Whenever a show rises to glory, the Original Video Animations (OVAs) won’t be far behind. Not every OVA is created equal, however: some merely exist to make money off of a well-established franchise, while others are expertly crafted and enhance the original series. Today, we’ll be looking at the five different types of OVA, and letting you know whether they’re worth your time. Let’s get started:
The Prequel almost always has the same formula: take the most badass character from an anime and show how they got that way. Expect frequent references to the show itself. If a character has a catchphrase, you can bet it makes its first appearance here. Bonus points if the main character turns out to have a dark secret or long-standing nemesis who is defeated and swears he won’t rest until he has vengeance.
So your favourite series is over and didn’t get a second season. No worries – here’s the sequel OVA! These are less expensive to produce than a fully-fledged series, but without the huge viewership numbers, you can usually expect to see a drop in animation quality, writing, and nuance. If you really liked the show, though, go for it!
The Standalone Adventure
It’s like your favourite show never left! This type of OVA is usually set during the original series, and follows the cast on another one of their crazy adventures (that they never mentioned again afterwards). Usually fairly high-quality, albeit with a tendency to showcase action-movie-style set pieces or unnecessary fanservice to pad the runtime.
The Beach OVA
Haha! You thought you were getting another serious episode of your favourite murder mystery show, but in the first five minutes, the main character announces a beach trip. Or a vacation overseas. Or a trip to a hot spring. Or a theme park. You get the idea.
Light on plot, heeaavvyyy on fanservice, the Beach OVA is the worst kind. Sure, there will likely be cute girls in bathing suits, but you’ve paid for the privilege of watching. The only sure things about these OVAs is that they will have no bearing on the overall plot, and that the quiet girl will look really good in a bikini. Yawn.
The Alternate Reality
A whole bunch of anime, particularly those that started out as visual novels, love this type of OVA. They essentially serve as abridged animated versions of alternate routes through the story, often with the hero romancing a different one of his companions. If you really thought they’d be better off with someone else, go for it! Otherwise, maybe give this one a miss.