And manga too, I guess. I like them both equally.
I felt like writing a post about specifically what kinds of anime and manga I like, while denouncing others I dislike, find lazy or are just plain wrong.
So let's begin, shall we?
I watched anime as a youngster. My real start was Sailor Moon. Here was a well-produced animated show that was really interesting, and quite a bit violent. So I latched onto this Sailor Moon thing. I woke up at 5AM to catch it every weekday morning, and watched through all the seasons available until it looped back around... then I watched them again.
The show was my real inspiration to start drawing my own characters. (Before, I was obsessed with drawing things like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was a great show, but didn't really inspire me in the same way.) Here was this weird new style I'd never seen before, and I wanted to draw that way. (Hey kids, don't do that. Practice drawing realism 3 hours a day for 10 years, then you can decide if you want to draw anime style.)
Either way, I'd recorded Sailor Moon on VHS (Extended Play so pausing it didn't cause jumpiness in the video) and spent much time drawing what I saw on the screen. I also did this for Samurai Pizza cats. I should point out, I still didn't know these things were Japanese at all.
Then came Dragon Ball Z. Hey, this looks a lot like Sailor Moon for some reason (compared to Western cartoons), but it's much more male-oriented. Being a male, this interested me. At some point I discovered this stuff was called anime, and found out I adored it.
It was about this time I started buying manga at my local comic book shop, but they had a very poor selection. They did carry all the original Dragon Ball manga though, which I very much appreciated and absorbed.
Jump ahead a few years, and I'm online trying to download Dragon Ball Z episodes that haven't come out in America. Imagine the lowest-resolution RealMedia file recorded from a really bad VHS with small subtitles. Most of the time I had no idea what was even going on. This was 1998 folks, the dark ages of the Internet. I watched the entire series and every movie this way. (Again keep in mind, you couldn't even buy legit translated VHS of this stuff.) I recently rewatched the entire series, and I don't remember ANY OF IT other than the stuff that was on TV. (The local broadcast always stopped after the episode where Son Goku goes Super Saiyan for the first time.)
Somewhere around this time I watched Akira. I think we all know about Akira. Either way, that stuck with me in a way I didn't entirely like. I can't form an opinion on the movie because I still don't really get it, but one death scene really bothered me.
As a couple years passed, I discovered a growing interest of anime in the IRC (internet relay chat for you young 'uns) world. You could now get mad decent fan translations of a few select anime. I got every one I could and watched it. This was also about the time Cartoon Network's anime block "Toonami" began. I watched fan translations of Trigun, Tenchi Muyo, Hikaru No Go, and so on. Finally my interest waned when I encountered Love Hina. Subconsciously I thought "I must not really like anime, and just latched onto the early stuff." (Trigun's good in my opinion, but I got bored with the rest.)
Fast forward quite a few years, and I've barely touched anime. Then Fullmetal Alchemist appears on Cartoon Network.
Wow! Woah! Hey now, this is a cool anime. Wow, that part was really disturbing, but hey I guess anime is good again?! I quickly got all 52ish episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist and watched it in a 3 day marathon. It was then I took a foray into the anime I ACTUALLY like.
I don't remember what order they came in, but ever since then, I've discovered a new world of anime. It's easy to say all anime is crap, and while that's true of any media, it's an over-generalization. (It's like calling all American television crap because it's full of bad reality shows, but you decide you also hate good stuff like Flight of the Conchords and The Office.)
So, maybe this can serve as a guide for you to decide what anime you might like, and which you might not. Typically I go to AnimeNewsNetwork.com
and browse the shows in alphabetical order (usually making sure 'Comedy' is somewhere in the tags) paying close attention to the genre and themes.
While I joke in the comics that Ronnie likes made-up shows like 'Magical Love Twins' and 'Kawaii Gun Girls Academy', my preferences are a little more... boring? I guess? I'll just start listing shows I like, so maybe you can see a pattern.
