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Meaning of OVA in Terms of Anime

Vijith Menon
OVA is a term used for animation videos, and not to be confused with Ontario Volleyball Association. If you are a fan of anime, then OVAs come in the same bracket. Let us enlighten you on this term and others associated with it, and you will be well on your way to be an otaku.
The first OVA to release was Dallos, in 1983.
The invention of animation brought many discoveries. From a simple ball roll to animating a full-grown troll, animation has evolved through the decades.
While our first glimpse of animation was an anthropomorphic mouse dancing to his tunes, the East had yet to wake up to this phenomenon. And wake up it did, in the form of various folktales and stories native to its land.

Japan was a country who drew manga (their version of comics) to convey their stories. But with animation, a new art form had come forth.
An art form which can immortalize characters and make them childhood heroes. One of these visionaries, influenced by Walt Disney movies, started on his journey to create manga and movies that would change the way Japanese animation was perceived. He was none other than Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy.
In his anime, he gave big eyes to characters, that could convey emotion easily, which has since become a common staple of anime series.

But many series create additional episodes or arcs to highlight a different perspective of the hero and the other characters in the series. These are called anime OVAs, or original video animation.
But what does original video animation mean, and how does this add more flavor to the story?

What Does OVA Stand for in Anime?
In America, some movies which didn't have a sufficient budget, were released direct-to-video. This had created a niche in the consumer market, as they could enjoy it in the confines of their homes.
This was extremely beneficial to the pornographic industry that was thriving in the '80s. It could produce low-budget movies without the need of a screenplay.

Some movies that released during this era were mostly shunned by mainstream public and critics alike. Distributors either launched them in limited theaters or released them as direct-to-video.
But the Japanese, on the other hand, demanded more movies like these, but stayed loyal to the story universe. In Japan, direct-to-video was termed original video. It wasn't surprising then that stores that stocked these videos sold out overnight.
Original animation video was the official term for OVA, but since it added to the confusion with adult videos having the same abbreviation, it reverted back to OVA. OVAs have an original script, and have better quality animation than the series. They have a higher budget and more time allocated to them than regular series.
Some of them are distributed to theaters like the Naruto and Dragonball Z series. An original anime DVD (OAD) is released with episodes pertaining to the series, as well as a bonus manga chapter included in it. This has proved popular with series such as Goku Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei, xxxHOLiC: Shunmuki, and Tsubasa: Shunraiki.
OVAs also served as unofficial pilots for TV series. A TV pilot serves as the basis for a sales pitch of an official series. It served as the benchmark for the publication for future episodes. Pornographic anime are termed as OAV, and given a home release since they can't be released in theaters.
Original Net Animation
ONA stands for 'original net animation'. The term was recently established for anime series getting a direct release to the net. The creators of Lingerie Soldier Papillon Rose came up with the term ONA. They're equal to the webisodes of popular TV series.

Popular Original Video Animation List
  • Ghost in the Shell: Arise
  • Sailor Moon
  • Berserk: The Golden Age Arc
  • Samurai X
  • Wolf's Rain
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
  • Dragonball Z
  • Trigun: Badlands Rumble
  • Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas
  • Bubblegum Crisis
  • The Green Cat
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
  • Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
  • Elfen Lied 10.5: Regenschauer
  • One Piece Film Strong World: Episode 0
  • Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail
  • Hunter x Hunter: Greed Island Final
  • Detroit Metal City
  • Assassination Classroom
  • Prince of Tennis: The National Tournament
Anime series are popular on their own, but OVAs provide a perspective not gathered at first glance. OVAs have now become a collector's item, with many being sold with the original cover case and other memorabilia. Now that you know what OVAs mean, buy them and respect the filmmakers.