Here are a few of my favorites (some I’ve mentioned before, some I’ve only recently discovered):
I’ve only seen a couple episodes of .hack//SIGN (aka “Dot Hack”) on Cartoon Network, but I like it so far. The art work is very good, makes me think of the El-Hazard serials, which I also recommend. In fact, when trying to describe Dot Hack to Joel, the best description I could come up with was El-Hazard meets Tron (with maybe a little D&D thrown in for good measure). Probably a poor description, but again I’ve only seen two episodes
Perfect Blue is also very, very good. I’d recommend it to people who aren’t even anime fans, but would enjoy a good mystery/psychological thriller and are willing to get over the “cartoons are for kids” mentality.
Card Captor Sakura is also very good, even if it’s aimed at younger viewers. I’ve never seen the Nelvana version playing on American TV under the name “CardCaptors,” and, after reading the comparative reviews from THEM, I don’t want to. See for yourself: Card Captor Sakura and CardCaptors.
We just rented Vision of Escaflowne recently; unfortunately, I don’t know if all the episodes aren’t available on DVD yet or if Netflix just doesn’t have them all, but we didn’t get to see the whole series. But I really enjoyed what I did see.
We also saw Serial Experiment Lain recently, too. It’s very, very good just so long, I think, as you don’t go in to it expecting to understand what’s going on. Even by the end you may not know. But that’s ok, just think about it awhile, absorb it, mull it over, and draw your own conclusions. And whatever you conclude, assume you’re right (Then spend the next month trying to get the haunting theme song out of your head.)
Finally, Spirited Away is just way, way too wonderful for words. I wish I could get my co-workers, whose only exposure to anime has been through their childrens’ repeated viewings of DragonBallZ, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon, to believe me when I tell them there’s something better out there. That the Japanese aren’t just out to rot their childrens’ brains. Maybe if it’s on DVD in time for my birthday, I can lend it to them, for their kids, of course!