OAV, OAD, direct-to-video series or whatever you call it, OVA or Original Video Animation is an interesting entertainment medium with many applications. OVAs are usually standalone stories that are distributed as a bonus bundle for buying a manga volume the anime is based on, or they are a means to expand the story of an existing series without committing to a new season, or a medium for new animation studios to gain footing by gauging public interest before making a new series or movie.
2016 was a great year for OVAs with additional story or episodes of anime we loved these past few years, so of course, we’re going to list the 10 best ones. And to make this list a little bit special, the entries you’re about to see weren’t picked based on reviews or overall popularity, this list was handpicked by our great readers of Honey’s Anime. So without further ado, this is the Top 10 Best OVA of 2016, user’s pick edition!
10. Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito (The Ancient Magus' Bride: Those Awaiting a Star)(*Particularly, EP. 1)
- Episodes: 3:
- Aired: September 2016 - Ongoing
Hatori Chise is a normal teenager at first glance, but she is surrounded by magical beings and is currently studying magic. How did this girl end up being an apprentice of a powerful magus and his soon-to-be-wife? This OVA takes you all the way back to Chise’s troubled childhood.
Mahou Tsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito is a slow burner that will leave viewers confused for the first half of episode one, but once you get past that hurdle, the OVA throws some story in the mix filled with mystery, sadness, and magic, to hook you in. It may not explain everything, and will continue making breadcrumb trails, the OVA gives you a glimpse of what the world and story are like… and potential horrific moments of these invisible creatures eating people.
The OVA serves as a prequel to the upcoming TV series of the same name, so if you wanna follow the series, you better watch this OVA.
9. Kidou Senshi Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin)(*Particularly, EP. 4)
- Episodes: 6:
- Aired: Ongoing (Each EP. is released gradually with no specific schedule.)
The Gundam franchise has been around for decades and The Origin OVA series was made to celebrate the franchise’s 35th anniversary. The OVA tells the story of the Red Comet Char Aznable’s upbringing and a series of events that led to humankind’s most catastrophic war, the One Year War. Rich in story, characters, mecha action, political intrigue, trust, betrayal, deception, vengeance, and war, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is a multi-layered series that pulled no punches and a great entry for the Universal Century timeline.
Admittedly, the OVA isn’t perfect. Some story details, character motivations, goals, etc. are different, so it’s difficult to connect the dots to the original series and some fans will consider some of the events non-canon. However, the changes can be considered as an update to the story to fit with modern storytelling techniques, philosophy, modern politics, and technology. The OVA may also be a sign the Universal Century Gundam series is coming back to the modern age.
Despite everything, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is a high-quality OVA with an art style that harkens back to the early days of Japanese animation, and a gripping mature story that sets Gundam apart from other anime about giant robots blowing things up because it looks cool.
8. Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou OVA (Everyday Life with Monster Girls)(*Particularly, EP. 1)
- Episodes: 2:
- Aired: November 2016 - Ongoing
Kurusu Kimihito and the entire cast of monster girls went to the gym to shave off some pounds because maybe one of the girls got too relaxed with their lifestyle or maybe they ate too much because admittedly our hero’s cooking is very delicious. As they went to the gym, chaos ensues. Well, duh.
The OVA is a two-part series expands the story of human Kurusu Kimihito living with the monster girls he has taken in and loved (for better or worse). Don’t expect anything definitive from Kimihito like which of the monster girls he romantically loves because Monster Musume is a harem anime and our hero loves them all equally. Or at least until we see the 2nd episode this April 2017.
What’s to say about the OVA? In the very first second of the first episode, you’ll see bird tits zooming in front you and that pretty much answers the question. It’s just another set of episodes of monster girls doing monster girl things with all the very lewd fanservice still present. And that’s not really a bad thing because the OVA stayed true to the TV series delivering the fans with monster girl interaction and get to see more lewd shots and suggestive angles. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
7. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku OVA
- Episodes: 1:
- Aired: October 2016
Zoku OVA is an adaptation of volume 10.5 in the original light novel series featuring Hikigaya Hachiman and Isshiki Iroha together in a mock date for data-gathering purposes. Girls are made of sugar, spice, and all things nice, but Hachiman found out that Iroha may have a bit more spice in her.
