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 (オーブイエー / オーヴィーエー / オヴァ ōbuiē, ōvīē or ova) and sometimes as OAV (original animated video), are Japanese animated films and miniseries made specially for release in home video formats without prior showings on television or in theatres, 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 OVA titles were originally made available on VHS, later becoming more popular on LaserDisc and eventually DVD.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.
Like anime made for television broadcast, OVAs are sub-divided into episodes. OVA media (tapes, laserdiscs, or DVDs) usually contain just one episode each. Episode length varies from title to title: each episode may run from a few minutes to two hours or more. An episode length of 30 minutes occurs quite commonly, but no standard length exists. In some cases, the length of episodes in a specific OVA may vary greatly, for example in GaoGaiGar FINAL, the first 7 episodes last around 30 minutes, while the last episode lasts 50 minutes; the OVA Key the Metal Idol consists of 15 separate episodes, ranging in length from 20 minutes to nearly two hours each; The OVA Hellsing Ultimate had released 10 episodes, ranging from 42 minutes to 56 minutes. An OVA series can run anywhere from a single episode (essentially a direct-to-video movie) to dozens of episodes in length. The longest OVA series ever made, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, spanned 110 main episodes and 52 gaiden episodes.
Many popular series first appear animated as an OVA, and later grow to become television series or movies. Tenchi Muyo!, for example, began as an OVA but went on to spawn several TV series, three movies, and numerous other spin-offs. Producers make other OVA releases as sequels, side stories, music-video collections, or bonus episodes that continue existing as television series or films, such as Love Hina Again and Wolf's Rain.
OVA titles generally have a much higher budget per episode than in a television series; therefore the technical quality of animation can generally surpass that in television series; occasionally it even equals that of animated movies.
OVA titles have a reputation for detailed plots and character-development, which can result from the greater creative freedom offered to writers and directors relative to other formats. This also allows for animated adaptations of manga to reflect their source material more faithfully. Since OVA episodes and series have no fixed conventional length, OVA directors can use however much time they like to tell the story. Time becomes available to expand upon significant background, character, and plot development. This contrasts with television episodes (which must begin and conclude in 22 to 26 minutes) and with films (which rarely last more than two hours). In the same way, no pressure exists to produce "filler content" to extend a short plot into a full television series. The producers of OVA titles generally target a specific audience, rather than the more mass-market audience of films and television series, or may feel less constrained by content-restrictions and censorship (such as for violence, nudity, and language) often placed on television series. For example, the Kissxsis OVA series generally contains more sexual themes than its television counterpart.
Much OVA-production aims at an audience of male anime enthusiasts. Bandai Visual stated in a 2004 news release (for their new OVAs aimed at women) that about 50% of the customers who had bought their anime DVDs in the past fell into the category of 25- to 40-year-old men, with only 13% of purchasers women, even with all ages included. These statistics cover Bandai Visual anime DVDs in general, not just OVAs, but they show the general tendency at this point. Nikkei Business Publications also stated in a news-release that mainly 25- to 40-year-old adults bought anime DVDs. Few OVAs specifically target female audiences, but Earthian exemplifies the exceptions.
Some OVAs based on television series (and especially those based on manga) may provide closure to the plot – closure not present in the original series. The Rurouni Kenshin OVAs, to name one series, exemplified numerous aspects of OVAs; they were slightly based on chapters of the author Nobuhiro Watsuki's manga that had not been adapted into the anime television series, had higher-quality animation, were much more violent, and were executed in a far more dark and realistic style than the TV episodes or the manga.
Dark realism featured in Masami Kurumada's famous manga Saint Seiya. The anime adapted two of the three arcs in Kurumada's manga—the project to adapt the third arc to the anime never started. As Kurumada had completed his manga in 1991, its third act was finally adapted to anime, releasing the episodes as OVAs, starting in 2003 and finishing in 2008, at last adapting Kurumada's manga completely to anime.
Most OVA titles run for four to eight episodes, and some only have one. They tend to have a complex and continuous plot, best enjoyed if all episodes are viewed in sequence. This contrasts with television series, which generally have many short "mini-stories" that happen to be related somehow, rather than a unified plot. Many OVA titles can be thought of as "long films" that just happen to be released in parts. Release schedules vary: some series may progress as slowly as 1–2 episodes per year. Some OVA titles with a lengthy release-schedule ended up unfinished due to lack of fan support and sales.
Many one-episode OVAs exist as well. Typically, such an OVA provides a side-story to a popular TV series (Detective Conan OVAs). At an early stage in the history of the OVA (1980s) many one-episode OVAs appeared. Hundreds of manga that were popular but not enough to gain TV series were granted one-shot (or otherwise extremely short) OVA episodes. When these one-shot OVAs prove popular enough, a network can use the OVA as a pilot to an anime series.
