Never really got around to replying to a lot of this back in the day. I'd like to say a few things though.
First of all, DragoonKain, as everyone said, your post was wonderful. Informative, witty, and the rest. 100% agree with the mantra, that's what I'm in this for, the potential as an artistic medium, and the few times some of this potential is realised, it is truly beautiful. The financial explanations were very interesting, and, I believe, coincide with the earlier comments I made about anime becoming more "safe". I think Anime is pretty insular, as baldur said. There are definitely major exceptions, Shinichiro Watanabe is a big one, but anime in general does not try to cater to wider audiences, it is a bit niche. Also, DragoonKain, I checked out some of the blogs you linked to, has been a while now since I read them, but I remember enjoying them rather a lot, so congrats there.
All this said, I still don't exactly agree. There are still lots of standouts, true 'artists', that won't conform to the times. Ikuhara Kunihiko, my God, that man. I am yet to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena, but it is damn high on my to-watch list after watching Penguindrum. DragoonKain, if you haven't watched Mawaru Penguindrum yet, watch it. It is everything that mantra you posted is about. It is a bold artistic statement, and I don't think it is an exaggeration to call it game-changing. That there are people putting themselves so far out, doing things so differently, in such an economic climate, is enormously hopeful. Madoka isn't as much of a revolution of the medium, but it is great, and thoroughly worth checking out if you haven't. I could list a bunch of other recommendations, but those are two of the biggest standouts for me, and heaps of people on this thread have already posted heaps of recent shows they thought were great.
Also, on another note, I never really thought Evangelion was as great as people said it was, I thought it was obtuse and pretentious, though certainly with some great elements. I was also never a fan of the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs, though I love the original series to bits, but I have had similar experiences regarding outgrowing series and the like, so I totally get where you're coming from there. I think it's worth remembering, though, that anime is still a pretty young medium. It's going through a lot of growth, and that means some rough phases.
As far as comedies go, most shows labelled comedy are reliably unfunny, but so is most prime time tv, so I'm not sure it's just a Japanese thing. Arakawa Under the Bridge was one of the funniest shows I've ever seen, and it did it all while providing some real social commentary with this wonderful undercurrent of parody that never let it take itself too seriously.
To sum up, there're enough true visionaries, and genuinely great shows coming out to keep my hopes up despite a lot of dreck, and a general fatigue of childishness. The gems are still worth the search for me.