July 2008. Mankind was faced with the threat of extinction. An ultra-magnetic weapon, far more devastating than any nuclear weapon known, destroyed half the world in an instant. The earth's crust was rocked by massive movements, the earth was thrown off its axis, and the five continents were torn completely apart and sank deep below the sea...
The attempt by a number of people to flee to outer space failed. Their spaceships were forced back to the earth and vanished with their hopes shattered. But one of the spaceships narrowly escaped destruction and crash-landed on a small island which had miraculously survived the devastation. The crew members of the spaceship settled there, as if they were seeds sown on the island.
After years, a boy was born. He was a new life in the desert, a ray of light in the darkness of the annihilated earth...
In the year 2015, the Angels, huge, tremendously powerful, alien war machines, appear in Tokyo for the second time. The only hope for Mankind's survival lies in the Evangelion, a humanoid fighting machine developed by NERV, a special United Nations agency. Capable of withstanding anything the Angels can dish out, the Evangelion's one drawback lies in the limited number of people able to pilot them. Only a handful of teenagers, all born fourteen years ago, nine months after the Angels first appeared, are able to interface with the Evangelion. One such teenager is Shinji Ikari, whose father heads the NERV team that developed and maintains the Evangelion. Thrust into a maelstrom of battle and events that he does not understand, Shinji is forced to plumb the depths of his own inner resources for the courage and strength to not only fight, but to survive, or risk losing everything.
Enter a world in the distant future, where Bounty Hunters roam the solar system. Spike and Jet, bounty hunting partners, set out on journeys in an ever struggling effort to win bounty rewards to survive.
While traveling, they meet up with other very interesting people. Could Faye, the beautiful and ridiculously poor gambler, Edward, the computer genius, and Ein, the engineered dog be a good addition to the group?
Onizuka is a reformed biker gang leader who has his sights set on an honorable new ambition: to become the world's greatest teacher … for the purpose of meeting sexy high school girls. Okay, so he's mostly reformed.
However, strict administrators and a class of ruthless delinquents stand between Onizuka and his goal and they will use any means, however illegal or low, to drive the new teacher away. Perfect, because Onizuka's methods won't be found in any teaching manual; he cares about the difference between legal and illegal activities about as much as he cares for the age difference between himself and a high school girl.
So get ready for math that doesn't add up, language you'd be slapped for using, and biology that would make a grown man blush … unless of course, you're the Great Teacher Onizuka.
In the days before the Japanese Revolution, Hiko Seiijuro, a wandering master swordsman and hermit, encounters a bandit raid on a slave wagon. Hiko kills the raiding bandits in hopes of saving as many lives as possible, but only manages to spare one life from the massacre. Hiko leaves the child, advising him to go to the nearby village and have them take care of him. A few days later, as Hiko comes back to check upon the child he saved, he is shocked to see the child had created graves, both for the slaves he befriended and the bandits who killed them. Seeing potential in the young one, Hiko takes the child under his wing, names him Kenshin, meaning “heart of sword,” and teaches him about the art of swordsmanship under the Hiten Mitsuruugi Ryu.
Struggling in a constant challenge with his ideal beliefs reflecting against the harshness of reality, Tsuiokuhen tells the melancholic and dark story of Himura Kenshin as one of the most feared assassins of the Japanese Revolution: the Hitokiri Battousai.
Naota is a normal Japanese 6th grade boy (although a little cynical), but when his older brother leaves for America to play baseball, his brother leaves his homeless 17 year old girlfriend Mamimi behind. Mamimi is sending mixed signals and advances to Naota, and he doesn't know what to do about her. But to make matters worse, Naota's world is totally turned upside down when he is run over by a woman on a Vespa. During their first encounter, she hits him over the head with her bass guitar, which then causes a horn to grow out of his forehead. She calls herself "Haruko" and her presence changes Naota's life to even further insanity.
