I first saw the entire series of Escaflowne in 2001. It redefined what I knew as anime, and from that moment on, I knew that I had experienced something that was one of a kind.
Escaflowne features a fantasy story of a normal teenage girl named Hitomi. She is taken into a distant world called Gaia in which the Earth is known only as the Mystic Moon.
After meeting Van Fanel, a young swordsman with an amazing secret (ok, I'll tell you --- he has wings!), a rich plot begins to develop. Romance that is not sappy, a plot that is not cliche, characters that are interesting, tragic, and wondrous....
This anime is beautiful.
From the music to the story to the entire atmosphere of this enormously entertaining and instantly classic anime, Escaflowne shines. It is a series not lacking in any area, and the fantasy/futuristic feel is an interesting and unique touch. With robotic battles, sword-sparring, games of fate, tortured pasts, torn loyalty in romance, and winged people(!), the sheer ingeniousness of this series will blow you away.
The winged people are an amazing touch... they are not cliche or even angelic, just surprisingly well-done for such a common anime characteristic.
Dont' skip Escaflowne---
This is perhaps the best anime of all time.