Original video animation (Japanese: オリジナル・ビデオ・アニメーション Hepburn: Orijinaru bideo animēshon), abbreviated as OVA (オーブイエー / オーヴィーエー / オヴァ ōbuiē, ōvīē or ova) and sometimes as OAV (original animated video), are Japanese animated films and series made specially for release in home video formats without prior showings on television or in theatres, though the first part of an OVA series may be broadcast for promotional purposes. OVA titles were originally made available on VHS, later becoming more popular on LaserDisc and eventually DVD. Starting in 2008, the term OAD (original animation DVD) began to refer to DVD releases published bundled with their source-material manga.
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OVA titles have a reputation for detailed plots and character-development, which can result from the greater creative freedom offered to writers and directors relative to other formats. This also allows for animated adaptations of manga to reflect their source material more faithfully. Since OVA episodes and series have no fixed conventional length, OVA directors can use however much time they like to tell the story. Time becomes available to expand upon significant background, character, and plot development. This contrasts with television episodes (which must begin and conclude in 22 to 26 minutes) and with films (which rarely last more than two hours). In the same way, no pressure exists to produce "filler content" to extend a short plot into a full television series. The producers of OVA titles generally target a specific audience, rather than the more mass-market audience of films and television series, or may feel less constrained by content-restrictions and censorship (such as for violence, nudity, and language) often placed on television series. For example, the Kissxsis OVA series generally contains more sexual themes than its television counterpart.
Most OVA titles run for four to eight episodes, and some only have one. They tend to have a complex and continuous plot, best enjoyed if all episodes are viewed in sequence. This contrasts with television series, which generally have many short "mini-stories" that happen to be related somehow, rather than a unified plot. Many OVA titles can be thought of as "long films" that just happen to be released in parts. Release schedules vary: some series may progress as slowly as 1–2 episodes per year. Some OVA titles with a lengthy release-schedule ended up unfinished due to lack of fan support and sales.
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