In the not so distant future, mankind has advanced to a state where complete body transplants from flesh to machine is possible. This allows for great increases in both physical and cybernetic prowess and blurring the lines between the two worlds. However, criminals can also make full use of such technology, leading to new and sometimes, very dangerous crimes. In response to such innovative new methods, the Japanese Government has established Section 9, an independently operating police unit which deals with such highly sensitive crimes.
Led by Daisuke Aramaki and Motoko Kusanagi, Section 9 deals with such crimes over the entire social spectrum, usually with success. However, when faced with a new A level hacker nicknamed “The Laughing Man”, the team is thrown into a dangerous cat and mouse game, following the hacker’s trail as it leaves its mark on Japan.
-Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (2004)
In a futuristic world where the internet and cybernetics has blurred the borders between societies; the members of Public Security Section 9 are reinstated to assist in solving numerous cases of cyber crime.
A spate of similar crimes committed by separate suicidal groups known as "The Individual Eleven" becomes the core focus for Section 9 as war approaches in the form of refugees flooding into the country.
The rules of alchemy state that to gain something, one must lose something of equal value. Alchemy is the process of taking apart and reconstructing an object into a different entity, with the rules of alchemy to govern this procedure. However, there exists an object that can bring any alchemist above these rules, the object known as the Philosopher's Stone. The young Edward Elric is a particularly talented alchemist who through an accident years back lost his younger brother Alphonse and one of his legs. Sacrificing one of his arms as well, he used alchemy to bind his brother's soul to a suit of armor. This lead to the beginning of their journey to restore their bodies, in search for the legendary Philosopher's Stone.
-Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009)
In this world there exist alchemists, people who study and perform the art of alchemical transmutation - to manipulate objects and transform one object into another. They are bounded by the basic law of alchemy: in order to gain something you have to sacrifice something of the same value.
The main character is the famous alchemist Edward Elric - also known as the Fullmetal Alchemist - who almost lost his little brother, Alphonse, in an alchemical accident. Edward managed to attach his brother's soul to a large suit of armor. While he did manage to save his brother's life, he paid the terrible price of his limbs.
To get back what they've lost, the brothers embark on a journey to find the Philosopher's Stone that is said to amplify the powers of an alchemist enormously.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a re-telling of the story from the manga point of view.
During just another normal day, Light Yagami stumbles upon a black notebook known as the Death Note. This notebook belongs to a shinigami, Ryuk, having the ability to kill anyone who has their name written in it. As the new owner of the Death Note, Light's true desires surface, yearning to cleanse the world of evil by murdering a large number of criminals. When the world begins to notice the existence of this unknown killer, legendary detective "L" is brought onto the case; starting a war between "Kira" and "L". Whoever is able to find out the other's identity first will be the one to survive.
In a far away future, mankind lives underground in huge caves, unknowing of a world above with a sky and stars.
In the small village of Jiha, Simon, a shy boy who works as a digger discovers a strange glowing object during excavation. The enterprising Kamina, a young man with a pair of rakish sunglasses and the passion of a firey sun, befriends Simon and forms a small band of brothers, the Gurren Brigade, to escape the village and break through the ceiling of the cave to reach the surface, which few believe exist.
The village elder won't hear of such foolishness and punishes the Brigade. However, when disaster strikes from the world above and the entire village is in jeopardy, it's up to Simon, Kamina, a girl with a big gun named Yoko, and the small yet sturdy robot, Lagann, to save the day.
The new friends journey to the world above and find that the surface is a harsh battlefield, and it's up to them to fight back against the rampaging Beastmen to turn the tide in the humans' favor! Pierce the heavens, Gurren Lagann!
This list is based off personal opinion taking into account what series has had the most impact or have the most overall production quality. I'll also try to pick titles that would be favorable and interesting to those not so much into the anime medium (Japanese animation).
As far as dubs go, I won't take that into consideration, since I rarely watch a series without its original voice work so I wouldn't be able to compare.
You will also see a wide variety of genres, styles and age in this list.