What Does OVA (Original Video Animation) Mean in Anime & How Are They Different?

What Are OVAs Episodes in Anime and How Are They Different?

Anime is a great way to keep yourself entertained during your free time. If you are new to watching anime, you might have encountered various terms such as OVAs, standard anime episodes, and special episodes. That being said, so, what are OVA episodes in anime, and how are they different?

OVA describes the anime episodes or films not shown in theaters or aired on TV before being released for home viewing. Sometimes, a short part of the OVA is broadcasted for promotional purposes, but the remaining series is not. OVAs are primarily released on VHS tapes, Blue-rays, or even DVDs.

All the serious anime fans might be familiar with the term OVA, but if you are new to anime, you might have heard the OVA term for the first time. If you are curious about the OVA and want to know what makes it different from the special and standard anime episodes, I will help you know about it in this article.

What Is an OVA Episode?

OVA, known as original video animation, is generally available for the video market first without getting a television broadcast or theatrical release. However, some producers also release small clips of the OVA series on television and in theatres for promotional purposes, which helps them attract more viewership. 

Initially, the OVA was only popular in Japan. But within a short time, the OVA episodes gained popularity all over the world. Because of the increase in interest of the audience, producers are making OVA a vital part of anime series. 

Unlike the filler episodes, the OVAs also contain scenes that help in story building. DVDs, Blue-rays, and VHS tapes are the prime sources producers use to release the OVA episodes. 

Further, OVAs are subdivided into episodes similar to anime for television broadcasts. Mostly, you will find only one episode in a single OVA media. The length of each OVA episode varies from title to title. 

Some OVA episodes run only for a few minutes, while others may take hours to complete. Though there is no standard length of OVA episodes, still mostly episodes are around 30 minutes long. 

Other than this, the length of episodes in a particular OVA can also vary. For example, if I talk about the OVA “GaoGaiGar Final,” the size of its first seven episodes was around 30 minutes, while 50 minutes was the length of the last episode. 

The “Key the Metal Idol” comes in 15 different episodes, ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Besides, An OVA series can have a single episode or a dozen episodes with varying lengths. 

One of the longest OVA series was the “Legend of the Galactic Heroes,” with around 162 episodes. Among those 162 episodes, 110 were the main episodes, while the remaining 52 were Gaiden episodes.

What Is the Difference Between an Ova and a Standard Anime Episode?

One prime difference between a standard anime episode and OVA is that the OVA never gets aired on television. The OVA episodes are primarily available for consumers to purchase either via VHS, DVD, or Blu-rays. 

On the other hand, a standard anime episode is usually released on television and in theaters. Also, the OVA is somehow related to the standard anime series. It is sometimes the sequel or a prequel of the anime series. 

The producers give a relevant narrative that connects OVA with the actual anime series. But OVA does not have to be pre-existing anime and is entirely original. Sometimes, you might also notice OVA having better quality than the standard anime episode. 

It is because the allocated resources to an OVA are usually higher compared to the standard anime. So, studios get extra freedom to increase the quality of an OVA. 

In most OVA episodes, you will find a better-told and beautifully animated story than a regular episode. Therefore, in short, the OVA episode is only available in DVD or blu-ray form while the standard episodes air on TV.

What Is the Difference Between an Ova and a Special Episode?

Both the OVA and a standard anime episode are interchangeable. An OVA episode can be special, but for a special episode to be an OVA, it should only be released for home viewing instead of broadcasting on TV or cinema. 

For example, The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 5.5 is a special instead of an OVA as it aired like other episodes of the season instead of getting released for home viewership first. So, in short, the OVAs are available as a home video that comes in DVS, VHS while the special episode can also be released as a tv broadcast. 

Other than this, the length of an average OVA episode is usually shorter than a special episode. Still, sometimes it might not happen as OVA length varies from episode to episode. 

Some special episodes are not related to the actual plot of the existing anime series. You may notice some extra characters or side stories that add a new touch to the special episodes. 

Most anime lovers consider the special episodes “just for fun.” On the other hand, an OVA is a stand-alone production that usually contains high-quality feature animation. In some cases, you might even notice complete series releasing under the OVA’s tag, but it is not that common.

Is an OVA Canon?

Some of the OVAs are canon, while some are not. So, whether an OVA is a canon or not varies from anime to anime. Some of the creators produce OVA stories relevant to the original anime series, making them canon. Without watching such an OVA that is canon, you might miss some vital part of the story of the original series. 

Due to which if the OVA is canon, you should watch it to have a better idea of the original anime series. On the other hand, the OVAs that are non-canon are usually irrelevant to the actual anime series, so you can even miss them if you want.

Are Anime OVAs Important?

Whether the anime OVAs are essential or not depends on the series. For example, some anime series connect the actual anime series with the OVA, due to which viewers need to watch it to get a better understanding of the existing series. 

However, some of the OVAs are entirely irrelevant to the original series, making them less critical. Even if the OVAs are unrelated to the series, most anime lovers still watch them for fun. OVAs are bonus episodes that are usually less relevant to the overall plot. 

As they are traditionally less connected, their quality may also vary. For example, there are around 15 OVA episodes of the Seitokai Yakuindomo series. You will think of them as a separate season because of entirely different stories and characters. 

On the other hand, “The World God Only Knows” anime story is well connected with its OVAs, so while watching its OVAs, you might struggle to know about the actual story. Therefore, in short, the OVAs may or may not be significant based on the anime series you are watching.

Do You Watch OVA First?

It depends whether the OVA is a prequel or sequel to the story. If the OVA is a prequel to the story, you should watch it before the original anime series to know the complete plot. 

On the other hand, watching OVA after the anime series will be good if it is a sequel. Some people do not even watch OVA because they believe that it is irrelevant to the actual story. 


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Though many OVAs are unnecessary, they might contain your favorite characters. Therefore, if you want to watch your favorite characters apart from the original series, you should watch the OVAs.

What Is the Purpose of OVA?

OVAs are produced to make more money. It allows creators to sell VHS tapes or DVDs, helping them to increase their revenue. Compared to conventional anime episodes, which are around 30 minutes long, the OVAs do not have any specific length. 

Due to this, the creators can show their full creativity in the OVA. The OVAs help remove the pressure of delivering high-quality work from creators because of the lack of broadcasting.

On the other hand, the OVAs are for those die-hard fans who love to see their favorite characters. Anime fans love spending some extra bucks on purchasing DVDs and VHS tapes for bonus material for a story. 

What if you get a chance to watch additional material of the story you love? The possibilities are that you will surely buy it, and that is the same case with OVAs. If anime fans like any particular story or character, they will undoubtedly want to spend some money on related OVAs to know more about the story or their character. 

So, the OVAs are both beneficial for creators as well as anime fans. Creators get an opportunity to make more money, while anime fans get a chance to watch more of their favorite characters and story.

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