I like anime. But not everyone does, and I can understand getting weary of its stereotypes or never having found an entry into its realm. So, I have compiled a few series (in alphabetic order, feel free to just pick any which sounds appealing) that come with my highest recommendation but require no previous familiarity with or pronounced sympathy for anime tropes. (The ones marked with an * are, in my humble opinion, great beyond measure.)
Bakemonogatari / Nisemonogatari / Nekomonogatari
A very wordy and pretty weird, but immensely rewarding, series of novel adaptations. Has some disorienting effects which only served to increase my fascination with it.
Lighthearted, adventurous, beautifully realized coming-of-age fantasy drama series. There’s also a great movie set after the finale.
Retro sci-fi series whose episodes vary wildly in tone and topic. Very stylish; plus, it has an excellent soundtrack.
Eden Of The East
A rather down to earth and relatively realistic suspense story; overall on the light-hearted side.
Introverted, subtle, immersive, atmospheric, poetic fantasy drama.
An adaptation of the excellent and masterfully woven manga narrative by Naoki Urasawa.
Part period piece, part fantasy; a strikingly beautiful, almost meditative viewing experience.
Paranoia Agent *
A surreal, brilliant masterpiece from Satoshi Kon, a stellar director at the height of his craft (I also strongly recommend checking out his movies, especially Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika). If this doesn’t blow your mind, you’re dead inside.
Classic and very realistic sci-fi, without aliens and spaceship battles and all that distracting nonsense.
Super-stylish martial arts series infused with hip-hop culture; by the creators of Cowboy Bebop.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
A scientifically accurate depiction of the aftermath of a massive earthquake hitting Tokyo. Caution: very sad.
Following a pack of mythical wolves on a trip to paradise in a dystopian future. Brilliant, allegorical, multi-layered apocalyptic fantasy epic.