Our cynical loner Hachiman with Yui and Yukino from the Volunteer Service Club are back in this standalone OVA. And if you’re an Iroha fan, you’re gonna love this. What made the series great is the characters and the emotions they convey and thankfully the OVA stayed true to the formula minus the drama. Though Hachiman was reluctant to show up and Iroha getting annoyed at him for not taking the date seriously, the two got along and the entire date with the two was nothing short of cute and realistic.
That’s the thing about Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru — you watch this for the relatable and realistic characters. The OVA may be short, but it’s a great addition to the series that leaves fans wanting for more. More Iroha moments, specifically.
6. Gintama°: Aizome Kaori-hen
- Episodes: 2:
- Aired: August 2016 - November 2016
Someone has spread a powerful pink incense (intentionally and partly unintentional) in the underground red-light district of Yoshiwara and everyone who takes a whiff will go madly in love, horny and nuts to the first person, or reflection they see. To stop the incense from spreading, Gintoki, Kagura, Shinpachi and Tsukuyo, the leader of the law enforcement squad Hyakka must work together or otherwise they’ll succumb to their inner desires, and eventually turn the district into one huge orgy fest… which is honestly what red-light districts technically do...
What’s so great about Gintama is new fans can watch any of the story arcs in any order and not worry about who the main characters are and know their place in the series. For long-time fans, it’s business, as usual, wearing safety gear so they don’t hurt themselves from laughing too hard. Aizome Kaori-hen may be funny based on its premise, there’s a good touching story behind the sex jokes and crude humor, and in typical Gintama fashion, Gintoki isn’t your average perverted nose-picking womanizing oaf at first glance.
Some fans may find each arc formulaic, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter because formulaic or not, you’ll end up laughing your ass off at how funny Gintama is. You have to a humorless person to not finish a Gintama arc without laughing.
5. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! OVA
- Episodes: 1:
- Aired: June 2016
From a NEET to an adventurer, our hero Satou Kazuma found a choker that has the ability to grant any wish of its wearing. However, the choker will kill Kazuma if he fails to make a wish within four days. To make matters worse, Kazuma forgot what he’s wishing for!
OVAs have many uses like they extend the story of a TV series for a proper conclusion, or as teasers for an upcoming series or movie, or simply a standalone episode that is not connected to the main story. KonoSuba is in the latter with a story focusing on the laughs, and the best part of this OVA. What made KonoSuba great is it’s entertaining, comfy show that is good at making fun of the typical video game stereotypes, and humor that doesn’t fall flat on its face. It’s a perfect show to watch after watching your weekly dose mind-bending or tear-jerking anime shows. The OVA may be a standalone experience, it still retained that charm from the TV series. And that’s all that matters.
4. Prison School OVA
- Episodes: 1:
- Aired: March 2016
The infamous Underground Student Council has fallen and they’ve been sentenced to their own school prison! Stripped of power, pride, and dignity, the Underground Student Council are now rotting in the cells our four heroes once imprisoned. For the first time in their high school lives, former prisoners Kiyoshi, Takehito, Reiji and Jouji finally got to experience normal school life surrounded by lots of cute female classmates. But is this life of freedom just a brief respite for worse things to come? And who took down the Underground Student Council? Only time will tell, A.K.A., season 2... when?!
With season 2 looming over the horizon (crossing fingers), the OVA serves as a bridge to connect season 1 and season 2 (also crossing toes) by showing the aftermath of the last episode. It was a long wait, but it’s all worth it because Prison School OVA still has that same quality laugh out loud moments because, despite getting out of prison, our heroes can’t resist taking another bite of the forbidden fruit. Or maybe they just missed those steel bars and dimly lit prison cells.
