So, this page is where you should begin if you aren’t sure what to watch first.
Sure you could look at a top 10 list and decide from there, or you could follow a friends recommendation (most do), but we’ve got a few simple beginners for each genre that aren’t too intense, and will make you laugh / cry / hide in socially acceptable amounts.
We’re going to assume you’re over 15, but under 35. That you’re more likely to be male and that you’ve at the very least heard about anime before (if you haven’t, maybe check out Wikipedia).
Start with Full Metal Alchemist. It’s the quintessential starter series – easy to get into, excellent character and plot development and riveting fight scenes. If you can pick out the elements you liked in it, you’ll do well in finding other series you enjoy.
If you liked the Action then I’d suggest an almost equally good followup to Full Metal Alchemist would be Fate/Zero. If you preferred the Drama, then I’d have to recommend Steins;Gate.
A very good beginner series – if none of the above has interested you – is Usagi Drop. This series follows a parent who adopts their only child. It’s beautifully written and covers a range of topics and challenges that I’d normally never find engaging, but these guys nail it.
Give any series 2 episodes before you decide if you like it or hate it. Don’t waste much more than 5 episodes trying to like it.
Only watch short series. Better content, in a more digestible size.
Get your content either via torrents (legally) or through online streaming services – you may have to endure the occasional ad.
Get comfortable with subtitles. While the more popular series are dubbed, they (until recently) have often been very poorly acted. If there is an exception to this rule, people will usually note it.
Horriblesubs, DeadFish and Commie are all subbing groups with a long standing in the community. When you’re picking what to watch, these guys are worth preferencing over other content.
Discover content for yourself on neregate, anidb and myanimelist.