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The 15 Best Action Anime OVAs of All Time

OVAs, also known as Original Video Animations, are anime with one or more episodes that are directly released to the public without being released in theaters or aired on TV. Sometimes, they are extras bundled with manga or DVD releases, and sometimes they are independent projects. Some of them are even full-length series! Just like TV anime, OVAs come in every genre - including action. Let's take a look at some fantastic action anime OVAs. 

Because OVAs are often associated with offshoots of TV series that tell side stories or develop a side character, it might be surprising to learn that the best action anime OVAs include full-length series. Hellsing Ultimate, for example, is a fully realized series at 10 episodes long. Even more surprisingly, the 110-episode Legend of the Galactic Heroes technically qualifies as an OVA. But some great action OVAs do fit the pattern - Attack on Titan: No Regrets does a deep dive into the Survey Corps leader Levi's backstory. 

Which action OVA is your favorite? Help other fans of the genre figure out what to watch next by voting up the best ones. 

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    241 VOTES

    Attack on Titan: No Regrets

    Attack on Titan: No Regrets
    Photo: Wit Studio

    Levi Ackerman is one of the most beloved characters in Attack on Titan, so an OVA that details his backstory is a welcome addition to the series. No Regrets opens with Levi as a young man struggling to survive in the Underground, a hellish slum from which there is seemingly no escape. Because they have so few options, Levi and his friends Isabel and Farlan spend their days committing crimes for cash. One day, they accept an assassination gig - in exchange for taking out Erwin Smith, they'll gain citizenship above ground. As they spend more time on the surface world, they learn that that may not be such a great deal after all - and Levi discovers that Erwin is someone he respects more than anyone else he's ever met in his life. 

  • Kenshin Himura was once known as the Hitokiri Battousai, a legendary assassin who took lives in order to further his political goals. Eventually, he came to realize that he no longer wishes to pursue a path of violence and instead wishes to pursue the life of a pacifist. However, he'll still fight to protect others from harm. How did a ruthless mercenary become such a gentle person? That's the question that Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal seeks to answer. It goes back to Kenshin's early childhood, depicting both the violence of his surroundings and the difficult choices he was forced to make in order to survive. This is a necessary companion to the TV anime Rurouni Kenshin.

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    123 VOTES

    One Punch Man: Road to Hero

    One Punch Man: Road to Hero
    Photo: Madhouse

    One Punch Man: Road to Hero serves as a prequel to the original series, and while it's anime-only, it was written by the manga's creator, ONE. It depicts Saitama during his training period. Thanks to his hardcore training regimen, he's constantly destroying his tracksuit, but a local tailor is kind enough to fix it for free. When his tailor starts getting hassled by a local gang and might need to close up shop, Saitama steps in to help him. If you love Saitama, you won't want to miss his early foray into heroism.

  • Sometimes, an OVA is created that eclipses the associated TV series. That's what happened with Hellsing Ultimate, which is generally considered to be an improvement over the original Hellsing, both because of its art and animation quality, and because it accurately follows the manga that both are based on. This 10-episode OVA follows Alucard, an immortal vampire who has joined forces with the Hellsing organization to destroy his own kind. Why would he do such a thing? Because he's so completely bloodthirsty that he'll take any opportunity he can get to take lives. This is an intensely violent OVA, and it's not for the faint of heart - but if you love to be horrified, Hellsing Ultimate may be right up your alley. 

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    24 VOTES

    Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199

    Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199
    Photo: Xebec, AIC

    This OVA is actually a remake of the classic 1970's series with the same name. Remakes don't always do the original series justice, but this 2012 OVA does a great job of keeping what was special about the original while updating the artwork and animation. The story takes place in 2199, after the Earth has become almost completely uninhabitable thanks to constant attacks by an alien race called the Gamilas. All hope seems lost, but then they learn about a powerful device on a strange planet called Iscandar that could restore Earth to its former glory. Unfortunately, that device is 148,000 light-years away. To get there and retrieve the item, a select group is chosen to fly there on the Space Battleship Yamato.

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    46 VOTES

    While many Americans saw FLCL for the first time on television, it wsa originally released in Japan as an OVA. It's not only one of the best OVAs ever made, it's also one of the best anime, period. Naota Nandaba is a sixth grader who thinks that his biggest problem is missing his older brother who left for America to play baseball. But when Haruko Haruhara enters his life, things take a turn for the insane. Haruko is a guitar-wielding, motorcycle-riding menace who opens up an N.O. channel in his head - which she uses to bring forth robots and other weaponry that she'll need to participate in an intergalactic battle. It combines impressive action sequences with a genuine coming-of-age story that will stay with you long after you've finished the show.