Anime is released seasonally. At the start of a new season (summer, fall, winter and spring) a new set of anime replaces the timeslots of the previous anime that were airing. Thirteen episodes basically make up a season, so if the show was around that length, next season, something new will take its timeslot. If it’s a longer anime (26 episodes or more) then either it continues into the next season immediately, or may take a break and come back another one. With this system, it’s easy to follow what’s out currently, what’s already finished, what’s coming out and when. Sites will also give you the day and time it airs so you can plan accordingly with addition to telling you things like the staff and animation company working on the anime. For example, next season (fall), there is a show I want to watch called OnePunch-Man. I already know approximately when it starts, the voice actors, the animation company and how long it might be. So as you can see, it’s very organized.
So now that you have a fundamental understanding of how it’s released and how to look up new anime, let’s quickly discuss the content. Anime like any other medium has different genres and demographics. So for the people who just think that anime are for kids are sorely mistaken. The main demographics are: “shounen” which means young men (teenage boys), “shoujo” which loosely translates to young girl (teenage girls) and “seinen” anime is targeted at young to older adult males while “josei” is its female equivalent. Josei and seinen anime are usually much more mature, deal with powerful themes and the reality of life. Those are the four main demographics, so if you’re ever looking up something and you see shounen in the tag, you know who the intended audience is.
Look at you, learning the ins and outs of the industry. There’s one more thing we need to cover before talking recommendations for beginners. Anime has tons of original content out there, but just like, let's say the film industry, a lot of anime is an adaptation of something. Usually a manga, a light novel or a visual novel. A manga is a Japanese comic book. When a manga gets serialized by a publishing magazine, the creative team starts producing chapters for that magazine weekly, monthly or bi-monthly. Light novels are just novels that occasionally have some pictures in them while visual novels are a type of text based video game. So sometimes you may want to check to see if the anime is an adaptation of another medium because just like with movies, the books are often considered to be better. One of the more recent popular anime in North America called Attack on Titan is based off of the manga but is far superior than the source material.
With a basic understanding of what gets made, for whom and how organized it is, you’re ready to try some anime. You should start by watching genres you’re interested in. If you don’t typically read romance novels or watch romance movies, don’t start with that. Anime has romance, sports, battle anime, mecha (machine/robots), supernatural, fantasy, horror, slice of life, smut, psychological, comedy, mystery anime and more. So best thing to do is to start off with shorter completed series; anything that’s under 50 episodes and nothing extremely crazy off the bat. Because of possible time constraints, before starting a series that you may not be able to commit to, I’d suggest starting with anime movies. Maybe after work and the gym you don’t have time to watch like 6 episodes, so just watch a movie. Studio Ghibli movies are a good place to start; they are essentially the Japanese equivalent to Disney. You may have heard or even seen the movie Spirted Away. That was made by Ghibli.
Here is a list of anime movies to try: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, From Up on Poppy Hill, Wolf Children, 5 Centimeters per Second, Sword of the Stranger, The Garden of Words, Tokyo Godfathers, Redline and The Girl Who Leapt through Time (the pictures are in order so that you can put a picture to the title).
At the end of the day maybe you don’t become an anime fan and that’s fine. But there’s anime out there for everyone as long as you’re willing to give it a fair chance and try something new. Never be afraid to ask that one anime fan in your circle of friends any questions you may have because chances are they’re dying to share their knowledge with you. Mostly every anime I’ve listed can be bought, torrented or streamed online in English or Japanese. Subs vs dubs is a whole ‘nother debate in itself but I say just watch them in English. If you have any questions feel free to comment and ask away.
PS: Here are the sites most often used to look up anime time slots and synopses: http://anichart.net and MyAnimeList.net.