Ok, Oakstout asked me to recommend some anime so I'm gonna try and set a new standard for myself on organization here. the following are anime that I have watched and that I recommend for other to watch and then a description of the series and why I recommend it. Also a pic of the main char just for kicks:
1. Rurouni Kenshin: Rurouni means wanderer. Kenshin is a man with a very bloody past who's trying to repent for what he did as an assassin by trying to save lives for the rest of his life. He uses a reverse blade sword.. something VERY unusual for his time and it does not slay his opponents by default and usually just knocks them senseless. Set in the Meiji era of Japan where swords are illegal to carry. His companions are Kaoru (his love interest) who believes in only using wooden swords, Yahiko (an Oliver twist type character) who is an ex-pickpocket but slowly becomes a good swordsman, and Sanosuke, a street brawler with a good heart and a thick skull. Lots of people die in this anime so don't show it to your little ones till they are at least 13.
2. Full Metal Alchemist: Edward Adlrich and his brother are searching for a way to restore their bodies to normal. After messing with forces they shouldn't have while trying to bring their mom back from the beyond the veil (grave) Edward lost his arm and leg, and his little brother lost his whole body (but not his spirit and his soft heart) Throughout the journey they discover horrible government secrets as well as many things not intended by anyone and there are lots of powers at work in their world. Very touching, visceral, and excellently executed Anime. Definitely see the movie that closes the tv series also. Unlike most anime movies it provides a lot of closure. Also dont show this to small children.
3. Ranma 1/2: Very very funny. Ranma is a boy who has a curse on him that when he gets wet he turns into a girl. He spends lots of time trying to get back to"normal" but he is slowly falling in love with a girl he initially has a very prickly relationship with named Akane. Lots of other characters here that also tranform when wet. Best seasons are seasons 1-3 and season 6. The rest is just passable. If you are very conservative in what you watch at home dont watch this, the Japanese are very non-chalant about showing women's breasts and such on occasion. prolly would be rated R but most episodes are more kid-friendly. Kinda random. The romance is very touching in many places, especially in the 6th season there is the hospital episode. Anyways, I have kinda mixed feelings about recommending this to anyone but if your careful theres a lot of good here.
4. Samurai Champloo: A girl, Fuu is looking for some way to find the Sunflower Samurai who either killed or is her dad, shes not sure. She would like to find her father or avenge his killer that much is certain. She helps two men condemned to die to escape.
These two men.. Mugen and Jin, are excellent sword fighters. The sword fighting in this show is amazing as it approaches realism with just enough fantasy to be more interesting. They almost die a bloody death in almost every episode and I'm not gonna tell you how it ends. Only runs one season. Worth buying if your older, not for kids. (notice a recurring theme here?)
5. Trigun: Vash the stampede is on the loose. Truth be told all he wants though is a box of donuts.. Give the man some slack, coppers. Vash is an alien, they call him a "plant" because he produces energy and has very non-human characteristics. But he can also look like a human and he seems to prefer to. He makes friends with two reporter ladies who are tracking hisdestructive actions (which usually occur defending himself) Wolfwood shows up later and helps him out some with the shooting while he tries to stop his evil twin brother who has no empathy for humans, unlike Vash. P.S. this doesnt take place on earth but takes place on a planet where Earth's survivors have fled.
6. Naruto: Uzumaki Naruto is a kid. Hes an orphan that nobody likes save a couple class friends who don't know his past. The reason nobody likes him is cuz he has a demon sealed up inside him. It cant get out, but its influence can if he lets it. Did I mention hes a ninja in training? this is by far the most entertaining ninja series I have found. It also sets you mind at ease as to the questions of if pirates fought ninjas who would win? In Kenshin or Naruto's world there's no question. Not even a contest. the series starts out juvenile with fun humor but later develops into something gripping and morally challenging. The villain in this one is 'especially' creepy. And the characters are all very fun. Naruto eventually makes rivals and friends but is challenged constantly by people who dont want him to achieve his potential. Still airing in the Shippuden series.
7. Avatar the last airbender: Ang is the last Airbender and the only reasons he's around is cuz he (through the work of fate or what have you) sealed himself in an ice trance for 100 years. His people underwent an ethnic purge and now the fire nation rules most of the world and is slowly taking over the rest. As ang learns to "bend" the other elements to his will, he makes friends and lots and lots of enemies. Very clever and develops well after the first few episodes. Sit this one out, its still rolling on Nickelodeon. Fine for kids. Or adults.
8.Escaflowne: Hitomi finds out her grandmother's pendant comes from a parallel planet called Gaia, a world at war, not onoly that but it makes wishes into reality so she has to be very careful with her wishes as she warps young prince Van to her world and then back. Her adventures with Van are awesome and he learns to pilot an Ispano Guymelef (like a mechwarrior thingie) that can fly and its name is .. you guessed it: Escaflowne. Kids can watch this but its intense.
9. Every movie made by Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's 'Walt Disney'
My favorites: Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the sky(Laputa), Castle of Cagliastro, Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Kiki's Delivery Service
less favorite but still good: My Neighbor Totoro(for kids), Princess Mononoke
Pixar, especially John Lassetter have published and dubbed these for us in English very well so they are extra enjoyable.
Less high quality but still in my favorites: Robotech :P Inuyasha, Ah My goddess (not a porno even though you might think so. Its very innocent and cute)