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By His Lordship Chaos
As I was touring my local Anime store--whose owners happily know me when I walk in, as I never leave that place without selling off one of my future children over to them in exchange for my latest purchases (I think I owe them a dozen kids and the family dog now)--to my embarrassment I discovered that my OVA was showing. Fortunately I was able to cover up that fact by screaming like a girl and running out of the store.
So what is an OVA and where does it come from? Well, when a Mommy manga and a Daddy manga really love each other....
Anyhoo, OVA stands for Original Video Animation. Some otaku will tell you it's really OAV (Original Animated Video), and odds are it's safe just to keep your mouth shut in case you whacked upside the back of the head. You can never win in these situations. We otaku are rather temperamental that way.
OVAs are the equivalent to direct-to-store videos. They're not quite TV shows and they're not quite movies. Consider them the older brother who has free reign of the car and still doesn't know how to drive stick-shift. If anything, an OVA is something in between. They are not as long as some TV series (though why anyone would make about 26 episodes of Pretty Sammy boggles my mind), yet OVAs have a raised budget so the animation quality is better. At least in theory anyways.
It's interesting to note that Evangelion was a TV series done on an OVA budget, which certainly explains the beautiful animation quality at the start. The quality of the story though remains something to be seen. Um...just why is Shinji stuck in an empty drama stage? This is mecha, not Shakespeare--though it is an amusing thought of EVA 01 holding the severed head of an Angel and saying, "Alas, poor Sachiel. I knew him well, Asuka...an entity of infinite jest that beat the crap out of me my first time out. Ha! I sure showed him though!"
Many short OVA series have been turned into longer-running TV series as well. Tenchi Muyo! and El Hazard are probably the most prolific of them all, with others including Battle Athletes, Bubblegum Crisis, Vampire Princess Miyu and the new Maho Tsukai Tai.
So what is the draw to OVAs? The answer is simple: you can get away with practically anything you want. Just slap a warning label on the side and you've got it made. No need to dress it up to appease certain groups. No need to water it down, i.e. the dubbed DragonBall Z's "alternate dimension" that everyone gets blown to whenever they're vaporized in a massive fireball or get a fist through one or more of their vital organs. Incidentally, there is a technical term for this "alternate dimension": we call it the afterlife.
But I digress!
Let's look at just what we can get away with, shall we?
Today on the OVA Is Right we're looking at videos showcasing the fun little things that's too risqué to be an animated TV series, and usually too dumb to be a movie! Name me one hentai video that is a movie or a TV series--aside from the soft-core Cream Lemon? Let's be honest, people: who here would want to see a 90 minute feature on naughty tentacles and their steroid-pumped zucchinis of doom?
o.O Oh my...that many of you?
Moving right along then, OVAs have deliberately shorted stories. Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes that's a bad thing. Take Tolstoy's "War & Peace" in OVA format and you might end up with just "War." But those of us of the Y chromosome persuasion are probably not going to object. After all, who really needs plot when there are body parts being flung onto the screen like an interior decorator having a spastic attack?
Now some of you might bring up the Tekken OVA. In response, I'd tend to simply bring up my lunch. Now that was a shonen story, but I'll put forward a slice of personal philosophy (but no slice of Chocolate Misu...besides, she and her OVA's non-existent wardrobe consisting of baggy leather pants and two thin suspenders that somehow manage to stay attached to her bosom no matter what way they jiggle) and say that Tekken's biggest problem wasn't necessarily it's lack of plot. Since it is shonen Anime, I say its problem was a lack of blood.
Where's the carnage, I ask you?! Where are the entrails and severed limbs?! The Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer OVAs saw more blood in them--though mainly due to me banging my head against the wall in an effort to forget the pain of watching something akin to me staplegunning my lips Lina Inverse's butt.
So what is better? The TV version or the OVA version? Let's check in on our Great Anime Debate panel to see what their opinions are:
SD Chaos-chan: "I'm telling you, in the TV series you get more of a chance to have better character development. You've got at least 26 episodes instead of the standard 4 or 6 that OVAs have."
SD Dark Schnieder-chan: [politely giving Chaos the one-digit salute!] "Ha! Don't make me laugh! Do you think I actually want to have 26 eps. to learn about some characters?! Like I'd actually want a Kishin Corps series!"
SD Chaos-chan: "But the stories! They can be compromised in an OVA--after all, they're usually based on a manga version plotline. OVAs either heavily condense the story, or else jump right into the middle of the story."
SD Dark Schnieder: "So? Anime movie quality is supposed to be sky-high, and you still don't know what happened at the End of Eva! No one does!"
SD Chaos-chan: --;; "I asked X's resident psychic Hinoto just what did happen, and all she said was 'She put the lime in the Bugrom and she drank it all up.'"
SD Dark Schnieder-chan: "Hmph! Do you think I buy OVAs for the stories? I want nekkid flashes! Lot's of them!"
[SD Dark Schnieder-chan suddenly points to the super-deformed and uber Gainax bouncy version of OVA Chocolate Misu & her amazing, gravity-defying leather suspenders of glue!]
SD Dark Schnieder-chan: "I want her! The sultry dominatrix with the fire in her eyes!"
SD Chocolate-chan: [glare!] "I see someone's a little too frisky in today's rant."
SD Dark Schnieder-chan: [whistling nonchalantly] "Chaos said it, not me."
SD Chaos-chan: o.O "WHAT?!"
SD Chocolate-chan: [pulling out her whip] "WOH HOH HO HOH!! It's time for the whip, Chaos!"
SD Chaos: o.O [frantic li'l otaku] "KYAAAAAAAAA!!!! HIME HIME HIME HIME HIME!!!!"
SD Chocolate-chan: [whipping Chaos] "Don't call me 'princess'!! Call me the Queen!"
SD Chaos-chan: o.O "KYAAAAAAAA!!!! JO'O-SAMA JO'O-SAMA JO'O-SAMA JO'O-SAMA JO'O-SAMAAAAAAA!!!"
SD Dark Schnieder-chan: [sigh!] "If only this could be made into an OVA."