When I was young (way, way too young), I watched Perfect Blue, and I was completely blown away. It was the first ‘serious’ anime I had ever seen, and it instantly became my gold standard. Much later I watched Paranoia Agent, after seeing it on countless lists of the best anime series of all time. That same year, my friend showed me Tokyo Godfathers, and only after that did I realize they were all directed by the same man. I immediately sought out Millennium Actress. (Paprika was not yet released in America, and I was not well versed in internet shenanigans.)
Sorry, I don’t have a very interesting origin story. Oh well.