(I should note that I only watch anime subtitled. This isn't about some kind of elitism that it should be that glorious anime should be in it's purist form or anything. I just really like hearing the wordplay of the original voice acting. Also, if you learn some basic words, you can pick up on special meanings you would otherwise miss in a dub. This is the same for any other foreign media I watch, such as Hong Kong film. It's just my preference. There's nothing wrong with enjoying dubbed media because you don't want to read a TV.)
Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
First, the difference between these two. The first, "Fullmetal Alchemist" followed the original manga until the anime caught up with it about halfway through, then went off on its own made-up ending. The second, "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" followed the manga exactly. The first half of the series is very similar, but the second half is absolutely different in every way.
This is the one that got me back into anime. If I looked at the genre and themes now, I'd probably not watch it, because it has some very disturbing imagery, and is fairly in the fantasy and shonen battle genres. I'm glad I watched it though. If you like steam punk, you'd probably like this, even if it's not strictly steam punk. It just has that feel to it.
Welcome to the NHK
I suddenly remember that this was the anime that REALLY got me obsessed in the medium again. Fullmetal Alchemist was the gateway drug, but this was the crack cocaine. It's about a hikkikomori (recluse from society, usually living on their parents' money.) What's most engaging about it is it's based on the true story of the author who is a hikkikomori himself. The show is fairly non-violent and won't make you curl into a ball and weep. Not... that that's happened to me! HAHAHA.
Hayao Miyazaki Films
This one seems fairly dumb, but indeed I'd never seen a Miyazaki film before a few years ago. First I watched Princess Mononoke. I don't like it as much as some people, but I still recognized it as an excellent film and had to have more. I've since watched every Hayao Miyazaki film except for, I think, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro just because I'm worried I'm not familiar with the rest of Lupin III, but I've been told that doesn't matter. My personal favorites in this particular list are Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, but they're all excellent, and there's no reason you shouldn't watch them all. From here on out, I'll probably say things like "You might not like this" but no. Watch these. Seriously. Also, they all have excellent English voice actors, even though I still watch them subbed.
And no, you can't make me watch Goro Miyazaki's Grave of the Fireflies. Go eat a hundred butts.
This one has a cult following. It's about a group of high-school girls (and one 10-year old genius moved up to high school) just living out their three years of High School. The first time I watched it, I didn't get it. I got maybe halfway through and was positively falling asleep. Then it just... clicked. About halfway through the series, I figured out that each character has this really interesting and funny personality. Once you get to know the characters, that's when they become very endearing. There's never anything sad, so if you're a broken person, it's a good easy watch.
I'll point out here that none of the anime I'm listing here are gratuitously "sexy". There's a large subset of anime that is devoted to as many gratuitous panty shots, bathing suit scenes, and bath house visits as they can cram into a show. I avoid those almost universally. They rarely have an interesting story or engaging characters, and I wouldn't want to slog through the gross fanservice to look for it. Always watch the first episode of a show. If you see a high-schooler's underwear, move along. (This might not always be the case, but in shows made since 2001, it almost universally is. Before that, it's a judgment call. I can't tell you why there's such an odd split.)
Yes, this one is indeed infamous for being considered creepy voyeurism by lonely guys. It's about four girls (and later five) living out their high school years. That description sounds similar to Azumanga Daioh, but these characters are much less wacky. Personally, it just bored me for the first season. I didn't even know it had a second season for a while, but a funny thing happened. I watched the second season, and realized "Oh wow, this is easy on the brain." I was beginning to understand this kind of anime. It's often just a relaxing release of the brain for a stressed out person. I think it would have worked just as well with guys instead of girls, but girls sell better, so it's no surprise. In the end, it's just an easy watch. Something you might not get invested in, but it's there if you're bored.
Three odd sisters, living alone for some reason or another. Really, parents are considered a nuisance in most high school anime, I've found. This show is kind of boring. Easy watch, but not really worth the effort. This is the list of shows I like, so I guess I like it. I don't know. I wouldn't watch it again.
Kyo no Gononi (Today In Class 5-2)
By the same person who did Minami-Ke, and it shows. Focuses on a class of 5th grade kids, but again, easy watch, but kind of boring.