I've been playing through some older jrpgs, recently FF3, and I've realized that I enjoy these kinds of games more when the focus is on how you can customize your party and abilities to overcome the challenges thrown at you rather than follow a story.
So recommend games to me please. I don't want to see googly anime eyes if I can avoid it too.
You want dungeon crawlers then. No real story, character creation for all party members, focus is on resource management and fights.
Try Etrian Odyssey or SMT: Strange Journey.
Labyrinth of Touhou 2 is pretty good about this.
A large portion of it is overcoming difficult bosses through your team loadout.
It also rewards you for being at a level where you're up for a real challenge, and you can freely set everyone's level down.
It's inspired by Etrian Oddyssey, but it isn't unforgiving.
There's also Genius of Sappheiros, also a Touhou fangame, which is long, challenging, and also very customizable.
Get the Devil of Decline patch, it makes the experience better. Also allows easy mode if you like.
Hey speaking of dungeon crawlers, has anybody played the game Beyond the Labryinth? There's a fan translation of it out now, so I'm wondering if it's worth it to get a Gateway for it and a couple other games.
7th Dragon is worth looking into. It's something in the vein of Dragon Quest x Etrian Odyssey and it has an english patch. Bravely Default is very cool with its job system but it goes hard in the story department. You'll never have to listen to a lick of dialogue I'm pretty sure, thanks to the objective markers, but that is also worth taking a look at.