I'm not sure when my tastes changed, but I seem to have become a great fan of the slice of life genre of anime.
The term is usually used to refer to a series with no real continuity or ongoing plot, where each episode is a series of vignettes from the characters' everyday lives, usually with some elements of humour sprinkled in. Many people I know can't stand this genre, and sometimes put this question to me: \”How can you stand to watch a 24-episode show where nothing happens?\” And truth be told, I don't have a good answer. The root of this fandom probably lies in the great Azumanga Daioh, which I watched way back in my first year at college. Since then, I've made it a point to check out new slice-of-life series as they've shown up on TV, and have thus managed to enjoy series like Sketchbook, Lucky Star, Honey and Clover…and most recently, Aria, of which the final episode aired this week.
Aria is an interesting thing. While most series tend to get worse as new seasons are announced (y halo thar You're Under Arrest), it has gotten better over its 65-episode run, and this final season in particular has proven to be absolutely wonderful. Its only real fault is somewhat inconsistent animation quality. And yet, it features no conflict, no action, no violence, nothing that would attract your average anime fan to watch it.
Perhaps it's just that I find myself able to appreciate the subtleties of the world of Aqua that Aria manages to express, both through its great atmosphere as well as its characters. It's a quiet, laid-back world, yet in spite of this its nuances are always enjoyable when they're revealed. The show is definitely character- rather than story-driven, and I can appreciate this too, since the characters are all very distinct and have their own loveable personality quirks (with a lot of hidden depth).
Anyhow, I guess my point is that if you're one of those people who doesn't mind watching a show without giant robots, epic battles or intense human drama, I heartily recommend Aria. There's a lot of it (65 episodes spread over three series) but if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy every moment of it.
…still can't believe it's over ;_;