OVAs originated during the early 1980s. As the VCR became a widespread fixture in Japanese homes, the Japanese anime industry grew to behemoth proportions. Demand for anime became massive, so much so that consumers would willingly go directly to video stores to buy new animation outright. While people in the United States use the phrase "direct-to-video" as a pejorative for works that could not make it onto television or movie screens, in Japan the demand was so great that direct-to-video became a necessity. Many popular and influential series such as Bubblegum Crisis (1987–1991) and Tenchi Muyo! (1992–2005) were released directly to video as OVAs.
The earliest known attempt to release an OVA involved Osamu Tezuka's The Green Cat (part of the Lion Books series) in 1983, although it cannot count as the first OVA: there is no evidence that the VHS tape became available immediately and the series remained incomplete. Therefore, the first official OVA release to be billed as such was 1983's Dallos, directed by Mamoru Oshii and released by Bandai. Other famous early OVAs, premièring shortly thereafter, were Fight! Iczer One and the original Megazone 23. Other companies were quick to pick up on the idea, and the mid-to-late 1980s saw the market flooded with OVAs. During this time, most OVA series were new, stand-alone titles.
In the 1980s during Japan's economic bubble, production companies were more than willing to spontaneously decide to make a one- or two-part OVA. They paid money to anime studios, who then haphazardly created an OVA to be released to rental shops. Judging from sales, should a longer series be deemed feasible, TV networks paid for most of the production costs of the entire series.
As the Japanese economy worsened in the 1990s, the flood of new OVA titles diminished to a trickle. Production of OVAs continued, but in smaller numbers. Many anime television series ran an economical 13 episodes rather than the traditional 26-episodes per season. New titles were often designed to be released to TV if they approached these lengths. In addition, the rising popularity of cable and satellite TV networks (with their typically less strict censorship rules) allowed the public to see direct broadcasts of many new titles—something that previously would have been impossible. Therefore, many violent, risque, and fan service series became regular TV series, when previously those titles would have been OVAs. During this time period most OVA content was limited to that related to existing and established titles.
However, in 2000 and later, a new OVA trend began. Producers released many TV series without normal broadcasts of all of the episodes—but releasing some episodes on the DVD release of the series. Examples of this include the DVD-only 25th episode of Love Hina, while several episodes of the Oh My Goddess TV series are DVD-only. In addition, the final episode of Excel Saga was offered only as an OVA, mostly due to content issues that would have made TV broadcast impossible. In these cases the series as a whole cannot be called an OVA, though certain episodes are. This trend is becoming quite common, and furthermore, many recent OVA series pre-broadcast the episodes and release the DVD with unedited and better quality, along with revised animations—thus further blurring the boundary between TV and video anime.
Campus Special Investigator Hikaruon (学園特捜ヒカルオン, Gakuen Tokusō Hikaruon) is a Japanese original video animation produced by AIC. Directed by Kazuhiro Ochi, the OVA was released in 1987. The OVA is a one-shot tribute to the Metal Hero genre of live-action superhero shows that were prevalent in the 80's and 90's, specifically to the Space Sheriff trilogy of Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider. The one-shot deals with dark subject matters such as bullying and teen suicide.Combustible Campus Guardress
Combustible Campus Guardress (爆炎CAMPUSガードレス, Bakuen Kyanpasu Gādoresu) is an anime original video animation. The project was created by Satoru Akahori, features the original character designs of Kazushi Hagiwara and Kazuchika Kise. The English name "Combustible Campus Guardress" was originally coined by members of the Project Daicon subtitling group when they did the fansub for No-Name Anime.The plot involves students from Tobira High School, who are guardians that must prevent the evil "Remnants" from reopening the gate that will let demons take over the world. Predominantly a parody of other "save the world" anime, there are fight scenes throughout the story. It is not suitable for children.Creators in Pack
Creators in Pack Inc. (株式会社クリエイターズインパック, Kabushikigaisha Kurieitāzu in Pakku) is a Japanese animation studio founded in 2013.Cybernetics Guardian
Cybernetics Guardian (Japanese: 聖獣機サイガード, Hepburn: Seijuki Cyguard) is an anime Original Video Animation. The Original Japanese version was released in 1989 by Anime International Company, and an English Language version in 1996, licensed by Central Park Media. It is about John Stalker who is a research pilot for the fictional Central Guard Company. John was born in the city of Cyber-wood, in an area known as the Cancer Slums. The antagonist of the story, Adler, plans to attack the citizens of the Cancer Slums.
