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The formation mechanism of hydrogen plasmas by nanosecond high-voltage pulses at near-atmospheric pressure was examined by particle-in-cell/Monte-Carlo-collision simulations. In the model system, plasmas were generated between parallel metal electrodes. The simulation results show the propagation of ionization fronts and the formation of non-Maxwellian electron-energy distributions. The time evolution of plasma dynamics observed in the simulations has been confirmed to be in good agreement with recent experimental results.