Crunchyroll recently added Haibane Renmei to its listings. I have long counted Haibane Renmei as my #1 anime, and with it Crunchyroll now has four of my top five. The website these days is streaming much good Japanese animation and is well worth the membership price.
However, Crunchyroll also has tremendous amount of garbage, and even more that is thoroughly mediocre or just plain boring. An anime neophyte picking shows at random is likely to get discouraged. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the best offerings at Crunchyroll for those who are wondering where to start. My taste is impeccable, of course, and my judgement infallible, but some anime enthusiasts might find my choices to be quirky and eccentric. I urge those people to compile their own lists and post them on their websites.
Serial Experiments Lain — The series that convinced me that anime was worth taking seriously.
Shingu — There are aliens and robots and a town with a secret, but the ultimate appeal of this carefully constructed and highly rewatchable series is spending time with the characters.
Mononoke — Kenji Nakamura’s first full-length series, displaying both his eye for design and color and his stringent moral sense.
Lain and Mononoke are not for kids, and small children will probably not appreciate Haibane Renmei.
(Absent from Crunchyroll is my #3 series, Dennou Coil.)
Also by Kenji Nakamura
Jubei-chan: Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch — The official English-language title is stupid. Jubei is not ninja trash.
Other noteworthy shows
I could add more shows to the last category, but that’s enough to suggest the range of anime.
Want more information? Steven Den Beste wrote about many of the series listed above. His reviews are here, and you can search Chizumatic for his comments on other shows. Steven had his quirks and blind spots, but in general he was the most reliable guide to anime I’ve found.