Death Note is trash. Usual “romanticizing the anti-hero” nonsense combined with terrible characterization and ridiculous pop-psychology. And I read the entire manga, so that’s not casually dismissing it. It was rubbish.
It’s difficult for me to list a bunch of anime I actually really, really like, since I used to download things rather than buy them, and I deleted all my fansubs ages ago (as well as mistakenly getting rid of my DVDs before realizing to my horror that iTunes has virtually no anime at all). People have mentioned a few already. Anything Masaaki Yuasa was involved with is pretty much automatically worth watching - Kaiba, Ping Pong - even failures like Kemonozume contain more genius visual and narrative invention than 90% of the industry. Mushishi. The various Monogatari productions, as long as you’ve got a high tolerance for weirdness/fanservice/problematic content (some more so, some less so). Gankutsuou (even with its terrible CG it’s still one of the most under-rated TV shows I’ve ever seen, never mind just anime). Bebop - it’s still more filmic, more visually fluid and snappier than most shows released today, and the fight scenes in the movie put most live-action films to shame. Champloo. Ergo Proxy. The various Guu shows. Azumanga Daioh. Just to list a few of the things I’d rate, like, 8 or 9 or 10.
Haruchika - Haruta & Chika: Surprisingly well done schoolkid melodrama, though I’m clearly way too old to be watching this. Simplistic, and played a little too straight, but the art and CG works much better than the opening made it seem they would and the script, direction etc. were all much more polished than I expected. Don’t know if I’ll bother watching any more, but I can see why people would like it. Somewhat disturbed that going by the finale, the premise is basically “Girl meets boy/childhood friend, they end up competing to see who can confess to senpai”, mind you.
Norn9: Norn+Nonette: Dull. Interesting, if unoriginal premise, and the opening was quite artistically striking, but the rest of the first episode made it seem as if this is basically typical otome soap opera bullshit with a shiny pew pew pew lasers setting, and none of the characters were remotely interesting enough for me to actually care what the hell they get up to - they’re stereotypes through and through. Couldn’t be bothered to finish watching.
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: Hmm. Good, and very slickly done, but it screams… it just gives off the same vibe as an Oscar-bait period piece. Look at us talking about a traditional art/valuable cultural practice no-one cares about any more! Let us explain how you’re a bad person for not getting it! All acted out by a dysfunctional family so you can forget you’re being patronised! Seriously, it was honestly pretty good, but just a bit too shiny and earnest to be actually great. I can imagine a lot of people falling for it though.
Double EDIT: Oh, and just to prove it’s not nostalgia, 2005 had Air (not sure about the modern-day stuff but the Summer episodes were brilliant), Emma, Futakoi Alternative, Honey & Clover (hey, it was amazing before the dreadful, dreadful ending ruined everything), Kamichu!, Mushishi, Noein and Paradise Kiss. That’s at least four or five different genres across eight shows which I’d rate 8/10 or higher (H&C would be, like, 1 or 2 now), just as a rough guide. But the industry was well on the way downhill even then, and it hasn’t got any better since.
…Jesus, 2006 had one (Ergo Proxy), 2007 had one (Nodame Cantabile), 2008 had three (Kaiba, Nodame Cantabile, Spice & Wolf), 2009 had three (Eden of the East, Monogatari, Spice & Wolf)… I hate being “right”. (As in, even if you think I’m a jerk/have terrible taste, it really does seem like that was the last year for some time where I could pointed to a bunch of stuff and said “Yes, I really enjoy watching anime”.)