Anime Ova

It is no doubt that anime OVAs are a popular part of anime lovers’ lives right now. So let’s take a look at the history of anime OVA. In the early 1980s VCR became a widespread attraction in Japanese homes. So this is the time that saw the most rise in anime OVA. Demand for VCRs and DVDs grew rapidly and consumers would go directly to the video stores to buy the anime DVDs. This phase also saw the necessary rise of direct-to-video formats. Demands from fans rose to such a great extent that direct-to-video was the most profitable and demandable format at that time in Japan. Fans hoarded the anime DVDs and VCR.

Now you must be wondering what could have been the earliest OVA to have been released to the public. Well, we will talk about that too. The first ever OVA was released in 1983 and the anime was none other than Osamu Tezuka’s Green Cat. However, this OVA was never completed and the series stopped airing midway. So many anime enthusiasts do not consider Green Cat to be the first ever OVA. According to them, the first OVA to be released was Bandai. Yes, you guessed it right. It is the very famous Dallos that was directed by Mamoru Oshii.

As we have discussed already, most of the OVAs that were released at this time were stand-alone anime titles and gained a huge fan following. Japan’s economy saw a great contribution from the anime OVA industry. It was all the craze in the mid-1980s. Fans were in for all of it. They loved the direct-to-video format, the storylines, and the characters. Everything you can think about. Soon after the success of single-episode OVA, the production companies started paying the anime studios to create anime OVAs with more episodes.
However, during the economic crisis in the 1990s, Japan faces worse monetary problems. And as a result, the steadily growing OVA industry took a setback.

Even though anime OVAs were being produced at a normal rate but productions were fewer. But with the advent of television, satellite TV, and cable, the fan base shifted towards television series. It was more economical too. OVAs that had been created were shifted to be released on television as anime series. This period saw the rise of anime television series and the OVA market took a setback. The OVAs that were available at this time were few and already published versions. New OVAs were seldom produced as the rise of anime series started. You might think that the OVA industry ended right here. But that is not what happened. Fans still had a love for OVA formats and could not forget them completely.

So in the 2000s OVAs took over the market again and a new trend began. This time producers incorporated both television series and OVAs. Many of the famous anime series which were broadcasted on television got special episodes. These episodes were released as OVA on DVDs. You might recall some of the famous anime which had this kind of trend going on. The anime Love Hina had a special DVD-only 25th episode. Most episodes of Oh My Goddess were DVD-only and the most anticipated finale of the anime Excel Saga was released as an OVA.

This format increased viewership and sales. Fans were very excited and looked forward to the video release of episodes of their favorite anime. However, the anime cannot be called purely OVA anime because the majority of the episodes were broadcasted on television. But this format linking television and OVA actually was very profitable to the anime industry. It acted as fuel to the overall growth of the anime industry.
In the modern scenario, television broadcasting anime is a must. Most of the anime is released in this way.

Anime OVA has reduced quite a bit in recent times. But producers have found newer ways to incorporate anime OVA in the release of an anime. Much recent anime OVA pre-broadcast the episodes. And to increase the excitement and anticipation of the fans, they release the DVDs with unedited and uncut moments from the anime. These also have much better quality visuals and stuck to the storyline more closely.

Video anime remains an integral part of the anime industry. Not only did it play a vital role in the introduction and establishment of the industry, but it also continues to grow and prosper in different ways. Nowadays, even though anime OVA is not available in its true sense, producers and directors have made special ways to incorporate them into the anime. Anime OVA remains a very important part of the anime industry and as time goes on the line between television and video anime fades a little bit more.

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