Sword Art Online
This was an anime that was recommended to me over and over. Starting a new anime is something I try not to do too often as they tend to be a large investment in time.
Sword Art Online, created by Reki Kawahara, was immediately different in the elevator pitch. The premise is so interesting and powerful, that I could not pass it up. The anime, based on light novels, begins with true virtual reality machines where players essentially plug their brains into their machines. Sword Art Online (in the anime) is a MMORPG where 10,000 players logged on first day to experience a fantasy world 'matrix'. When the players try to log off, however, the game won't let them, and they are trapped in the game world by the creator. If the players are forced to unplug from the game, they will die. If the player dies in the game, they will also die in real life. Unable to log out, the players are given a time limit to collectively beat the game or they will all be killed. As good as the anime is, the series takes a weird turn both in plot and tone at episode 16 that I didn't like quite as much.
I haven't had a chance to watch the second iteration 'Sword Art Online II', but it is nestled nicely in my ever-growing to-watch list. With all the episodes on Netflix and an upcoming Sword Art Online III coming out, I had suggested the show to two people that have eaten through the episodes at blazing speed.