I didn't know very much about anime (still don't!): I'd seen My Friend Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle, and I'd heard of Sailor Moon (I'm revealing my age here, I know!). People whose taste in books I like often refer to Avatar: The Last Airbender in glowing terms, but the one time I tried watching it I was put off by the stylized way emotions were depicted and didn't get past the first episode.
But I kept seeing intriguing looking titles on Netflix, and I thought (as one does, with Netflix): what the heck, why not try something. So I did, and now I'm hooked. I'm running out of anime on (Canadian) Netflix I want to watch, so I need recommendations of where to go next.
Here's what I've liked so far:
Sword Art Online: I'm a sucker for dark-eyed loners with kind hearts and superior swordsmanship, so online game hero Kirito was the perfect gateway drug for me. I loved the art in this one: the stunning, imaginative online world, and the way the real world was subtly different, depicted in small details (like water dripping from a faucet). The character development kept me interested in the story, in particular the strong female characters. Just don't watch the second plot arc of the first season (starting in episode 16). It's awful. But Sword Art Online II redeemed itself.
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit: a beautiful tale about a prince who hosts a water demon and the female bodyguard who swears to protect him until the demon can be born. Everything about this one is lovely: the art, the landscapes and period details, the characters, the gentle humour. Very sweet.
Ruroni Kenshin: a wandering swordsman protects the innocent with his reverse-blade sword, as atonement for the many people he killed during the Meiji Revolution as Battosai the Manslayer. Sounds serious, and there are some nice serious bits to it—mostly centered around Kenshin's struggle not to return to his former violent self—, but this one is mostly light and fun. It has a more "cartoony" art style with the exaggerated facial expressions I originally found annoying (eyes and mouth turn into geometric shapes to show various extreme emotions) but I'm getting used to now. The first season assembles a "team" that gets into various kinds of trouble against all sorts of bad guys. You can't take the plot too seriously, but I love all the character arcs. I also love all the historical references to the Meiji era. Plus, I might even love Kenshin more than I love Kirito ...
Your Lie in April: contemporary, realistic story about a pianist prodigy who stops playing when his mother dies, and the free-spirited violinist who rekindles his love of music. Gorgeous, gorgeous art, and a spectacular soundtrack. Depicts with grim accuracy the stress of competitions for young musicians, but also beautifully conveys the power of music to heal and transform. Quite impressive.
I also tried a couple of "mech-anime" titles, with giant fighting robots (because, giant fighting robots, of course!). I particularly enjoyed the world-building and plot arc of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, about a soldier from space who lands on a water-covered Earth and discovers there is more to life than fighting (Don't worry, there's still plenty of fighting. With giant fighting robots, of course. I loved the robot's personality!)
And I really liked the characters in Aldnoah.Zero, though the story of the Martian empire attacking earth was a little far-fetched.
Have you seen any anime shows you've particularly enjoyed? And where else can I go once I've exhausted Netflix's limited offerings?