3. Owari no Seraph: Kyuuketsuki Shahar
- Episodes: 1:
- Aired: May 2016
Set after the first season, Owari no Seraph: Kyuuketsuki Shahar is a standalone story featuring the Japanese Imperial Demon Army doing their job by protecting the citizenry from vampires, and a vampire who has grown attached to a young human girl. This OVA is bundled with volume 11 of the manga.
If you’re watching Owari no Seraph for the first time, this OVA takes place right after season 1 and before season 2. There are no real story details in the OVA linking to season 2, but it’s a good standalone episode that serves as an appetizer for season 2. For fans who watched both seasons, the OVA is a nice extra reminding you of the good old times you’ve spent with these eccentric group of vampire hunters.
The OVA is not perfect by any means because it didn’t offer much and with such short runtime, everything felt rushed. Still, the OVA managed to deliver an emotional and touching short story of a rogue vampire recalling the days when he was still human, and a girl who brought a bit of his humanity back.
2. Kamisama Hajimemashita: Kamisama, Shiawase ni Naru
- Episodes: 1:
- Aired: December 20, 2016
After countless struggles and facing challenges, and memorable adventures, Mikage Shrine deity and high school student Momozono Nanami and her fox familiar Tomoe are now moving forward as lovers. The God of Wealth Okuninushi appeared before them to grant Tomoe’s wish to become human and Nanami goes back to being a normal human being again.
Fan reactions to the OVA are very mixed with some saying the OVA is way too short and skipped a lot of stories found in the manga, while some loved it because the OVA finally concluded the story of Nanami and Tomoe in just under 15 minutes. As a manga adaptation, Shiawase ni Naru provided solid closure to the series that spanned 2 TV seasons, and 2 OVA series with no need to read up on the manga to fill you in. Loved it or hated it, Kamisama Hajimemashita: Kamisama, Shiawase ni Naru OVA ended a series filled with love, magic, adventure, and lots of funny bits.
1. Fairy Tail OVA (2016)
- Episodes: 3:
- Aired: May 2016-December 2016
The 3-episode OVA is an adaptation to 4 omake chapters from the manga series. Episode 1 tells the story of two Grand Magic Games teams competing on a simple game of rock, paper, and scissors, and the winning team will ask the losing team to do whatever they requested. From kissing monkeys, to bread on top of roller coasters, Team Loser is in for a tough time. Episode 2 focuses more on Mavis Vermillion and uprooting forests, and Episode 3 is a Christmas special.
A lot of fans were divided with the quality of Fairy Tail (2014) because it’s inferior to the original run that aired on 2009 with poor character development, unimpressive fight scenes, inconsistent art and so on. To some fans, the 3-episode OVA offers a fix to the shortcomings of the 2014 series by essentially giving what the fans wanted: good episodes that ticked a lot of boxes like character interactions, character development, humor, ecchi moments (a ton of it actually), and an overall fun experience.
This positive reaction of the OVA may be a good sign that if ever the next Fairy Tail installment comes, we’ll know it’ll be better. We rarely get any response from animation studios from fan feedback but it feels like A-1 Pictures listened and made this OVA. Did it pay off? Apparently, it did because according to our polls, Fairy Tail OVA (2016) takes the top spot as Honey Anime’s user’s pick for best OVA of 2016.
There you have it! The list is based on a poll we conducted on (insert date or details here), and it was surprising what OVA came out on top. As mentioned earlier, Fairy Tail (2014) was considered by fans as inferior to the original, but the OVA won back some of the hearts of the fans and there’s positive or even hopeful optimism for Fairy Tail’s future as an anime adaptation.
By the end of the day, all of these OVAs are great in their own way and you can’t quantify them based on the number of votes they got. This list merely showed you that there are a ton of great OVAs out there that are worth checking. And who knows, maybe you’ll end following a new series after watching an interesting OVA.
So what do you think of the list? What OVAs in 2016 did we miss? Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!