10 ’90s Anime OVAs Still Worth Watching

10 '90s Anime OVAs Still Worth Watching

Original video animation, or OVA, is a unique anime format meant for home video release without prior broadcasting. Emerging in the early 80s with the VHR becoming widespread in Japan, original OVAs hit the peak of their popularity in the ’90s, only to slowly diminish to promotional materials and DVD specials of TV shows by the 2000s.

RELATED: 10 Best Stand-Alone Anime OVAs We Wish Were Full Series

Without the restrictions of TV broadcasting, ’90s OVAs could target niche audiences and dive into violent, explicit topics, producing myriads of unorthodox anime series, many of which are still worth checking out. These OVAs offer something unique to modern fans and capture the nonrestrictive magic of the ’90s anime scene.

10 Otaku No Video Is A Glimpse Into The Unorthodox Otaku Culture Of The Early ’90s

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One of the most influential pieces of otaku culture history, the 1991 OVA Otaku no Video paints a surreal yet poignant portrait of its era’s otaku and dives into the history of its famed creators, studio Gainax. The story follows everyman Ken Kubo’s quest to become the ultimate otaku.

From a simplistic premise, the story goes in bizarre directions, with Kubo opening up a Disneyland equivalent for otaku, Otakuland, and even traveling to space, all intersecting with live-action interviews of real-life otaku talking about their hobbies.

9 Genocyber Is Still A Favorite Among Old-School Horror Fans

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Many praise old-school OVAs for their unrestricted, exuberating violence and gore, assured that the age of good anime horror passed with the decline of the OVA format. In some cases, this statement rings true, as the likes of Genocyber are unlikely to emerge today.

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Genocyber is a gruesome, existentially haunting tale of a biological weapon with the power to destroy the world and no one to control it. In the best traditions of ’90s sci-fi horror, it doesn’t shy away from showing explicit gore and anguish missing in modern genre exemplars.

8 Angel Densetsu Is A Short Yet Hilarious Story Of A Mean-Looking Delinquent With A Heart Of Gold

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Seiichiro Kitano in Angel Densetsu

The most unfortunate aspect of being an OVA fan is that they always end too soon, in just a handful of episodes. And while the same applies to the 1996 2-episode OVA Angel Densetsu, it’s still a delight to watch. The OVA’s hero, Seiichirou Kitano, has a heart of gold.

Sadly, no one can see his true self behind his intimidating looks, scary enough to make even the toughest delinquents run away in fear. Seiichirou’s adventures are hilarious, even if fans get only a couple of episodes to get to know him.

7 3×3 Eyes OVA Is A Taste Of A Much Grander Horror Story That Can Be Enjoyed Even On Its Own

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Based on a notorious supernatural manga series, 3×3 Eyes 1991 OVA spices up the contents of its original with even more violence and gore. Unlike many original horror shorts, 3×3 Eyes has an incredible plotline to build upon, telling the story of Yakumo Fuuji, an ordinary human turned immortal slave for a mythical 3-eyed demon, Pai.

The complicated, destructive relationship between Pai and Fuuji is even more exhilarating than the OVA’s supernatural plotline. And the fans intrigued by the OVA have over 40 volumes of manga to see it fully develop.

6 Giant Robo The Animation Seems Like A Fresh Take On Mecha Tropes Even 30 Years Later

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>An image from Giant Robo.

Made in the best traditions of old-school mecha series, Giant Robo the Animation is a retro-futuristic saga that has something to offer every fan. An action-driven spectacle at its core, this OVA draws inspiration from everywhere within the genre, from kung-fu flicks and classic mecha anime to wuxia stories and literary tragedies.

The cultural multifacetedness of its references transforms a simple story of the superhumans of the International Police Organisation confronting an evil syndicate into an endlessly exciting, unorthodox epic with real heart behind every frame.

5 Battle Angel Alita Gives Viewers A Taste Of Anime’s Most Influential Post-Apocalyptic Story

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Battle Angel Alita is a familiar title to most anime fans, especially those familiar with its not-so-successful live-action adaptation. A much more faithful and interesting take on the classic ’90s manga is the 1993 Battle Angel Alita OVA, also known as Gunnm.

RELATED: 10 Visually Stunning Anime OVAs With Amazing Animation

While also not adapting the manga in its entirety, the OVA masterfully captures the gritty post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the story. Anyone who watches this magnificent sci-fi spectacle is guaranteed to want more, which they can get by reading the even more captivating manga.

4 It’s Impossible To Hold In Laughter While Watching Kyou Kara Ore Wa!!

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OVAs excel at telling short, often episodic stories that hook the viewers from the get-go, and that’s exactly the case with Kyou kara Ore wa!! A lesser-known ’90s classic, this OVA series tells of the misadventures of Mitsuhashi Takashi and Itou Shinji, former unpopular transfer students who decided to play the part of delinquents in their new school.

A comedic delight, Kyou kara Ore wa!! has everything a good delinquent story needs – vibrant characters, hilarious plots, and even some heartfelt moments sprinkled in between.

3 You’re Under Arrest Breaks Tiresome Clichés Of Generic Buddy Cop Movies

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Buddy cop films feel like a purely Western type of entertainment. However, anime also has its fair share of comical police hijinks to offer the fans of the genre. The 1994 OVA You’re Under Arrest feels even more exciting than some of the best buddy cop movies ever produced.

Stellar animation and lively, lovable characters turn something meant to portray the routine workdays of a couple of Traffic division officers into a wild ride jammed full of tense car chases, touching character moments, and splendid humor.

2 Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – Tsuioku-Hen Delves Into The Swordsman’s Tragic Past

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Even back in the ’90s, popular series would get OVAs that expanded on their stories. The vast and universally celebrated Rurouni Kenshin franchise released one of its most stellar installments in the form of an OVA in 1999, Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – Tsuioku-hen.

A perfect introductory piece as well as a solid standalone story, the OVA details the tragic origins of the former assassin Kenshin Himura. Brutal, heartbreaking, and endlessly stunning, this OVA is a must-watch even for fans unfamiliar with the original TV series.

1 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Is A Different But Equally Riveting Retelling Of Part 3’s Key Moments

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Jotaro Joestar from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OVA.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series has been around long before its modern anime adaptation took over the community. In fact, most JJBA fans heard of the old-school Stardust Crusaders OVA from 1993, yet, not many took the time to watch it.

While rushed and incomplete compared to the modern series, the OVA is worth watching in its own right. A different, more stylish, and gruesome version of Jotaro and the gang’s track across Egypt in search of DIO can amuse both seasoned JJBA fans and newcomers to the franchise.

NEXT: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: 10 Things You Miss By Only Watching The Anime


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