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Old 2006-06-13, 23:26   Link #1
NoSanninWa
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OVAs are changing their nature. Now some are VOEs?

Awhile ago I was discussing the changed nature of OVAs with Quarkboy in another thread and he made some very interesting points. For those who are unfamiliar with the term OVA, it stands for "Original Video Animation" and simply means that the animation was released direct-to-video without ever airing on TV or in the movies. The reasons for making these OVAs has changed over the course of time as the market has changed.

Once upon a time, OVAs were entirely separate from TV series. There were a number of reasons to enter the direct-to-video market, but the OVA was never entangled with a TV series. The first usage of this was as a test market to see if it would be profitable to make a longer TV series. Examples of this are Tenchi Muyou, Starshipgirl Yamamoto Yohko, and many others which were never remade as a TV series. Later on, OVAs for running TV series were made in order to produce extras that aren't part of the plotline with extra high quality animation. These OVAs could be watched (or ignored) without having any impact on the actual story. Examples of this are One Piece and Kimagura Orange Road. Finally, there were add-on episodes made as an epilogue after the series had ended. Examples of this are Onegai Teacher and Tsukuyomi Moon Phase.

That is the way that OVAs used to be. Back then one could count on OVAs to have superior animation and a stand-alone story. As an example of how people expect this, you can check wikipedia's entry. While wikipedia is not a true authority, it is a good way of checking the zeitgeist. This makes it clear that high animation quality and a different target audience is expected from an OVA. Nowadays, neither of those things are always true.

The new breed of original animation is an essential part of the unfolding story. In Wolf's Rain, the last 4 episodes were released direct-to-DVD! For Tide-Line Blue, the final episode was direct-to-DVD. And finally, in Kamichu, 4 episodes from the midst of the sixteen episode show (8, 11, 13, 16) were only released on the DVDs! These episodes were all made with the same animation and the same staff as the rest of the show, unlike the old breed of OVAs. They are also a necessary part of the show which anyone who enjoyed the show HAS to purchase in order to enjoy the entire series, instead of being an optional add-on as they used to be.

This breed of direct-to-DVD anime is notably different! Perhaps it is a result explosion of the DVD market that is eclipsing the TV market in terms of making money, but this is a change in anime's zeitgeist.

Quarkboy put forward the idea that this new breed of direct to video animation is sufficiently different that it should be given a new name. A more suitable acronym is VOE, for Video Only Episodes. Since that conveys the idea that these are just episodes of the show, like any other episode, except that they are released on video only. I agree it might be more honest in that it corrects the viewers expectations. These episodes are part of the show and have the same animation. They just happen to be on video only.

If anime's zeitgeist, the underlying spirit of this time, is changing, perhaps we need a new term to express this new breed. Today's VOEs are different from what we expect from OVAs. If a show is going to be only partly released on TV with the remainder being video only episodes, then we need to call them what they really are. Will the term VOE catch on? It seems unlikely. But, if people really believe VOEs to be different from old-style OVAs, then it just might.
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Old 2006-06-13, 23:37   Link #2
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I have to agree. Many companies are following the format for some time now. One of the demonstration of this is the arguably successful 'Endless Waltz' OVA of the Gundam Wing in the 90's (being the 'true' ending of GW).

Even the new 'ONA' GSD C.E. 73 Stargazer is to be a DVD-only release in hardsopy form.
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Old 2006-06-13, 23:53   Link #3
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Old 2006-06-14, 02:31   Link #4
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But anyhow, I tend to agree. Labeling DVD only episodes that were produced on the same budget as the actual made for TV broadcast as OVA feels misleading, especially if it's quinticential that you watch these episodes to actually end the series properly.

I'm not sure that companies have been 'following the format for some time now', more than it's been slowly heading that way. Stargazer I think might qualify more on the OVA side. While I haven't been following it's progress very well, I assume it got a budget seperate from GSD, and won't be essential to watch in order to truely end Destiny.
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Old 2006-06-14, 08:07   Link #5
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This is the result of the 1-kur late-night cable / satellight timeslot. I don't think full-blooded OVAs are made anymore, except for experimental stuff like Pale Cocoon and Sin in the Rain. Broadcast at 3:30am is still better than no broadcast at all, so studios have discarded the 3-8 episode formats (except for hentai) and adopted the 13-episode formats instead with slightly lesser quality. Then they started thinking, "how can we make even more money" The animation industry being as it is (only 10% of shows make revenue), they devised a way to make sure a significant portion of TV viewers would then buy the DVDs.

OVAs are also broadcasted, like Gunbuster 2 and Dokuro-chan. These titles don't qualify for VOE labelling.

However, the line between VOE and OVA is very thin. How would one classify Ah! My Goddess S1 episodes 25 and 26? They actually have slightly better animation quality than the other episodes. They are standalone stories, but they fit into the TV series just fine because the TV series wasn't strictly serial and was partially episodic.
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Old 2006-06-14, 08:41   Link #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpwong
I'm not sure that companies have been 'following the format for some time now', more than it's been slowly heading that way. Stargazer I think might qualify more on the OVA side. While I haven't been following it's progress very well, I assume it got a budget seperate from GSD, and won't be essential to watch in order to truely end Destiny.
It's nothing more than a side story set during the events of GSD, but fans are hopeful because it has a different creative team compared to GSD.
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Old 2006-06-14, 22:47   Link #7
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Wasn't it confirmed at that recent Sony festival that Eureka Seven would be getting a 51st episode exclusive to DVD?
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Old 2006-06-14, 23:02   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaFool
However, the line between VOE and OVA is very thin. How would one classify Ah! My Goddess S1 episodes 25 and 26? They actually have slightly better animation quality than the other episodes. They are standalone stories, but they fit into the TV series just fine because the TV series wasn't strictly serial and was partially episodic.
I think those episodes are OVAs in the same way that Onegai Teacher episode 13 is an OVA. It is a standalone story with superior animation. Hence, it is not a VOE. It meets people's expectations for an OVA.
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Old 2006-06-15, 00:00   Link #9
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I think that Nosanninwa eloquently stated my own opinion quite nicely, but I do feel like a new label is needed for these types of show.

