The term OVA stands for “original video animation.” These are anime productions that are not broadcast on television but released directly to home video. OVAs are typically shorter in length than full-length TV anime series and often tell self-contained stories. They may be produced by anime studios as standalone projects, or in collaboration with other companies such as video game developers.
OVAs were once a popular means of releasing new anime content, but their popularity has since waned in favour of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
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.
Watch OVA vs. TV anime: which is better?
That’s a tough question to answer, as it depends on what you’re looking for in an anime. OVAs are generally shorter and more self-contained than TV anime series, making them a good option if you don’t have time for a minutes long show. They can also be a great way to try out new genres or styles that you might not normally watch.
Finally, OVAs often tell self-contained stories, rather than continuing the plot of a longer series. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view; on the one hand, it means you don’t need to watch previous anime episodes to understand what’s going on, but on the other hand, it may feel incomplete or rushed.
Regardless of these differences, OVAs remain an important part of anime industry culture and continue to be made occasionally today. If you’re interested in exploring some of the best OVAs out there, check out some of the titles on this list. And who knows, you may just find your new favourite anime series.