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Anime Television Series

Trying to bottle anime into categories is rather difficult.  There are movies, direct-to-video (called original animation video), and television series.  For the purposes of our discussion we’ll be leaving any anime that has been converted to film and shown in a theatre at some point under the ’movies’ category.  Everything else, including OAVs and regular television shows will be under this section because you’ll most likely be watching it on your home television or computer.

Funny enough, many anime movies are actually based on popular TV series.  A few rare movies are completely original, while the remainder is based on manga (comic books).

Most anime is made for television, just like cartoons made in America.  They’re usually 30-minute episodes and may involve a commercial break at the midpoint.  Most series are 13 episodes long and air weekly.  The neat thing about most anime series is that they’ll run for at least a few seasons and contain a story that spans across all of them.  That means that anime is usually far more complex and detailed as a complete work than most American shows.  When you go to buy anime television series on DVD, you’ll probably end up paying a hefty premium for translation services.  Many DVDs only contain four to ten episodes per disc.

Another format for anime is the Original Animation Video (OAV or OVA).  These are sort of like American direct-to-video releases without the stigma of low-budget attached to it.  For many Japanese animators, OAV is a way to produce higher-quality programming with fewer content restrictions. The length of OAV episodes can range anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour and a half. This allows for great diversity in the storytelling compared to what is possible in a television series.  Most OAVs are sold like TV shows on DVD.  They usually have fewer episodes per disc but since the episodes are longer you still getting a good deal. 

While most television or OAV series sold in America should have subtitles, some don’t.  Always be sure to ask if a DVD you’re buying has subtitles or not.  You don’t want to be up the creek without a paddle, especially if you’re spending upwards of 50 dollars.  Most series have good word of mouth amongst fans so you’ll be able to pick and choose from everyone else’s favorites.  You can also get recommendations for series that are similar to your favorites to help you branch out and discover new anime.

We’ll cover the most popular series in the following sections.  The biggest genre in anime series is action/adventure.  Other shows focus on romance and drama.  Almost all series have some sort of beautiful female lead characters in the mix.