Just to reiterate the crucial point: It's WHEN the episode is made. If it is made during the course of production of the TV episodes, with the same staff, then I do not believe it should be called an OVA reguardless of whether or not it airs.

Now, perhaps the question should be asked: Why? Who cares what we call them?

The answer is that the term "OVA" has an implication associated to it which isn't true for these episodes. People expect OVAs to be better quality animation, and a standalone story.
To call VOEs OVAs is to mislead the community, and more importantly, misrepresent the anime itself. Hence I think a change in nomenclature is most in order.
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Old 2006-06-15, 02:27   Link #10
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To put it simply, I agree with the more specific nomenclature. However, it's going to take quite a stretch to make it accepted with most anime-dom.
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Old 2006-06-15, 07:58   Link #11
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At the end of March, MOON PHASE announced that several anime we're getting extra TV episodes released straight only to DVD.

Omniscient also posted the news on his blog site.
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Old 2006-06-15, 08:41   Link #12
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VOEs are slowly becoming rampant in the anime industry in order to mulct more cash from the consumer. It's simply economics to seek for more profit. However, I hope this wouldn't happen with the good series this season.
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Old 2006-06-15, 09:40   Link #13
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Its pretty much a general reaction to several new factors in anime.

First, broadcast liscensing doenst pay squat (in comparison to dvd releases) but does serve as both marketing and a barometer of potential interest/performance in the general market.

Secondly, the huge interest in anime and manga that is sweeping through the West is having a substantial impact on the anime market and that in turn is changing the way the anime releases are being handled.

One of the reasons that the VOE model is so appealing, is that if a fan buys the last episodes, more often than not, they buy the rest of the series as well. So its a pretty strong incentive model.

I would have to agree with the original post though, the nature of these newere releases are definately a different breed from the more traditional OVA's, so calling them something different is probably a good idea.
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Old 2006-06-15, 10:09   Link #14
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Well, I think not even the Japanese call those extra episodes that belong to the story ova to begin with. They are just extra episodes.

Wolfs Rain does hardly count as a real example, because the broadcast included four 100% recap episodes. I guess they planned it as 26 episodes and then the studio got hit by an earthquake or the Korean animators went on strike or something like that so they decided to strech it out.
Kamichu's extra episodes are definitely not called OVA, same with Tsukiyoumi, so yes, those are "true" video-only episodes.
I haven't watched TLB, but I would almost bet that episode 13 is a comedy/otherwise unrelated episode and that 12 did not end with a cliffhanger that is continued in 13. For example, Elfen Lied episode 13 was sold as OVA and is a standalone comedic episode.

So, I don't see a confusion between the term OVA for something in the traditional and in the new sense, simply because the new ones aren't even called OVA to begin with.

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Old 2006-06-15, 11:12   Link #15
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Kashimashi is a prime example of this .... the broadcast series has a "false" ending and the "surprise ending twisty" episode is going to be DVD-only this fall.
Kamichu at least ... their episodes are "tweeners" so someone could have seen the series and have no idea there was more story.
But VOE designation is a good try ..... I suspect its just a transitional term though. Within a year or two, I'm betting the broadcast series (which were always just hooks for the manga, games, figures, CDs, and DVDs) will be more and more "hookish" and annoying --- perhaps it'll be a cyclic fad kind of like radio stations that periodically reduce their commercials because people stop listening and then sneak-ramp them back up.
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Old 2006-06-15, 11:32   Link #16
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It will eventually irk the consumers, I think. That's primarily because it's irritating (if not frustrating) to watch through an anime series only to discover that it's something that would grab you (and your money) more with unaired, direct-to-DVD episodes. It's a letdown for most people, and I think those producing the DVDs will do intermittent cycles, just like what Vexx said: release some VOEs, stick to normal once more, release some VOEs ...
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Old 2006-06-15, 11:47   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by physics223
It will eventually irk the consumers, I think. [...]
Wait, why? The customer in this case is a person who actually buys the DVDs. Since the DVD sales make up most of the revenue/profit of anime these days, it is fair to say that people who watch the TV airings only aren't really customers - there is no salesman-customer interaction. Anyone who is collecting DVDs will definitely want to buy the extra DVDs too. The real incentive for buying the whole series on DVD with these "VOE" episodes goes to people that only buy volumes which have a high resale value (releases with bonus material, extras et cetera). If the viewers who follow TV airings only (most of the times for free) are "forced" to buy something to increase the studio's income, I say "why not?"
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Old 2006-06-15, 11:55   Link #18
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Well, sometimes it can irritate them in terms of storyline, if the show DOES end on a cliffhanger and you have to wait months for a tie-up. I don't think it's that good a strategy, because if the time between last TV ep and last DVD is too long, the excitement can wear off and people may not bother to get it... but Kamichu's strategy is better - interspersing episodes so people will have even more reason to get more sets of shows, and the earlier dvd release dates are not so far from the TV ending date.

But anyway I guess fans would have to put up with waiting if it was a real OVA release, like with Macross Zero and Wings of Rean.
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Old 2006-06-15, 12:13   Link #19
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Put it this way....

Broadcast episodes = Theatrical Screening

Broadcast episodes + Video Only Episodes = Director's Cut


Factor in release dates and how far apart from initial viewing dates (3 months?) and you already have an economic model.
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