In this Japanese animated science fiction adventure, cities of the future are plagued by violence, and the Central Guard Company is commissioned to find a solution to urban crime. One designer creates a Guard Suit with special psychic powers, while another develops a robotic killing machine that will not only eliminate the bad guys, but also get rid of his romantic rivals in the process. But when John Stalker is given the assignment of testing the Guard Suit, it uncovers a dark and dangerous secret he has kept hidden from the world.GoHands
GoHands, Inc. (Japanese: 株式会社ゴーハンズ, Hepburn: Kabushiki-gaisha Gōhanzu) is a Japanese animation studio established by Satelight's former Osaka studio in 2008.Halo Legends
Halo Legends is a collection of 7 short films set in the Halo science fiction universe. Financed by the franchise's overseer 343 Industries, the stories were created by six Japanese anime production houses: Bee Train, Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G., Studio 4°C, and Toei Animation. Shinji Aramaki, creator and director of Appleseed and Appleseed Ex Machina, serves as the project's creative advisor. Warner Bros. released Legends on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on February 16, 2010.
The idea for an anime compilation existed for years before there was momentum for the project. 343 creative director Frank O'Connor produced story outlines or finished scripts that the production houses animated in a variety of styles.Kamen Rider SD
Kamen Rider SD (仮面ライダーSD, Kamen Raidā Esu Dī, Masked Rider Super Deformed) is the collective title for a series of media released in the 1990s that are based on Toei's popular Kamen Rider Series. It features super deformed versions of the various Kamen Riders featured from Kamen Rider through Black RX placed in a cartoonish world, where each enemy of the Riders has banded together under the command of the "Great Leader" under the name "Gran Shocker".Ninja Cadets
Ninja Cadets, known in Japan as Ninja Mono (Ninja者), is a two-episode original video animation (OVA) anime series produced by Anime International Company and Youmex and directed by Eiji Suganuma. It is a comedy about a group of ninja-in-training in feudal Japan.
Ninja Cadets was released in two episodes from March 27 to June 12, 1996. It has the distinction of being the first anime DVD ever released. The series is licensed in the United States by Media Blasters under its AnimeWorks label. It is the first English dub by Bang Zoom! Entertainment.Ojamajo Doremi
Ojamajo Doremi (おジャ魔女どれみ, lit. "Bothersome Witch Doremi"), also known as Magical DoReMi in some countries, is a Japanese magical girl anime television series created by Toei Animation. It focuses on a group of elementary school girls, led by Doremi Harukaze, who become witch apprentices. The series aired in Japan on TV Asahi between February 1999 and January 2003, spanning four seasons and 201 episodes, and was followed by an original video animation series released between June and December 2004. An English language version of the first season, produced by 4Kids Entertainment, aired in North America in 2005. The franchise has also spawned two companion films, various manga adaptations, and a sequel light novel series.Original net animation
An original net animation (ONA), known in Japan as Web Anime (Web(ウェブ)アニメ, Webu Anime), is an anime that is directly released onto the Internet. ONAs may also have been aired on television if they were first directly released on the Internet. The name mirrors original video animation, a term that has been used in the anime industry for straight-to-video animation since the early 1980s. The Internet is a relatively new outlet for animation distribution that has been made viable by the increasing number of streaming media websites in Japan.
A growing number of trailers and preview episodes of new anime have been released as ONA. For example, the anime movie of Megumi can be considered an ONA.
ONAs tend to be shorter than traditional anime titles, sometimes lasting only a few minutes.
There are many examples of an original net animation (ONA), such as Hetalia: Axis Powers, which only last a few minutes per episode.Saki Fujita
Saki Fujita (藤田 咲, Fujita Saki, born October 19, 1984) is a Japanese voice actress and singer from Tokyo, Japan represented by Arts Vision. She sang the ending theme to the anime Tokimeki Memorial Only Love, "Kiseki no Kakera", (奇跡のかけら) along with Yuki Makishima and Yukako Yoshikawa as well as the opening songs for Working!! - Someone Else, Coolish Walk, Now!!!Gamble - with Kana Asumi and Eri Kitamura. She is best known for sampling her voice for Crypton Future Media's Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku.Salamander (video game)
Salamander (沙羅曼蛇 / サラマンダ, Saramanda), retitled Life Force (ライフフォース, Raifu Fōsu) in North America and in the Japanese arcade re-release, in Europe known as Life Force: Salamander, is a scrolling shooter arcade game by Konami. Released in 1986 as a spin-off of Gradius, Salamander introduced a simplified power-up system, two-player cooperative gameplay and both horizontally and vertically scrolling stages. Some of these later became the norm for future Gradius games.
Salamander was followed with a sequel in 1996 entitled Salamander 2.The Enemy's the Pirates!
The Enemy's the Pirates!: The Cat's Banquet (敵は海賊 ~猫たちの饗宴~, Teki wa Kaizoku: Neko no Kyōen) is a 1989 Japanese science fiction action comedy original video animation (OVA) series. It's based on a novel series by Chōhei Kambayashi.Wounded Man
Wounded Man (Japanese: 傷追い人, Hepburn: Kizuoibito) is a Japanese seinen manga written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. It was serialized in Big Comic Spirits from 1981 to 1986.
The manga was adapted into a five-episode original video animation, called Kizuoibito, by Magic Bus. Directed by Toshio Takeuchi, it premiered on July 5, 1986.