Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Original Video Animation
Original Video Animation (OVA), or Original Animation Video (OAV), is an acronym used in Japan for anime series that are released directly to video, without being first broadcast on television or released on theaters. As a general rule OVA anime tends to be of high quality, approaching that of films. Titles tend often have a very regular, continuous plot which is best enjoyed if all episodes are viewed in sequence.
As the VCR became a widespread fixture in Japanese homes, the Japanese anime industry grew to behemoth proportions. Demand for anime was massive, so much so that consumers would willingly go directly to video stores to buy new animation outright.
As a result, many series were produced with an intent to go directly to video. While "direct-to-video" became a pejorative in the United States for works that could not make it onto TV 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 and Tenchi Muyo! were released directly to video as "OVAs."
Although direct-to-video anime had appeared as early as the late 1970s, the first actual OVA series (that was billed as such) was 1983's Dallos, directed by Mamoru Oshii and released by Bandai. Other companies were quick to pick up on the idea, and the mid-to-late 1980s saw the market flooded with OVAs. Unlike television series made to fit a 'season', OVAs could theoretically be of any length. However, there could be a waiting period between episodes lasting several months.
As the Japanese economy worsened in the 1990s, the flood of OVAs drained to a trickle. A few OVAs are still made, but they are now far less common, perhaps because of the recent prevalence of anime series only 13 episodes long (rather than the stock 26) making them more financially safe ventures.
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