Kiddy Grade was a sampler series. It's a secret-agent-superpower-interstellar-off
Azumanga Daioh was first recommended to me over a year ago by a Montreal anime fan (SCers - smith Nafai's player). The theme music rather scared me off at the time - it was agressively perky. I'm all in favor of happy, upbeat music, but this was perky with a manic edge. Before the showing started, a cluster of teenaged boys cheered wildly for it - no idea why in particular. The theme is daily school life of Japanese girls, but that doesn't really describe it at all. It's more like a funny comic in anime; a series of sketches involving a core group of characters. It really was funny, and while odd and strange too, there was enough coherency to get me through the strangeness. (And it was an extremely tight-knit plot compared to the Excel Saga, but then again, what isn't?)
Dirty Pair: Project Eden is a movie from an anime series, none of which I'd seen before. It was okay - nothing particularly special or inspiring. The really large hair all the characters sported was rather unexpected. Really big hair.