What Does Ova Mean In Anime and it’s Purpose?

Check out what does OVA mean in Anime?

OVA (Original Video Animation) in Anime, is a series of Japanese animation content (series or film) that are produced and distributed especially for home video formats before television/ theatrical releases.

Anime is not just any animated audio visual content; it involves a unique art form (originating from Japan), strong storytelling, highly skilled artists, complex plots and minor arcs, character developments, and amazing title tracks.

If you are a moderate Anime watcher, chances are that you have come across the term OVA written beside few Anime episodes.

Sometimes, these OVA episodes are very bizarre with no direct connection to the main plot or previous episode, only to leave an armature viewer in confusion. The key out of such confusion and chaos is to understand what is an OVA meaning in Anime.

What does OVA mean in Anime? Is OVA important in Anime?

OVA Meaning in Anime
OVA Meaning in Anime

A highlighted feature in Anime is OVA, which is sometimes called OAV (Original Anime Video).

OVA in Anime world are those episodes of Anime that are available for purchase in video format at initial stages even before their release on television or in theaters.

So if you see OVA written next to an episode, it means this episode was first released for home video format via VHS, DVD, Blu-ray or digital home streaming, and perhaps, later aired on television or theater.

In some cases, producers may release clips from OVA series on television or in theaters as a teaser to gain more viewership for the OVA episodes.

OVAs stories are complementary to the main Anime narrative; sometimes, they follow a different path from the original episodes. In this sense, OVA in anime series act as a tool to develop the plot. Another significant feature of OVA is that they remain uncensored.

Fact box: What is OVA called in Japanese? OVA is called orijinaru bideo animeshon in Japanese. In English, it means ‘direct to video’; hence OVA are understood to be Anime content produced for home video format.

Properties of OVA

Following are the key properties of OVA in Anime –

  • OVAs are usually released in single episodes, which may last for few minutes to around couple of hours. This is also true for the whole OVA series: few episodes may be around 15-30 minutes, while a few (in most cases the last one) can be very long.
  • OVA series do not have a mass targeted audience; hence OVA in Anime remain uncensored.
  • They, however, have a lot of time and creativity in hand, so OVA series/ episodes have more detailed character development.
  • Furthermore, OVA or OVA in Anime have an original script that remains majorly insignificant to the main story. For instance:
  • In the classic Ranma ½ TV series the plot runs around the original manga. The OVA episodes, on the other hand, are never included in the manga itself.  
  • Sometimes producers may run an OVA series of a non-existing anime as a Beta test. This is to test how the audience will respond to the upcoming anime series. There are plenty of popular Anime series that first appeared as OVA series and then grew into full Anime TV series/ films.
  • There is no fixed time to drop an OVA episode in the market. They usually come without any warning, advertising, or launch date. OVA in Anime can be available for purchase before, during and even after the airing of an Anime series.

Purpose of OVA in Anime

If OVA in Anime are insignificant to the main and side plots, and if their stories are not taken from the original manga, what is the purpose of making them? The answer is to get the targeted audience’s attention. OVAs in Anime have a very specific audience base, and their purpose is to hook the attention of such viewers.

From the first airing of a new Anime, it has to abide by certain guidelines and censorship. The OVA series is free from such rules, which catch the interest of many fans.

It is fun and super engaging. Apart from this, OVA in Anime creates a big hype in the Anime fandom with various twists in the story away from the main plot.

For instance, the fan base of any anime has its own trends, ships, theories, and inside jokes. If an OVA episode is released with such elements, it has the capacity to be an instant hit and call in massive viewership for the OVA series as well as the main Anime.

OVAs in Anime are also made in memory of an Anime that has finished airing one or all seasons. It makes sure that the anime community does not forget about that Anime. If there is an upcoming season of an Anime, it will take time to be produced and distributed. OVA episodes keep the interest of the viewers alive in the buffer time.

Fact Box: In 1983, the first Official OVA was released under the title of ‘Dallos’. The series ran for 4 episodes capturing the space struggle of a young rebel.

Types Of OVAs

The types of OVA in Anime are based firstly on the distribution format and secondly on the content. To know all about Anime OVA, you should know about the various types available.

Following are the different formats of OVA in Anime –

  • OVA – Original Video Animation
  • OAD – Original DVD Animation
  • OBA – Original BluRay Animation
  • ONA – Original Net Animation.

Fact Box: OVA previously was called OAV or Original Animation Videos. The term was altered because many in English confused it with being Original Audio Visuals or Original Adult Videos.

The different forms of OVA as per the content are:

  • The Prequel
  • The Sequel
  • The Standalone Adventure
  • The Alternate Reality

How Anime OVAs are Different from Specials?

OVAs and Specials are two different sets of Anime releases that often get Anime fans confused. Their differences are not that straightforward to identify.

You must note the following points:

  • Firstly, Specials and OVA differ in the medium of their release. TV Special episodes are released as a TV broadcast, while OVA episodes are available in Home video format. Eg: Episode 5.5 of The Promised Neverland Season 2 is a special episode and not an OVA because it was distributed over television broadcast.
  • The next difference is in the length of the program. The duration of OVA in Anime is not fixed, but it is usually shorter than a Special episode. In contrast, Specials are generally very long episodes (eg: 2 hours).
  • Both OVA and Specials are not weekly launched, but there still is a difference as to when they are released. TV Specials are usually released once a year, while OVAs are erratic and come with no launch warning.

Now, if an OVA is released as promotional content by the parent media house on Television, it can be considered as a Special. Likewise, Specials can be seen as OVAs if they are meant to be viewed at home setups like DVD.

FAQs on Ova Anime

Where Can I Watch Anime OVAs?

Buying the Disc is the best legal option to watch OVA in Anime. It is rare to find OVAs on digital platforms. Many legal Anime streaming sites like Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime, HiDive, and Netflix do not have a complete collection of OVA episodes.

Do You Watch OVA First?

There is no fixed rule as to when you should watch an OVA episode in Anime, except for the Prequel OVA episodes, which is suggested to watch before the Anime. Many prefer to watch OVA episodes as they are released in the market, while others do not have a fixed chronological order.

Can I Skip OVA Episodes?

To skip OVA episodes is totally your wish. Since OVA in Anime does not have many contributions to the main plot or character development or take-away, it can be easily skipped. However, skipping a canon OVA causes confusion later in the series.

Is An OVA A Canon?

Some OVA in Anime can be canon, while some may not be. Canon is referred to fictional anime content that contributes to the main anime story or is part of the official plot.


Be a knowledgeable weeb with this guide on What Does Ova Mean In Anime . Now you will never be confused about the meaning of OVA, the types of OVAs and even the difference among different Anime formats like Special, Canon, OVA and regular Anime episode.

Janvi Patel